The theme of the Spring NCSLA meeting was a “Leadership Summit to Assess the State of STEM Education in North Carolina”. Held at the James Hunt Library at NC State University in Raleigh, the meeting attracted science education leaders from all grade levels, universities, informal science organizations, businesses, and individuals. Highlights of the meeting included speeches by Tisha Greene and Wayne Fisher, recipients of the 2016 and 2017 Outstanding Administrator Award for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education in North Carolina. They spoke on the topic of “Transformational Leadership: Pathways to Being a Leader for STEM Education in North Carolina”. Jami Inman then shared timely information from the NC Department of Public Instruction about the support they provide to science/STEM teachers throughout the state. Michelle Ellis, wrapped up the lunch portion of the program with a general talk on “What is Leadership”.
Following a short business meeting and the presentation of the Michael C. Jackson Award, breakout sessions for grades K-5, 6-12, and Education Outreach (Informal Science and Universities) were facilitated to identify obstacles to overcome, strategies for success, and policies, programs, and people to implement strategies to improve STEM education leadership in North Carolina.
The “Big Rocks” to overcome, to nurture, and grow STEM education leadership include a) buy-in from all stakeholders, b) funding for resources, c) teacher professional development, and d) the challenge of attracting and retaining excellent teachers willing to risk and change. The goal of NCSLA is to help overcome those obstacles by creating opportunities for science education leaders to network to develop and implement strategies to enrich and enhance STEM education leadership in North Carolina.