Providing the STEM for Student Growth: Bay Area Educators Put Students on the College and Career Path

Posted on: August 15, 2013

Four Tampa Bay area middle schools are beginning the new school year with a special focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). 

Last week, 30 educators from Largo, Greco, Booker, and Mulberry middle schools participated in a two-day workshop where they developed plans to help their students become college and career ready with a STEM focus.

The workshop was facilitated by College For Every Student (CFES), a nonprofit organization committed to raising the academic aspirations and performance of underserved youth so that they can prepare for, gain access to, and succeed in college.

"Recognizing that a STEM education ensures that all students are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workforce, schools all over the country are shifting their attention to STEM," said CFES President & CEO Rick Dalton.  "There will be 9.2 million STEM jobs by 2020 so it's critical to recruit and train students in these fields and to set them up for success."

The CFES STEM Scholars program incorporates strategies and approaches that CFES has developed over 22 years.  Each school will identify 100 or more low-income students in grades 6-8 who will participate in the three CFES core practice programs -- Mentoring, Leadership through Service, and Pathways to College. These programs have proven effective with a 95 percent college-going rate for grade 12 CFES participants.

During the workshop, educators developed approaches to bring their CFES STEM program to life.  Some schools talked about creating a robotics club, while others are eager to partner with local organizations to build community gardens. 

All students in the program will participate in ongoing college exposure, regular service projects with a STEM focus, interact with professionals working in STEM fields and receive leadership training. 

Stacy Carlson, Vice President and Program Director of Florida Transition Years for Helios Education Foundation, spoke to the group.  "This is a great opportunity for our Tampa students," she said.  "CFES is an organization with a proven track record for success, and in working with them over the last few years, it's evident that they are passionate about helping our Florida students become college and career ready for the STEM fields."

Helios Education Foundation has invested $800,000 in the CFES STEM Program.  With a goal of creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education, STEM education is a priority for Helios.

CFES has developed partnerships with area colleges that will support the program's goals.  Students from the University of South Florida will serve as mentors for the CFES STEM Scholars in the four participating middle schools.

Rollins College will provide financial aid and admissions workshops as well as campus visits for CFES STEM Scholars.  Said David Erdmann, dean of admissions at Rollins, "The president of Rollins, Lewis Duncan, who teaches space plasma physics, will share his repertoire of magic tricks with a science twist,"

"We're excited about the Tampa Bay STEM program," said Dalton.  "We're off to a great start. Our CFES STEM Scholars will learn that the sky is the limit."

Category: College and Career Readiness

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