When ChathamSTEM’s Nabil Mouline was exploring opportunities to leverage the community's expertise and resources to help with the school district’s objective to become the No. 1 STEM program in the state—among public school systems—he remembered a conversation with Margaret Holzer.
Holzer is leading a growing environmental sciences program at Chatham High School and she was keen on getting some expertise in practical know-how concerning the expanding field of renewable energy and solar panels in particular.
A few phone calls later, Patrick Ryan, energy entrepreneur and his son Patrick, Chatham High School graduate of 2013, both ChathamSTEM supporters, stepped in with a donation of solar panels and the know-how to be shared with Holzer’s class.
“Having materials like that in hand brings a sense of reality to what students read about in a textbook or see online,” Holzer said in appreciation of the donation.
“Usually we (the community) are called on to provide financial support either through taxes—supporting our school budget or donations to the PTOs, the Chatham Education Foundation and other groups in town.
"At ChathamSTEM we believe that the community has also the responsibility and opportunity to provide know-how, scientific expertise and other in-kind support so as to bring the best to our kids, maybe even more so in the fast changing world of science, technology, engineering and math. Teachers like Ms. Holzer, are on the frontline everyday and we owe them all the support we can get,” Mouline said.
Needs like this are pervasive even at the best high schools and being able to leverage the expertise and connections of the parents is key.
“We have seen that last year when we rallied the community around the Computer Science program and it has worked (10 folds the amount of signups)," Mouline said. "We are now helping with the robotics, science research and soon the engineering programs. Some of us are also looking into tech-entrepreneurship with some early successful experiments."