In fulfillment of Georgia Tech's Strategic Plan for Expanding Access, the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) has established the Georgia Tech STEM Educators' Network (GTSEN). The goal of this initiative is to give teachers and administrators the tools and information to help them prepare the youth in their communities to become college and career ready.
Two SCCPSS teachers and a Principal have been welcomed as part of the 22 member first cohort of the network. Those who attended are Drafting Teacher Thomas Maty of Jenkins High School, Science Teacher Delroy Burke of Mercer Middle, and Principal Alfred McGuire of Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School.
The group attended a two-day kick-off event held at Georgia Tech in late September. [WP1] The campus visit consisted of several activities to introduce the network members to key Georgia Tech leaders and provide information about available resources specifically created to support enrolled undergraduates as well as enhance opportunities for prospective students. On the first day, the group attended a “Meet and Mingle" with CEISMC faculty and staff as well as campus partners, including representatives from STEM@GTRI, EXCEL, Expanded Learning Programs, and Project ENGAGES, and more. CEISMC Executive Director Lizanne DeStefano and Tech's Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Paul Kohn also gave brief remarks.
“Georgia Tech values the remarkable STEM educators who work in our K–12 schools and informal science centers across the state," said DeStefano. “The Georgia Tech STEM Educators' Network is one way to connect them to the Georgia Tech community to offer collaboration, recognition, and support."
The group then participated in a “Twilight Trek," an after-hours guided tour at Zoo Atlanta, followed by dinner and an educational activity on bio-inspired design facilitated by Senior Research Scientist Mike Helms and Professor of Biological Sciences Marc Weissburg from Tech's Center for Biologically Inspired Design and Senior Director of Education Staci Wiech from Zoo Atlanta.
“We are excited to work with GTSEN in engaging local community stakeholders," said GTSEN co-organizer Bonnie Harris, who serves as director of CEISMC's Georgia Intern-Fellowships for Teachers. “Network members, nominated from school districts and communities representative of each of the Georgia Department of Education Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) are leaders in STEM. They will serve as liaisons between Georgia Tech and local communities to expand access to higher education and pathways to Tech, as well as participate in real-world professional development that can be used to build upon innovative classroom curricula to increase student awareness of the connections and impact between various disciplines and societal applications."
The second day was filled with a campus tour which included stops at Tech's revitalized green spaces called the EcoCommons and the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, the first building in Georgia to earn Living Building Challenge certification, the world's most ambitious and holistic green building achievement. The group also heard presentations by Charmaine Troy, associate director of First-Generation Student Initiatives and Rick Clark, executive director of Undergraduate Admission.
Current undergraduates, business administration majors JahWill Fannings and Hannah Glass, aerospace engineering major Andres Robles, and electrical engineering major James Shin led a panel discussion about their Tech experiences and how they prepared for post-secondary education. The event ended with a debrief over lunch.
“This was a great opportunity for educators from all over the state to make connections across Georgia Tech and the community," said GTSEN co-organizer Heidi Turcotte, CEISMC's campus and community coordination program director. “Building these types of partnerships is imperative for supporting and expanding access to STEM education."
The GTSEN team will continue to meet with this cohort at various connection points throughout the academic year such as CEISMC's K-12 Lunch and Learn series and STEAM Leadership Conference. The long-term plan is to add cohorts annually so that a scalable and sustainable professional network can be developed with the members serving as local ambassadors and points-of-contact as Georgia Tech broadens its outreach efforts in Expanding Access.