Contributed to the Opelika Observer
Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and director of AIDT, announced that Lee Meadows, Ph.D., has been named interim executive director of the newly established Alabama STEM Council as the state moves to advance STEM education and continue the work of Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success.
In this new role, Meadows will work with the distinguished leadership of the Alabama STEM Council to help identify and solve barriers to STEM education and discover creative solutions to meet the future demand of STEM-related occupations in Alabama.
With over 30 years of experience in science and education, Meadows’ career path has taken him from teaching chemistry and physics in high school to training and developing future STEM teachers. Helping educators integrate science and technology into their teaching quickly became a passion for Meadows, and developing future STEM teachers turned into his personal mission.
Most recently, Meadows served as a professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Education and prior to that was the co-director of UABTeach, where he helped nurture and train a new teaching force of highly qualified instructors in STEM subjects: science, engineering, technology and math.
Alabama is projected to need more than 850,000 STEM-related occupations by 2026, according to Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success. Educator shortages and a disparity of STEM education available to all students regardless of location, economic status, gender or race provide obstacles to meeting the future demand for STEM-related careers. Meadows pointed out that “if we don’t grow our own STEM work force we won’t have one,” and noted that not only is it his vision, but also a passion to ensure all Alabama students see the value of STEM and have access to these educational resources.
“We are at a critical stage with STEM education in our state, and the Alabama STEM Council will be the leading authority to ensure we are poised for growth and success for many years to come,” Castile said. “Having someone like Dr. Meadows who is passionate and dedicated to the growth and preparedness of future STEM leaders will set Alabama up for a successful future.”
The Alabama STEM Council was formed in September 2020 by Gov. Kay Ivey’s Executive Order No. 721. The Council members represent leaders from Alabama businesses, education and state government. The council’s work will build on and extend Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success (available here).
Meadows and the leadership of the Alabama Stem Council will begin with a priority of communicating to students, parents, teachers and other stakeholders the value of a STEM education and the doors it can open in the workforce. Recognizing that there isn’t sufficient data in Alabama on what works and where the gaps in STEM education are, the Alabama Stem Council will also undertake a data tracking initiative to provide quantitative analysis to guide decisions and priorities. Identifying programs in Alabama that are already doing a great job with STEM education that can be modeled and scaled up for the entire state will also be a top priority for the organization.
The first meeting of the Alabama STEM Council was held on Dec. 2, 2020, and was open to the public via Zoom. More information can be found at stemcouncil.alabama.gov/ .