IISME + New Visions: The Road to Partnership

July 14, 2016

100Kin10 strongly encourages active collaboration among partners. We believe that partners can better recruit, train and support more excellent STEM teachers by working together. This is the story of how one such collaboration unfolded over the course of 2015.

July 2015: A Meeting at the White House

“I was standing on the steps of the White House, really excited, just wanting to talk to somebody. Then I encountered someone who shares a similar fervor about this amazing opportunity…100Kin10 had made me feel special by inviting me, and likewise by inviting Shari…”

-Roberta Trachtman, New Visions For Public Schools (New Visions)

They may reside on separate coasts, but the synergy between Roberta Trachtman and Shari Liss was apparent from the moment they met on the steps of the White House. They were invited by 100Kin10 to brainstorm about the biggest challenges facing STEM teaching with winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Nervous chatter quickly turned to shop-talk as Shari told Roberta that IISME wanted to understand the impact of its work in education.

Coincidentally, Roberta’s expertise is in evaluation.

“Roberta had all these brilliant ideas while we were standing in the hot sun…I think that was a really exciting moment, when we realized we shared that desire to understand the impact of the work.”
-Shari Liss, Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME)

Both IISME and New Visions are dedicated to developing and retaining excellent teachers. Based in San Francisco, IISME’s 31-year old Summer Fellowship Program places teachers in STEM workplaces so that they can experience STEM practices first-hand and better prepare their students for STEM careers. And in New York City, New Visions trains teachers in inquiry-based instruction and leadership, while developing pathways for teachers to exercise those skills.

New Visions

July - December 2015: Deepening the Conversation

In the months that followed, the two new friends continued to share information, trying to identify the most effective way to combine the strengths of their organizations.

“I think part of what 100Kin10 does is bring into conversation people whose organizations…could stand up next to each other and people would see the Venn Diagram, the sweet spot.”

They agreed that bringing the San Francisco-based IISME Fellowship program to New York City was a long-term goal. IISME had been looking to expand beyond California, and New Visions wanted to help the graduates of its teacher-preparation program develop their careers, giving the STEM teachers what they crave—a connection with current practises, without leaving teaching. It could provide a path up, not out.

“We started talking about what we are each trying to do, in terms of teacher leadership or the fellowship model and how those pieces might work combined across the country.”

Shari and Roberta knew they had to meet in person to bring their ideas to life, so they applied for a 100Kin10 Collaboration Grant to pay for the IISME folks to fly to New York City. In less than a month, they received word. They got the grant. This funding would allow them to meet face-to-face for a two-day collaboration session. It also provided their first real deadline.

February 2016: Making Partnership a Reality

Shari and Kate Hiester, IISME’s Director of Program Development, arrived in New York City for a two-day marathon to explore how to set up a partnership.

“The deeper we got into each of our models, the more exciting that became. It was evident that we all agreed on leadership development, that we agreed on inquiry-based teaching and learning, and that we agreed on constant improvement.”

They needed something small to serve as a logical, feasible start. Shari and Kate listened to two New Vision teachers speak passionately about integrating their inquiry learning into their classrooms. New Visions teachers don’t supply all the answers to their students—they ask the right questions.

“Inquiry-based teaching closely reflects the concept of continuous improvement found at leading STEM organizations; it requires both teachers and students to practice 21st Century Skills in effective, organic ways; and it leads teachers into data-driven decision-making about their work.”

New Visions’ inquiry-based model of teacher training would help IISME Fellowship graduates realign classroom teaching to reflect their new understanding of how STEM workplaces function, enabling them to collaborate without leaving the classroom entirely. And it would support their growth as teacher-leaders able to transform STEM learning for students.

“We got super-excited about incorporating New Vision’s inquiry-based leadership methodology into the IISME fellowship program in a formal way, through leadership micro-certifications; once implemented, this collaboration could pave the way for bringing the IISME/New Visions Fellowship + Leadership Micro-Certification to teachers in New York City.”

Now that the partners had a short-term plan, they needed funding. Through 100Kin10, Shari learned of a California grant deadline with Silver Giving Foundation that was just two weeks away. They worked fast, delivering a Letter of Intent (LOI) to submit a proposal for the California grant.

March 2016: Learning from a Bump in the Road

A month after submitting their proposal, the pair got disappointing news: their LOI did not lead to a request for proposal.

“It was a disappointment, but the feedback from the program officer was powerful and important and will help guide our next submission…. We learned that IISME should incorporate some of our local and strong district partners into the ask…”

2016 and Beyond: Never Giving Up

IISME and New Visions are planning to pursue more grants opportunities to help them implement their first round of partnership, as they continue absorbing valuable learning from other partners.

“We will bring our partnership model to the 2016 100Kin10 Annual Summit to gain more feedback from funders and other potential partners.”

In mere months, Roberta and Shari went from being strangers on the White House steps to STEM business partners taking BIG steps to empower and educate STEM teachers nationwide.The force is strong between these two partners. And it is a force to be reckoned with. As Shari puts it, “We’re going to conquer the world, one STEM teacher at a time.”

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