On Monday I to drove to Pontiac, Illinois for a meeting to discuss STEM education. I met with President of the Illinois Business Roundtable, the CEO of Illinois American Water, Pontiac’s Chief Facility Director, Paul Ritter, educator extraordinaire, and several staff members from American Water.
We discussed the integration of STEM education across several arenas. Illinois has a program called Illinois STEM Pathways. It is a state-wide effort to promote College and Career Readiness. The state has begun several initiatives to support STEM Pathways including adopting Common Core Standards, promoting STEM programs of study from elementary schools through colleges, and building a state wide infrastructure to develop instructional improvement tools.
I walked away happy to be part of such an exciting time in education. We discussed how Illinois businesses might work with teachers in classrooms to help students understand the importance of STEM careers. The implication is that as students grow in their skills from elementary to college, there would be mentors to excite students with the possibilities of STEM careers. As the children grow into adults, college and career counseling and perhaps job training in STEM careers may be offered. Armed with the necessary career readiness skills, the graduating adults may be hired by the Illinois businesses that helped them in the 8th grade.
As I said in my last post, my favorite part of my job is the community based projects because I can create authentic activities in which my students know their hard work is appreciated and useful. I have high hopes in Illinois STEM Pathways. I believe it has the potential to resurrect quality education, from the learner’s perspective.