Thanks for joining us this week on SmartBlog on Education as we highlighted Q&As with the panelists from our recent STEM Pathways Roundtable event. Read our most recent interview with Kimberly Tobey, executive director of the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs.
Why is the issue of connecting industry and education to enhance STEM education important to you?
As the executive director of the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NAACTEP), it is essential that the association and I work closely with higher education and industry to formulate models for success/completion that take into consideration the non-traditional student.
Additionally, we want to ensure that we are focusing on the ability to leave students in their communities once they become STEM workers and/or classroom teachers. The last thing our communities need is to educate students so they can exit their communities and not impact economic growth in their own areas.
Furthermore, I serve as the director for Teacher Education Community Partnerships at Rio Salado College, and we have been working closely with the National Science Foundation to examine the needs of the encore student who brings a strong STEM content knowledge to the classroom but needs assistance with the pedagogy and affective characteristics necessary to be a quality educator in a P-12 classroom.
How do you envision your role in – or contribution to – this effort?
I play a critical role in my understanding of the community college student and the barriers that they often face in completing a degree in the STEM field, such as articulation agreements that are not portable. I also understand the issues surrounding training pre-service teachers to integrate College and Career Readiness Standards into the STEM classroom curriculum.
What are some barriers to getting highly-qualified STEM teachers into the classroom?
Industry requesting more STEM candidates but not willing to collaborate on options to transfer current employees into teacher fields, such as offering retirement packages that include funding for teacher certification.
It is important to remember that we are asking STEM teachers to become highly qualified in their areas so that they, in turn, can enlighten and direct current classroom students into the field of STEM. Yet, we don’t compensate them for the wonderful job that they do to engage learners and elevate their enthusiasm for the STEM profession. We cannot continue to expect teachers to promote the field of STEM when they themselves are not getting equal compensation for careers that they are advising their students to consider. Teaching is at the heart of everything. If we don’t have quality educators then we will cease to graduate potential STEM students for industry.
Kimberly Tobey is executive director of the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs. She is also the director of Teacher Education Innovation and Initiatives at Rio Salado College.
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