NCSSM Wins Innovation in STEM Award

HOUSTON — The National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools honored the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics as an inaugural NCSSS Innovation Award winner on Nov. 8 at the consortium’s 2018 Professional Conference.

NCSSM won the Innovative STEM Student Program Award for the school’s partnership role in the Eastern North Carolina STEM program, a rigorous, student-centered summer enrichment program established in 2012 by three Teach for America teachers, Dale Hammer, Grayson Cooper ’08, and Liz Chen. ENC STEM provides high quality STEM learning opportunities and leadership training to high school students living in economically disadvantaged communities in Eastern North Carolina to increase growth mindset and college readiness in the pursuit of STEM majors and careers.

While teaching in Northampton County, the co-founders realized students were not adequately prepared for advanced mathematics classes and that students were completing college degrees — particularly STEM degrees — at an alarmingly low rate.

The program for rising ninth through 12th graders seeks to provide hard-working students with high quality STEM courses that challenge and prepare them for advanced coursework in high school and college. ENC STEM also provides professional development and teaching experiences to teachers thirsty to become stronger educators. Free to students, the program includes meals, transportation, and field trip experiences and has served over 250 in five partner districts: Northampton County Schools, KIPP ENC, Weldon City Schools, Halifax County Schools, and the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District.

NCSSM faculty and staff attended the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools’ 2018 Professional Conference.

In 2015, ENC STEM began the partnership with NCSSM to offer their students the opportunity to participate in an additional one-week residential program at NCSSM in Durham, where students take classes taught by both NCSSM and ENC STEM instructors during the day and participate in community activities at night. This part of the program provides students a college-like experience — and opportunities to strengthen skills needed to succeed in college.

NCSSM Mathematics Instructor Dr. Tamar Avineri got involved with the program as an instructor in the summer of 2017, joined the leadership team last fall as a project officer, and taught again this past summer.

“It is a truly special opportunity for me to be a part of a program that offers such a rich and meaningful experience for students who may not otherwise have access or opportunities to engage in those experiences,” she said. “The students, staff and faculty come together to build a community that supports and learns from each other, all in the work toward providing a rigorous academic experience that aims to push students to the next level and beyond.”

NCSSS wanted to recognize those efforts, said NCSSS Executive Director Todd Mann.

“STEM education strives to shape the next generation of innovators and inventors,” he said. “These awards aim to honor educators and their schools for their commitment to cultivating our future scientists and educators.”

The other inaugural winner was the Gwinnett (GA) School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, which won the NCSSS Innovative Partnership Award for its workplace partnership with Micromeritics Instrument Corp.

“Our award winners have gone above and beyond in their pursuit of academic excellence and enhancing the student experience,” Mann said. “They should be exceedingly proud of their achievements, as should our semifinalists, all of whom are doing tremendous work around the country advancing the cause of STEM education.”

The National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS) was established in 1988 to provide a forum for specialized secondary schools focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to exchange information and program ideas. Celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2018, the Consortium now includes more than 100 member schools (high schools), many ‘ranked’ as the best in the country, along with 55 affiliate members (colleges, universities, summer programs, foundations, and corporations) located in 32 states, that share the goals of transforming mathematics, science, and technology education.