The UNCG STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative (STEM TLC), led by Dr. Heidi Carlone and Dr. Jennifer Mangrum of the School of Education’s TEHE department, kicked off its first annual reception and Summit on March 14 and 15 at the School of Education. The STEM TLC is a growing network of elementary teachers, school administrators, and teacher educators committed to nurturing equity in science, technology, and engineering (STEM) and empowering teacher leaders with STEM education.

At the March 14 reception, community and school leaders joined the SOE to celebrate excellent elementary STEM teachers. Provost Dana Dunn welcomed everyone to the event and Tom Young, VF Corporation’s Senior Director for Talent Acquisition, spoke about the importance of the engineering education and life skills the STEM TLC program provides for its students.  Dr. Christine Cunningham, Vice President of the Museum of Science, Boston and Founder of Engineering is Elementary, served as keynote speaker with a talk entitled Everyone can engineer: Why all kids should study engineering—even before they can spell it. This presentation used a striking collection of candid short videos shot in classrooms around the country to show what engineering looks like at the elementary level, and how classroom engineering develops positive “habits of mind” that can support young students’ academic success in other subjects.

On March 15, STEM TLC hosted the inaugural cohort of 31 STEM Teacher Leader Fellows and their principals for a day of professional learning focused on cultivating STEM teacher leadership. The STEM TLC nurtures teacher leaders as professionals and change agents. Once teachers are confident in STEM, they become resourceful school-based advocates and experts. Learning activities focus on integrating teacher and school vision with engineering habits of mind, identifying and brainstorming ways to address common problems of practice with elementary engineering in high-needs schools, and networking with teacher leaders across the North Carolina Piedmont.