Striving for STEM Excellence.
Reimaging the Future.
Wednesday, March 28, was not the typical school day for Valley Catholic Middle School students. Instead of a normal class schedule, students participated in the school’s first ever Women in STEM day. Students explored the many possibilities available in different industries for a STEM-related career field. In a collaborative effort to inspire young people to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), 32 women from STEM-related fields (including a few Valley Catholic School Alumni) shared their journeys with the students through insightful presentations and hands-on STEM activities.
“I think it is important that students are exposed to learning opportunities related to STEM. If they see what else is out there, they have the time to decide if they want to continue STEM classes in high school and college,” says Melissa Iserson, Director of Design Thinking. “Research shows girls lose interest in engineering and technology careers as soon as they enter high school. I think providing this learning opportunity to our middle schoolers is extremely important and encourages them to dream big.”
The star-studded lineup of presenters included professionals from OMSI, OHSU, Google, Nike, Intel, Tektronix, Vernier, OSU, and Warner Bros. VCS alumni and two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis (’03) and Disney Imagineer and Wonder Woman game producer Jesyca Durchin Shnepp (’87) came back to campus with captivating presentations. They were two of the eight presenters who graduated from Valley Catholic.
In 2018, Valley Catholic Middle School became the first school in the Pacific Northwest to be certified as an AdvancED (Cognia) STEM Certified School. The certification validated the school’s mission to provide students with opportunities to be innovative, creative and systemic problem-solvers across STEM disciplines.
Last June, Valley Catholic Middle School was one of the organizations selected to receive a grant from the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation for support of Women in STEM fields. The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation awarded the middle school $25,000.
“We are grateful to the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation for this funding, and proud to be acknowledged by a foundation that understands and celebrates the value of science in education,” says Valley Catholic Middle School Principal Dr. Jennifer Gfroerer. “I cannot echo enough how wonderful it is to work on this campus and work with people who share the same mission that we have of providing students the absolute best educational experience out there.”