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 Migrant Education Recognized for Outstanding Work in STEM

​The San Diego County Office of Education’s Migrant Education department is part of a team that has been recognized as an exemplary STEM team by the Southern California Professional Development Federation (SCPDF) for its work in developing students’ skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The team was recognized for demonstrating multiple characteristics of a trailblazer in STEM teaching, including authentic problem-solving and performance-based tasks, and creating environments that encourage student engagement and collaboration.  

The team included seven individuals from the five organizations: Andrew McNelly, SDCOE Migrant Education; April Nelson, CSU San Marcos (CSUSM); Ann Little, Susie Folstad, and Pam Harris from Kids College; Roseana Sanchez from San Marcos Unified School District; and Merlin Barajas from Vista Unified School District. 

“Exposing our migrant children and families to the endless opportunities of STEM is empowering,” said SDCOE’s Carola SolanoHumerez, coordinator for Migrant Education. “As a team we are working endlessly to bring the highest caliber of services to our children, and to be recognized for our work is priceless.”

The awards are part of SCPDF’s K16 STEM Initiative, which was started by leaders at CSUSM in collaboration with the North County Professional Development Federation (now the SCPDF) more than five years ago.

“This has been a great way to highlight outstanding STEM practices throughout our region, recognize teacher teams working collaboratively, and learn from one another,” said Brenda Hall, director of the SCPDF.

The focus this year was on work in grades 3 to 6. Eighteen teachers from three teams (Del Mar, Solana Beach and SDCOE Migrant Education) were recognized at the March 9 honoree breakfast for their outstanding work. 

“The collaboration we have been able to establish with CSUSM, Kids College, and Migrant Education has brought our STEM program that we offer to our migrant children to a whole different level,” said SolanoHumerez. “We are creating an environment in our program that is very dynamic, relevant, and fluid. We are preparing our students for jobs that sometimes don't even exist right now, and for this, we are extremely proud.”

In addition to the day’s awards, three past winning teams from Vista, San Dieguito, and Encinitas school districts were awarded small implementation grants to support their continuing efforts in STEM instruction. 

SCPDF members, which include 28 districts from San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties, two community colleges and six charter schools, are eligible for the awards. Over the past two years, SCPDF has recognized 11 district teams and 45 teachers.  

Schools First Federal Credit Union was a sponsor of the awards and provided gift cards to all of the teachers being recognized.  

SDCOE’s Migrant Education is a supplemental educational program that provides support services through collaborating with school districts and other community agencies to maximize the potential of migrant students. Working closely with parents, each district designs its own plan of services to provide the most effective program possible for students to ensure equitable opportunities and increase graduation rates.