“No Excuses!” for this North Carolina InvenTeam

InvenTeam teacher Joann Blumenfeld from Raleigh, North Carolina, is a rarity: a high school teacher credentialed to teach both high school science and special education. Her unique credentialing is bringing new learning opportunities to students with disabilities throughout North Carolina to address needs for a skilled workforce and to ensure her students have access to higher paying jobs in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Blumenfeld argues that skills can help students from low-income families (especially those who have special needs) escape “a culture of poverty.” “You’re giving them a lifeline. Instead of being the kid that’s dependent, they can be the savior for their family,” she says. Her inspiration came when she went to a Sustainable Forestry Teachers Academy at North Carolina State University about four years ago. There she learned that a local veneer factory was having trouble filling skilled jobs that paid more than $25 an hour. Labor was being imported from Canada. Blumenfeld realized that if she could provide high school students with disabilities the tools to learn 1 | Educator Case Study | August 2017 how to do these jobs through high-quality STEM instruction, she could help lift them out of poverty, while also giving them access to more interesting STEM careers that utilize their many talents. To discover how Joann flipped the mindset about students with disabilities, read the case study here.

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