Program targets career interests

Published 3:41 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2012

AT&T Pioneer Bell Rogers, fourth from right, watches as Thorsby students (left to right) Katelyn Caudle, Haley Blauch, Loren Wyatt, Emily Smitherman, Holly Locke and Darian Green make vinaigrette dressing.

Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama is partnering with AT&T to offer Chilton County students a program fostering career skills and interest.

The program focuses on skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

Angela Smith, community development manager of Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama, is leading sessions of the program at Thorsby High School this week and Isabella High School later in April.

Smith said about 40 girls at THS volunteered to participate, and AT&T Pioneers Bertha Smith and Bell Rogers have assisted with the activities each day.

“This program is possible through a grant awarded by AT&T called STEM IMAGINE,” Smith said. “I’m hoping to show them parts of science, technology and math that they may not have seen before, just to change their perspective that it can be fun.”

The $45,000 grant covers the entire program from November 2011 through summer 2012.

Angela Smith, center, is shown with AT&T Pioneers Bertha Smith, third from left; Bell Rogers, fourth from right; volunteer troop leader Cheryl English of Jemison’s Troop 7012, second from right; and Thorsby students (left to right) Katelyn Caudle, Haley Blauch, Loren Wyatt, Emily Smitherman, Holly Locke and Darian Green.

Smith said the STEM program was originally designed to introduce at-risk, inner-city high school girls to career options in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

According to a Girl Scouts press release, as minority students and women are gravitating away from science and engineering toward other professions, and employment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are increasing at a faster pace than in non-STEM fields, educational experts say the U.S. must increase proficiency and interest in these areas to compete in the global economy.

“They’re all at-risk no matter where they are,” Smith said, adding that she is also leading the program in Shelby County.

Students at Thorsby worked with algorithms Tuesday and made vinaigrette salad dressings Wednesday as part of a food science exercise.

Smith said Superintendent Dave Hayden, THS Principal Russ Bryan and IHS Principal Ricky Porter granted her permission to conduct the program in the schools.

The last session of Thorsby’s program is April 23-26, and Isabella’s program will begin April 30.