STEM Woman Leader of the Day- Annalies Corbin (PAST Foundation)
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on September 24, 2012
Annalies Corbin is the President and CEO, and founder of the PAST Foundation. Under her direction PAST has successfully emerged as one of the nation’s leading developers of PreK-12 bridge programs, STEM teachers professional development, and STEM ethnographic knowledge capture. Her ground-breaking STEM bridge program with the Nebraska Zoo School excavating Yellowstone’s historic Marshall Hotel earned her the 2001 National Park Service award. Currently, she leads the Ohio STEM Learning Network’s Technical Assistance team helping STEM hubs and emerging schools throughout Ohio build sustainable networks and programs. Dr. Corbin received her doctorate from the University of Idaho in History and Historical Archaeology.
How is STEM related to The PAST Foundation?
The PAST Foundation was established in 2000 by an international group of Anthropologists, field and research scientists, museum curators and educators with the single purpose of connecting scientific research with classrooms and other public arenas. The key to PAST is a deep understanding of STEM school’s fundamental systems and design principles. Anthropology by its very nature looks at the interdependencies of systems. PAST finds the resonating links within communities, business, education and regions to create unique learning environments specifically suited to place, culture, and time.
Why do you believe STEM education and workforce are important to our nation?
The future of our country rests in our ability to both capture and motivate the next generation of innovators. These next generation STEMists are out there sitting in our schools bored, unengaged and dropping out on a daily basis. A solid STEM education tailored to reach each and every child with an aim to not only provide a quality education but to instill in them the qualities of an entrepreneur, the vision to dream, the skills to problem solve and the drive to be a fully contributing citizen is essential to ensuring workforce and economic development in the future.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
I feel strongly that one of the single most important qualities that effective leaders need today is the ability to see meaningful connections. When talking about STEM education we often find ourselves lost in the mountains of data being generated regarding the leaking pipeline, or the grim forecast of pending baby boomer retirements on the horizon and forget that many of the short term solutions are right in front of us if we can simply make the right connections. While we collectively roll up our sleeves to tackle the national problem for the long haul, we can also have a substantial impact on a local level by simply connecting students with meaningful opportunities to experience STEM careers and opportunities in real time. Whether internships, apprenticeships, learn and earn strategies, or out of school experiences there are many meaningful ways to connect students to STEM.
What principles do you, as a leader, apply to your professional and personal life to advance the STEM cause?
Years ago I met a young man at an after school arts program in Columbus Ohio that profoundly changed my view of the world. This after school program was a haven of innovation, creativity, and social support for an urban community at risk. As funding for the arts waned across the country, after school programs were scrambling to reconstitute themselves into that next thing that could be funded. This young, articulate, creative young man took it upon himself to stroll the neighborhood asking other teens to join him in imagining what that next great thing would be. When I asked him why he went door to door to ask such a question he responded quite simply, “because I want to know when the dream died. If I know when the dream was no longer possible for my friends then maybe I can make sure the dream can live for my brother and sisters."
I cannot imagine a world in which there are no dreams, no aspirations and yet this young man forced me to take notice that dreams were being lost on every street corner, every school, and every home within my community. Both personally and professionally I see a STEM education as just good education. At PAST we strive to ensure that every teacher and student we touch has the skills and experience necessary to recognize that there is no box, that there are no limits and that every citizen has a substantial contribution to make to our community.