Posted by Tony Baldwin at 7/30/2012 9:00:00 AM
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Dr. Tony Baldwin,
Buncombe County Schools
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Did you know that at least 42 percent, perhaps even more, of the new jobs being created in North Carolina will require at a minimum some post-secondary education, many in science,technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines? Are you aware that while the average 2010 U.S. wage for all occupations was $21.34 per hour, workers in STEM-related occupations earned $33.69 per hour (58 percent more)? State of the Workforce Report (SOTW) 2011-2020) A recent study from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation estimates that over 2 million jobs will be created in STEM-related fields by 2014!.
Whether it is speaking to recent college graduates, local college administrators or community based professionals in business and government, I am convinced that if we are to best prepare our students to successfully meet the challenges ahead, the importance of promoting STEM education can’t be overemphasized. A globally competitive work environment is not something our graduates should expect sometime in the future; it exists here and now! Likewise, the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a majority of both current and future work places is a given.
When we closed the Career Education Center in June of 2010, a commitment was made to our school community to explore the development of a STEM themed high school. What this program will look like and how it will be structured has been an ongoing effort of a comprehensive team of stakeholders over the past two years, utilizing information and guidelines from a variety of state and national resources.
Of these resources, perhaps the most important is the STEM Strategic Plan approved last November by the State Board of Education (https://www.ncstem.org/stem-
Five of the most important components for a successful STEM school include:
1) Partnerships with area businesses and professional agencies allowing opportunities for shadowing, internships and apprenticeships;
2) Partnerships with post-secondary institutions including community colleges and universities allowing access to college credit;
3) Integration of STEM concepts throughout all subject areas and courses including the language arts and social sciences;
4) Classrooms instruction designed as heavily student-centered and project based; and
5) Technology immersed throughout the campus. This document has proven invaluable to our system’s initiative to promote STEM.
On August 2nd, prior to our regularly scheduled board meeting we will hold a work session to provide our school board and public an initial look at potential courses of study, curriculum offerings, classroom instructional models, and facility design. Included is an alignment designed to connect high school courses of study with similar strands at the college level ultimately leading to identified professional careers. The public is welcome to attend, and encouraged to become informed and involved in our STEM efforts, both for the proposed STEM-themed high school, and for all schools.