Combine a philanthropic-minded company with a research university dedicated to helping fill the critical need for a highly skilled science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce in New Hampshire. Add a school district committed to providing the best K-12 STEM education possible. The result? All positives.
“Our relationship with UNH and Albany International has offered a world of opportunities we would not have without their support.”
When Albany International, a global advanced textiles and materials manufacturing company, provided a six-figure, three-year commitment to help support UNH’s K-12 STEM Teachers Collaborative (STEM TC) — which works with teachers across the state to improve K-12 STEM education — it paved the way for new initiatives and opportunities in its home community of Rochester, New Hampshire.
“From our vantage point, there is no greater source of long-term competitive advantage than talent — especially STEM talent — and no better way for a state to promote long-term economic development than by investing in its STEM infrastructure,” says Joe Morone, Albany International’s president and CEO.
For more than two years, Rochester’s schools have partnered with STEM TC to augment curriculum offerings, training opportunities and access to equipment. Al Spader, a science teacher at Rochester Middle School, describes the positive effects, with students embracing STEM and teachers “using STEM design processes to create new, rich performance assessments that allow the kids to show what they know through creating, testing and modifying a model that they design. We are excited to see where this partnership will bring us in the future as we start exploring personalized learning.”
STEM TC includes UNH partners from The Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education; the department of education; the STEM Discovery Lab at UNH Manchester; UNH Cooperative Extension; the university’s science and engineering colleges and the office of engagement and academic outreach. Thanks to generous support from Albany International, the collaborative became part of 100Kin10, a partnership working to address the nation’s STEM teacher shortage.
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“The teachers in Rochester are passionate, deeply committed and connected to the Rochester community,” says Laura Nickerson, director of UNH’s STEM TC. “They’re well-prepared, and they’re hungry for more interactions with the university, more knowledge and more ideas to take back to their students.” Nickerson helps teachers with programs ranging from coding to developing a more writing-intensive STEM curriculum. Albany International’s support provided the funding for her position.
“Our relationship with UNH and Albany International has offered a world of opportunities we would not have without their support,” says Kathleen Cotton, Rochester’s curriculum, instruction and assessment coach. “Laura Nickerson has been an invaluable resource and a wonderful partner.”
“We are very appreciative of Albany International’s support,” adds Kyle Repucci, Rochester’s assistant superintendent. “We hope these STEM opportunities will spark our students’ interest and ignite their passion to pursue higher education and a rewarding STEM career.”
Albany International quietly acknowledges its generosity — pointing out the pragmatism behind its support. Morone explains, “Business has a responsibility to form educational partnerships that help build that STEM infrastructure, and we very much hope that our collaboration with UNH and the Rochester schools will be duplicated by other companies with other school districts in other parts of the state.”
Originally published in IMPACT Fall 2017