Gordon in the News: last updated 04/01/2014

Preparing for the Future: Gordon Education Department Offers Innovative STEM Training for Teachers

For Immediate Release
November 23, 2013

For Media Contact
Jo Kadlecek, Senior Writer

Wenham, MA—Most new jobs created in the next decade will require skills in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Yet many elementary schools aren’t fully equipped to train young people in STEM subjects and as a result, the U.S. is losing its competitive edge in math and science.

“We want to change that,” said Priscilla Nelson, associate professor/chair of education and lead strategist in Gordon’s new STEM partnership training program called STEM2. “It’s not just about training young people with these skills. STEM training prepares students for higher-level thinking, so they can tackle problems more creatively.”

To help area elementary teachers and instructional leaders in STEM education, Gordon established a year-long professional development program where teachers may earn points toward their re-licensure while gaining valuable STEM training for their classrooms. Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Northeast Regional Readiness Center housed at Salem State University, five free workshops facilitated by STEM2 began at Gordon in October and will continue throughout the 2013-2014 school year. The program culminates in a STEM2 Summit June 4, 2014. Over 175 participants, including teachers, industry leaders and government representatives, have participated in the first two workshops.

“This is a unique partnership with policy makers, higher education, public schools and private industry,” Nelson said. “STEM2 is uniting stakeholders through support and training with emphasis on what works best in the classroom and leads to STEM industry jobs.”

Developed as an opportunity to provide “local legs” to Governor Patrick’s STEM Plan, the collaboration also provides networking opportunities for elementary educators as they learn 21st century concepts and training that students should encounter in early grades. At the second workshop, some 75 educators, administrators, and state and local officials visited four north shore technology companies: Abiomed, Analogic, Applied Materials, and Axcelis Technologies where they saw STEM opportunities in action.

“These ‘field trips’ highlighted the importance of elementary STEM skills in a high-tech workforce environment,” Nelson said. “It’s incredible that the foundation of innovation is really elementary.”

Nelson and STEM2 colleague Todd Morano, associate professor of education at Gordon, also recently joined more than 500 Massachusetts educators for the Massachusetts STEM Summit at Gillette Stadium where state officials unveiled their updated STEM plan 2.0.

“It’s a new era for STEM educators in the Commonwealth,” Morano said. “STEM2 connects STEM industry and policy with Gordon’s focus on academic excellence and commitment to community leadership and workforce readiness. Partnering with those in the STEM industry is a win-win for everyone, especially the students.”

The partnership includes representatives from over 23 communities including Manchester-Essex Regional, Lynn, North Reading and Carlisle Public Schools; Gordon, Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) and the Northeast Regional Readiness Center at Salem State University; and companies such as KnowAtom, Applied Materials of Gloucester, Abiomed of Danvers, Axcelis Technologies of Beverly, and Analogic of Peabody.

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Gordon College is one of the nation's premier Christian colleges and located just north of Boston. We offer students extraordinary access to leading-edge opportunities for intellectual, professional, and leadership development to address the increasingly complex challenges of a global society. Gordon stands apart from other outstanding institutions in New England by combining an exceptional education with an informed Christian faith.