Sue Edmunson and Sharon McElroy, two high school teachers from R. A. Long High School in Longview, Wash. brought 30 students from their business classes to Vancouver on Friday, Sept. 20 to participate in this year’s STEMFest. Both women teach CTE, or career and technology education, a subject that prepares students for the technological expectations that their future employers will place on them. McElroy’s students are from her “Microsoft IT Academy” class and Edmunson’s are in the heavily technology-dependent “Pre-Press Desktop Publishing” class.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
Projections by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Washington STEM Center 2010 paint a picture of job growth in STEM careers that coincide with a shortage of workers with the skills to fill them. Edmunson wants to fix that and with a background in building bridges between students and the workforce, she is doing just that.
Edmunson writes, “I read statistics somewhere that if you can get a kid actually onto a college campus (6) times in their high school career, they will most likely choose college after high school.” Edmunson and McElroy signed up their students for STEMFest 2013.
First stop on the tour was at Clark College where student ambassadors in STEM disciplines led the high schoolers around campus, talking about their school experiences and the benefits of Clark College. Audreyana Foster, who studies aerospace and mechanical engineering at Clark, pointed out that her class sizes are small and that her advisors are proactive advocates of her success.
STEMFest is a multi-day, community-wide event. Mary Brown from Southwest Washington’s Workforce Development Council (“SWWDC”) is champion and coordinator of the event. She met with Edmunson (“Mizz Ed”) and the yearbook students at Vancouver’s community newspaper, The Columbian.
There, students heard from Rachel Rose about the nature of work in an independent and locally-owned paper. After showing students printing plates and mock ups of the four color print process, Rose led them on a facility tour where she explained the process of turning metal plates into printed newspapers.
John Hill, Interactive Editor, directs The Columbian’s digital news division. Hill talked with students about the workflow of reporters in a digital age and let the students know what kind of technology skills they would need to have to be able to work in a newspaper.