Models of Partnerships: Who Are the Partners and How Do They Collaborate?

Sunday, 15 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 210G (San Jose Convention Center)
Nancy Spillane, George Washington University, Washington, DC
This presentation explores how inclusive STEM high schools (ISHSs) create dynamic new opportunities for students underrepresented in STEM fields through partnerships with organizations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Using a set of systematic and intensive case studies of eight successful ISHSs (Lynch, Behrend, Means, & Peters-Burton, 2011), this presentation examines how these innovative schools engaged with a variety of partners to build learning and experiential opportunities for students from groups underrepresented in STEM majors and STEM careers. This analysis found that partners came from government, business and industry, the non-profit sector, philanthropy, local and state education systems, and institutes of higher education. They served key roles in stimulating the design and development of the schools funding the start-ups, and helping set the schools’ missions and strategic plans. They worked with school administrators and teachers to select, support, design, and carry out teacher professional development and curriculum development. They engaged in interpersonal exchanges with students and staff to create a variety of real-world connections and opportunities. Partners were funders and visionaries, and often were local organizations motivated to effect changes for students in their communities. They helped prepare teachers in new STEM areas and pedagogies through professional development. They also provided expertise for career days and sat on student performance assessment panels. They served as mentors for students and teachers, and offered sites for job shadowing, internships, and research. While there were vast differences in the types of partner organizations, the extent of their interactions, and the roles they filled, the most successful partnerships exhibited several common features. These relationships were symbiotic; both the school and the partner found advantages to their collaborations, and respected each other for their respective skills, abilities, and contributions. There were intentional, open, and active lines of communication that helped build and sustain relationships between partners and schools. And finally, for the most successful partnerships there was at least one designated individual, usually at the ISHS, who took responsibility for forging and maintaining these communications to organize and ensure smooth partner-school engagement.