Thursday, November 20, 2014

Westar & TPS Promote STEM Awareness


Topeka Public Schools, Westar Energy Expand Pact to Promote STEM, Career Awareness for Students

 

 
 Westar Energy and Topeka Public Schools are pleased to announce plans to expand their ongoing partnership with an agreement that will be considered by the school board on Thursday evening. As the district develops STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pathways and the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers (TCALC), Westar will be a key partner providing expertise and opportunities for teachers and students to learn more about the energy industry. The expansion of the partnership follows multiple years of successful collaboration between the utility and the school district.

Topeka Public Schools Deputy Superintendent of Operations Larry Robbins is delighted with the outcome of the partnership thus far. "Westar Energy has been a valued business partner to Topeka Public Schools for a number of years.  This partnership has afforded our students educational opportunities and career choice exploration they would not have otherwise experienced."

 

The relationship between Westar Energy and Topeka Public Schools began five years ago when the district sought new and expanded partnerships in the community. Westar responded to that call and in 2010 the school district and the electric utility formed a partnership. Soon after, Westar built a wind turbine and purchased land for a substation on the district’s Kanza Education and Science Park site.

 

Not only did these projects provide electricity to the community, they also introduced new and innovative educational opportunities for Topeka Public Schools’ students. Additionally, the turbine and substation helped ignite students’ interest in learning about- and eventually working in- STEM fields. In 2012, Topeka Public Schools and Westar Energy formalized their partnership, outlining programs to expose students to hands-on learning in technical and professional fields.

 

Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford is thrilled with the partnership. “The opportunities that Westar has offered our students around science, technology, engineering and math allow students to see their curriculum come to life and be relevant!”

 

Eileen Caspers, General Director of School and Career Programs for Topeka Public Schools, stresses the importance of a STEM-focused curriculum. “This is an opportunity to provide rigorous and relevant curriculum with professional learning aligned to sustainable careers. The experience and skills learned by students will assist them in making decisions about their post-secondary education path, future career, or both. In addition, businesses also benefit by connecting with high school students for future recruitment into viable occupations essential to their economic growth.”

 

Students of Topeka Public Schools have reaped the benefits of the district’s collaboration with Westar Energy and now enjoy enhanced educational opportunities that will prepare them for higher-level learning and ensure career readiness. Westar Energy and Topeka Public Schools are excited to expand this successful partnership.