An Extern participating in his field placement at Boeing
ACCESS STEM

Accessing Career Connected Experiences for Student Success (ACCESS)


What is ACCESS STEM?

The ACCESS STEM program is a partnership between businesses and educators that brings engaging, work-based problems to our classrooms. The goal of this partnership is to have more students be able to access post-secondary certification and move into the future workforce with the 21st Century skills they need to thrive.

We believe that all students, regardless of their background, need knowledge of the skills and pathways that allow them to pursue high-demand careers in our region. Because one teacher can impact over 150 students a year, a powerful way to improve student perceptions about career opportunities and preparedness is to build teacher knowledge and instructional capacity regarding career-connected learning, with a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Participants earn up to 100 STEM clock hours and a $1,500 stipend.

Why is this needed?

Teachers are in a powerful position to influence student aspirations and provide access to experiences that build confidence and career awareness. Businesses have a unique opportunity to help develop a qualified pipeline of future employees prepared to meet tomorrow’s challenges. By partnering industry with teachers, we can increase the pool of talent in the Puget Sound region.

How does the program work?

  • Summer: The summer portion for 2020 will be 100% virtual. Educators will participate in 2 weeks of connecting with industry and professional development. Included will be facility tours, employee panels and 1:1 discussions, and virtual job shadows. PD will include independent, self-paced modules as well as collaborative, synchronous learning. Summer 2020 dates: 7/6-7/10 and 7/13-7/17.
  • School Year: The 2020-21 school year portion will include virtual options as needed. Educators work on teams of 3-4 educators and 3-4 industry volunteers to translate the workplace experiences into their classrooms.
    • Each team creates problem-based learning materials using workplace scenarios to bring relevance and career connections to the classroom.
    • Teams of counselors or other specialists may have other options for the deliverables they create.
    • The teams meet approximately monthly for 2-hour after school sessions. Some meetings will be in-person and scheduled by WABS. Others will be scheduled at the convenience of the team and could be virtual.
  • Industry partners: Contribute by discussing the skills needed to be successful in their industry and career opportunities in their sector, and by sharing stories of real problems being solved in their workplace. Industry partners also often visit classrooms to mentor students, discuss careers, or launch a problem. We aim for these industry/educator relationships to be long-lasting.
  • Educator Field Trip (Fall): Educators get a release day to go on a field trip to grow their understanding of regional post-secondary educational pathways.
  • Lesson Study (Spring): Educators get a release day to participate in a Lesson Study process facilitated by WABS to vet and revise the classroom materials.
  • Showcase of Success: Participants celebrate their hard work at the annual Showcase of Success in May, an evening event with attendees including district superintendents, community leaders, and elected officials.

Who are the educator participants?

  • 4th-12th grade teachers, including science, math, CTE, humanities, AVID, ELL, and Special Education teachers
  • School counselors, library media specialists, instructional coaches, TOSAs, and curriculum specialists

What industries do we partner with?

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Agricultural
  • Architecture/Construction
  • Biomedical/Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Maritime
  • Public Sector
  • Research
  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Transportation

Why do educators want to get involved?

By participating, educators will:

  • Increase their industry awareness and involvement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
  • Bring engaging, work-based problems to their classrooms to help all students be able to change their perceptions around pathways and skills needed in the workforce.
  • Develop problem-based lessons that are aligned to state standards, and that incorporate 21st Century skills and information about career and educational pathways they observed in action at a worksite.
  • Grow their leadership skills by bringing program learnings to colleagues and through opportunities for post-program mentoring and facilitating opportunities.

“For me it was an amazing, eye-opening experience. It gave me a new perspective on the application of STEM, 21st Century Skills, and problem-based learning to the classroom.”         – Teacher Participant

For more information, please contact Linda Richard, linda@wabsalliance.org.