Among all of the programs and resources offered by the STEM Council, the majority focus on equipping Iowa’s educators with the tools necessary to inspire a new generation of STEM-literate-and-talented Iowans interested and able to fill the most in-demand jobs of today and the future.
The STEM Council, made up of leaders from business and industry, state and local government, non-profit, higher education and more, also benefits from the insight of Iowa’s educators thanks to the leadership of this month’s MVP for Iowa STEM Gail Wortmann, whose passion is to help align Iowa STEM with K-12 education.
Governor Branstad appointed Wortmann to the STEM Council in 2011 where she continues to serve on both the STEM Council and the Executive Committee. She has contributed to the Broadband for Iowa working group and helped birth the STEM Council’s Seal of Approval among other valued contributions.
Wortmann claims she “STEM-ed” long before the acronym existed, working in the classroom as a science teacher for more than 30 years before transitioning to her current role with Iowa Learning Online as the developer/instructor and master teacher. This initiative, through the Iowa Department of Education, helps students take courses online that might not be offered in their schools. Wortmann not only teaches human anatomy and physiology, but she also helps evaluate other online teachers and writes curriculum.
She admits teaching a course online that has traditionally been taught as a lab-based course has “been a ride,” yet she recognizes that is exactly what STEM is about—adapting to meet the needs of our future economy.
“My thoughts immediately go to the outsourcing of jobs in the U.S. or how we are having to bring people in from other countries to fill our jobs. To change that culture, we’re going to have to make a purposeful effort to grow our own, and STEM is the key to making that happen,” she said. “Participating in such a wonderful, effective campaign has value to me personally—to meet people who are so passionate about this particular part of education is an honor.”
We are honored to have Gail and the other 46 members of the STEM Council paving the way for Iowa STEM. See the full list of members at www.IowaSTEM.gov/Council.