Science, technology, engineering and math are at the forefront of community collaboration
District superintendents from four BOCES were on hand at the event. Pictured from left are Questar III District Superintendent James Baldwin; James Dexter, district superintendent of the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES; Margaret Ashida, director of the Empire State STEM Learning Network; Patrick Michel, district superintendent of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES; and Charles Dedrick, Capital Region BOCES district superintendent.
Johanna Duncan-Portier, senior vice chancellor for community colleges & the education pipeline for SUNY, speaks at the STEMSmart Alliance launch event.
Colleen O'Connell, President of the Guilderland Schools Board of Education spoke about the importance of STEM initiatives. She is pictured here with Charles Dedrick, Capital Region BOCES district superintendent.
Education leaders from area BOCES are joining forces with college and state education leaders and business executives to launch a new initiative aimed at giving area students the tools to succeed in the 21st century workforce.
Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent Charles Dedrick took part in the Monday announcement of the formation of the Tech Valley STEMSmart Alliance – a coalition of education and business leaders from across a 13-county region that stretches from Columbia and Greene counties to Warren and Washington counties. The coalition includes BOCES from Capital Region, Questar III, Hamilton, Fulton, Montgomery and Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex, as well as the Center for Economic Growth, SUNY and other institutions of higher learning.
The STEMSmart Alliance “is a community-led collaborative. In effect, it’s a local network of STEM leaders from higher education, K-12 education, business, government and community organizations working together to leverage resources, create best practices and build awareness for and about STEM education efforts in our area,” said Questar III District Superintendent James Baldwin at the alliance kick-off announcement, which took place at the WMHT studios in North Greenbush. Baldwin spoke on behalf of the four district superintendents present.
Making connections to promote STEM
The Tech Valley STEMSmart Alliance is part of the larger Empire State STEM Learning Network, which constitutes a series of regions across the state that connect teachers, businesses and universities to the latest in STEM-related programs, teaching practices and innovations.
The goals of the alliance are to:
• Challenge more students to take more rigorous and engaging course work in STEM disciplines
• Increase the number of rich professional learning opportunities for teachers and other educators of STEM subjects
• Build awareness of STEM in the community
In general, the mission of the alliance — and the Empire State STEM Learning Network — is to connect schools to STEM-related programs, partnerships and curriculum, whether it be in universities, businesses settings, research facilities or government entities.
“Tech Valley High School and the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School (at Ballston Spa High School) are great examples of schools that are focused on collaboration and innovation in preparing students to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities in STEM throughout our region,” said Dedrick. “The formation of the STEMSmart Alliance allows us to align the work we are all doing in this important area to ensure that we are sharing best practices and making a dramatic impact on education for all of our students.”
Our region is "light years ahead"
Johanna Duncan-Poitier, senior vice chancellor for community colleges & the education pipeline for SUNY, said educators and businesses have a major task at hand — closing the gap between the skills that students are graduating with and the skills employees are seeking.
"There are 140,000 STEM related positions in the top 30 Fortune 500 companies that cannot be filled" because of this gap. "That is a tragedy."
But she also stated that the leadership and partnership between educators and businesses in the region is strong, giving the Capital Region a leg-up on other regions in the state in meeting the challenge.
"The Capital Region is light years ahead of other regions in the state in terms of the nanotechnology and partnerships that exist," she said.
Among the other speakers at the announcement were educators, students, business leaders and school district superintendents.
Stephen Tomlinson, superintendent of the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District, challenged his peers and boards of education across the region to innovate, even while the economy is ravaging the education funding model.
"Change is here in New York state. The time is now. Even at a time when we (the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District) will be laying off teachers, we will be offering new courses in the fall (that focus on STEM). We will offer robotics and nanotechnology, intro to computer aided design, intro to engineering and more to challenge our students."
Launched in 2010,
Empire STEM Learning Network is a statewide, community-led
collaborative. The Network’s mission is to advance STEM education to
prepare all students — regardless of their career goals — for
college and career success, to fuel innovation and economic vitality
in the Empire State. Hosted by the State University of New York with
start-up support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Battelle
and the AT&T Foundation, the Network also collaborates with other
state STEM networks to share knowledge and expertise to accelerate
progress and expand impact.