NU staffer at D65 to focus on STEM

Northwestern University was apparently so pleased with the success of its permanent liaison at Evanston Township High School that it plans a similar arrangement with the District 65 system.

Superintendent Paul Goren announced at the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board meeting this week that the district and university had agreed upon establishing a liaison office at district headquarters in the fall to focus primarily on collaborative activities in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

But Goren told the board that he had hopes the arrangement could eventually expand into other areas as well.

Initially, however, the new staffer, whose salary and benefits will be paid by the university, will act as the single point-of-contact between NU education, STEM, and outreach departments and the district’s central office and school administration.

It’s a two-way win-win situation for both the district and the university, Goren explained, as the coordinator will not only strengthen in-school and after-school STEM learning for District 65 youth, but will also provide teaching, mentoring, and service learning opportunities for NU students, faculty, and staff.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Goren said, “to continue the collaboration with the university, and it’s a great commitment of the university, not only to Evanston, but to District 65, our teachers, our administrators, and our students.”

The district has been particularly active in promoting STEM education and was instrumental in attracting a $640,000 grant from the Noyce Foundation that led to the creation of EvanSTEM that involves the university, the city, and the two school districts as one of 27 communities in the nation to pilot the National STEM Ecosystem Community of Practice.

Northwestern plans to post the District 65/Northwestern Partnership Coordinator position on its website in June, and Goren said the district is expected to be involved in the hiring decision for the new staff member, whose office will be at district headquarters at 1500 McDaniel Ave.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new partnership office is being planned for this fall, Goren said, and he gave special recognition to Northwestern President Morton Schapiro for his leadership on the collaboration, as well as other NU administrators, including Nim Chinniah, executive vice president; Jay Walsh, senior vice president for research; and Dr. Michael Kennedy, research professor and director of Science in Society, 

Kennedy said the university "is delighted to be working with both school districts, the city, and our amazing youth development agencies to ensure equal access to high quality STEM learning opportunities."

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