STEM is present in our everyday lives; and Stephanie Laird, Southeast Polk Community School District Learning Supports Coordinator and this month’s STEM MVP, was drawn to STEM at an early age. Growing up in rural Illinois, she remembers unboxing and putting together her family’s first computer by herself and was thrilled when it worked.
As an undergraduate at Iowa State University, Laird pursued a science endorsement while majoring in education, as well as a master’s degree in curriculum and instructional technology. She began teaching middle school science in rural southern Iowa, where she collaborated with colleagues to bring technology into classrooms, establish outdoor learning spaces and teach cross-curricular units. She switched to teaching elementary school and co-championed the building’s one-to-one technology initiative, brought in grant funding for STEM initiatives and implemented STEM Scale-Up Programs.
In 2019, Laird joined the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, where she serves alongside Dr. Sara Nelson as the co-chair of the STEM Council’s Equity in STEM Working Group.
Regarding the future of STEM education in Iowa, she said, “I hope we continue to leverage the voices of students, practitioners and civic and business partners as we work together to meet the needs of students both while they are in our schools and when they go into our communities. While each STEM Council member’s service, dedication and insights make a difference, it will be collectively that we move STEM education forward.”
The STEM Council has made a significant impact for STEM education in Iowa thanks to STEM Advisory Council members like Stephanie Laird.