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Full STEAM Ahead: Quincy Teacher Prepares At-Risk Kids for Prosperous Futures

“I see obstacles as opportunities.”

With an attitude like that, it’s no wonder that elementary school teacher Camille Jones is being honored as the 2017 Washington STEM Teacher of the Year. Jones lives and teaches in Quincy – a small town in central Washington with an economy rooted in agriculture and a diverse population.

Most of Jones’ students are learning English and many of them are living in poverty. Jones sees the work she does as a powerful way to help these students prepare for the future and expand their vision for what’s possible in their lives.

“We know that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers are going to drive the future of just about every industry, especially within our state, since agriculture, aeronautics and computer engineering are so important to Washington’s economy,” Jones explains. She strives to give her students an education that’s relevant to these opportunities to level the playing field.

“If they don’t know about engineering or chemistry, or they don’t know what a sculptor is, I have a chance to teach them that and see the light in their eyes when they learn about it and find something they’re really interested in.” Those special moments are Jones’ favorite part of her job. Seeing a child accomplish “something they didn't know they were capable of doing…that's a really special moment that only teachers get to see very often.”

The program Jones oversees even adds “Art” to the STEM mix and goes by the acronym STEAM. Including art emphasizes the crucial role creativity and innovation play in problem solving, in both the classroom and the real world.

Jones emphasizes that whatever you call it, STEM/STEAM education is important for every child – be they boy or girl, city-dwelling or rural. For her, this “foundational” area of study isn’t just an essential part of opening kids’ eyes to what’s possible today – it’s the key to preparing them for a successful tomorrow.

CenturyLink is a global communications hosting, cloud and IT services company committed to strengthening and improving the communities it serves. CenturyLink focuses its philanthropic and volunteer efforts on K-12 education programs that support technology-focused initiatives. Learn more about CenturyLink.

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