‘Never stop trying to figure it out.’
Ruth Ray is the STEM integration coordinator at the Warrensville City School District. She has an environmental engineering undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in education.
Did you have any mentors that helped you along?
My first mentor was absolutely my grandmother, who had a love of the environment. We grew a garden every year; we harvested our garden every year; and I grew up in the inner-city. My grandmother grew plants, and my grandfather would order herbs from the botanical gardens, so I always had an exposure to the very natural parts of life. It just encouraged my love for stray cats, birds, and all of those different things. So, my grandparents were my first mentors.
What advice do you have for kids exploring the world and discovering what they’re interested in?
One thing I always say when I have the opportunity to talk to scholars is to tell them to ‘never stop trying to figure it out.’ I always just encourage them to have a constructive struggle. I always tell kids, ‘never stop trying to figure it out, and never stop access.’ At a young age, I stopped. I decided to stay where I was, and I never really explored a lot of math. I stopped figuring it out and told myself, ‘I’m just going to do it enough to get it.’ But I started telling myself, and now I tell kids, ‘to never stop trying to figure it out.’ And when they do that, they end up tapping into all these other talents that they have and all these other ways of learning something new.
What does STEM mean to you?
STEM education is definitely a framework of teaching to learn it. It gave those scholars an opportunity to do what they learn, and that’s why I love the world of STEM education. It is a framework of teaching and learning, which is an avenue for all learners to learn the way that they need to learn.