The City of Chicago will open five grades 9 through 14 schools this fall to prepare students with the academic and workplace skills they’ll need for 21st Century jobs. IBM wrote the STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics) Pathways to College and Careers Schools development playbook, and pioneered the movement with New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH).
In the article below, Verizon Wireless – a corporate partner with one of Chicago’s five new schools – shares its perspective on the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) training, and connecting education to jobs.
In February, a press conference was held where Mayor Emanuel announced his intention to launch five Early College STEM Schools (ECSS) in Chicago. Working together with the Mayor’s Office, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago and additional postsecondary partners, Verizon Wireless is one of the anchor partners along with Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, and Motorola Solutions.
We have met with our fellow corporate partners to learn about how they are embarking on this program. We have all been introduced to our school principals and faculty. Most of the schools have new teachers. And some (like Corliss – which is the Verizon Wireless school) have a new principal. We’ve toured the schools, and Verizon Wireless invited a group of faculty and staff to visit our offices. We have a new vision for the students’ futures. It’s an exciting time, and we are filled with anticipation for what lies ahead of us.
We have been busy recruiting Verizon Wireless employees to become mentors for the new freshman class. There are approximately 150 students registered to begin classes in September, and we already have more than enough volunteers to mentor them!
We were very happy to discover that we already have a couple of Corliss HS alumni in our midst, and the program is being met with a great deal of enthusiasm. During an employee meeting, a member of our Training Team stepped forward to introduce herself as a graduate of Corliss HS. With that sort of real-life example of how students from Corliss can succeed within Verizon Wireless, we feel that we can inspire the new class of students immediately.
The wireless technology industry is a very dynamic environment. We are constantly adapting to change. Our audience is ever growing, as now more than 50 percent of all Americans own smartphones. The students at Corliss HS are poised to enter a workforce having grown up immersed in technology. They need to understand that they will only be limited by their imagination.
Verizon Wireless employs approximately 2,700 people in the State of Illinois. We see an average tenure of seven years with the company. There are 99 locations that include administrative offices, call centers and retail stores. We hold ourselves to a very high standard of performance, so we are always looking for bright, ambitious people to join our organization. We see a tremendous need for the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) competencies. We truly believe that to compete in the global economy, students need a strong foundation in the STEM subjects.
It’s our hope that this new model will empower schools to achieve measureable success. Verizon Wireless remains unequivocally committed to improving education, especially to help underserved schools and communities. It will ultimately contribute to the economic development of Chicago – which benefits all of us here.
Andrea Meyer serves on the Steering Committee for the Early College STEM Schools (ECSS) initiative on behalf of Verizon Wireless.