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Press Release: Educators, community leaders announce STEAM Ahead NH initiative to connect Manchester students with technical skills

posted Nov 18, 2013, 5:59 AM by Liane St. Laurent
Manchester, NH -- Community leaders in Manchester, NH tonight announced a new way of helping students learn the skills that will land them jobs after graduation, including an agreement that provides up to a year or more of college credit for participating high school students.

STEAM Ahead NH is a collaboration between higher education, the Manchester School District and the local business community that – pending formal approval of the city’s Board of School Committee – will launch in the fall of 2014 at Manchester High School West.

“We are very excited about the partnerships being formed through STEAM Ahead NH,” said Christopher Motika, Principal of West High School. “West is a great place with great kids and we are happy to see the Manchester business community, the higher education community, and the West side of Manchester working together to help our students succeed both in and beyond high school. Most importantly, the work that is being done focuses on finding different ways of helping kids and providing access to college and the workplace that some of our students have never seen as a reality. The positive impact of this work will be felt not only at West High School, but throughout the City of Manchester.”

The goal of STEAM Ahead NH is to build upon the strong partnerships between the school district and business community to provide the opportunity for students to graduate from high school with literacy in key technical areas. This will potentially save students and their parents one year of college tuition costs. The steering committee for the project is exploring pathways in allied health, computer technology, performing arts and other pathways to support the STEAM fields.

The laboratory/academy based program will include internship opportunities through local cultural institutions and businesses, while taking advantage of the technology research and development resources. Credits will be earned through a variety of opportunities including concurrent high school and college credit courses, college courses on the college campus and/or high school campus, online and internships in community-based businesses and cultural institutions.

“As a school district it is our responsibility to prepare our students for the future,” said Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.“This program is an innovative way to do just that. It brings together our faculty, community and businesses to provide our students with both collaborative thinking, technical skills and real world experience. You win the future by preparing for it today. This is a good start.”

Founded by local technology businesses Dyn and SilverTech and former Manchester Mayor, educator and education administrator Robert Baines, STEAM Ahead NH is fueled by a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum to address a skills gap that has many business leaders concerned.

“New Hampshire has a great tech ecosystem but a workforce with the right skill set is needed to keep it sustainable - especially with our in-state net migration now zero,” said Jeremy Hitchcock, CEO of Dyn. “This program will showcase the local workplaces and will help develop our own students into the workforce of tomorrow. Maybe some of them will start a great company as well.”

Noticing a concerning trend in the emerging workforce over the past 17 years, Nick Soggu, CEO of SilverTech, committed himself to helping connect students with STEM-focused opportunities.

“New Hampshire – and Manchester specifically – is only starting to realize its potential as a technology leader,” said Soggu, who is also a Computer Science Professor, software engineer, and member of numerous arts-focused organizations. “By creating, funding and supporting programs such as STEAM Ahead that ignite the spark in students during their formative years, our business, political and education community can ensure future generations are prepared to innovate.”

Proposed key outcomes include literacy in core STEAM foci and participation in advanced courses through the University System of New Hampshire. The true benchmark of success will be the number of students who graduate from the program better prepared for technology jobs here in New Hampshire.

“There are few win-win situations in life,” said Dr. Debra Livingston, Superintendent of the Manchester School District. “This is one of them. Our students will have a first class education. Our teachers will collaborate with college professors. Our business community will have access to some of our brightest minds. And our parents will know their children have a bright future at a more affordable cost.”

For more information about STEAM Ahead NH visit www.steamaheadnh.com.
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