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The partnership started last year by Northwestern University and Evanston Township High School is serving as a model for partnering with other high schools, according to NU President Morton Schapiro.

The university opened an office at the high school with a fulltime Northwestern employee whose sole assignment is to foster meaningful exchanges between the two institutions, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics..the so-called STEM courses.

At ETHS, they have expanded the acronym to STEAM to add the arts to the mix, according to Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

The concept was discussed and lauded by both Schapiro and Witherspoon at a Northwestern-sponsored luncheon in the Governors Mansion in Springfield Wednesday during the Evanston-Day-in-Springfield event.

Dr. Amy D. Pratt of Northwestern

Also appearing on the program was Dr. Amy D. Pratt, associate director of STEM Education Partnerships, who is charged with the responsibility for expanding STEM partnerships and for making them become increasingly effective for both the university and the high schools.

She said that, in addition to ETHS, Northwestern is beginning a similar partnership with a school in the Chicago Public School system and in Schaumburg.

“We believe that a strong relationship helps build a stronger community,” Pratt declared.

Witherspoon said the high school has sent a group of students to participate in a program on “design thinking” at the university.

The partnership between the two institutions not only involves bringing high school students to use the many scientific laboratories at Northwestern, but also has brought Northwestern faculty and students to participate in relevant activities at the high school, the speakers said.

One such activity, for example, was a group of members of Women in Science and Engineering at Northwestern who had lunch in the ETHS cafeteria with high school female students interested in persuing careers in science.

Other activities included a biotech day and a scientific images contest, which combined both art and science into a single event.

Witherspoon added that about 75 NU students have volunteered as tutors at ETHS and that the university is an active participant in the Cradle-to-Career initiative that involves a number of educational and independent not-for-profit organizations in Evanston. 

Schapiro said the university surveyed students who graduated last year and found that, except for 22 who enrolled in graduate programs such as medicine and law, practically all of the rest had secured full-time jobs. Of these, 48 percent were employed in Illinois and 9 percent of those were working in Evanston.

He emphasized that although only 24 percent of the Northwestern student body comes from Illinois, 48 percent of the graduates stay in the state, which led him to declare “this partnership is great.”

Gretchen Livingston, president of the ETHS District 202 School Board, who was also at the luncheon, noted that five ETHS students attended the Springfield event, along with several NU students, which provided “an excellent opportunity for all of them to learn more about the state legislative process and how important it is to the success of education in Illinois.”

A video describing the partnership was shown at the luncheon.

Top: NU President Schapiro speaking at the Governors Mansion during Evanston Day in Springfield.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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