Aurora University creates first STEM Partnership School

Posted on August 21, 2012

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A partnership school breaks the mold of traditional education. It’s not a public, charter or private school. So new and different, the State of Illinois passed legislation to create it.

In the fall of 2014, Aurora University will welcome elementary students to the first STEM Partnership School in the U.S. What’s unique about it?

  • STEM hub – It will focus on best practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Fewer students study these subjects, and performance in STEM continues to sink (see sobering stats).
  • On campus – 200 students in grades 3 -8 from the Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts will attend classes on Aurora University’s campus. A great experience for elementary students and Aurora’s pre-service teachers alike.
  • Teacher training – The school will employ district teachers who will simultaneously complete graduate coursework in STEM education. After 2-4 years working with best practices, teachers return to their home districts to share what they’ve learned.
  • Great partners – This effort brings together a wide range of people, including elementary students, engineers, school teachers, business leaders, professors, foundations, elected officials and college students. Each group offers a different skill set and perspective.  Working together, they are well equipped to raise the bar for STEM education.

STEM Crisis

The World Economic Forum recently ranked the U.S. as #52 in the world for quality of math and science education.  If we stick with traditional approaches, we won’t have enough people prepared to succeed in STEM careers.

That means we might not have enough doctors, researchers, engineers or software developers. By some estimates, the U.S may be as short by as many as 3 million highly skilled workers by 2018.  Left unchecked this gap will profoundly affect not just our economy, but our way of life.

The Tellabs Foundation recently granted $200,000 in support of the STEM Partnership School. First, because it’s a close fit to our mission to advance strategic STEM education programs. Second, we support efforts to inspire and prepare tomorrow’s engineers, the backbone of the telecom industry’s workforce.

Finally, we support the STEM Partnership School because it has great collaborators. The STEM crisis is a problem for industry, education and government. Working together is our best chance at solving it.

Aurora University’s STEM Partnership School is full of promise. We can’t wait to watch innovation unfold in its classrooms.

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