Two Harry S. Truman High School science teachers – Jacquelyn Bellerby and Thomas Drazek – will impact the future of STEM education as Pennsylvania STEM Ambassadors.
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network announced the fourth cohort of the Pennsylvania STEM Ambassadors Program. Bellerby and Drazek are two of the 36 members of the cohort who are participating in the 10-month program, which aims to shape STEM education by targeting vital policy conversations to legislative leadership.
“I thought becoming a STEM Ambassador would be a great way for me to further educate myself on policies in the state of Pennsylvania, and bring that back to the district and help move us toward the future,” said Bellerby.
Ambassadors will serve as role models and mentors, empowering youth to look toward a bright future in STEM while working to build a coalition of local and regional support for STEM education initiatives and advance policy goals.
STEM education is vital for the future of the workforce, however, students lack knowledge about what they can do in science and STEM fields. Bellerby and Drazek believe an increased focus in STEM at Truman would help students see what they can do and spark an interest in the field. This could be starting an annual science fair for students or inviting employees in the industry to talk to classes.
“We are thinking about where the workforce is going to be in 20 years and want to prepare students for that,” said Drazek, adding that STEM isn’t just courses at school or a job field. “It’s a way of thinking. Once the brain is in the critical thinking mindset, it applies to everything in life.”
His goal is to teach students to be critical thinkers and combat “bad science” or science that is not backed up by scientific data, yet many people falsely believe in.
The Pennsylvania STEM Ambassador Program kicked off with a two-day virtual training on March 3 and 4. The training was informational and focused on policymaker engagement, media and issue training.
“I’m excited for more STEM Ambassador meetings to learn how STEM policy is handled at a state level and how other districts are incorporating STEM,” said Bellerby.
The ambassadors meet once every two months and there will be a conference in November for ambassadors to present projects. Throughout the STEM Ambassador Program, Bellerby and Drazek will be briefed on state and federal policy initiatives, as well as encouraged to take a leadership role in advancing STEM education policy.
To learn more, visit psaydn.org