Like most Clarkson students, junior Alana Searleman takes a full course load toward her major, digital arts and sciences. And, like a good number of her classmates, Searleman also dedicates many hours throughout the calendar year to Clarkson's K-12 educational outreach programs and partnerships.
Superintendents from school districts across St. Lawrence County heard presentations from Searleman and other Clarkson students and faculty members during a visit to the Clarkson campus for Superintendents' Day on March 6. The visitors perused posters, watched demonstrations and learned more about the many educational outreach activities currently in progress and being planned.
Searleman, a Canton, N.Y. native, participated as a middle-schooler MathCounts, a program that challenges students with problem-solving, math literacy and higher order thinking. Now she works at a leadership level with younger students in MathCounts and two other programs, IMPETUS and New York State Science Olympiad.
Why does she dedicate so much time to these partnership programs?
"I feel when I'm educating others, I'm also educating myself in the process," Searleman said. "My favorite part is working hands-on with students, getting to know them and helping them succeed."
Searleman said she acts as a mentor to many of the younger students she has gotten to know, even after a particular program has ended. She helps them when they're stumped on a homework problem, or answers their questions about what to expect when they go to college.
The outreach and partnership programs receive funding from the Federal and state governments, and their impact is coordinated with the help of Clarkson's new Office of Educational Partnerships and the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The programs provide a wide range of opportunities for students and teachers in local schools, and help to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. They also give Clarkson students a chance to interact with younger students and share their knowledge and experiences.
"The ultimate objective here is an increased flow of well-prepared students from North Country schools into college and work careers based on the STEM areas," said Sue Powers, associate dean of the Coulter School of Engineering and professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Our goal is to provide hands-on learning and real-world, problem-solving, educational opportunities similar to those we offer to our own undergraduates."