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New York City Holds STEM Institutes for Teachers

By guest blogger Caralee Adams

This post was originally published on the College Bound blog.

The New York City school system is ramping up professional development for its public school teachers in STEM fields and working to strengthen instruction in career education with $3.2 million in funding from the GE Foundation.

The training initiative, which was announced Monday, uses grant money from $32.3 million that GE committed to the schools in 2008.

The city's department of education will host a three-day institute in science, math, engineering, and technology for 300 teachers and school leaders from 100 area schools. The first training with STEM partner organizations will take place next month, followed by additional institutes in the fall and in the spring of 2016.

Also, schools in the career technical education pilot will collaborate with college and business partners to define specific sequential competencies for their CTE programs and develop aligned training, curriculum, and assessment materials. The mastery-based learning approach is designed to engage students more deeply in relevant skills they can use in the marketplace, according to foundation and school officials.

"This is about college and career readiness for all kids," said Kelli Wells, the executive director of education and skills for the GE Foundation in Fairfield, Conn., in a phone interview.  "It's not the vocational training programs of the past, but it's really linking STEM, career tech education, and career readiness together."

The professional development initiative is set up as a "train-the-trainer" model where educators will learn about the STEM materials and then pass on their knowledge to others in their building and district, added Wells. The hope is that working with a network of coaches and teachers in the STEM field, the department can leverage resources, and share best practices and connections with industry.

Wells said GE has funded similar STEM and CTE grant programs in Erie, Pa., and Milwaukee, Wisc.

Also on Monday, the nonprofit Change the Equation based in Washington,  announced a new initiative, "Start with STEM," designed to attract business contributions and volunteers for K-12 STEM programs. The effort is part of the organization's broader goal to reach 1.5 million new students though STEM programs this year. The campaign is looking for stories of inspiration to share with students and STEM professionals to serve as mentors to underserved girls and underrepresented populations in the field.

Encouraging more interest and diversity in the STEM profession was also a theme at yesterday's annual science fair at the White House.

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