Governor Quinn announces $3.5 million investment for STEM school at AU

Governor Pat Quinn

Governor Pat Quinn announces a $3.5 million capital investment to help build the John C. Dunham STEM School at Aurora University on Friday, July 26, 2013.

Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $3.5 million capital investment to help build the John C. Dunham STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Partnership School at Aurora University. The investment will allow construction of the school to begin immediately and open for the 2014-2015 school year. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to prepare every child for success in college, career and beyond.

“We must be sure that all of today’s children are prepared and ready for the opportunities of tomorrow,” Governor Quinn said. “STEM education is hands-on approach to learning that makes the classroom to come to life and allows minds to grow. I commend the entire Aurora community for collaborating on this effort to ensure our students get a unique educational experience that will prepare them for 21st century careers.”

Governor Quinn previously visited Aurora University in 2011 to sign Senate Bill 621, which supported the creation of a math and science partnership school operated on the Aurora University campus by AU and four local school districts, including Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie and Oswego. Through private fundraising, Aurora University was able to secure $7 million of the $12 million needed for the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School, and Governor Quinn recently signed the budget appropriating $3.5 million to the school to allow construction to begin.

“It still is possible for a good idea to garner the support of elected officials who are willing to invest today for the promise of tomorrow, ” said Aurora University President Rebecca L. Sherrick.

The STEM Partnership School is the cornerstone of the Mathematics and Science Education Center of Aurora University, which was launched by the university’s Institute for Collaboration in 2009 to address the deficiencies in STEM education in the United States. The center’s programs also include content-based bachelors’ and masters’ degrees, professional workshops and institutes for teachers, and after-school and summer studies programs for students.

Ruth Ramos, a teacher in the Aurora East School District 131 and a graduate of the first cohort at AU to prepare teachers in STEM content and pedagogy, has been a strong supporter of the STEM initiative. “This will be a visionary program where an entire community of educators, legislators, engineers, scientists and corporate representatives will collaborate to educate students,” said Ramos. “The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School will be an agent of change.”

When fully operational, the STEM Partnership School on the AU campus will serve approximately 200 students in third through eighth grades from the four area public school districts. The school’s curriculum will be aligned to new educational standards and is being developed cooperatively by the four participating districts, the university, the corporate sector, and governmental and not-for-profit partners.

The school will be staffed via a unique professional development model. Teachers will be drawn from the four partner districts and will earn content-based STEM master’s degrees during their residency in the school. They then will return to their home districts ready to serve as teacher-leaders and a new generation of professionals will take their places.

Aurora University has a long tradition of preparing students for lives of service and leadership, and using its resources and expertise to meet the needs of the community. In addition to its fiscal contribution, Aurora University is donating the land for the STEM Partnership School.

For more information on the school, visit stem.aurora.edu.