P-20 Council learns about Aurora University STEM initiatives

P-20 STEM Panel

Pictured left to right: Dr. Sherry Eagle, Executive Director of the Institute for Collaboration; Ruth Ramos, Teacher at Aurora East School District 131; Tamera Vincer, an engineer with Cabot Microelectronics Corporation; and Dr. Saib Othman, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Illinois P-20 Council, a 30-member council appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, held their quarterly meeting at Aurora University on Wednesday, April 24. The council works to make recommendations to the Governor, Illinois General Assembly and state agencies for developing a seamless and sustainable statewide system of quality education and support, to improve birth to adulthood education in Illinois and opportunities for success in the workplace.

The council’s goal is to increase the proportion of Illinois adults with high quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Today, approximately 41 percent of the state’s nearly seven million working-age adults hold at least a two year degree.

Dr. Rebecca Sherrick welcomed the council members, highlighting how Aurora University’s work is aligned to the P-20 Council goals.

One of two panels that spoke that day focused on collaborative efforts in the Aurora area, including the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives at Aurora University. Moderated by Dr. Sherry Eagle, Executive Director of the Institute for Collaboration, the panel included Dr. Saib Othman, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Ms. Ruth Ramos, Teacher at Aurora East School District 131; and Ms. Tamera Vincer, an engineer with Cabot Microelectronics Corporation.

Each panel member took time to discuss the benefits of their collaborative work. Dr. Othman described the innovative way in which school district, corporate and non-profit STEM partners work together to design graduate coursework for area teachers. He also noted that the number of faculty members involved in collaborative STEM initiatives has significantly increased over the past several years.

Ms. Ramos, who received her Masters of Arts in Teacher Leader (MATL) in Elementary Mathematics and Science from Aurora University, talked about how she has incorporated problem-solving experiences into her teaching as a result of her graduate coursework and input of the corporate sector.

Ms. Vincer noted how important it is to excite young children about STEM, mentioning that even in challenging economic times Cabot Microelectronics Corporation has had difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill jobs in its firm. As a parent, she wants her children, as well as others, to be exposed to engaging STEM experiences. Vincer is excited that the corporate sector has a voice at the table in this STEM collaboration, stating that Aurora University is a university that understands the importance of listening to its corporate partners.

Dr. Eagle concluded by saying that P-20 is the perfect place for collaboration. With a foundation of mutual trust and respect, a community of stakeholders can come together to achieve their common vision.