Lenoir County Public Schools Earns $40,000 Grant from BW Fund

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Lenoir County Public Schools Earns $40,000 Grant from BW Fund

STEM education is our future, according to one of the highest ranking executives in one of the largest companies in the world.

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From left to right: Carol Midget, Education Consultant, Steve Hill, Executive Director, STEM East, Frances Herring, Principal CSS K-8 School, Tom Vermillion, President of the Lenoir Committee of 100, Dr. John Burris, President, Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, Lisa Rhoades, SMT Center Education Center Program Assistant, Dr. Sam Houston, President, SMT Center and Jamie Creel, President of the Kinston Noon Rotary.

STEM education is our future, according to one of the highest ranking executives in one of the largest companies in the world.

At the Southeast US/Japan Association Annual Meeting last month Mr. Osamu Nagata, President & CEO, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc stated, “The most critical issue for American manufacturing is focus and investment in STEM education. I know it’s long-term, but we recognize these people represent our future employees.”

It has been a recurring theme cited by many leading US manufacturing executives including David Storch, CEO of AAR Corp., a major defense/aerospace company with a facility in eastern NC. 

Eastern NC has bought into the importance that STEM education plays a vital role in the availability of skilled labor, fostering the creation of STEM East (www.stemeast.org) in 2009.

Lenoir County Schools has earned a $40,000 grant from the Burroughs-Wellcome (BW) Fund, facilitated by STEM East which it will use to further its STEM effort.

Recently, Dr. John Burris, President of the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, made the announcement in Kinston along with Dr. Sam Houston, President of the Science, Math and Technology (SMT) Center and Lisa Rhoades, Education Center Program Associate of the SMT Center.

“Education is ultimately going to be a source of all economic development in the years to come,” said Burris.

“The Burroughs-Wellcome Fund is about advancing biomedical and medical research and education…and STEM East is a clear example of this,” Burris added.

Dr. Houston provided remarks about the importance of STEM Education in the context of rural NC.

“In the adult world you don’t use the information we teach in school…That is why we call it, Strategies That Engage Minds. It is about making sure students can think,” said Houston.

Although still in its infancy, STEM East is seeing a difference in students’ abilities to think and solve problems. One example is Contentnea-Savannah (CCS) K-8 School.

“We’ve had a transformation in how we are delivering the curriculum to students at our school,” said Frances Herring, Principal, CCS.

This is at the heart of what STEM education is all about. Beginning with the end in mind – that local employers need well-qualified talent to grow their companies, prosper, and create a relevancy in curriculum through alignment with industry needs.

The STEM East network now extends into 5 counties with secured funding for 30 STEM Centers in area middle schools. STEM Centers are project-based, career-relevant, employer influenced curriculum classrooms in which students work in groups to solve problems while learning science and math.

“We are trying to get it right in one place and then scale it out,” said Steve Hill, Executive Director, STEM East.

The BW Fund grant will be used to support teachers by having curriculum specialists work with them to design an instructional process which better engages students and is industry-aligned. Additionally, the funding will provide teachers increased resources to adjust to the new NC common core standards and offer best practices that can be scaled out to others over time. Work is underway to facilitate East Carolina University (ECU) and other organizations to develop long-term learning and teaching opportunities for students and educators.

STEM East is connecting employers and educators through a growing network of public and private partners. The network aligns innovative education programs with industry standards to develop regional career pathways, build a solid workforce and add considerable value for relocating and expanding industries. For more information about STEM East, visit www.stemeast.org. 

The NCEast Alliance is a regional economic development agency serving more than 1 million residents within several small metropolitan and micropolitan areas from the fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Coast. For more information on the NCEast Alliance, visit us at www.nceast.org or call 1-800-474-8499.