Mazama students show how program is helping them prepare for the future Gov. Kate Brown has a vision for Oregon students: they finish high school with a plan in mind for their future.
On a recent visit to Mazama High School, Oregon Department of Education Acting Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill said he saw STEM&M students fulfilling Brown’s
“It was clear to me that STEM&M was not only helping them stay engaged in high school as they worked toward graduation, but was also introducing them to a number of future possibilities from coding, to medical imaging, to dental hygiene careers,” Gill said in an email reflecting on his visit. “This program is meeting the Governor’s vision for Oregon’s students and will serve to make Oregon stronger in the future.”
STEM&M is a partnership between Mazama with Oregon Tech and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medical. Students follow specific pathways toward college degrees and careers.
After high school, it offers $9,500 in total scholarships to Oregon Tech and preferential admission into Oregon Tech programs if students choose to go there. Currently 78 students are enrolled in STEM&M, and freshmen interested in joining next school year will soon apply for the program. About 30 students per class at Mazama participate in STEM&M.
Earlier this school year a team from Klamath County School District and Oregon Tech resented at a national conference, explaining how STEM&M is unique.
“You’re not the first people to come and ask us about it, which is great,” Laura Nickerson, the STEM&M coordinator and Mazama science teacher, told Gill and Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps, who visited on Dec. 15. “You’re taking kids who know what they want to do and you’re saying, ‘Let’s get you doing it faster.’ It’s a really motivated group of kids.”
Seven of those motivated students gave Gill and Capps a tour of Mazama’s STEM&M classrooms, courses and programs.
Students giving the tour were:
- Blake Aho, senior, medical pathway
- Madi Baeth, junior, medical pathway
- Matt Volpe, senior, engineering and technology pathway
- Aislinn Browder, senior, science pathway
- Mario Segure, senior, engineering and technology pathway
- Tuen Tran, junior, medical pathway
- Maddi Lease, junior, science pathway
“These are kids that are going to get things done,” Nickerson said. “I think they’re going to have a huge impact.”
Students led Gill through the Mazama metal shop, auto shop, robotics and engineering lab, chemistry lab, manufacturing lab and met back in the biology lab. At each, they explained the programs and classes and answered questions.
Questions and answers
Back at the biology lab, everyone sat on stools and chatted about the program, with Gill and Capps asking questions of the students.
Browder spoke about taking dual-credit courses at Mazama and taking a course at Oregon Tech over the summer.
“It was challenging,” she said of the course on a university campus, “but it helped me connect what we’re doing in high school to what we’re going to do in college.”
The partnership between Mazama and Oregon Tech is a key STEM&M’s success.
“It’s been a great partnership,” Nickerson said. “Our community seemed like they needed something like this.”
Gill was impressed by the collaboration, too.
“The level of partnership with higher education and the caliber of the course work is clearly setting up students for success after graduation,” Gill said. “They will go to college with credits under their belt and the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.”
Gill asked what the state could do to help STEM&M succeed. Both Nickerson and the students agreed it would be great to have more options outside standard curriculum. Nickerson pointed to a need for more classes on coding, engineering and manufacturing – all careers she sees growing in the future.
“Being able to have more classes to choose from in your pathway would make it a lot more enjoyable, fun, and you’d have more options,” Lease said.
“I was impressed by the enthusiasm of both the students and the staff engaged in the program,” Gill said. “It was well worth the visit to learn about this program and think about ways to replicate it in other Oregon communities.”
Some students have found a sense of community in STEM&M. Segure and Volpe are the two Chief Science Officers for Mazama. Together they are planning events like the STEMonstration, to get underclassmen thinking about their future and learning about STEM fields. Segure said he and Volpe were not friends before STEM&M, but are good friends now.
“It really does help you feel like you belong somewhere,” said Segure. “As a boy I was really into math and science, it’s hard finding friends who are actually into those things. Through this program, everyone has taken one of those fields.”
Capps asked how STEM&M will help the Klamath community.
While Nickerson supports helping Klamath grow, she also hopes her students will see the world. She said many Klamath residents leave the area only to return a few years later.
“I hope some of them stay in town. I hope some of them don’t stay in town,” Nickerson said of her students. “Some of the things they want to do, they’re going to think bigger. But things they will accomplish will benefit our town in the long run.”
Press release from the Klamath County School District.
Images by Samantha Tipler, Public Relations, Klamath County School District.