100Kin10 network aims to grow STEM teaching force
The Orchard Foundation has been selected as a partner in a national network that coordinates and accelerates efforts to bring 100,000 new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers into schools by 2021.
Orchard was one of 49 new partner organizations accepted into the 100Kin10 network in February. It joins over 280 of the country’s top businesses, nonprofits, foundations and academic institutions working toward this common goal.
“This gives Orchard the opportunity to network with other organizations across the country that are involved in STEM teacher preparation, recruitment and retention efforts. We’ll be exposed to model programs across the country, and then be able to bring ideas back to Central Louisiana in the hopes that we can develop similar programs to further develop the STEM workforce,” said Marjorie Taylor, Executive Director of The Orchard Foundation. “We are very honored to have been selected because it is a very stringent application process, and we will be among some very prominent universities and national organizations. We are looking forward to the opportunity to network with them.”
The Orchard Foundation is a local education fund established by The Rapides Foundation. Orchard works with school districts, businesses and communities to improve educational opportunities in Central Louisiana. Orchard receives funding from The Rapides Foundation to administer many of the programs developed under its Education Initiative.
“The Rapides Foundation’s Education Initiative recognizes the importance of STEM and Career and Technical Education (CTE) in preparing 21st century learners for global competitiveness,” said Joe Rosier, president and CEO of The Rapides Foundation and chairman of Orchard’s board of directors. “We are honored that 100Kin10 shares our mission and accepted us as a partner.”
Orchard and Xavier University of Louisiana are the only two 100Kin10 members from Louisiana. Other members include Girls Who Code, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Penn State University, Carnegie Science Center, The Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
100Kin10 partners have access to exclusive research, learning, innovation and funding opportunities, all designed to foster collaborative problem-solving and support partners in fulfilling their ambitious commitments toward 100Kin10’s shared goal.
100Kin10 Executive Director Talia Milgrom-Elcott wrote that Orchard was selected “because of the strength and significance of your commitment, your organizational capacity and leadership, and your ability and desire to contribute to the 100Kin10 goal and network. The review panel specifically called out your deep reach into the state of Louisiana and ability to tailor your programs to the needs of your community. You display the ambition and commitment necessary to make our goal a reality.”
Orchard cited its longstanding work in STEM and Career and Technical Education (CTE) training for Central Louisiana teachers in its application to 100Kin10.
Orchard administered the Central Louisiana Academic Residency for Teachers, a site-based teacher program conceptualized by The Rapides Foundation and LSU to increase the number of qualified math and science teachers in rural schools. Six cohorts of residents went through the program, which ran from 2010 to 2015. CART trained college graduates and paid their tuitions as they worked toward an LSU Master of Natural Science degree. Once they completed the residency, CART graduates agreed to teach in Central Louisiana high schools for three years after receiving their master’s degrees. CART was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to LSU. CART partners were The Rapides Foundation, LSU, The Orchard Foundation, LSU Alexandria and the Central Louisiana public school districts. By the end of the entire program, 45 qualified STEM teachers were placed and teaching in Cenla schools.
Final CART cohort graduating summer 2015
One of Orchard’s most recent STEM-CTE projects is the Workplace Experience Exchange (WEE) Camp, an externship for educators. Started in 2015, WEE Camp is a three-day summer camp for teachers to engage in business and industry activities to learn how classroom content and learning strategies are applied in the workplace. The goal is to increase a teacher’s ability to connect theory with practice, and bring an understanding of workplace practices and policies into the classroom, increasing the relevance of student learning.
“It gives teachers experience in what goes on in business and industry. WEE Camp is the first time many educators have the opportunity to explore the skills employers are demanding of the workforce, and take that back and apply it to their classrooms. Educators become immersed in the worlds their students will enter one day as credentialed and degreed workers,” Taylor said. “Teachers leave camp with first-hand knowledge of the workforce issues facing the Central Louisiana region, and our hope is that they possess a new confidence to create linkages with industry and community members.”
Workplace Experience Exchange (WEE) Camp participants at Plastipak.
Last year’s WEE Camp was funded by a Jump Start grant from the Louisiana Department of Education. Moving forward, it will be funded by The Rapides Foundation.
For this summer’s WEE Camp, 15 selected educators from the region will be given a broad exposure to a wide range of businesses, industries, and postsecondary institutions in Central Louisiana for three days. In addition, five select Rapides Parish educators will be given in-depth exposure to one business/industry. These five educators will be paired with one employer and spend three days immersed in the processes related to that business. On the fourth and final day they will join the WEE Camp I campers on tours of area businesses/industries to gain a broader knowledge of Central Louisiana employers as a whole.
Other accomplishments that contributed to Orchard’s acceptance into 100Kin10:
- It administers the Cenla Work Ready Network, funded by The Rapides Foundation, which prepares high school students for careers in the workplace. The network offers high school students and under-employed or unemployed adults the chance to earn a nationally recognized certificate that demonstrates their work-ready skills.
- Orchard administers a variety of institutes for Central Louisiana educators designed to build leaders in the field of education. These institutes, funded by The Rapides Foundation, consist of leadership training from the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership, and training from Kagan in their Cooperative Learning Strategies and Kagan Structures.
- It helped engineer the Central Louisiana Jump Start Consortium. “Jump Start” is Louisiana’s innovative career and technical education program that prepares students to lead productive adult lives, capable of continuing their education after high school while earning certifications in high-wage career sectors.
- Orchard’s successful collaboration with Central Louisiana’s school districts resulted in the “Students Exploring Career Opportunities” Expo, the only interactive, student-focused event in Louisiana that introduces public school students to career possibilities at the middle school level. The first expo in January 2015 attracted more than 40 industry and postsecondary partners and more than 3,000 students from seven school districts. The second expo, in December 2015, attracted 3,104 students from 10 districts.