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Local funding provides new Everett Public Schools STEM focus

As of December 1, 2013, Everett Public Schools will have a half-time STEM (focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ciriculum) director, thanks to funding from local businesses and a grant application written by Everett Public Schools Foundation.

By Mary Waggoner, Everett Public Schools Director of Communications.

As of December 1, 2013, Everett Public Schools will have a half-time STEM (focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ciriculum) director, thanks to funding from local businesses and a grant application written by Everett Public Schools Foundation.

The Boeing Company, the City of Everett, Frontier Communications, and Providence Health and Services provided a total of $90,000 to support STEM education in Everett Public Schools.

The $75,000 gift from the Boeing Company was secured by a grant application written by the Everett Public Schools Foundation.

The new director position, to be filled by John Aultman, is the outcome of three years of community summer symposiums hosted by the school district.  Each year leaders of corporations and of higher institutions met during these symposiums with parents, staff and students to explore ways to ensure that each district student experiences a world class education – and how to ensure that happens by sharing goals, working together, building partnerships and leveraging resources.

The district’s 2011 August symposium focused on how schools and community can work together to ensure each student graduates from high school prepared for education or training beyond grade 12. The 2012 symposium focused on Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. In August of 2013, the symposium explored what 21st century skills students need to succeed in their futures and how those can be infused at every grade in every classroom.

That series of summer symposiums has generated a number of district wide initiatives, including the decision to infuse STEM learning K-12; in every classroom, at every school. To support that coordinated and aligned work, John Aultman will begin work on December 1 as the district’s STEM director. He will be responsible for developing, launching and monitoring partnerships among the district, businesses, public and private organizations, and post-secondary educational and training institutions. Among other connections, these partnerships will help leverage district and community talent and resources and provide hands-on experiences for students and staff.

“The district’s work to design and launch an integrated STEM program is guided by one of our strategic plan targets,” noted Superintendent Gary Cohn. “Target 5.4.a states, ‘Each student has completed the first steps toward achieving his or her post-secondary goals before high school graduation.’”

“Following the 2012 symposium, we conducted a thorough review of our Career and Technical Educational (CTE) program (formerly known as vocational education) to evaluate what STEM pathways students had available. The district’s STEM Leadership Team has been working with the suggestions that came from the review.”

“The position John has accepted and that is being made possible by the Foundation and community sponsors is designed to coalesce what we learned from the symposiums and the STEM Leadership Team’s recommendations. The work John does in our communities and schools will ultimately give students more STEM learning experiences and opportunities to earn college credit while in high school. He will be working half time in this position, and we are looking forward to the connections his work will make for students.”

Aultman’s experience is impressive. His early school and classroom experiences spanned teaching horticulture and business management; small engines and metal shop. He was a Future Farmers of America advisor, football coach, and on the Drug and Alcohol Care Team. He became the vocational director for Aberdeen School District and then the executive director of the New Market Skills Center in Tumwater, providing leadership for 17 high school CTE programs.

Aultman moved on to work with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) as the state’s CTE and Secondary Education leader and OSPI’s Federal liaison.

In his years with OSPI, Aultman’s responsibilities included collaboration with business, labor and the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, oversight of state CTE standards and continuous student achievement gains, support for Running Start for the Trades and Tech Prep articulations.

Legislatively, Aultman worked with lawmakers and stakeholders and legislative staff to draft provisions of House Bill 2261 (education reform 2009) and coordinate the education agenda among business, labor, education advocates, state agencies and education leaders.

Aultman’s most recent work has been as Director of Educational Partnerships with DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond. In this role he led efforts to develop, sustain and manage K-12, higher education, workforce development partnerships, and expanded STEM capacity.

As a DigiPen Executive on Loan, Aultman worked collaboratively with community partners, district leaders and staff in the San Francisco Unified School District to lead a program analysis and oversee the resulting project entitled Building a Portfolio of Credit-Earning Options to Support SFUSD Students’ College and Career Readiness.”

“The experiences and track record John brings to our district are invaluable,” Cohn said. “His credibility as a proven teacher and school leader and his connections and success on state-wide and national levels are critical to ensuring students today are ready for their work and careers tomorrow. Without the support of Foundation, Boeing, Frontier, Providence and the city of Everett making it possible to hire John, this work would not be possible at the pace and level our communities’ children deserve.”

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