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PSO Presented National Award For Employee STEM Volunteers

by on January 24, 2018
AEP Transmission employees and STEM mentor volunteer coordinators — Aiden Hadley (white shirt), John Carmichael (black polo shirt), and Josh Crouch (far right, glasses) — play Multiplication Bingo with math students they are mentoring at Chouteau Elementary School.

(Story by Ed Bettinger)

Public Service Company of Oklahoma’s efforts to encourage teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the classroom and the volunteer mentorship efforts of employees in support of STEM teaching have received national recognition.

In early December, PSO was presented the Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization STEM Mentoring Award for 2017 by US2020. US2020 is a White House-affiliated organization created several years ago to promote STEM mentorship. Fifty-two cities across the country participate in US2020.

Commenting on the award, Stuart Solomon, PSO president and chief operating officer, said, “This is a wonderful recognition of our company and our terrific employee volunteers who are doing such fantastic work in STEM mentoring.”

For several years now, employees volunteering to serve as STEM mentors have worked hand-in-hand with PSO’s company efforts (with AEP Foundation support) to make STEM teaching an ongoing part of school curricula.

One of those ongoing efforts is Me & My Math Mentor (M4), a now two-year-old math mentoring program at Tulsa Public Schools’ Chouteau Elementary School.  Chouteau is one of PSO’s Partners in Education schools, and is a feeder school to Central Jr-Sr. High School, which has been a PSO Partner in Education school for over 30 years.

M4, which is a program of the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, has attracted a number of PSO and AEP employees as mentor volunteers since its introduction at Chouteau in 2016. The number of employee volunteer math mentors varies from semester to semester. At present, there are six AEP Transmission employees who are engaged in the program.

Three of those currently coordinate the mentor effort while also serving as math mentors themselves. Those three are: Aiden Hadley, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering ERCOT; John Carmichael, Engineer-Transmission Station Protection Engineering SPP; and Josh Crouch, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering SPP. They also coordinate the math mentors from other Tulsa-area companies participating in M4 at Chouteau.

Rounding out the current AEP mentor cadre are Kristine Saavedra, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering ERCOT; Brandon Cogan, Supervisor-Planning & Engineering, Transmission Asset Performance; and Alex Johnson, Engineer-Transmission Station Engineering ERCOT. Jevonta Moore, Engineering Associate-Transmission Line Engineering SPP, played a key role in the program last fall, but is not participating as a mentor this semester.

“Each of us was looking for an opportunity to give back to the community around us,” said Hadley. “Since we are engineers, mentoring students in math seemed a natural fit.”

The employees arrive at the school before 7:15 a.m. three mornings a week. The mentors work with each student once a week and each mentoring session is 30 minutes. Tuesday is for 4th grade, Wednesday is 5th grade, and Thursday is 6th.

The M4 program gives volunteers a chance to help students with their foundational basic math skills and sets the stage for future STEM careers. Through playing math games that focus on math facts (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication), students work with their mentor on their confidence and skills all with an emphasis on making math fun.

Of employees’ involvement in the math mentoring program, Rachel Trampler, Social Service Specialist for Tulsa Public Schools, wrote to PSO recently to express their gratitude, saying, “Our partnership with PSO has greatly benefited Chouteau the past two years. The math mentors from PSO and AEP have created meaningful relationships with the students they mentor. The students show increased math confidence and look forward to their tutoring time each week. This partnership is important for many reasons. First, math mentoring increases math competencies and strengthens the learning that occurs in the classroom. Second, our students are exposed to professionals in the Tulsa community, allowing them to see career opportunities. Chouteau is very grateful for the partnership with PSO!”

John Gilkey (right), senior engineer, Distribution Engineering – Tulsa, talks about the different types of jobs performed by PSO employees in the field as students Christopher Manore (standing, center) and Ja’ Jahnie Casey find out how difficult it can be to do even a simple task – like picking up a quarter – while wearing protective gloves our line workers wear.

Excellence in Volunteer Mobilization STEM Mentoring Award for 2017

PSO was nominated for this award by the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance. The nomination cited numerous examples of PSO’s leadership in STEM mentoring, including:

  • PSO’s cadre of employees who volunteer to serve as mentors at Chouteau Elementary School through the Me and My Math Mentor program. (If you’re interested in becoming a math mentor, please check out the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance’s website — http://tulsastem.org/math-mentors/)
  • The AEP Foundation Credits Count program, which serves Tulsa Public Schools via a grant to the Tulsa Community College Foundation to advance STEM experiential learning for middle-school students, and dual STEM curricula enrollment for high school students.
  • Development of PSO’s new EmPOWERED Mentors program, which matches PSO Distribution engineers with high school students at public schools in PSO’s service area to learn about engineering careers. Ryan Godwin, Manager-Customer Design, coordinates this program, which kicked off November 17 with 15 employee volunteers.
  • Recognition of PSO’s history of providing Robotics Grants via AEP to robotics teams in our service area.  In 2016, PSO provided nearly $28,000 in grants from the AEP Foundation to 27 high school and middle school robotics programs across our Oklahoma service areas.
  • The AEP Bright Start Right Start Science Workshop for Preschool Teachers held each year in Tulsa, to teach how to incorporate science concepts into everyday learning for young children. Thirty-six teachers participate in the workshop each year.
  • A recent $500,000 grant from the AEP Foundation for the capital campaign of the Tulsa Children’s Museum to build a new facility located within the new Gathering Place park in Tulsa. The new museum building will also serve as the STEM Center for the Tulsa Public Schools district, which is the second largest district in the state, with approximately 42,000 students.

 

EmPOWERED Engineering Mentoring Program

Another volunteer mentor opportunity for employees is PSO’s new EmPOWERED Engineering Mentoring program, which matches PSO Distribution engineers with high school students at public schools in PSO’s service area to learn about engineering careers.  The program kicked off November 17 with 15 employee volunteers. Ryan Godwin, Manager-Customer Design, is the coordinator.

From → News From AEP

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