Far Reaching Benefits of STEM BEST

School districts, workplaces and communities interested in an opportunity to apply classroom learning to the workplace still have time to submit an application for the STEM BEST Program. Applications are due June 15, 2020.

Still contemplating applying to become a STEM BEST (Business Engaging Students and Teachers) Program? Jeff Grebin from Stanton Community School District, an awardee of the 2019-2020 STEM BEST Program in Southwest Iowa, shares genuine experience in deciding to take the leap and complete an application for STEM BEST Program award.

What was keeping you from applying for the STEM BEST Program?

I think the biggest reason was time. In a K-12 building with just under 250 students, most teachers are committed to one or more extra-curricular activities and numerous preps.

What motivated you to complete the STEM BEST Program application?

The perfect storm. Last spring, our Regional STEM Manager helped me formulate an initial plan to get our school more engaged in STEM activities. Another colleague and I applied for and received a STEM Scale-Up Program award to participate in the week long STEM Innovator class over the summer. We also heard from our Authentic Learning Coordinator from the AEA about all of the STEM-related things going on around the region and we got excited.

What has been a benefit of becoming a STEM BEST Program?

It has given us the little nudge we needed to get some really exciting things happening. The financial support has been huge and investments we are making to strengthen our programs has grabbed the attention of the entire staff. A group in our community has also been looking at ways to get more involved in the school, so it has really opened the doors of communication and rebuilt some relationships. Conversations have continued to grow beyond our initial plans.  

How has the STEM BEST Program benefited your program partners?

Our partners are really excited about the school’s interest in developing partnerships. Each partner brings very unique opportunities for our students and the partners are excited about the possibilities of what it can do for the community beyond their businesses. The projects will help better the experience of people using their service, while providing our students some very authentic learning. 

How has the STEM BEST Program benefited your students?

Students have been put face-to-face with people in the community who make decisions and our students were able to give input and be a part of the process. Students want to be involved in things where they have ownership and responsibility. They want to give back to the community. I have students asking how they can be involved in projects even though they are not in my classes. We (teachers/partners) have answers for that.

What is your best advice to someone who might be “on the fence” to apply? 

JUMP! You’ll land right where your school and community needs you and the ripples of benefits will be far reaching!

Applications for the STEM BEST Program are due June 15, 2020. For more information, visit http://www.iowastem.gov/STEMBEST/application or contact Tanya Hunt at hunt@iowastem.gov.

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