Russian Educators Experience CJ STEMM

Eight educators from elite Russian academies met with Chaminade Julienne teachers Monday, October 10 to explore the school’s innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program, including its nationally certified Project Lead the Way biomedical sciences and pre-engineering curricula, advanced placement science and mathematics courses, the CJ science fair and National Science Olympiad.

CJ was one of just two area secondary schools chosen to host a visit during the group’s short stay in Dayton from October 9-12. The school was selected by Wright State University after being awarded a $35,000 Dayton STEM Hub grant in 2010 said Meg Draeger, CJ STEMM coordinator.

“It is a testament to our evident role as a provider of a unique STEM education to Miami Valley students that Wright State University chose CJ for a visit by this group,” Draeger added. The conference was made possible as part of the university’s International Visitor Program, an initiative endorsed by the U.S. Department of State.

According to WSU, International Visitors are current or emerging leaders in government, politics, the media, education, the arts, business and other key fields from different countries around the world. While in the U.S., they attend professional appointments with their American counterparts, learn about the U.S. system of government at all levels, visit American schools and experience American culture and social life.

During their time on campus guests spoke, with the assistance of two Russian interpreters, to CJ math, science and PLTW teachers Nancy Dever, Brad Kassner and Amy O’Loughlin before touring the school’s laboratories and classrooms.

“It was quite an experience dialoging with non-English speaking colleagues from across the world through interpreters,” Draeger commented. Those involved in face-to-face discussions, which lasted a little more than an hour, exchanged business cards and email addresses in hopes of keeping the lines of communication open.

“At the heart of it all is the truth that we are engaged in a common pursuit—educating youth to succeed in a global environment in which having knowledge of, and competency in, STEM subjects will be necessary,” she said.

Chaminade Julienne serves students from 59 different academic institutions, ranging from cities across the greater Dayton area. On Monday, CJ broadened its educational scope to include foreign educators from Russia.

“We have always felt that our school has been a hub for STEM education in Ohio, particularly in the Dayton region, so to have the opportunity to expand our horizons on an international level was extremely exciting,” said John Marshall, principal.

The purpose of the mid-afternoon session was to introduce Russian educators to innovative STEM curriculum in the United States, but according to Marshall, participants from both countries learned a lot about the similar challenges each faces in teaching a diverse student population.

“Our guests were impressed and encouraged to find out that the CJ STEMM program aligns with our school’s mission to provide a holistic, inclusive education for all those we serve,” he said.

With the introduction of Project Lead the Way courses during the 2008-2009 school year, CJ students have become increasingly engaged with STEM-related opportunities on campus:

Currently, more than 100 students are enrolled in PLTW curricula—60 percent in a biomedical sciences course and 40 percent in a pre-engineering course.

A breakdown of those students shows that 56 percent are male, 44 percent are female. Furthermore, 64 percent are Caucasian while 36 percent are non-Caucasian.

During the 2010-2011 school year, 40 students competed in the school-wide science fair and more than 50 students participated in National Science Olympiad competitions.

CJ’s graduation requirements expanded for members of the Class of 2014 and beyond, who now must take four years of mathematics. In addition to offering math courses at the college preparatory, honors and advanced placement levels, CJ also offers an honors algebra course for eighth grade students from area elementary schools.