Lamar University, Hamshire-Fannett ISD open Cardinal NEST

In partnership with Lamar University and Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District, a ribbon-cutting celebration was held for a Cardinal NEST (Navigating Excellence, Success and Triumph) at Hamshire-Fannett Intermediate from 12:30-2:30 p.m. on May 16.

“I am beyond excited today. As I stand before you, I think about this as a vision. This is a dream coming true,” said Hamshire-Fannett Intermediate Principal Marla Gilmore. “For this to come to life means so much for me. The NEST will be a learning environment for our students to explore problem solving, critical thinking, communication and creativity skills. These are skills that, no matter what these students decide to pursue, they will be used.” Hamshire-Fannett Cardinal NEST

Several administrators and community members attended to show their support for the new learning lab, designed to spark and enhance the love of learning in STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts and Math) with a focus on literacy development.

“It's our responsibility as schools to keep our students engaged in learning,” Gilmore noted. “The NEST will provide innovative lessons to the classroom and allow our students to explore and to participate and hands on STEAM activities. This lab will also cultivate a college-going experience for our students with the partnership that we're forming with Lamar University.”

According to Dr. Teresa Simpson, executive director of Lamar University community relations, the NEST includes technology such as a STEM green screen, Lux Blox, 3-D printer and an interactive multi-touch Triumph Board, complete with more than 150,000 lesson plans and activities.

“We are honored to reveal this innovative learning lab today and it will carry out the collaborative partnership between Lamar University and Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District to support this vision and campus’s efforts of striving to achieve a college-going culture in our southeast Texas community. These activities take students beyond their imagination, fueled by their curiosity, their passion and creativity for learning, supporting career exploration and cultivating an early college-going culture,” Simpson said. “This lab transforms a classroom through art to provide and support social emotional learning. Yes, it has cool gadgets and tinkerers and seating. But we take the talent of our artists to transform the space to take a student into another world.”

Prior to the establishment of this learning lab, STEAM was not as accessible, according to 2019 graduate of Hamshire-Fannett High School and Lamar University Ambassador Annabelle Broussard.

“It is so encouraging to see this effort being brought to student education,” Broussard said. “Whenever I was an intermediate student here, the closest thing we had to technology was a computer lab. If I am an engineering major with that, imagine what these students are going to be able to do with the Cardinal NEST and the robotics team that’s starting up. It’s just so great to see this being done.”

Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Dwaine Augustine added, “I remember that lab a long time ago. Well, it’s because of the work that these individuals in instructional technologies do now that we’re blazing in terms of technology. We have a principal with a vision to say, “Yes, I want this on my campus,” and we have a committed partnership with Lamar University. We’re going to have kids who do wonderful things.”

For more information about Cardinal NESTs, visit