By Stephanie Jensen | Director, Controlling & Data Management for BASF
When I joined the WakeEd Partnership Board of Directors over a year ago, I was very anxious to know more about the great work that WakeEd was doing and contribute where I could. I quickly identified Programs Committee as an opportunity to become more acquainted with the programs themselves and after one conversation with Teresa Pierrie, I was on the committee! Shortly into my tenure, Teresa and John Hummel, our Programs Committee Chair, introduced the concept of having Program Champions for each of the programs that we offer – one from the business community and one from the Wake County Public School System. These champions work closely with Teresa to recommend enhancements, set metrics, identify partners, and be an advocate for the program.
For a number of reasons, I took this opportunity to volunteer as Program Champion for SummerSTEM. First, I am a strong believer in the importance of STEM education in the classroom and the importance of making connections to potential career paths for students. As a student, I loved math and chemistry, but I never understood how exactly that would materialize into a career. SummerSTEM provides educators with an immersion experience that enables them to help their students make these connections in hands-on ways, through project-based learning modules.
Additionally, I represent BASF in my role with WakeEd and one of our key focus areas for community outreach is STEM education. Science and innovation are at the core of what we do and who we are as a company. We have been a host site for SummerSTEM for several years and, as a Cornerstone Investor, we sponsor both the World Café and SummerSTEM programs.
Collaborating with Teresa and Paul Domenico from Wake County Schools on SummerSTEM over the past several months has been phenomenal. From seeing the results of the 2016 immersion experiences to planning for 2017, the enthusiasm has been contagious! What I have also learned is that the program’s impact goes far beyond STEM to developing collaboration, leadership and engagement in educators and their students. I am very excited to see how the changes we have made for 2017 – most importantly, centering the experiences around North Carolina’s industry career clusters – will impact the educators in the program and their students.