Los Alamos Public Schools look at STEM program

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Superintendent Gene Schmidt was on a panel that discussed science, technology, engineering and math education

By John Severance

SANTA FE — Innovate+Educate is the brainchild of Jamai Blivin of Santa Fe.
And on Thursday night, Innovate+Educate along with Citizen Schools hosted a panel that discussed “Pay It Forward” for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
The panel consisted of Eugene Schmidt, superitendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, Bobbie Gutierrez, superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, Eric Schwarz, CEO of Citizen Schools of Boston and Carlos Contreras, the U.S. Director of Education for Intel Corporation.
Blivin said for now the New Mexico Innovate+Educate has set up a program in southern New Mexico. And the Santa Fe district has set up a pilot program for three of its schools.
So what about Los Alamos?
Schmidt said Los Alamos already has set up a grassroots program. And the results have been more than encouraging especially with the latest test results in the 80th percentile in math and science.
“Los Alamos has engaged in the conversation to learn about the potential that this program might bring to our community,” Schmidt said. “I am particularly interested in the professional development opportunities that could come from this and the potential partners that could bring outside funding to our schools.”
Blivin, meanwhile, said there could be an agreement in the future.
“We do not have a formal agreement or scope of work in place, but I do believe that Dr. Schmidt is a truly committed, very experienced Superintendent ----with passion for STEM education.
“In our opinion, those qualities are what we look for when we try to determine where we will invest our resources in STEM.  I look forward to continuing to develop a strategy with Superintendent Schmidt and the thought leaders in the region to “pay it forward” for STEM.”
According to its Web site, Innovate+ Educate has recruited top education leadership from within many of the high-tech corporations across America to support new approaches for education.
The Innovate+Educate Board is comprised of top companies in the U.S. including Apple, HP, Intel, Lockheed Martin, HP, Monster, Oracle, Battelle Corporation, Blackboard, Cisco Systems, Dell Computer, Applied Research Associates, Ford Motor Foundation, Qwest and SAS.  Other key board members and partners include TIESteach.org, Gates Foundation STEM states, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.  The National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices is the primary national partner to Innovate-Educate in advancing STEM across the country.
Blivin said companies represented by board members have contributed $1 billion in educating funding each year.
She was more than thrilled with Thursday’s presentation.
“The superintendents (Schmidt and Gutierrez) did an excellent job of sharing examples of how STEM is part of their district vision as well as the importance that it plays in the future of our NM youth. The conversation also set the stage for the incredible importance of public/private partnerships to move forward a STEM agenda.”
“As Superintendent Gutierrez indicated  “it really will take a village/community working together” with industry, policy and educators working together to address the critical situation our state faces from a funding perspective, a relevance perspective, and believing that ALL students can be inspired through science, math, technology and engineering curriculum and opportunities.”