Originally posted on clevelandmetroschools.org/news
While students were enjoying the CMSD Summer Learning Experience, some District educators gained summer work experience in the STEM industry.
Vivian Lee of Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School, Adam Holtz of Orchard STEM School and Anita Rice of Anton Grdina participated in a pilot run of the NeoSTEM Educator Externship program.
The educators got a firsthand look at careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and picked up real-world perspective, examples and resources they can incorporate in their work with students and pass along to peers. They also built relationships that could bring mentors and materials to their schools.
The monthlong pilot was the work of NeoSTEM, a partnership between educators, business and industry, government, philanthropy and others. NeoSTEM is among nearly 100 “learning ecosystems,” mostly in the United States, that promote STEM careers to groups underrepresented in the industry.
“There truly is a problem with students of color not seeing themselves in STEM professions and, therefore, not pursuing them,” said Alyssa Briggs, NeoSTEM director.
Lee and Holtz worked with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and Rice was with the medical equipment manufacturer Invacare. A fourth member of the cohort, a teacher with the Akron schools, spent a month with Synthomer, a specialty chemicals company.
Holtz, who has been teaching for 23 years, found the added motivation he was craving after a rough year working through the pandemic and remote learning. The wheels turned as he spoke with sewer district scientists in their labs, saw the impact of raw sewage overflows and toured a watershed stewardship center.
“I want to share this wonderful experience” with other teachers, said Holtz, who teaches sixth- through eighth-grade science. “I can’t wait to do it. I want to be a resource for them.”
Lee has been teaching biology in the District since 1973 and is not finished with her own learning. She plans to continue seeking opportunities that will help her link instruction to the work world and prepare students for jobs of the present and future.
She is already designing Wacky Wonky Water Wednesdays, a series that will feature speakers and field trips inspired by the externship.
Rice, a library media specialist, said working at Invacare introduced her to the many types of engineers. She can make a connection for students to that field and skills like communication and critical thinking that carry over to many other careers.
“This is one of the most awesome experiences I ever participated in,” said Rice, who described the engineers as welcoming and gracious. “I hope we continue the relationship with Invacare and other companies.”