Teach Wonder

Pathways to Partnerships

December 05, 2021 The Center for Excellence in STEM Education Season 1 Episode 13
Teach Wonder
Pathways to Partnerships
Show Notes Transcript

Lori Flippin is the  STEM Initiative Leader for the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. In this episode, we talk about work it takes to make change and build infrastructure for programs in schools. The hard work that teachers do is supported by businesses, partners, and leaders. Lori is one of those leaders sharing the importance of partnering in education, how soft skills and business needs should be a part of the education conversation, and what it takes to support schools. Whether you are from our region or not, this conversation is a fascinating perspective on how school translates to community and the workforce.

Links:
STEM Ecosystem
Out of School Time Network
STEM Calendar
The STEM Initiative
MiCareerQuest
Chief Science Officers- CMU
Chief Science Officers- SVSU
Contact Lori

Music by: David Biedenbender

Our Website: cmich.edu/stemed


Recently, I was spending some time with some friends of mine, we were hosting a birthday party for our youngest. So there were lots of kids running around and really excited adults who knew each other and some who didn't know each other very well. But we're all familiar with everyone's kids. So there was a bit of this all hands on deck approach to the day, it was time for cake. So one of the parents grabbed all of the kids who needed a stool and took them to the bathroom to wash their hands. Another adult directed everybody telling us to reach to the second sink. I went to move the pizza boxes on the counter to make way for cake only to find that someone else had neatly consolidated the leftover slices and stack the boxes next to the garage door. After cake, I dropped every dirty dish in the sink so we could go outside and play. Various adults clustered in the yard to chatting while keeping an eye on the trampoline, one tossing balls and refereeing a T-ball game. At one point a friend of mine was pushing my son on the tricycle as I was running to get her daughter a glass of water. After the party, I went back to the kitchen to clean up only to find the dishwasher already running the sink empty and the leftovers neatly stacked in the fridge. Oh, my husband and I were the official hosts of that party. I was not the reason it functioned as well as it did. Now birthday parties are still exhausting. I only recommend throwing them once a year. But I was able to enjoy my son spend time with my family and I was left with a clean ish house because of the help. Now, to this day, I have no idea who did the dishes. And I can't remember which adult helped with the tears that were caused by an intense T ball game. But I know that it couldn't have done it without them. So why doesn't my son's birthday party have to do with an education podcast? Stay with me. We're all pretty familiar with some of the infrastructure in education teachers check principals, counselors secretaries, check check, check paraprofessionals the special education support community SLPs PTs, OTs and school psych, cafeteria personnel, maintenance staff, janitorial staff. Outside of the school proper. We have superintendents, Dean's curriculum, directors it and on and on. But outside of the formal school system, and we've talked about this before on the show, we have these other individuals and systems that work to support our schools and students. When I listen to this interview that you're about to hear, I kept thinking about that birthday party, about the silent support the unseen dishwasher and that bathroom Renner. Now today we're talking with someone that you likely know really well or you have never heard of at all. But if you're in our region, your school or students have undoubtably benefited from the work that she's doing. Let's take a listen.

Julie Cunningham:

Welcome to the podcast. today. We are lucky enough to be talking with Lori flippin from the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. And she will tell us a little bit about herself.

Lori Flippin:

Though my role right now is the STEM Initiative Leader for the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.

Julie Cunningham:

I think our listeners should appreciate what a large job it was that you took on. I mean, what I remember thinking when that Job was posted was like, Oh, my gosh, there's so much that goes into this position. And Laura, you've done so well over the years. But it was a big undertaking for a brand new position.

Lori Flippin:

It was interesting getting to create something not from scratch. I mean, there was certainly a ton of groundwork that had been laid at the point where I came in, but it was still very new. And so to get to work with community leaders to build something brand new, it was daunting to think about how that would go and what that would look like. But also, at the same time, just a tremendous challenge to be able to do that. And try to make a difference for the region and join with others who cared as much you know, about the region moving forward and being the best possible place to live, work and play that we could have. So yes, it was it was crazy in the beginning, but I think we've done a lot together.

Julie Cunningham:

Would you mind sharing some examples of what you're currently working on?

Lori Flippin:

Absolutely. And it's it's a broad variety of things that we have our hands in. And a lot of cases people have no idea that we're involved in any way because essentially, we have a tiny little staff at the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, and we really, almost never run programs. So it's all of our partners that do the dynamic work out in the communities. And so it appears as though it's only the partners that are behind the work. So for example, we are involved in a wide variety of things with you guys that are collaborations with various different organizations.

Ashley O'Neil:

So one of the things that Lori's organization does is provide grants for institutions and organizations to work directly with schools and students. We received some of those grants and have been able to partner with places like the Chippewa River District Library, the Chippewa Nature Center, and the Midland County ESA, and SPARKS.

Lori Flippin:

And with the students in those programs, so that you are empowering the educators to be the best that they can be, and giving them the tools to succeed, all while delivering programs to youth with that collaboration, so that is part of what we call our access and equity mini grantprogram.

Ashley O'Neil:

This program was specifically designed to partner community organizations with schools to provide students who may not typically have access to a program, the opportunity to participate. This grant is a great summary of the passion that Laurie brings to projects, getting organizations to collaborate and meet, giving students new opportunities and tapping into resources from our area to make all of that happen.

Lori Flippin:

And that network, the out of school time network, we have a large amount of projects that take place with that. So the access and equity mini grants would be one of them stem passport project, where we try to make sure that we constantly find out what activities are taking place. Within the eight counties, we hire a marketing and social media person to keep our calendar of events updated on behalf of many of the nonprofit organizations within the region, because they're smaller organizations as well, like around

Ashley O'Neil:

The calendar that Lori is referring to. Her organization finds activities that are happening in the region, from library events to nature walks, summer camps, and they build the calendar for you to let you know where and when these things are happening. So instead of searching down individual Facebook groups, or event notifications, signing up for a million different newsletters, their calendar is a one stop shop for you to find all of the things that are available for your family to do in the region.

Lori Flippin:

And if we weren't helping to bring them together and create this calendar and push out the information and have kind of a one stop shop for parents with our calendar of events that's hard for all of those organizations to do on their own. So together, we can really maximise on our resources and get that information out into the community so that more people can see what's happening. We use the stem passport as kind of a marketing tool to get the information out and to do promotional campaigns. For example, like over Christmas break, we will heavily promote parents and families going out and exploring STEM activities within the region via the passport. And we try to make sure that there are incentives in that passport that would allow the opportunities to be nearly free, or free if if we can so that they're more accessible by the masses. So the stem passport, the access and equity mini grants, those are projects within what we call our out of school time network. We also have a lot of things in our college and career readiness network projects with math in the mail. That time man math, st math eSports is an emerging area where we're trying to encourage exploration of technology related degrees by using eSports kind of as a vehicle to get that information out to students and along the way they explore careers and they have mental health and well being related activities that are part of those programs. And then there's a lot of computer science related activities with pushing and promoting the CS discoveries, CS or AP CSP courses, internships through MSU St. Andrews center over the summer, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. So those are a few examples. And that's only touching on two of the area's really that we work in. We also work in what we call our employer, talent, pipeline, group.

Ashley O'Neil:

And others. Each of these projects on their own are significant to the people involved. A student who gets an internship that can affect their life trajectory. And Lori and her team are a part of each and every one of them quietly and steadily promoting them encouraging people to participate, planning events and connecting schools and teachers and individual students to the resources to make these events a possibility.

Julie Cunningham:

Lori, you talked a little bit about the STEM Pipeline. Can you talk a little bit more about what it looks like to engage local businesses and STEM education? Because I know you do a lot of that through the alliance as well.

Lori Flippin:

Absolutely. So a lot of people see the any sort of STEM initiative as solely an educational initiative. And it's really not true at all. It is very much about business education partnerships, and making sure that the end result of a student's education process is to make sure that they can contribute to society and be gainfully employed and have a chance at a high demand high wage career where they'll have upward mobility.

Ashley O'Neil:

Those of you listening might hear this and think, Whoa, my second grade student or my preschool child, I'm not ready to put them on a career pipeline just yet. And I'm with you on that. The conversation though, speaks to a broader impact that we as a local community and a larger society have on children, and what we value and how that impacts the job opportunities and resources that are available as those children grow, grow up. And while I'm far from ready to say that my child is going to be an engineer, or a pharmacy technician, I am ready to say that I want my child to have value and be valued in the community. Contributions look different for each individual. But businesses are uniquely positioned to have a good idea of the type of skills that help their employees to thrive, listening to those voices, and taking those ideas into consideration prevents a disconnect between the preparation happening at school, and the expectations and the workforce. And that does benefit kids.

Lori Flippin:

And so we try to work with the companies within our region to make sure that when they have certain talent means that we're working together with all of our educational partners to make sure that students know about careers that would allow them to be employable within the region.

Ashley O'Neil:

I'm incredibly happy with my current career. But I've talked to several people over the years. And if that I had no idea that that was even a job. And I wonder if I had known when I was 18 Would I have made different decisions. When our students leave our school system for hire enter the workforce, they deserve to have a realistic understanding of the types of jobs that are available, and the path needed to get from where they are to where that career lies. It's also our responsibility to help them see the viability of that career.

Lori Flippin:

Back when I was in the classroom, one of the things you absolutely never wanted to hear was when you had students go through your class, come back and visit and say, you know, I got a degree in history, for example. But now I'm working at McDonald's, and I have all this college debt. And there's there's no jobs for me.

Ashley O'Neil:

Now, there's nothing wrong with working in a field outside of your degree or plan. But that mismatch can create debt for an individual or leave them feeling like they made a mistake and are ill prepared for their own future.

Lori Flippin:

We don't want that to happen to students in the Great Lakes Bay region. We want them to find out about careers early on when they can prepare for them and find a path towards a career where they won't be employable. So our businesses then, for example, like next year, automotive Dow Chemical Fullerton tool, all the different hospitals in the region. They help to give us information on what their needs are. And not only that, they offer internships, they offer company tours, they will come in and they'll do mock interviewing, they will mentor students they will be they'll participate in leadership training programs like the Chief Science Officer Program.

Ashley O'Neil:

So that silent partner I mentioned the secret dishwasher at your party, these businesses can take the pressure off of knowing about all of the jobs and all of the options available and help share that information with your students.

Lori Flippin:

They really are very active partners in helping to inform us helping us to work with like Delta College and MidMichigan College in particular for some fast track training programs when their needs are immediate and kind of very specific. And then they are long term partners for helping with development of the career exploration opportunities.

Ashley O'Neil:

Lori goes on to share some specific ways that businesses do just that.

Lori Flippin:

And then since COVID, hit the have wide variety of them have created videos that has taken the place of company tours and things like that when we can't get students out in businesses right now because of the pandemic. Those videos are available at middle Michigan, my career quest if you Google that you'd be able to easily find them. And our organization has written lesson plans to go along with them. So that career exploration can take place and company tours can take place even during a pandemic and that's strong business partners, making those kinds of things happen. And last but not least they contribute financially to we have a lot of businesses are investing in the students so that they have the most amount of experiences that they can have. And sometimes that's in the form of transportation grants, the access and equity mini grants I mentioned earlier, those are all funded by next year, Dow funds my position and allows for, you know, just that infrastructure to be in place for us to have all these opportunities for collaboration within the region, morally has contributed, you know, by producing videos and having other different interactions. So there are a lot of business partners that come together to make sure that we're all doing our part, to make all this stuff happen.

Julie Cunningham:

I just want to clarify for our listeners, when Lori talks about some of these businesses and the skills, sometimes we're talking about skilled trades, we're not just always talking about technology, or computer science, or a four year degree that you might associate with a stem position. So sometimes we're talking about when you mentioned the career quest, a lot of those types of positions have skilled trades and those types of skills that we associate with them.

Lori Flippin:

Yeah, and I think unfortunately, sometimes parents and students, they hear stem and they think engineer and only, like you said, the four year degree or beyond in types of training that would lead to those kinds of positions. And it's absolutely not the stem skill set that students would learn, you know, by taking their science, math, technology and engineering related lessons through school lead very well into skilled trades careers. And there are a lot of amazing careers within the trades there. They tie into a lot of advanced manufacturing related careers where students can apply, you know, 3d printing and design related principles that they learn if they participate even in like a robotics club or team. But then there are the traditional skilled trades too, with being a welder or pursuing H fac. And you do not need a four to four year degree for those types of careers. There are a lot of skilled trades training programs through the unions, there are skilled trades training programs at Greater Michigan construction Academy, Delta College, MidMichigan College. There are a lot of paths to skilled trades careers, and a lot of new ones that are being created now that are tied to certifications, where you may get a certification at the end of a program that isn't tied to like a full apprenticeship related program. But it's something that gives you a skill and gives you a credential that you can then be desirable when an employer wants someone that is, you know, a CAD technician, for example. So there are many, many opportunities that all use stem skillsets, where you can pick and choose any type of path that appeals to you. You are not absolutely not limited to every life's career needing a four year degree.

Julie Cunningham:

Yeah, and I think with that, I think it's also that we can learn about some of the career exploration because if I date myself, right when I was in college, some of those careers didn't exist, or don't look the same as they do now. And so if you've been removed from the job search or taking college courses or looking at careers for a while, you might you might be surprised about what's out there and the wages associated with it, and the skills associated with those jobs. So it's just I think it's a little bit interesting to see the changing workforce and the changing skills. And just to reacquaint yourself.

Ashley O'Neil:

I'm going to jump to a part of the conversation where Lori talks a little bit more about the impact that silent partners can have on the school community. And the part that our community and its values drive things in ways we don't always recognize. If you're someone in education today in 2021, it's likely that your students or children do some sort of coding in school, and that computer usage skills mean more than word processing and type speed. But long before scratch and code.org became things that kids said on a weekly basis. Before Hour of Code. Before your kids were building websites and making video games before animations were commonplace at school. These programs had to be made available. Teachers needed to be aware that they existed and they needed to be trained in their use, which meant that workshops or PDS needed to be developed, facilitators trained and connected to schools and teachers. Before that, districts needed to decide that coding had value it for their students, that it was worth shuffling precious moments of the day to make time for this new activity. And that meant advocates needed to do research, talk with individuals outside of the classrooms to say hey, this is happening. Coding means jobs in tech growth, computational thinking as a part of our world, and kids deserve access to those skills. And then a lot of people, teachers included, quietly working behind the scenes to get the infrastructure in place to decide the building blocks that went into this entirely new part of teaching. So while teachers were busy working hard and making their classrooms the best it could be, and while they were advocating on their own for changing best practices, other individuals were also contributing to this tremendous building project.

Lori Flippin:

So I think, you know, for example, with the code data or programming, we've not done a ton of in that space, other than promotion, strongly promoting and advocating for the program has made it so that our region leads the state in participation for teachers pursuing those programs. You know, and even you guys taking on the lead with having a trainer in your organization that then allows that to be more accessible. And then we had five participants for getting this computer science standards passed at the state level, if you don't do some of those kinds of things, where you help with other building blocks to make sure that those get put in place. So that it's another piece of the puzzle, in order to get everybody to move forward. You know, not saying that just five of us participating on that was the magic cure or anything, but it's one more thing to make sure that our there are opportunities within our region. And, you know, it's in many cases, because of the group meeting and everybody agreeing that we're trying to work on certain objectives in order to improve the region, that then everybody's kind of on the same page. So we're helping to get that word out. But then all of our partners are really pushing in supporting, you know, those being priority items, they may otherwise get pushed to the background, because you know, we don't have time for it, or our staffs too overloaded.

Ashley O'Neil:

And with coding in Michigan, as Lori said, there are so many individuals involved in making that a priority for schools. Kathy surd, for example, is just one name, who was instrumental in getting Michigan to be a leader in code network. But the point here is not about coding or a specific content area. The point is that getting ideas to go larger than a classroom or a cluster of classrooms, takes a partnering of efforts, teacher acts can be doing a phenomenal and innovative thing in their classroom. But in order for more teachers to be aware of that tool, or in order for districts to have resources ready to implement that tool, and ultimately, for more students to have access to that idea, it takes a concerted effort from a lot of different people.

Lori Flippin:

So sometimes it just takes that silent partner in the background, because a lot of times there are so many opportunities in eight counties, but how do you know about them? And if you don't know about them, then you can't participate in them?

Ashley O'Neil:

Obviously, coding is a single example of an initiative. But what are some of the skills that Lorie and others in the region are looking to strengthen? When we look back at the business partnerships, and the idea that thoughtful individuals in the workforce have unique idea of what skills are vital? Julie takes this conversation back with Laurie to consider these tools.

Julie Cunningham:

So that I feel like you've answered my next question, Laurie, but I want to see if maybe we can summarize it. So what I'm understanding is that we talked a lot about this best mix of hard and soft skills, both with this ultimate mindset of being a successful human in the workplace. Does that shape how you define STEM and STEM education is this kind of mixed between hard and soft skills?

Lori Flippin:

It's it's definitely a blend of hard and soft skills. And I think what gets confusing about defining STEM education, depending upon who you're talking to, is there in my mind, there's two aspects to stem. There's STEM education and their STEM careers. And so it's, it's kind of two different things. Your STEM education piece, you know, contains the skills that each letter represents. It contains science that contains math, and the others. But it's more about how you learn and that's where I think the the soft skills and other things come in, you know, through problem solving, where you're going to apply your hard skills and soft skills. It's the application of the STEM knowledge and using that to work through problems, kind of is all encompassing as to what the STEM education realm is like. And then if you take stem education and apply it to real world problems within the work environment, you're working in a STEM career if you take that STEM knowledge and utilize it to solve problems in the real world environment. So you might have a career where it's Part of the time. And then it might be, you know, a separate category the other part of the time. But I truly believe that in everybody's life, in their home life, you're going to apply STEM skills, and you're going to be a better person, if you have a great STEM background. And you'll create a more sustainable world. If you care about STEM and you then you learn the basics about STEM. And then if you do have even some portion of your job where you have to problem solve, and work through problems, collaboratively, then we're really in a way all stem learners in our careers and in our lives. So if everybody has a strong STEM skill set on the education side, on the on the application side, then everything will be much better in our community.

Unknown:

I think that Laurie, that's a really nice way to tie it all together a really nice summary. Because I think it's hard for people, sometimes. STEM means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, even here at the university, right, we tend to have STEM careers, and we tend to have STEM education. And so there's obviously some overlap. But also, it's nice that you differentiate the application of that. I think I feel like we're kind of looking at our list of questions. And many of them, you've answered in one way, shape or form already. But what do you think you would like to see next? And maybe these two questions go together? See next in the region for STEM or STEM education? And or what opportunities or challenges do you see coming in the way of the region in terms of STEM education?

Lori Flippin:

Well, I think probably at the top of the list is the challenge of COVID. You know, we we had a lot of momentum going into COVID, in terms of increased opportunities for students and a lot of things that were going in a direction that we wanted to see. And once you remove face to face interactions, or at least drastically reduced them, the opportunities have not been as robust as they could have been, we had a lot of grant projects that were delayed, you know, in terms of their implementation. So figuring out how to overcome those challenges when we, I mean, let's be real, it's the pandemic isn't over. And just because a lot of people have gotten vaccinated and things like that, we're going to continue to have people go in and out, we're going to have certain people that, especially if they have compromised health, that are not going to have the opportunities, they would have had had the pandemic not happened. And so I think one of the biggest challenges for the stem steering group this year is to figure out how to help entities in the region collaborate, to make the best possible scenario for students to be able to recover some of the lost learning opportunities that they would have had had, this never happened. And I think that's going to be a massive challenge. I know that, you know, cities and townships and schools have received a lot of extra funding, in order to try to make that happen. But anybody that works, you know, in any sort of environment where you have to implement programs, it's not easy to go from getting money to do a program, and actually creating an implementing a robust, robust program, that's going to make a difference.

Ashley O'Neil:

Because money doesn't immediately translate to personnel, it doesn't translate to resources or tools, it doesn't translate to decisions made about how to allocate those funds. So while the financial boost is fantastic, it is just one part of a very complicated problem.

Lori Flippin:

And so I really feel for the leaders of all of those organizations that are going to have to do what would have always been their normal job. And then layer on top of it, figuring out how to spend all that money, and then create the programs and implement the programs on top of, you know, just what would have already been their normal full time job. And so any way that we can bring community partners together to try to help with that, I think will be the most important part of our work going forward. Because I don't believe that it'll be anywhere near possible for all the different entities in the region to just do that alone in silos.

Ashley O'Neil:

So you've heard Lori share some specific examples about her how her role in the region strengthens and promote the programs gives access, whether its financial or physical to students and families and creates partnerships. I think of it a bit like a highway in which Laurie has access to a larger or bigger helicopter view map. than the rest of us. So from her Vantage, she can see that there's a resource or a business or grant that would be a perfect fit for a middle school. Or she can realize that all of the districts within these counties are looking for the same kind of support in a specific way. So she connects them, she takes all those commonalities and looks for solutions that are larger than a single district or a building. Because a position like Lori's is created with a big ask, helps schools in the region in STEM, it becomes a bit complicated to understand all of the ways that that support presents itself. Here, Julie asks Laurie, a bit about another layer of her position?

Julie Cunningham:

Or do you want to talk about the stem ecosystem at all in that work? Or is that how you worked with the group in Israel? Is it through the stem ecosystem?

Lori Flippin:

Yes, it was. So sometimes the other confusing part about our STEM work is we are absolutely not the only players in the game for STEM work. I've mentioned a lot of our partners in the region that work with us. But some key partners, I did not mention our first the my stem network, which is a state of Michigan group. It's part of the labor and economic opportunity department of the Michigan Department of Education. And so that particular group, we have a my stem lead within our region that helps us with our efforts, her name's Claire bunker, and she's absolutely fabulous. And she's a, a big partner in what we do. And then we also have, you know, the other my stem network directors around the state that we get ideas from and a leader of that group in the state Megan trauma. And that helps to direct a lot of the work where now there's other communities doing what we were already doing in the region. And then at the same time, there's yet another layer to the work because there's an international stem ecosystem group that we applied to be part of cash, it was probably about six years ago now. And there are, I believe, 94 communities around the world that have what they call STEM ecosystems. So our group was in the first cohort that was accepted into that group. And prior to the pandemic, all of the ecosystems would have the opportunity to gather twice a year in a community of practice that allowed us to get together and share ideas, find out about emerging practices, find out about promising practices that other ecosystems were beginning. And be in it together with all of these other organizations. Some of them are statewide ecosystems. Some of them are based out of museums, some of them are entire countries, like Israel has their own ecosystem made up of hubs within their country. So there's a lot of information that you can gather from a group like that. And then because they're a huge collaborative, even this year, we had the opportunity to present policy suggestions to the Biden administration. So through a variety of sessions and through facilitated discussions, and then a report that was supplied to the day one team that gave recommendations not just for day one, but but for the first 90 days of the administration. In the end, it was a 92 page document of the most important things in stem that 94 communities collaborated on putting together. So those kinds of high level pieces also helped to inform nationwide policy, on what direction we had in for stem that we're incredibly proud to be a part of. So it's a lot of layers, from that group, down to the state level down to the regional level. But it really helps to have all that information when you're trying to figure out how to make a difference in the best possible way.

Julie Cunningham:

You've talked about the STEM pipeline, the access and equity grants, I know these are two ways in which educators could check you out and could potentially be involved. But is there anything else that you feel like listeners should know?

Lori Flippin:

I think the only other thing is the career exploration piece. We collaborate with the different ISPs within the region that have added career navigators in addition to the normal counselors that they had within their school systems. And every time we get any sort of information about career exploration videos, soft skill related information, opportunities for students to start touring again when they can or internships when they Come up, we share that information out through the regional counselors and the regional career navigators. But that does not mean that they have ready access to students. Finding time to actually meet with students, especially during messed up schedules with COVID is a very difficult thing to do. So something as simple as those my career quest videos that we mentioned, and the lessons that are right on the same webpage with them, if we could get the help of teachers within the region, to implement those career videos and the lessons that go with them, even if it's just your sub plan, you know, if that's your backup sub plan, and you have that available, or if you have the students that are always quicker than the rest of the students, and they have 10 minutes left at the end of class, have those videos as a backup, to help us to get more students to explore careers in the region that we know are in demand right here. And almost always we try to exclusively focus on those that are more higher wage. Please help me a partner to share those career resources with students and maybe start that discussion in your district like, should we maybe incorporated into homeroom? Should we incorporate it into, you know, if there's any sort of rotating seminar that all students are exposed to? Or could it get embedded into an English class and then students have to write about it as part of their informational writing? bring the discussion back to your district on how you can help to make sure that that career exploration is implemented, because providing it and implementing it are two different things.

Julie Cunningham:

Okay, kind of exciting. Yes. Well, thank you, Laurie, I appreciate it. I always learned something new. And I appreciate that. I'm always just again, amazed at the number of layers and number of things that you're a part of and have to keep straight to participate in. So I appreciate your time today, and you're sharing with our audience.

Ashley O'Neil:

So like Julie said, another theme of this episode could be layers. In our original interview, we talked with Laurie for an hour, and we still didn't cover all of the projects and partnerships that she's been working on. But I'm hoping that you're leaving this episode with a new perspective on some of the normally unseen work in education. Because here's the thing. educating our students has been and continues to be a group effort. Those grants that Laurie mentioned, teachers are sitting down on a Tuesday night after putting their own families to bed and writing them advocating for their students to get those resources into their classroom. Those businesses we talked about. They're putting coupons on those discount cards, kids celebrate fall, and they're meeting with educators because they want to invest in the community and the children in it. The school hours of eight to 330 and the faces you see in your students yearbook are only a fraction of the story. It was a great to hear from one former teacher and current student and teacher advocate and Laurie flippin. We challenge you to learn about the helpers and the people who are working to give our students the best in your own community. This podcast is brought to you by the Center for Excellence in STEM education at Central Michigan University. If you're interested in learning more about how schools have partnered with us, as mentioned in the podcast, or any of the other great programs you heard about, check us out on our website by going googling C mesh CMI, ch and stem STM