Saturday , 17 February 2018
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NCMS STEM Connection Nights Bring Students, Parents, Community, and Businesses Together

stemconnection nightOur community has currently has 5,400 vacant jobs, most of which pay between thirty and sixty thousand dollars per year and yet companies often have to search in other counties to fill their vacancies. Why? Two reasons. The first reason is a consequence of a culturally dated mindset – that in order to be successful, a student must go to college. When in fact our data proves contradictory. Catawba County sends 40% of students to college and of that 40%, only 20% graduate from a four-year university. The second reason is not knowing the opportunities that do exist in our own county.

Newton-Conover STEM Middle School recognizes there must be something done to help awareness for continued growth in the community, as well as helping to sustain independence of families and individuals. This comes through educating educate families about local career opportunities and the educational opportunities in middle and high school for their students.

Our solution – STEM Connection Nights. STEM Connection Nights is a time when local business leaders, entrepreneurs, and artisans partner with our school to host evenings for families to learn a skill or trade that is purposefully practical and locally relevant. The evening will begin with a universal experience – food. A free dinner for all attending, then the magic beings! There is something so profound when parents learn side by side with their children. Excitement continues to escalate as families get to experience practical hands-on learning and skills for topics such as urban gardening, sewing, cooking, and computer coding/programming. While these skills have value in and of themselves, learning about the long-term opportunities such as a high paying career, current educational pathways, and current job vacancies for parents STEM Connection Nights are the direct avenue for building a stronger and more vibrant community.

About Heather Mullins

Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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