Pulling together for one goal: Preparing students for future with STEM Ecosystem


By Mark Guydish – mguydish@timesleader.com

KINGSTON — In a room of educational leaders from three counties, the jargon was thick but the message was simple: Broad collaboration goes a long way in helping students from pre-school through graduation get ready for a future full of new and rapidly evolving technology.

“We are a group of over 50 partners interconnected to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) to all students,” explained Jeanne Miller, co-leader of the Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne STEM Ecosystem Initiative. Miller spoke at a gathering of some of those involved in the initiative during a media conference at the Luzerne Intermediate headquarters in Kingston on Monday.

LIU Executive Director Tony Grieco opened the event by rattling off some of those partners from the three-county area: “We are 29 school districts, five career and technical centers, two community colleges, a number of four-year institutions … .” That was a bit more than half the list, which also includes the LIU and two other intermediate units, the SHINE after-school program and several business chambers and business associations.

Miller previously ran the SHINE program in Carbon County and helped launch it in Luzerne County. She said the new program, formally dubbed the CSL STEM Ecosystem, has already lined up pre-apprenticeships for students with some businesses and hopes to set up “24 centers focused on STEM learning.

Along with “sustained teacher development” programs and more opportunities for students both in and out of the classroom, the initiative is looking for ways to engage parents and help them learn “where the jobs are,” Miller said. She added that “60 percent of the jobs in the future will not be blue collar or white collar, but new collar,” needing some sort of post-high-school training.

Shannon Brennan of the Schuylkill Technology Center pointed out that STEM subjects now permeate every business and that “it’s not just a subject, it’s a way to learn and a way to teach. It’s a philosophy.” Shenandoah School District Superintendent Brian Waite talked of public/private partnerships that allowed his district to create two “Makerspaces” with high tech and low tech equipment, and room for students to collaborate on a wide range of projects and “bolster confidence, teamwork and creative skills.”

Launched in 2016, the CSL STEM Ecosystem is one of 68 such initiatives in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Kenya. It focuses on providing education and opportunities to undeserved and underrepresented students through broad-based collaborations.

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

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