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Realities of Mentoring High School Students from Inner City Public Schools vs. Private Schools in STEM Research at an R1 University

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track: Pre-College - Technical Session 11

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Pre-College

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Paper Authors


Christine Newman Johns Hopkins University

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Assistant Dean, Center for Educational Outreach, Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: (410) 516-4473; Fax: (410) 516-0264; email:

Professional Preparation:
Virginia Polytechnic and State University B.S. Mechanical Engineering 1989
Marshall University MBA 1995

2010-Present Assistant Dean, Center for Educational Outreach, Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
2007-2009 Director, Business Transformation Office, Single Family Mortgage Division, Fannie Mae, Washington DC
2005-2007 Program Pricing Director, Restatement Division, Fannie Mae, Washington, DC
2000-2005 Senior Program Manager, eBusiness Division, Fannie Mae, Washington, DC
1999-2000 Senior Product Manager, Essential Technologies, Inc., Rockville, MD
1998-1999 Product Manager, Essential Technologies, Inc., Rockville, MD
1994-1998 Manager, Air Programs, Apex Environmental Inc., Rockville, MD
1993-1994 Senior Environmental Engineer, Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics, Inc., Charleston, WV
1989-1992 Advanced Systems Engineer, Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics, Inc., Charleston, WV

Synergistic Activities:
Project Leadership Team for STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES), an NSF Funded Math Science Partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools Grant No. DUE-1237992, 2012 – present.
Co-Lead, STEM workgroup, Consortium for Urban Education, Baltimore, MD 2014-2015
Maryland State Department of Education STEM Equity workgroup 2014-2015
Professional Engineer, Commonwealth of Virginia, License No. 021864, 1996-2010
Board of Directors, Maryland Science Olympiad, 2010-present
Champions Board, Mid Atlantic Girls Collaborative Network

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Margaret Hart Johns Hopkins University

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Margaret Hart, Ed. M is the STEM Outreach Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Center for Educational Outreach. She works closely with student groups and leads our robotics outreach efforts. Margaret has a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy from Boston University and a Masters in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University. She has worked as a software test engineer, run a high-school outreach program at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and taught physics, astronomy and engineering in Cambridge, MA and at Baltimore City Public Schools in Baltimore MD. One of her passions is photography which she has taught to both middle and high school students.

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Andrea M. Perry Garrison Forest School

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Ms. Perry has directed the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program at Garrison Forest School, an independent pre-K through 12 college preparatory school outside Baltimore, since its inception in 2005. The GFS WISE program partnership with the Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering has placed over 225 GFS high school women in research labs and settings throughout the University. Ms. Perry helped with WISE program development and implementation upon coming to GFS after 19 years working in student affairs at Johns Hopkins. As Dean of Special Programs and Director of the James Center, Ms. Perry currently directs efforts at GFS aimed at public purpose and experiential education.

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Anitra Michelle Washington Western High School

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Anitra Washington is a lifelong educator who has a passion for increasing leadership skills in students and teachers. Anitra attended Drexel University, where she first began working with teenagers on math and science Projects. During her time at Drexel, she became the chairperson of the pre-college initiative program for the National Society of Black Engineers. This program gave her first hand experience in combining science and engineering content with activities and outreach programs. After completing her bachelor’s degree in biology, she moved to Newark, NJ to teach at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School. The unique environment of working in an urban, all-boys school further ignited Anitra’s interest in increasing student achievement in STEM and the number of her students pursuing college degrees in science in engineering. Her experience at St. Benedict’s Prep led Anitra to pursue a master’s degree in education with a concentration in science teaching, learning, and curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania. While attending the University of Pennsylvania, she completed her thesis on the impact of teacher expectations and norms on student interest in science as a career. In addition, she served as a science education consultant for the Drexel University School of Education/Philadelphia Public School System Partnership and helped create science-based after school programs for middle school students. In 2005, Anitra Washington returned home to Baltimore and continued her teaching career within the Baltimore City Public Schools System. Since then, she has taught various science courses in high schools and transitioned into her current position as Science Department Head at Western High School in 2008. Her professional goals are to increase student access into higher level science courses and their ability to attain higher education in STEM fields.More recently, Ms. Washington has expanded her work to include student leadership training through her summer work with Western High School student leaders who train for 5 weeks to become orientation leaders for the school’s freshman orientation program. Her expertise in student leadership has allowed her to speak at conferences for organizations such as the Brooklyn Friends School and the Our Legacy Incorporated. In 2017, Ms. Washington completed in the New Leaders Emerging Leaders program where she was trained to coach instructional teams to create school and classroom environments to bolster high achievement for students in urban settings.

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Laura Garcia

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Keywords: Pre-college, Race/Ethnicity, Gender The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program started as a partnership between a STEM outreach center within an R1 university, and an all-girl, day and boarding school. Based on that success, it first expanded to include an inner-city, all-girl public school and later to accept female students attending any local, inner-city public school. WISE is designed to be an experiential learning opportunity for high school women who are advised by university professors and mentored by graduate students. One of the primary objectives of WISE is to encourage women to pursue STEM majors in college. WISE students gain hands-on research experience in various labs, field settings or computationally in a variety of fields, including nanotechnology, cognitive science, materials science and stem cell research. The program typically spans one semester and is offered in both the fall and the spring. The WISE students work on the university campus two afternoons each week. At the close of each semester, WISE students present their research and experiences to the other students and mentors. Because the program was successful with the private school (over the first 10 years, 68% of the students went on to major in a STEM field), the university expanded the program to include an inner-city, all-girl public school in 2014. Efforts were made to include a teacher in the public school to identify qualified students and to support them throughout the program. However, clear differences remained. Importantly, private schools have more teacher support. At the private school, the students are enrolled in a research course and participate in WISE as a cohort with a teacher who provides feedback on the students’ presentations, reviews their journals weekly, visits the students in their research lab and intervenes if necessary to resolve issues between a mentor and student or faculty and student. Private school students have typically had more coursework preparing them for science research. Furthermore, the content taught at the private school was of higher quality than that of the public school. Public school students’ need for afterschool or summer jobs may preclude their involvement in research unless it is paid. Thankfully faculty were willing to write student pay into their NSF broader impact budgets in order to serve this underserved population. To date, one of the 21 public school students who participated in WISE had such a positive experience that she continued unpaid over the summer and into the fall after her initial spring semester research internship, co-authored a paper and attended a conference. Another former student graduated from college with a degree in bio-chemistry and had parlayed her WISE experience to obtain a research internship at another university in her field. In conclusion, although there are differences in the supports given and needed to public vs. private school students, the WISE program has been successful at expanding the STEM opportunities for young women from both groups.

Newman, C., & Hart, M., & Perry, A. M., & Washington, A. M., & Garcia, L. (2019, April), Realities of Mentoring High School Students from Inner City Public Schools vs. Private Schools in STEM Research at an R1 University Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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