The Donald McKinney Center for STEM Education was launched last month in Philadelphia, in honor of 30-year high school chemistry teacher Donald McKinney. McKinney is recognized as a tireless educator, teaching at Radnor High School, creating the Ed Fund’s Math and Science Coalition, and infusing “his love of science, passion for education, phenomenal work ethic, and ability to connect people, disciplines, and agencies.” His influence will continue to benefit those receiving an education in Philadelphia public schools.

The career of McKinney and the Ed Fund’s new center are described in Philadephia Education Fund to launch center for STEM education, by Philadelphia Public Schools. Benefits of the center include increased “access to and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] for all Philadelphia K-12 students” as well as providing for expansion of the STEM initiatives and rebranding. The Science and Math Coalition of the Ed Fund is a citywide partnership between private and public entities to improve STEM education in the city.

McKinney Director Nancy Peters espouses the benefits of the Science and Math Coalition as effectively bringing professional development for teachers, connection between the schools and non-profits and businesses, and STEM experiences for the students that can be life-changing. The McKinney Center will also absorb other programs that have proven successful, like the STEM Teacher Forums, becoming the backbone of the Philadelphia STEM Ecosystem. Further, McKinney Senior Fellows will be established to advance the cause of STEM education on a “national and global level, in hopes of moving the discussion about the STEM workforce and literacy beyond the Philadelphia region.”

While there is a persistent need to expand STEM education across the country, and in Philadelphia, to support the growing demands of a workforce requiring greater education, that is not the primary goal of the McKinney Center. Farah Jimenez, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund, believes that the benefits of STEM education are much greater, so that students “can be better-informed consumers of health care, energetic stewards of the environment, adaptive users of technology – in other words, STEM-literate.” Peters expands on the idea by describing the benefits of STEM-related skills such as understanding food ingredient labels and balancing checkbooks.

Image: Philadelphia School District