Decatur Tech instructor hopes STEM council will open doors for North Alabama students

A North Alabama tech coach told us she believes the Alabama STEM Council initiative will help students learn the skills necessary to fill thousands of STEM-related jobs.

Gov. Kay Ivey established the council through an executive order Monday.

WAAY-31 shows you how a Decatur instructional technology coach expects this to help not only her city, but also the state.

The council is designed to improve STEM education, career awareness and workforce development.

One tech coach told us the earlier kids get involved in STEM classes, the better.

She said it helps them get ready for a career and also with life skills.

Students in Decatur City Schools already have the opportunity to use STEM-related skills in the classroom and at home with e-learning.

But tech instructor Faith Plunkett told WAAY-31 the establishment of the STEM council will allow students to expand those skills, and learn new ones.

“They’re going to grow with those skills. Technology is changing rapidly and the jobs that our students in elementary school are going to have don’t even exist yet but we’re preparing them for that world and we’re preparing them for as many skills as possible,” she said.

The governor says she hopes the STEM council will create a workforce pipeline that can fill the more than 850,000 STEM-related jobs that Alabama will need by 2026.

Plunkett said exposing kids to what you can do in science, tech, engineering and math can open their minds to those opportunities early.

She said some kids begin learning STEM skills as early as kindergarten, and she told us kids learn more than just punching numbers.

They also learn teamwork and other life skills as they get older.

“Computer science not only is the technology part but our students are learning about creativity, critical thinking, working together, collaboration. All those skills are so vital,” said Plunkett.

Plunkett told us she’s excited to see how one day the kids she’s helped could possibly become the leaders of tomorrow, especially with the growing STEM workforce around them.

She hopes the STEM council will open more doors for schools in North Alabama.

“I think it will provide more STEM opportunities for our students. I also think it’ll help companies form partnerships with us in the schools,” she said.

Per the order, the council will meet in 90 days to hold its first meeting and there’s nearly 50 people on it from across the state of Alabama.

Several council members are from North Alabama and the chairman is Dr. Neil Lamb from HudsonAlpha.

Other members include representatives from UAH and Wallace State Community College.

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