Hi all! I have some big news to share — today marks the end of my tenure as the Director of the Ohio STEM Learning Network – and the beginning of a new chapter both for OSLN and for me personally. I’m not going very far – I’ll still be here at Battelle, leading our national network, STEMx. I plan to take all that I have learned from my experience in Ohio to strengthen and grow our national STEM efforts.
I am extremely proud of the growth of the network over the past three years. Through our educator professional development and student engagement programs, we are consistently impacting more than 20,000 Ohio students every year. And those students are not just at designated STEM and STEAM schools – they are from all corners of our great state!
We have maintained and grown our flagship programs like the OSLN Student Design and Entrepreneurship Challenge and have added several more offerings to our portfolio along the way. We are doing great work in career exploration and workforce development through the Manufacturing and Engineering Externship Program, and the Ohio Rural Educator Program that helps middle and high-school teachers teach science standards through the lens of agriculture, one of Ohio’s most important industries. We are learning alongside school leaders and industry partners about creating and implementing pathways to industry credentials to ensure every Ohio student has the opportunity to explore “what’s next” before they graduate high school.
The number of people who are actively engaged in the network continues to grow. I’m so grateful for all of the organizations I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with over the years, especially, EnvisionEd Plus, Education Projects and Programs, Ohio Afterschool Network, Young Entrepreneur Institute, Ohio Invention League, PAST foundation, NASA Glenn Research Center, Drive Ohio, Apprenti, National Center for Women & Information Technology, The Works, The Ohio Academy of Science and so many more. Our network is strengthened by the STEM hub leaders who engage and support their local communities through STEM professional development programs, outreach and technical support for schools looking to learn more about STEM. I’m ever grateful to the OSLN hub leaders (past and present) for your collaboration, support and dedication to the network.
The number of STEM designated schools grew from 55 designated STEM and STEAM schools to 82 schools in the last three years, and, together with the Ohio Department of Education, we’ve made some important improvements to the designation process including: aligning 3326.03 and the Quality Model for STEM and STEAM schools with the application and the rubric, adding site visits to the designation process, improving our support and outreach to schools seeking designation and advocating for a five year re-designation process for all schools. We could not have done this without the engagement, collaboration and support of the Ohio Department of Education, the state STEM Committee, and our fantastic review team!
I’m leaving OSLN in good hands. Kelly Gaier Evans, a longtime Battelle Education team member will be leading the network. Kelly and I have worked closely together for the last two years to execute a legislative strategy to secure funding to grow the network. We were successful – in July, OSLN was awarded $3 million to grow the network even further. Under Kelly’s direction, we’ll add new staff, expand existing programs and add new ones to make sure we reach even more students and schools in the years to come. You’ll hear more from Kelly later this week. I’m grateful to Kelly as well Rob Evans and Zac Ames whose support have been crucial to the success of OSLN.
If you are here long enough, STEM in Ohio starts to feel less like a big state, and more like a small town full of friends. Thank you all for making it feel that way and thank you for all that you do to support Ohio’s students.