Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get Students Engaged, Leaders Say; Speakers Point to Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get Students Engaged, Leaders Say; Speakers Point to Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

Article excerpt

Byline: Tessa Duvall

Promoting excitement and excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, among Jacksonville's students will take involvement across the community, according to Jacksonville's education leaders.

That includes mentors who can serve as models of success, quality teachers who have a deep understanding of the subject matter, businesses that are on board as partners, and parents who will provide the support their scholars need.

The third annual Jacksonville Community Education Summit brought together leaders from Jacksonville's colleges and universities, public school system, Mayor Alvin Brown and keynote speaker Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for a panel discussion about quality STEM education Friday at the downtown Jacksonville Public Library.

Hrabowski, an accomplished higher education leader, said Americans of all races fail to succeed in STEM fields in college, not just minority students. About two-thirds of students who begin a STEM major won't go on to earn a STEM degree, and the more prestigious the school, the more likely the student is to leave the field.

"I would argue what we've learned at UMBC that's worked with minority students also helps us with our white students," he said. "That would be building collaboration ... learning how to ask questions of each other, how to support each other, how to trust each other ... and at the same time, learning how to read and think critically across disciplines in math and science. It's very important.

"The real issue for minority children and low-income white children is that they've never learned to read and think critically. You learn to do by doing."

Cynthia Bioteau, president of Florida State College at Jacksonville, quoted a saying she often keeps in mind: "I cannot be what I cannot see."

"We hope to encourage and recruit men, women, minorities, all of us, into STEM fields," Bioteau said "We must make a very, very concerted effort to have our teachers, our faculty, our administrators and our community reflect what we want our students to be, what we want them to become. …

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