135 Years ago today and Five Days in the Future: EAST on the Brink

Matt DozierPres./CEO - EAST Initiative

Matt Dozier
Pres./CEO – EAST Initiative

It’s π Day here at EAST and I think that gives us a better excuse for being a little more irrational than we can be on typical days. Of course it’s also five…FIVE…5 days until the 2014 EAST Conference: Your Future is Trending Now! So that means that we’ve worked ourselves into that goofy, rapid-eye-blink, stage of excited, exhausted and in desperate need to exhale. You see the same sort of thing when you’ve been putting in those final cram/work sessions for finals, proms, weddings, etc.

Someone who is definitely ready for Conference is our Ambassador Team Leader, Elise Fry. She’s asked me to send along the following message:

Hey everyone! My name is Elise Fry and I’m a junior at Batesville High School. I am unbelievably honored this year to be the 2014 EAST Conference Ambassador Team Leader! The team this year includes twenty-two of some of the best EAST students, all of whom are extremely excited to help out and be a vital part of this year’s conference. Our Ambassador Team is dedicated to making your conference the best one yet by making sure that all aspects of the event run smoothly. You will see us work throughout conference—we will be in the breakout session hallway, the gear booth, registration and helping conference attendees and VIPs with anything they might need. We will be presenting at the Opening Plenary, Banquet and Closing Session (which will be tons of fun this year, I promise)!

I know I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that one of our favorite parts of conference is meeting all our fellow students and learning their EAST story. Talk to us! Tell us about how you started in EAST and how you’ve grown since. Visit with us about possibly applying for Ambassador Team next year; it’s an amazing opportunity and we would love to tell you all about it. We are so excited to visit with your schools and help you in whatever way you need. I hope to see you all very soon in Hot Springs on March 19th, it’s right around the corner!

Photo used for PPT Slide - Ambassador

Indeed it is, Elise. Indeed it is. This year the Ambassadors spent two days out in the deep, dark woods of Ferndale, Ark., preparing for next week. They planned, practiced and bonded. They have honed their craft. So whether you need directions to a breakout session, instructions on how to put out a fire with a small stick and two Styrofoam cups (have no fears we have an Eagle Scout on the team), or need to share your particular brand of grief on the loss of a favorite hamster (Gilley, we hardly knew ye….) they are standing by, willing and able.

With that in mind, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the 135th anniversary of the birth of one of the architects of the modern age (the delicious coincidence that he was born on π Day is not lost here). When Albert Einstein first started publishing his ideas the world he lived in was operating under a general hubris that we were on the downhill side of knowledge discovery. It was widely assumed that there was almost nothing left to learn in physics and the other sciences were all but figured out as well. You know what happens when you think you’ve got everything figured out, right? Exactly.

I think Professor Einstein would have made a great EAST facilitator. Below are some of the observations he made that lead me to that conclusion:

“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”.— Albert Einstein

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination.”—Albert Einstein

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”—Albert Einstein

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”–Albert Einstein

I think he would have made a better EAST student, though. Think about it, a lowly Swiss Patent Clerk, in a single year, published three papers that revolutionized two professional fields of study and caused a complete re-examination of how we thought about the universe…the UNIVERSE…and our place in it. Self-directed, yep. Passion for learning, absolutely. Desire to share and better the world, all over the place. Imagine what he could have done with a few years in EAST under his belt?!? ;)-

See you at conference. Think big thoughts.

Until then,

MD

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Ice, Ice Baby! When Technology Opens a Door

What are you supposed to do in the middle of the long drawn-out winter? With schools perhaps seeing once-in-a-generation levels of inclement weather closings, it can be frustrating for EAST programs trying to sustain projects and prepare for conference. One program has an answer that makes a bold EAST statement. At the beginning of the week, while even the EAST staff was iced out of the office, students and faculty at Sonora Elementary in Springdale, Arkansas, said, “we have work to do.” I was fortunate enough to join the work for a bit, and now I am fortunate enough to share it with you. Our guest blogger today is Dr. Regina Stewman, principal of Sonora Elementary. - Matt Dozier, EAST Initiative President and CEO.

By Dr. Regina Stewman
Principal, Sonora Elementary

With snow (ice) day number 12 at our door, it was time to get creative.

snow day chart

We know that the children we serve do not just learn best sitting in a desk/table in a classroom listening to a teacher recite their knowledge.  No, they need to be active learners, participating in the knowledge acquisition. The students sitting in our classrooms today are of the Generation Z (born 1996 and forward). For these students, the internet and other forms of technology have been major influences in their lives. They are accustomed to and need immediate feedback – their gratification! As teachers,we must change how we teach and engage students.  One of our teachers at Sonora is highlighting that today through the use of Google Chat.

Josh Worthy, our Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Facilitator, is iced in like the rest of us today.  Yet, our conference team is preparing for conference, which is two weeks away.  There is no time to waste.  Therefore, his students are working from the safety of their homes with Google Chat.

Last night he sent out an e-mail to all his conference students:

“We’re going to try something new tomorrow.  Since school has been canceled and it looks like it may be a day or two before our kids will be able to work together, I’m going to host an online Google Hangout tomorow morning and maybe another one in the afternoon.  This is a lot like a Skype call that the kids can video chat or text chat back and forth about projects, ideas, etc.  

I’d like for Rikki and Kylie to practice their Founder’s presentation if at all possible. Morgan, Landen and I would also be able to work on the Camp Alliance story map together through the Hangout. Cayden would even be able to show us how to use Pivot animator through the “screen share” option. Kalyssa and Lexus should be able to work on nametag design and booth ideas, too. Not sure if I can get ahold of Josh H., but I’ll keep trying. It could be a REALLY cool event. The best part is that it would keep your kids busy for an hour or two during the snow day. ;)

All you really need is an internet connection and a computer. If you have a webcam, awesome. If you have a mic, even better. If you don’t have ANY of this, you can even call in from your phone. It’s pretty cool stuff. I’m hosting the event, so the chat will be private and only approved Sonora EAST students and parents will have access…no strangers or unauthorized creeps will have access.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. Looking to launch the conference call around 10 a.m. tomorrow morning. It should be a lot of fun and it is kind of exciting to be able to work on EAST stuff while the kids are snowed in.”

So, this a.m. the children, safe in their homes, were hard at work on their EAST projects and EAST Conference preparation. Yes, these students had an option. They CHOSE to do this on a snow day! Pretty powerful stuff!

kylie

Using Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) to spread the word, they were lucky enough to get Mr. Matt Dozier, EAST CEO, to join them. As I type this they have taken a break for lunch but will reconvene. They have even added a previous student to the conversation.

Matt

You may be wondering why I haven’t joined them.  Well, my school computer does not have audio or video. I can watch, but not participate.  So, I chose to share their story!
Great things are happening at Sonora Elementary!
Note:
Our EAST students are finalists in the Founder’s Award for EAST, an award in honor of the founder, Tim Stephenson. This is their second year as finalist. In the history of this award, our program is the only elementary ever to be finalist! (Can you tell I am proud of them?)
You can check out the full events and posts of the day on the Sonora EAST Facebook page. You can find out more about the EAST Initiative at their website.

Special thanks to Dr. Regina Stewman for sharing this post with us and an extra special thanks to the students and faculty at Sonora Elementary for working hard and keeping me on my toes. You are truly inspiring! Neither rain, nor sleep, nor dead of night, can keep EAST students from helping to solve problems. 

Until next time,
MD
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EAST: Service-Based Learning

Today’s blog post is from guest contributor Jennifer Skinner of Searcy Living magazine. Everyone that knows me knows how much I love to brag on EAST students and the changes EAST can make in how students see their future and themselves. Do you know what I love even more? When someone else brags on us. – Matt Dozier, EAST Initiative President and CEO

By Jennifer Skinner
Searcy Living, Issue 1 2014

587e8a4a14d688b300065506861533d0It is not often that students in high school become passionate and excited about their homework. You do not frequently see them admit to having life changing experiences from a high school elective course. Furthermore, it is rare that students will give up their free time on summer break to work on school projects that will impact their community.

But that is exactly what students in the EAST Initiative program at Searcy High School are doing when they become inspired through their work on projects for the community. Students get to “follow their passion for positive change. When a student is passionate about a topic, it is personal and they truly want to make a difference,” says Rinda Hall, EAST Facilitator at SHS.

These students are making a difference in the community in big ways by taking on some large projects in Searcy. Some of the projects include developing the Walk Through History trail with Searcy Parks and Recreation, creating a video for the White County Domestic Violence Prevention Organization and working with the Searcy Fire Department to code the GPS locations for fire hydrants around town.

e707c45d936696d6e1f672676348b299Hall explains that “EAST is a service-learning-based course where students learn through hands-on community projects. Students are encouraged to look for problems within their community and actively work to solve them. Our classroom offers the latest in software technology to assist them in their endeavors.”

These high school students are doing impressive work serving our community by developing the Walk Through History trail. Project manager and SHS junior Hunter Ingle explains in his article “the trail provides a means to keep in shape as well as learn about the historical properties of our great town. The Walk Through History Trail stretches from West Arch to Harding University. Famous businesses and properties such as Yarnell’s Ice Cream Company, the Benjamin Clayton Black House, Quattlebaum’s and the Rialto Theater dot the trail. The Searcy Courthouse stands in the center. The distance is about the equivalence of a 5K, or 3.3 miles. The history of each property is on the interactive website that the Searcy EAST program is in the process of making.”

The SHS EAST program has also been working with the Searcy Fire Department for about two years getting real world experience with technical applications. Donald Garringer, a captain at SFD, explained the project helps students learn to put technology to work in the field. The students learn to take a written format and convert it into technical data, creating digital maps in place of paper ones. This is beneficial to the SFD because students are able to do work that would require time and resources of the department. Garringer says they are appreciative of the work the students are doing.

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The experiences students are gaining and the skills they are learning in EAST are already becoming life-changing events. Hunter Ingle, who plans to be a lawyer in the future, says, “I have learned to step out of my comfort zone in EAST. I used to be a shy kid who sat in the corner of the room. Now I maintain an active role in the program. EAST has taught me about leadership roles, teamwork, innovation and community service to help my future. I’ve learned about innovation and great people skills in the program. The course is not a regular class with textbooks and tests. Communication skills are needed to get anywhere. These are leadership skills I would never have learned in orthodox classrooms.”

Haley Matheny, also a junior, explains “this course has taught me a lot about deadlines and how projects need to be set up and carried out. The projects I have done have taught me how to better the community with technology. This class has given me a taste of what I will be learning at college and what I will be using in my career. In one year, I learned how to write and direct a film, which is something I hope to be doing for the rest of my life.”

Another eleventh grader in the program, Larry Dicus says, “EAST has taught me how to take the initiative to complete something I’ve started, what I want to get a degree in when I go to college and self-directed learning.”

Hall says there are many useful skills students learn in this course including professionalism and problem-solving but most importantly they learn self-reliance and build teamwork skills that will help them throughout their lives. Hall says, “I tell people that I am the luckiest person in the world to be facilitating this class. I get to witness a more powerful change, a deep-down belief in their own self-confidence and recognition in their ability to go farther and do more than they ever would have guessed before.”

Great things are happening in Searcy and all over EAST country. I want to send a personal note of thanks to Ms. Skinner for helping to share that message.

Until next time,

MD

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EAST Students for Healthy Communities

The EAST Initiative is pleased to feature Dr. Joe Thompson, Arkansas Surgeon General and Director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), as a guest blogger this month. EAST is partnering with ACHI for the 2013 – 2014 EAST National Service Project.

Dr. Joe Thompson Arkansas Surgeon General

Dr. Joe Thompson
Arkansas Surgeon General

I am Surgeon General for the state of Arkansas, Director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, and a pediatrician. More importantly, I’m a dad concerned about the world my kids and you will inherit. That’s why I’m excited that the 2013-2014 EAST National Service Project is focusing on health and wellness. As a pediatrician, I have seen too many young people whose lives are not what they should be because of poor health – mostly because of obesity.

Did you know that more than one out of every three Arkansas kids are overweight or obese? Or that obesity has increased 80 percent in the last 15 years and can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, liver problems, asthma, heart conditions, low self-esteem and depression? Luckily, this doesn’t have to happen. These diseases can be stopped by healthier lifestyles.

Why do we have this problem? Without meaning to, we let progress and convenience create communities that don’t support healthy lifestyles. Most foods we have easy access to are unhealthy.  How many times have you stopped to grab a quick bite at a fast-food restaurant without thinking about how healthy it was? How many times have you walked or ridden a bike lately – or played a physically active game? Limited access to sidewalks and parks, and safety concerns, makes physical activity hard to include in our daily lives. No access to affordable nutritious foods and safe places for physical activity is an even bigger problem in poor communities and in many African American and Hispanic communities.

We need to turn this around by taking action to create communities where the healthy choice is the easy choice. Students can play an important part in developing healthy communities. Last year we started working with EAST on a new program called Students for Healthy Communities. We asked students to put their talents to work on projects that help make their communities (homes, schools, neighborhoods, towns) healthier places to live, learn and play. This year’s National Service Project focus on health and wellness is a perfect match for continuing the work of building healthy communities.

Students for Healthy Communities is part of a movement in our state that includes more healthy food options in schools and funds for joint use agreements that make school playgrounds, gyms and sports fields available to the community outside of school hours. EAST students are already making a difference by partnering with others involved in another program called Growing Healthy Communities where community members across Arkansas work together to create healthy opportunities for all Arkansans, young and old.

EAST students have a real opportunity to make their communities better by joining this movement and creating unique and sustainable ideas for their own communities. And EAST students can develop knowledge and skills they’ll need as adults. Examples of question students can address include:

  • What do the neighborhoods in your community look like? Are there safe places for people to walk and bike easily? What kinds of grocery stores and restaurants are available and how far are they from residential areas?
  • What types of resources are available in your school or community that promote physical activity (for example: playgrounds, courts, sports equipment, parks)?  Are these places easily accessible and safe?
  • What types of policies does your school have in place to promote physical activity and healthy eating (for example: required PE classes, recess, vending machine policies)?
  • Do people feel comfortable walking around your neighborhood? What is in your neighborhood that makes people feel comfortable or uncomfortable (for example: no sidewalks, no lighting of sidewalks, crime)?
  • What kinds of healthy foods and physical activities are available at your school or near your house? Are you able to easily access these things?
  • Are there events in your community that promote healthy living?
  • What might your school do differently to promote a healthy community?

What does a healthy community mean to you? What do you want it to be like? Can you use your talents and resources to create solutions that work for people in your community? It takes just a small step to get the ball rolling, but we need students to think big and look for ways to make your work successful  for the future. What happens after a 5K event or a health fair? How will EAST students make sure good health remains important?

So how about it? Will you help make your community a healthier place to live? I’m looking forward to seeing the great results I know you can achieve.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

With the holiday season approaching, EAST Initiative President and CEO Matt Dozier reflects on the attitudes of gratitude we often receive from students, facilitators and others for their innovative education experiences through EAST. A simple “thank you” reminds us all of why we do what we do. We invite you to help us celebrate 17 years of EAST by being one of the first 17 donors to support EAST to kick off #GivingTuesday December 3.

Matt DozierPres./CEO - EAST Initiative

Matt Dozier
Pres./CEO – EAST Initiative

Every once in a while an email or card (yes people still do use old fashioned mail with hand-written notes and everything) will come to me that takes my breath away. These tend to be centered on two small but powerful words and one world-changing attitude. The words: “thank you;” the attitude, gratitude. These are so wonderful because they are totally unexpected and completely honest. We never ask that our schools, facilitators, administrators or students do this. We enjoy just hearing about what they are doing so when they take the time to stop and specifically share their gratitude for the EAST opportunity, it can be humbling. Let me share a few:


To say that we are amazed at the difference that EAST has already made in our culture is an understatement.
 We have kids “plugged in” that were on my radar as potential drop outs!  [ ] My high school counselor sent me an email yesterday saying that in all the years she has been at our high school, this is the best thing she has seen happen for students. - 
Principal, Southeast Arkansas

The students are learning a lot. Sometimes I want it to proceed faster and see more finalized products but the kids are learning so much about working with others, talking to adults, setting their own goals, and so many things you already knew they would learn. I am sorry it has taken me this long to tell you how much I appreciate it. But, once again, thank you. - Facilitator, North central Arkansas

I know you know this, but EAST has absolutely changed my outlook on a lot of things. Being in EAST has played a huge role in my life. It showed me that if I’m truly passionate about something, then I can do it.Student, Northwest Arkansas

I’m not sure I ever got to share my appreciation and respect for EAST as it started me on a wonderful path. I’ve used my experiences, problem-solving skills, and [other] knowledge gained from the program already through college and cannot wait to continue utilizing it all in the future. – Student, Northern Louisiana

EAST has not only taught me real-life skills and characteristics that are vital to be successful, it has also introduced me to what I want to do for the rest of my life…. Like I’ve always said - EAST has put something in my hands and let me run with it and for that I am extremely grateful. I have realized in the past year just how fortunate I am to have not only the EAST Initiative available to me but an exceptional EAST program in my own school. I thank you once again for everything you have done for me…­ – Student, Central Arkansas

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How can you not be humbled? How can you not be touched? How can you not be proud and thrilled to be part of an organization that engenders this sort of reaction and testimony. All of it sincere and unbidden.

Most of the research says that job satisfaction is much less influenced by salary or other obvious factors and much more by a sense of accomplishment and success; a commitment to a common mission and the opportunity to be creative and have a positive influence on others. Can you guess how the EAST staff feels about their jobs?

For my part, I am grateful to be part of this incredible organization and to have the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people. In my 15 years of being fully involved in EAST (three as a facilitator, 12 as a staff member—with six of those as President) there has not been a day go by that I haven’t felt like the luckiest guy this side of Lou Gehrig. Every day I am allowed to go to work and interact with the best educators in the world, the most dedicated staff anyone can imagine and the most creative students you will ever meet.

At the end of the day, it does all come down to our EAST students. We ask them to put their talents, their creativity, and their passion to work in pursuit of bettering their communities. And time and again they exceed anything we could have imagined. I know for a fact they often surprise themselves as well. How cool is that?

When it came time to write this blog entry, I was not planning to deliver my “Thanksgiving Special” but here it is.  When we do get the emails, cards and letters like the ones above, we typically respond the same way. “Thank you for your kind words, but more importantly, thank you for all YOU do to prove the power of EAST and to make the world a better place.”

Until next time,

MD

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Early Fall Gallimaufry

Matt DozierPres./CEO - EAST Initiative

Matt Dozier
President/CEO – EAST Initiative

Every year at our Summer Seminar we include a session we call the Gallimaufry. This is a session that basically covers updates, announcements and other things that don’t really fit anywhere else. It’s an odd name, I know, and one that was picked for two reasons:

1)    I love words. Plain and simple. Interesting, odd or unique words warm my heart. My favorite word of all time is “terpsichorean,” I love the way it sounds and I love the look I get from people when I say it. I’ll let you look it up.

2)    We were using an internal designation for the session that just wouldn’t be taken in the vein we intended if we were to put it in writing (I’ll let you fill in the blanks of what we would call a mix and match session).When we needed to put something in the program I was sitting in an airport in Cincinnati and Melanie Ridlon said she needed something “NOW.” I grabbed my phone and started to look up words that meant what we were trying to say. I ran across Gallimaufry and loved the sound of it…and thus was born a tradition for summer.

The funny thing is that when other EAST staffers questioned that name (and even whether or not it was a real word) we wound up at a big conference that used that very title for one of their large sessions.

In looking at preparing a blog post I realized that there was a lot to say. But it didn’t all fit into one cohesive narrative, so I ask your indulgence as I wander all over the place today. By the way the definition of “gallimaufry” is:

gal·li·mau·fry  \ˌga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē\

n. pl. gal·li·mau·fries

1. a miscellaneous jumble or medley; hodgepodge

2. a dish made up of leftovers

Since this is not a cooking blog, you can look forward to the first definition. Shall we begin?

EAST full house

EAST Training Center

The EAST Training Center is hopping! Just last week we hosted three different student training sessions (GIS, Web Design and microcontroller programming), facilitator Phase II training, and a Broadband focus group of students, facilitators and administrators as part of some work we’re doing with the Arkansas Department of Education and other groups. We had roughly 80 people on campus doing different things. The buildings were full, and the learning was electric!

Speaking of broadband, EAST participated in the “Connecting Arkansas” conference hosted by the Connect Arkansas group. EAST has worked with various groups and agencies on the broadband connectivity issue since 1998 (when broadband wasn’t nearly as broad as it is now). I personally feel that getting everyone, but especially people in rural areas, connected to the rest of the world should be a priority in this country.

Broadband is a democratizing engine that allows everyone to access information and connect to the world for commerce, education, medical care and so much more. Broadband can make sure geography doesn’t limit opportunity. That means a lot to me and should mean a lot to everyone. Just like Governor Beebe said, “…[We’re] not doing this just for ourselves, but also for our kids and our grandkids and for [our] future.”

conference

It goes beyond watching “What Does the Fox Say” on YouTube—though that’s one way to discover the online world…and as near as I can tell the fox says, among other things “Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!,” “Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!,” “Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!,” “Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow!,” “Wa-wa-way-do Wub-wid-bid-dum-way-do Wa-wa-way-do.” Why? I don’t know you’ll have to take that up with Ylvis.

We have had our Annual Meeting of the EAST Board of Directors. Our Board is excited about EAST and where it’s going and they have pledged to spend this year working to revisit our strategic plan and help EAST move forward. I had the opportunity to talk with one of our Directors, Dr. David Rainey, the other day and he was sharing how much EAST means tohim. He is just one of a very dedicated group of people who are working to make EAST bigger, better and more available to schools and students. A small confession, when I grow up, I want to be as cool as Dr. Rainey (or Elvis), but don’t think that’s really possible. The Dumas schools and EAST are so lucky to have him.

We have published our fall issue of our EAST Quarterly magazine. If you haven’t checked it out, you need to. My favorite story in it is the profile of Ms. Julia Sites who has gone from the EAST classroom to the EAST Boardroom. It’s inspiring and heartwarming.

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EAST Quarterly
Fall 2013

We have begun our work with the potential EAST Core schools that will start their Core journey in the 2014/2015 school year. In preliminary discussions with one of the potential schools I was told, “We love EAST. We love everything about it. We want everything we can get from EAST.” No pressure there, right? This is exciting and humbling. EAST is making a difference and people see it. Not just at the macro level, but (and most importantly) at the school and home level.

Our National Service Project has kicked off in grand style. This year we are focusing on health and wellness and have challenged our programs to develop solutions in their communities (and to look at larger solutions) to issues related to overall wellness. We are asking them to use their EAST tools (including those bright EAST brains) to go beyond the standard ideas and find innovative ones that can make a real difference. EAST is a place where projects can “sophisticate up” and exceed the expectations of everyone. While we hope that this project focus will get people moving, eating healthier and making good health choices, we also think that EAST students can approach this with a different toolkit to develop solutions that can truly change bad habits and enhance the community’s quality of life.

All of this is just a quick snapshot of what is happening in EAST right now; the tip of the iceberg so to speak. All of this (and a lot of other stuff I haven’t talked about) is swirling around us. EAST is really, really happening!

Now aren’t you glad I didn’t give you recipes for your cookbook?

Until next time,

MD

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Why STEM Matters

Matt DozierPres./CEO - EAST Initiative

Matt Dozier
Pres./CEO – EAST Initiative

 

This week’s guest blogger is Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Arkansas STEM Coalition. EAST is proud to be a member of the Coalition and the work it is doing to create opportunities for students. The example that the Coalition sets through cooperative collaboration, is a model that should be the norm and not the exception.

 
 

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STEM is everywhere—from the manufacturing plant to agriculture to small businesses. Every Arkansan needs a strong foundation in science and mathematics accompanied by familiarity with their applications to engineering and technology to be productive citizens and economic contributors. Some of the most rapidly expanding job prospects for young Arkansans are in the STEM fields. Researchers, computer information professionals, farmers, veterinarians, science teachers, health care workers, engineers of all sorts and other related professions are increasingly in demand to meet the needs of our state economy which is rapidly shifting to focus on information technology, advanced manufacturing and bioscience. STEM professions and occupations are among the highest paying jobs and are also the basis for a successful, globally competitive, and innovative Arkansas economy. Beyond mere employment, the daily lives of Arkansans involve increasingly frequent encounters with STEM concepts.

The Arkansas STEM Coalition is a statewide partnership of leaders from the corporate, education, government and community sectors. The purpose of the Arkansas STEM Coalition is to promote education skills that will affect Arkansas’ future workforce while supporting high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The Coalition works to increase public awareness of the importance of STEM related content knowledge and skills to enhance lives and the economy while forging partnerships with business and institutions to share valuable experience and ideas, particularly in STEM careers.

Businesses who partner with the Arkansas STEM Coalition gain visibility and input into future STEM educational initiatives within the Arkansas education system. For students seeking STEM Careers, this can ultimately lead to a better quality post-secondary education, internships, summer and full-time employment, and promising business relationships.

arSTEMlogo1

The Arkansas STEM Coalition advocates that only by working together on challenges of scale (focusing resources on STEM), innovation (creating a climate of entrepreneurship), replication (giving all Arkansans access to best educational practices), evaluation (assuring that what we do works), and cooperation (more teaming, less competing) will we create increased opportunity in STEM. The STEM Coalition also advocates the recruitment and retention of highly effective STEM teachers in order to promote student interest and performance in all phases of learning. Programs such as EAST provide students with problem-based learning that sparks their problem solving abilities, technological inquisitiveness, creativity and interest in STEM. In addition, the Arkansas STEM Coalition provides a rewarding experience for businesses concerned for a future work force that brings economic prosperity to Arkansas.

The window for students’ receptivity to STEM topics closes early, sometimes as early as middle school. A solution to the Arkansas STEM pipeline problem is to take action given known gender and ethnicity differences in STEM education. Early identification and mentoring by parents, families, civic groups, teachers and businesses can encourage early STEM success by students. If you are interested in solving the problems of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in Arkansas, we invite you to join the Arkansas STEM Coalition. Contact Dr. Suzanne Mitchell, Executive Director of the Arkansas STEM Coalition, at executivedirctor@arkansasstemcoalition.com.


As anyone who has kept up this blog (or EAST in general) knows, we are committed to the type of innovation and collaboration that Dr. Mitchell pursues every day. Future opportunities for our students…indeed, the very future depends on it. It’s good to know that there are people as decent and hard-working as Dr. Mitchell leading the way.

Until next time.

MD

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