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XLP teacher selected to support underrepresented students in STEM | News, Sports, Jobs


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Ann Jackson strives to support each of her students at Miller Middle School, so when she was encouraged to apply for the Society for Science Advocate program, she jumped at the chance. Her enthusiasm paid off: she was chosen as one of 84 spokespersons to represent the program across the country.

The Advocate program was launched by the Society for Science in 2015. The Washington, D.C.-based Society runs several science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) research competitions throughout the year for middle and high school students. , and according to Caitlin Sullivan, Director of Outreach and Equity Programs for the Society, they realized that the students entering the competitions did not necessarily reflect the country’s population.

“We want to make sure that all students have the opportunity and the tools they need to participate in and benefit from our competitions,” Sullivan said. “So we wanted to develop a program that would help diversify the students who have access to these programs.”

It started as a simple allowance program. The Society provided teachers with $3,000 to support students who are underrepresented in STEM or from low-income households so these students can access different materials and resources. It quickly evolved from there.

“Very quickly we realized that these teachers benefited the most from talking to each other and having the opportunity to talk to someone who has done this before or someone who may be facing the same kinds of challenges as them to help those students, and so it became a full-year professional development program,” Sullivan said.

In addition to receiving the $3,000 stipend to support students, Advocates now receive year-round support from Society staff and are paired with a Senior Advocate to help with challenges as they arise.

Sullivan said the application process is very competitive, with only about one in five candidates selected to be advocates, but Jackson stood out because she recognized there was a need for Miller’s support to do so. bring underrepresented students into STEM.

“I think one of the things the selection committee liked about her application is that she saw the need for support at the middle school level. So she saw that in the district they were expanding support for students in the high school, and it seems like they’ve started to see progress in that area. And she also finds that there’s support at the college level, but students who are underrepresented in STEM are reluctant to enroll in those opportunities,” Sullivan said. “She wanted to become a lawyer so she could find ways, learn ways, to really reach out to these students and make STEM more appealing or interesting to them.”

Jackson, who is an Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher at Miller, is excited to both grow professionally and help her students reach their full potential this school year.

“I’ve done different professional development work with National History Day in the past, and when I found out I was selected for it, it was really good. I feel like it really helps me be a better teacher for my students because I get different expertise in all the different areas they compete in, so I was really excited about that,” said Jackson.

Earlier this summer, she had the opportunity to attend the Advocate Training Institute in Washington DC and meet other educators selected for the program. Jackson found it a valuable experience and she looks forward to continued professional development throughout the year as she will be able to meet with her senior counsel once a month.

The stipend will also be helpful for Jackson and his class, and helping students with science fair projects will hopefully be easier with access to additional funding.

“The science fair, you never know exactly what students will need until they have posed their research question and developed their research plan, so (the stipend) will provide a bit of flexibility for buy different supplies for students. And especially for students who may not have the resources at home, you know, their families may not have the resources to provide the supplies that they need, so I can use that money to help them,” Jackson said.

In her application for the Advocate program, Jackson was to outline her goals for the school year if she wanted to become a lawyer, and her main goals were to increase student engagement and also to really show her students what scientific research looks like in other environments. , primarily in community businesses and organizations as well as in area colleges and universities.

“I’m really excited to do field trips, hopefully at different companies, and show my middle schoolers how science is in action in Marshalltown,” Jackson said.

Jackson also feels that the state science fair has been underrepresented by her students, and she would like to see more of her students consider it an option. Jackson hopes that with the additional resources available, more students will consider entering.

“A lot more students tend to gravitate towards National History Day, which is great, but I just want to make sure that students who might be more interested in science also see this as an opportunity” , Jackson said.

With many opportunities for professional development and the opportunity to positively impact students’ lives and encourage them to explore STEM options, Jackson is excited to embark on the 2022-2023 school year.

“I feel like our science teachers are doing a terrific job, and I think it will be like the icing on the cake for my XLP kids to take their learning to the next level,” Jackson said.

To learn more about the Society for Science and its programs, visit https://www.societyforscience.org/.

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Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or

meyer@timesrepublican.com.



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