Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel today toured the Michele Clark Academic Preparatory High School on Chicago's West Side. Michele Clark is one of Chicago's five Early College Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Schools, which leverage public private partnerships and community college classes to provide students with rigorous learning opportunities and accelerated pathways to college and a career.
"What is happening in classrooms here in Chicago is a perfect example of the public and private sectors working together through innovative partnerships to help ensure that the next generation has the tools and resources they need to be prepared for college and to succeed in the global workforce," said Jewell.
"I am proud to show Secretary Jewell that here at Michele Clark, in the heart of South Austin, students are studying STEM subjects in state-of-the-art labs and have the opportunity to earn an associate's degree, receive mentoring from accomplished professionals at Cisco, participate in summer internships, and be first-in-line for job-interviews when they graduate," said Mayor Emanuel. "Early College STEM schools are another high quality option available to parents to ensure their children are receiving the necessary education foundation and skills to succeed in this highly-specialized, technical economy and in life."
Following up on his call to action in the State of the Union address, President Obama this week announced major progress toward realizing the ConnectED goal, which is an initiative designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America -- empowering teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowering students though individualized learning and rich, digital content. At the center of that program was a challenge to connect 99% of students to next-generation connectivity within five years, as a foundation for a transformation in the classroom.
All five of Chicago's STEM high schools are equipped with state of the art labs and facilities are have 1GB Internet connections in alignment with President Obama's ConnectED initiative to connect students to next-generation broadband in schools and libraries. Over 400 CPS schools have 1 Wireless Access Point for every two classrooms, over 380 CPS schools have at least 1 laptop or tablet for every 3 students, and over 100 schools currently have the technology infrastructure to implement personalized learning school-wide.
The President challenged the FCC, Federal agencies, Congress, the private sector, and communities to rise to the challenge and deliver connectivity, professional development for teachers, low-cost learning devices, high-quality education software, and home access.
As part of the Obama administration's commitment to inspire and employ the next generation, Secretary Jewell last year launched an ambitious initiative to engage the next generation to play, learn, serve and work on America's public lands. At the school visit, Secretary Jewell discussed the need for STEM education to prepare candidates to work in jobs such as those at the Department of the Interior and its bureaus
"Nearly one-third of Interior's more than 70,000 employees will be eligible to retire within five years," said Jewell. "We need to engage and inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists, wildlife biologists, park rangers, and other professionals who will care for our lands and waters," said Secretary Jewell."
Secretary Jewell and Mayor Emanuel were joined at Michele Clark by Jerry Rocco of Cisco, the industry partner of Michele Clark High School's Early College STEM School Program. Each of the Early College STEM schools has been paired with a corporate partner that provides mentors, internships, and feedback on the curriculum to teach skills that would be valuable at their company. The other four corporate partners include IBM, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, and Verizon Wireless. Each company works with one of the city's other four STEM high schools
Also during their visit to Michele Clark High School, Mayor Emanuel and Secretary Jewell had the opportunity to sit in on a 9th Grade class called "Fundamentals of IT." The course is designed to provide students with basic knowledge about the Information Technology Field. Additionally, the class allows the students to engage in project-based learning and develop problem-solving skills relevant to web-design, networking, programing, and coding.
Students at Michele Clark High School also demonstrated projects varying from working submarines requiring the application of mathematical and scientific concepts learned in their classes to work they have done with the NEIU Vex robotic program.