2014 Leadership in Practice program held at Westminster College

Leadership and person-to-person skills are essential traits for success throughout all parts of our personal and professional lives.  The younger children are exposed to this, the better leaders they will eventually become. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Education Foundation strives each year to make this a reality for young adults throughout Missouri.

Recently, nearly 120 sophomores from around Missouri attended the 18th annual Leadership In Practice held this year on the campus of Westminster College located in Fulton, Mo.   The program, which is put on by the Missouri Chamber Education Foundation each summer, teaches high school students about personal characteristics of leadership, leadership styles, civic and community leadership, economic leadership and global leadership.

Leadership in Practice class of 2014

Leadership in Practice class of 2014

Leadership In Practice immerses these students in hands-on activities, simulations and games. They evaluate their leadership skills based on what they learn and then set goals on how to improve those skills.  Business, civic, education and military leaders from around the state deliver relevant information on leadership and how students can take active leadership roles in their schools and communities.  The motto of Leadership In Practice is to Engage, Inspire and Lead.

For more information about Leadership In Practice, and how you can get involved with next year’s program contact Brian Crouse, Missouri Chamber Education Foundation vice president, at bcrouse@mochamber.com or by phone at 573.634.3511.

Virtual learning bill voted out of House committee

The House Education committee voted out House Bill 1780 on April 16, which is legislation to bolster the state’s programs for virtual learning. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau.

Swan’s bill would allow Missouri high school students who want to begin postsecondary coursework to access virtual learning programs.

The effort comes as Missouri has fallen behind in the effort to bring digital learning opportunities to K-12 students, according to a Missouri Chamber Education Foundation study released earlier this year. A similar bill has been presented by Sen. Ed Emery.
The bill will now move to the House floor for further debate, and if passed, will move to the senate.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports efforts to enhance virtual learning options in our state. For the future of our economy, it is critical that Missouri students receive a world-class education and emerge prepared to compete in a global economy.
For more information about education legislation, contact Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber at jatkins@mochamber.com or Brian Crouse, vice president of education programs for the Missouri Chamber at bcrouse@mochamber.com , or by phone at 573-634-3511.

Virtual learning bills heard in House committee

A Missouri House committee is considering legislation to bolster the state’s programs for virtual learning.

The effort comes as Missouri has fallen behind in the effort to bring digital learning opportunities to K-12 students, according to a Missouri Chamber Education Foundation study released earlier this year.

The study found that unlike many other states, Missouri students do not have a publicly funded online school option.  Missouri law also does not allow open enrollment in virtual schools.  At a time when students in rural schools and students in failing students could greatly benefit from a virtual learning option, the study urged Missouri to look closely at policy revisions.

Toward this goal, the Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee held a hearing on two bills aimed at modifying Missouri’s virtual school statutes.

Rep. Kathy Swan, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, sponsored House bill 1780. Her bill would allow Missouri high school students who want to begin postsecondary coursework to access virtual learning programs.

The committee also heard testimony on House Bill 1895 by Rep. Vicki Englund, a Democrat from St. Louis. Rep. England’s bill would increase the amount of state funding given to local school districts that offer virtual learning programs. Currently, the state reimburses virtual programs at a rate of 94 percent of what the state would pay for traditional coursework. Rep. Englund is seeking to raise that to 95 percent.

The committee has not voted on either bill.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports efforts to enhance virtual learning options in our state. For the future of our economy, it is critical that Missouri students receive a world-class education and emerge prepared to compete in a global economy.

For more information about education legislation, contact Jay Atkins, atjatkins@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

Students, educators rally in support of STEM education

Matthew McKean is eager to explain the features of the LEGO robot he built along with his friends.

Matthew, a fourth grader at Kennerly Elementary School, holds the robot in his hand, pointing out how their robot could help fight wildfires—interacting with ambulances, moving power generators, signaling to aircraft.

He helped build the robot as part of team, the Flash Drivers, to compete in a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competition—an event designed to help inspire kids to pursue math and science careers.

However, for Matthew, the main motivation was having fun.

“FLL is the funnest thing ever,” he said.

Matthew and hundreds of students and education supporters rallied at the Missouri Capitol on Thursday, March 6, 2014 for STEM Day at the Capitol. With demonstrations and booths highlighting Missouri student achievement, the day was a celebration of the state’s growing math and science efforts.

“Every year, we gather in the Missouri State Capitol to showcase science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We are emphasizing the experiences these students are having and the career opportunities they can lead to,” said Brian Crouse, vice president of the Missouri Chamber Education Foundation, which helped organize the event. “It is always exciting to be able to bring this event to our capital and show our lawmakers that STEM education is making a difference in Missouri.”

Joshua Harmon, a seventh grader from Camdenton Middle School, said his work on a local robotics team has inspired him to pursue mechanical engineering as a career. He said he enjoys getting to build robots and compete against other teams.

“It’s tons of fun because you get to build a robot, you get to compete,” he said. “It’s like a sport only you get to use your brain.”

Deshawna Flesch, a 10th grader from Gateway Science Academy, displayed her research into how earthworms impact soil quality. She said getting hands on science experience has influenced her future.

“In college I plan on minoring in herpetology with reptiles and stuff like that and majoring in some kind of environmental conservation,” she said.

Many education statekholders also attended STEM Day at the Capitol. Kathie Reuter, an operational partner with the FIRST LEGO League of Eastern Missouri said her personal goal was to get kids interested in science, math and technology.

“There seems to be a lot of emphasis on sports and they get a lot of press,” she said. “It would be nice for kids to get a lot of recognition for what they’re doing in the math, science, engineering and technology fields.”

While at the Capitol students were able to witness a live house floor debate on a STEM bill, HB 1459, sponsored by Rep. Lauer which authorizes the Innovation Campus Tax Credit program.  Students were not only able to see the legislative process in operation, but on a bill that can possibly help them years from now by providing more STEM internship opportunities than what is currently in place around the state.

The Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition looks forward to next year,  the first week of March 2015.

For more information about STEM activities, contact Brian Crouse at bcrouse@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.