From STEM Fellow to STEM Leader

Mandy Buskirk, a Cohort 1 STEM Fellow from Eastern Greene Elementary, used her year of Fellowship as the starting point for a host of STEM endeavors that benefit students of all ages.

“I have made significant changes in my teaching and school since joining the ROI STEM Fellowship,” said Buskirk. “Our principal changed my life when she nominated me to be a STEM Fellow.”

Since her selection as a Fellow in 2017, Buskirk has successfully applied for and received STEM grants for both her classroom and her school. With grant funding, she was able to acquire robotics and STEM kits for her 4th-grade classroom. She now leads a STEM Club after school for students and leads professional development for Eastern Greene School Schools staff. She hosts STEM family nights and camps; and provides STEM activities for Greene County’s summer library program.

Buskirk has been a driving force behind her school’s new makerspace, ensuring that all elementary classes are able to check out materials and conduct meaningful STEM investigations. She has also applied for grants to use STEM to teach Social and Emotional Learning and recently learned that Eastern Greene Schools will receive funding to support this work in its elementary, middle, and high schools.

In her own classroom, Buskirk has been implementing PBL units to provide real-world applications for the content she teaches her students.

“My time with ROI prepared me to engage students in PBL units and to work with community partners,” added Buskirk. “I recently completed two additional PBL units and have a grant to complete another PBL in the fall.” Impressively, Buskirk pursued additional STEM credentialing as a result of her time as a Fellow. She completed her National STEM licensure from the National Institute for STEM education in March 2020 and will complete a master’s level program in STEM leadership this fall.

Buskirk’s story is just one of the many examples that ROI STEM Fellows and their school administrators continually share about the meaningful ripple effects of the ROI STEM Fellows program.