My first year I was overwhelmed and didn’t know how to present a vision (let alone one connected to Mississippi).
My second year I talked at my students about the critical nature of math and why we were going to “C.L.I.M.B.”: Create, Love, Inquire, Make It Happen, and Be the Change. I was still missing the Mississippi context, with which each of my students is already inculcated; kids are aware of the gaps, they just don’t know how to bridge them.
This week, my class read an article featured in the Sun Herald about Mississippi students missing out on STEM jobs. It was a difficult read for middle schoolers, and exposed difficult truths: our students are unprepared for STEM jobs, and middle and high schools in Mississippi lack the necessary resources to expose students to rigorous STEM education. But we discussed the implications of low-income students being unprepared for high paying STEM jobs. The clincher for students was that these jobs are no longer only in California and the Northeast; they are coming to Mississippi. I finally feel like I found a platform that resonated with my students: Mississippi, racial disparities and economic status. The article helped them see a strong STEM education as the gateway to bridging the achievement and income gaps in Mississippi.