DaQuaris Moore, a sixth grader at W.A. Pattillo, said, “I like science and math and I just want to learn more about it.”
He sat quietly with his mother and siblings, as they waited to hear the presentation on Edgecombe County Public School’s STEM program.
The North Carolina A & T (Agricultural and Technical) State University Regional Collaborative for Excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) kick-off event Thursday generated an enormous amount of support from the community.
Fifth and sixth grade middle school teachers, principals, students and parents attended the event at Edgecombe Community College’s Fleming Building to understand the critical role STEM plays in the lives of the youth.
The purpose of the project is to utilize the resources of universities, schools, communities and industries in the area to provide STEM educational opportunities for middle school students.
This project will allow students like DaQuaris to achieve their goals in life in pursuit of STEM careers.
“It will help me get better in science and math and will push me towards what I want to do in my life with science and math,” he said.
Three components are essential to the process of the project, which include professional development of teachers, mentoring through academic support and community engagement.
Phillips Middle and W.A. Pattillo A+ schools are currently the only two schools in the district collaborating with the project.
The Golden LEAF Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Rocky Mount has funded STEM activities in six counties in Eastern North Carolina, including Edgecombe.
In November, N.C. A&T received a grant in the amount of $500,000 from the foundation to work closely with each district. The university partnered with Community Empowerment Network, a community-based organization to form the STEM project.
Edgecombe, along with Bertie, Gates, Wilson and Pitt counties were selected for the initiative, because they are considered to be high poverty, low education counties.
Chris Wallace, program director of Black Child Development Institute and Dr. Elizabeth Barber, associate professor of leadership at N.C. A& T, who represented SMART PATH (Service Mentoring Achievement Responsibility Teamwork) talked to the audience about the importance of having mentoring as a part of the student’s learning process.
Both organizations are in a contract with the university to train local mentors, due to their success in their communities according to Shanae Godley, project coordinator who was happy about the outcome of the event.
“I’m very excited for the turnout tonight,” she said. “I am so grateful that those who came out did. If we can get a few parents now, they will tell a few more and before long, we will have even more parents who will want to support their child through this program.”