When I reflect on my journey in education and my passion for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), it all traces back to a transformative experience during my senior year in high school. Little did I know that this outdoor education excursion at Bradford Woods in Indiana would ignite a fire within me, leading to a lifelong commitment to inspire young minds in the world of STEM.
The turning point occurred during a unique adventure at Bradford Woods, where I had the privilege of working with a group of fifth-grade students. Witnessing their curiosity, excitement, and the sheer joy of learning was a revelation. It was a life-changing experience that planted the seed for my future in education.
My foray into STEM education was rooted in my academic and professional history. I embarked on my career as a Financial Analyst at the Department of Homeland Security before making the leap into the realm of education. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Indiana University, which served as foundation for my teaching journey. Over the following years, I delved into instructional coaching, achieved certification as a teacher evaluator, and honed my expertise in mathematics, science, and mentoring new educators.
In my teaching career, I knew I wanted to create a program that would allow students to experience the magic of Bradford Woods. So, the South Grove STEM Squad was born. With the support of our art teacher, Director of Elementary Curriculum, the district education foundation, and the unwavering encouragement of students' parents and the community, the dream became a reality.
A year into launching the South Grove STEM Squad, I transitioned from the fourth-grade classroom to teaching STEM to grades 4-6. Our school secured a grant to establish a STEM lab equipped with an array of innovative tools and technologies, including robots, Legos, drones, 3D printers, and electrical circuit projects. What struck me most during this journey was the diverse intelligences and learning styles that flourished in the STEM lab. Some students who faced challenges in their core subjects thrived in the world of STEM and their successes reignited my passion for education. I knew that my calling was in the field of STEM.
It was incredibly rewarding to see young girls get excited about STEM and, in the process, build their self-confidence and self-awareness. Another unforgettable moment was returning to Bradford Woods, which remains one of the most cherished times in my teaching career.
This journey profoundly impacted my passion for helping young people learn STEM subjects. It revealed the importance of cultivating an engineering mindset, which not only drives success in STEM but also imparts a crucial life skill—resilience. I firmly believe that we need to guide children to embrace new challenges, learn from failures, and try again, just as adults do. This mindset, developed through STEM education, equips students for the future, where STEM skills are in growing demand to support the workforce.
My STEM education career also highlights the urgency of representing successful women and individuals from diverse backgrounds in STEM fields. Providing role models who inspire and guide young minds is essential to ensuring a more inclusive and equitable future in STEM.
My journey from Bradford Woods to the STEM lab exemplifies the transformative power of STEM education. It's a journey that continues to inspire me every day, as I work to kindle the curiosity, creativity, and resilience of the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.
To read more about Women in STEM education, click here: Women in STEM.