Veteran educator Linda S. Hicks arrived in 2010 to lead the city school district in Battle Creek, Mich. Capitalizing on its multinational food manufacturers and nearby research and training facilities, she immediately decided to tap the area’s potential as a source of future STEM-focused jobs for many of her students.
And so she began taking steps to enhance the 5,300-student district’s STEM offerings, including revamping an elementary school and a middle school to bring a STEM focus. In addition, she launched a districtwide STEM education panel to help build a strong and sustained vision for education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
“This is the perfect place [for an emphasis on those disciplines], because there are so many future STEM opportunities for kids,” says Hicks.
Noting the district’s high concentration of students living in poverty—about 75 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—she says: “We have some of the most vulnerable children. [They] need to be inspired. … Our kids need to see some real potential opportunities for their future.”