Our 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.