V. Tanaia Hines, Bellevue Elementary School, tanaiahines@gmail.com

Stephanie Kiefer, Norview High School & Norview Middle School, skiefer@nps.k12.va.us

Katie Arroyo, Leadership Center for the Sciences and Engineering & Norview High School, kiarroyo@nps.k12.va.us

Jori Beck, Old Dominion University, jbeck@odu.edu

Abbie Watson, Norview High School, awatson@nps.k12.va.us

Around the country school districts are facing shortages of math and science teachers (Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, & Carver-Thomas, 2017). In the Norfolk Public Schools-Old Dominion University partnership, we decided to utilize the assets that existed in our own schools and university to address the shortage in our region. This effort is called STEMPower.

STEMPower leverages the expertise of teacher leaders in the Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) and Old Dominion University faculty (ODU) to generate excitement and new understanding about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching careers. This effort began in fall 2018 when a group of NPS teachers and ODU faculty attended the STEAM-focused Teach to Lead Summit (2019) in San Jose, California. At this Summit, we generated a plan to create a STEM Expo that would bring together ODU professors and students with NPS students at the high school and middle school level.

NPS already benefits from STEM-focused programs in some of its schools which laid the foundation for the STEM Expo. Specifically, Norview High School is home to the Leadership Center for the Sciences and Engineering and Southside STEM Academy at Campostella is a grades K-8 school focused on STEM. We chose a near-peer mentoring approach in which students from the Leadership Center for the Sciences and Engineering participated as presenters in the STEM Expo.

On the day of the event, we had six presentations from Norview High School students, six presentations from other NPS faculty, and eight presentations from ODU STEM and STEM education professors. Presentation topics ranged from the Internet of Things, to Sphero robots, to drones, to levitating ping-pong balls. The presentations were hands-on and engaging for the middle school attendees who participated with enthusiasm. One Grade 7 student told the school division news, “I like that I get to learn how to do certain things and the robotics teacher here had told me how he put the robotic thing together and he let me drive test it” (Norfolk Public Schools, 2019).

After the event, members of the STEMPower team met with Norview High School students to debrief their participation and talk about careers in STEM education. A critical part of this conversation was information about teachers’ salaries and benefits since this is often misunderstood. Only time will tell how many of these talented students choose a career in STEM education but we think we are off to a good start in not only recruiting STEM teachers, but elevating the teaching profession.


Norfolk Public Schools. (2019, April 23). NPS Now Week of April 22, 2019. NPS Now. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QtXvh-XCQs&feature=youtu.be

Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D., (2017). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/coming-crisis-teaching

Teach to Lead. (2019). Home page. Retrieved from http://teachtolead.org/