STEM education was the focus of the Chillicothe City Schools Board of Education's special session, Wednesday.
"The U.S. economy is expected to add 7.9 million new jobs over the next five years," said Chillicothe City School Board President Steve Mullins, citing a new jobs report. "The fastest growing are all going to be STEM-related jobs: science, technology, engineering, math."
The board meeting was attended by representatives from Paint Valley, Unioto, Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center, and Glatfelter, as well as Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney. All discussed their experiences and involvement with STEM education and brainstormed ways to create better county-wide opportunities.
"If we are able to work together and create a more powerful STEM program that can help businesses, industries, and school districts that are already here and attract more and create better opportunities for kids at all of our schools to have better paying jobs with better benefits, we believe we can raise the quality of life for a lot of Ross Countians," said Chillicothe City Schools Superintendent Jon Saxton.
According to Jamie Nash, director of secondary education at Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center, a STEM program needs strong business and industry partners in order to be effective.
"I was a product of the engineering program at Pickaway-Ross that did a senior internship at your facility in your engineering department for a whole year," said Nash, acknowledging Glatfelter's representative. "Folks, it works."
Nash also said there needs to be a STEM pathway that starts as early as kindergarten: "We have the framework; now we just have to start filling it in."
Chillicothe's STEM program for the 2017-2018 academic year includes: embedded activities in grades K-6; 5th-8th grade STEM programs; a Makerspace in the Alumni Library; CHS Medical Academy internship with Adena Regional Medical Center; AP course offerings.
Mullins said Chillicothe will continue to focus on strengthening STEM opportunities at the elementary and middle school levels in order to prepare students for more advanced opportunities in high school.