Without teachers there would be no other professions. Teachers are tasked with guiding students to see beyond their current status to future careers. The paradox for many K-12 educators is that they will prepare hundreds of students for various careers, while their profession is based in the classroom.
A math teacher prepares future engineers without ever experiencing an engineer’s office. A technology instructor teaches vital material, yet may not have experience with its actual workplace implementation. At WakeEd we recognize this gap in our education system and decided to do something about it. That’s why this summer we are initiating our first year of SummerSTEM.
During SummerSTEM we’re sending teachers to summer school…in 6 area businesses. They will conduct site visits and experience “hands-on” learning at LORD Corporation, Biogen, SAS, NC Department of Transportation, Red Hat, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). They will also experience community college STEM instruction in 10 programs offered by Wake Technical Community College.
The goal is for educators to gain understanding of the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in STEM careers. STEM organizations and professionals will share strategies and actual work-based practices as a catalyst for educators to develop classroom curriculum that has direct relevance to the workplace.
On May 6, we met with our partnering organizations to talk about the end product—what we want teachers to gain from their immersion. After their time with the companies, educators will be tasked with developing a lesson unit based on the work experiences of their workplace visit. WCPSS teacher leaders will coach teachers as they develop their units. Organizations and educators will continue their relationship as the school year progresses, with a culminating Spring Symposium that features the outcomes from the SummerSTEM experience.
These practices will be used to reach the next generation of STEM professionals—students—at their primary point of contact—schools. Together we are forming a “STEMpact” that will last well beyond this summer. By partnering the business community with educators, students will have a better idea of what it takes to succeed in a 21st century economy. That’s what WakeEd is all about.