30 Mar Tommie Arens, Director On Lumity’s Continued Impact
Reflections, Challenges, and Successes
To say it’s been a difficult school year for Chicagoland youth is an understatement. As Tommie Arens, the Director of our STEM Career Prep program attests, “This is my 19th year in education. It’s almost too hard to articulate how challenging the pandemic has been for students.”
STEM Career Prep: Valuable even when virtual
Lumity’s STEM Career Prep program normally thrives on the in-person connections we create between STEM professionals and our students. So, Tommie and her team deserve a special shout-out for transforming the entire program into a valuable virtual learning experience. To give a sense of the transformation: The STEM Career Prep team rewrote an entire year’s curriculum within just a few months and now facilitates the online weekly experiences with roughly 580 ninth-graders in five high schools.
“Many schools across the country are experiencing a drastic decline in student engagement and students are struggling daily with so many different emotions,” explains Tommie. “We are focused on making sure students are engaged and are developing important social-emotional skills while learning new STEM concepts. They need both to be successful in their future careers.”
Student growth: from small group sessions to Lumity’s Annual STEM Fair
Thanks to our supporters, Lumity is able to structure STEM Career Prep so that our learning experiences are still personalized through small student break-out groups with Lumity facilitators and volunteers. “Students are really enjoying the breakout rooms,” says Tommie. “We’re receiving extremely positive feedback and seeing students continue to grow step-by-step each day.”
Next up for STEM Career Prep: the Lumity Annual STEM Fair in a new virtual format. “I’m really excited about the students showcasing their Real World Projects at the STEM Fair. This event is where all their learning comes together. It’s actually the STEM Fair that convinced me to join Lumity. I was just amazed at the opportunities Lumity and its volunteers are giving Chicago youth that they normally don’t have access to.”
Stem Fair Excitement
All of us at Lumity share Tommie’s excitement about the STEM Fair! We invite you to join us and your STEM colleagues in what promises to be an inspiring and fun virtual evening.