“As a Family and Consumer Science (aka. Home Economics) teacher I felt it my duty to learn how to cook well and maximize the knowledge in my class by helping students to learn the math, science, and cultural benefits behind the art of cooking. I spent a great deal of time studying food, from production to consumption. Along the way, as I continued past the purchasing of cookbooks and into the habits that distinguish Chefs from home cooks, I quit following recipes and began to creating formulas, I upgraded my equipment in order to create a semi-commercial laboratory, and I realized that I had taken the leap from only being interested in being an excellent teacher to being transformed by the information I was learning. I was acknowledged as a Virginia Super Teacher but without my students, it would have never happened. I am forever grateful to them.”
From a Family & Consumer Science Teacher...
...to STEM Mentor...
Initially, I used my self-developed FACS lesson plans and FCCLA, the after-school science fair for home economics, as a way to highlight the connections between STEM and FACS. The kids and I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to expand my efforts and started to exploring traditional STEM topics directly; I was the coach of a FIRST robotics team and I established an after-school girl’s coding club. My after-school activities were so successful that they kept expanding and eventually grew into the invitation that launched the STEM Impressionists program! I love what I am doing.
My passion is partnering with kids to develop the skills that will permanently transform their lives.
I finally found my niche! As I continued to developed my skills as a Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher, I also attended STEM conferences to hone the incorporation of STEM into my classroom. This process transformed me. I grew to understand that I was an engineer that used textiles to solve problems! When I looked up “textile engineer” in a Google search engine I found out that it was a real job, paid extraordinarily well and found a school that I would have loved to attend!
Once I understood that truth many parts of my life fell into place and it became my mission to ensure that we did not miss other female engineers like myself.
Founder & CEO
...and Now Founder & CEO
In sum, my career as a middle school Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics) turned STEM teacher has allowed me to create the STEM Impressionists Program (SIP).
Indeed, the lessons I have learned as an educator have allowed me to create a program that continues to be an opportunity for underrepresented students to receive sustained mentoring by engaging in hands-on participatory activities that develop their STEM, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills. SIP’s K12 program, offered from middle school to high school graduation offers students opportunities that prepare them for real world challenges inherent in the field of their choice.
SIP’s college program hones student’s skills by offering them access to seminars that refine and continue to develop their public presentation, critical thinking, and social emotional or soft skills. Preparing students for upper level degrees and internships while still carving out time to give back to their community is a challenge that prepares students for the rigors of the C-suite and eventually sitting on a corporate board.
I am proud of the legacy that the members of SIP and I have been, and are still in the process of creating. The collaborations (link to thank you page) that have been fostered by this experience are priceless. I feel like my time as an educator has been and continues to be the most fulfilling experience of my life.
- 2022: National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Unsung Hero Award
- 2021: NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award Recipient
- 2021: Young Women in STEM – STEM Educator of the Year
- 2019: NCWIT Certificate of Distinction Award Winner
- 2018: FCPS Excellence Award Nominee
- 2017: Virginia Lottery Super Teacher Award
- 2015: FCPS Best Teacher of the Year Award Nominee
- 2013: FCPS Robert R. Spillane Leadership Award Nominee
- 2010: FCPS FACS New Teacher of the Year Finalist
The STEM Pipeline
The STEM Pipeline is a metaphor to describe the educational pathway, from early childhood well into college, for students to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics prepared to make significant impacts in their respective STEM industries.
The current reality of the STEM pipeline is flawed, however, particularly for black and brown students. Beginning in elementary school, access to STEM is dependent upon socioeconomic status, competent teachers, and quality curriculum.
As students from these disadvantaged systems progress into middle school, the disparity gap grows larger. Many students begin to struggle in science and math specifically as they continue to be met with inadequate teaching practices and often unethical disciplinary measures.
In high school, counselors and school administration officials typically place students in classes that are rote and simple, instead of guiding students towards prospective career paths in STEM.
As a result, students are not taking classes relevant to skills that will help prepare
them for the STEM field. In addition, the stress of preparing for college financially, studying for college entrance exams, and maintaining an active social life often leave students hopeless and distracted.
At the end of the pipeline once students enter college, they’re intimidated by a career in STEM due to their lack of experience with the subject matter both hands-on and academically. They simply have not been prepared for success.
Working Smarter & Sooner
The STEM Impressionists Program does things differently. The challenges associated with addressing the issues represented by the “leaky pipeline” inspire us to continuously create new solutions. SIP’S interventions in elementary and middle school expose students to various STEM careers such as computer science, electrical engineering, information technology, and more while engaging students in experiential learning to boost their confidence in the material.
Starting in middle school students acquire new STEM skills by creating and delivering their own lesson plans (they become peer-2-peer educators), writing and presenting at regional and national conferences, and continuing to update and use their resume for a variety of opportunities. So when the students enter high school, they have a lengthy resume full of applied experiences and can spend those formative years before college continuously growing their network and applying for targeted scholarships and internships that they’ve so brilliantly have been prepared for.
The end of middle school and the beginning of high school is the focal point in the program as college readiness, a long term goal, becomes a priority planning process, and not an afterthought as in the standard method. Impressionists participate in their own curated STEM events, creating their own opportunities for minority students to share their knowledge, experience, tips and tricks. The intent of the program is for everyone, the students, the community, and the Impressionists to win. We are all on this journey together!