Recorder launches new STEM Page for students
By Jessica R. Key, Special to the NNPA from the Indianapolis Recorder
Over the past 120 years, the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper has prided itself on preparing a conscious community today and beyond. Educating the community on pertinent African-American issues of the day has been goal No. 1.
By way of the news, the historic publication has also been a staunch advocate of up-to-date classroom education, particularly for Black youth. The Recorder is committed to its stance on quality, cutting-edge education and is announcing the launch of a special science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) page to be added to the newspaper. This page is part of the national Newspaper in Education (NIE) program.
“Much of the world today is centered around STEM – even simple things we do such as the manner in which we communicate with one another. We need to preserve industry knowledge to ensure success and sustainability in the future, therefore exposing youth to various STEM industries is incredibly important to the Recorder,” said Shannon Williams, president and general manager of The Recorder Media Group.
“Our goal is to pique the interests of students at an early age so they can hopefully major in one of the industries in college and ultimately become an experienced STEM professional.”
STEM is a growing movement of education policies and curriculum choices used by schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development.
The Recorder has partnered with the St. Louis American on this initiative. Founded in 1928, the St. Louis American is a historic African-American newspaper based in St. Louis, Mo. Cathy Sewell, a 22-year veteran NIE manager, leads The St. Louis American’s team and said due to the Recorder’s 120-year success, partnering with the Indianapolis publication was an easy choice.
“The Recorder is a quality paper that’s well received in the community. We thought they could do a similar program and do it well,” said Sewell.
The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper is the first African-American newspaper partner to be selected by the St. Louis American for this educational initiative.
The St. Louis American, along with their corporate partners and the Saint Louis Science Center, created the unique and targeted classroom tool in 2012. Donald Suggs, publisher of the St. Louis American, wanted to continue being a positive influence on the Black community and wanted purposeful, influential information published specifically for young, Black readers.
Sewell said the full color, full page STEM section is culturally specific for minority students – students who are typically disenfranchised and not represented in outdated and white-centered classroom instruction.
The STEM page allows young readers to see other classrooms and STEM professionals who look like them.
The tool is then taken into fourth and fifth grade classrooms where teachers incorporate the weekly-themed information into their curriculum. A syllabus is provided to aid instructors.
“We tell teachers, don’t think of this as one more thing you have to fit into your busy day. We know teachers are busy. That’s why we purposefully created a page that was relevant, meets the standards teachers are already having to meet in their lesson plans and that helps them do what they’re already doing in an interesting way,” said Sewell.
The program runs in the paper for 36 weeks, the entire academic school year.
Research shows students who use newspapers in the classroom score better on standardized tests, continue reading into adulthood, have greater civic understanding and are more engaged in their communities.
Sewell said internal research showed students increased their awareness of STEM subjects, and interest in STEM fields as possible future careers piqued. They also have testimonies from teachers who appreciate the tool. In fact, students use the entire newspaper for lessons in language arts, real world math and social studies classes.
“Teachers have said when students went into standardized tests, they showed more confidence. They come out smiling and saying ‘I nailed that,’” said Sewell.
She added that teachers’ attitudes about students’ capabilities in STEM, particularly among low-income, African-American students, improved.
The Recorder will follow the St. Louis American’s model in hopes of helping Indianapolis students’ learning and boosting ISTEP scores. The Recorder’s STEM page will be provided to fourth and fifth grade students in Lawrence, Pike, Warren and Washington township schools.
The program has been so successful the St. Louis weekly publication has received two awards for its NIE program, both national and international.
The National Newspaper Association awarded The St. Louis American first place among all large non-daily newspapers in the U.S. for its 2015 NIE program.
Also, The St. Louis American received the international Silver World Young Reader Prize in the News In Education category for its STEM program from the World Association of Newspapers. This award will be presented at a ceremony in Mumbai, India in September.
“We want to help open the minds of these young people to their potential,” said Suggs. “We are excited about continuing to grow the program, and want to touch and positively affect as many young lives in their classrooms and their homes as we can.”
“We are pleased to collaborate with St. Louis American on this initiative. It has a proven track record of success and we look forward to having the same results here in Indiana,” added Williams.
Williams said the Recorder is so committed to exposing youth to STEM industries; the newspaper is currently incurring the initial costs to add the program and submit the tool to Indianapolis classrooms. The paper is also seeking corporate sponsorships.
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