It’s not every day that CCU professors are flown to aircraft carriers 100 miles out at sea. But that’s what happened to Dr. Debora Scheffel, dean of the School of Education, last week. As part of the U.S. Navy’s Educators at Sea program, Scheffel flew with a team of 16 educators to observe naval operations on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson in order to increase the partnership between the Navy and frontline educators.
“Educators at Sea is essentially designed to connect educators with the Navy, so we understand the requirements of the workforce there,” noted Scheffel. “It’s a question of when kids graduate high school, how ready are they?”
Specifically, Scheffel was looking at STEM jobs – roles that require strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills. “One out of three students who are ready to go to college need remediation – additional training before they can take regular courses,” added Scheffel. “On an aircraft carrier, you can have an 18 or 19 year old who has a very important job. And if they can’t do their job effectively, everyone is at risk.”
High schools around Colorado and across the nation are increasingly focusing on STEM courses, as much of the burgeoning technology sector – in the Navy and otherwise – requires capability in these areas. “STEM teachers are a big need in public education. If we don’t train teachers how to teach well, kids won’t have the necessary skills or even be attracted to these areas. This is a huge field where we need well prepared graduates.”
Scheffel, flying via the Navy’s C-2 Greyhound, experienced an arrested landing and catapult launch – rare experiences for a civilian. She also toured the carrier departments to see firsthand how the carrier operates, and what skills a high school graduate needs in order to enter the Navy.
“This was a great opportunity to see how a high school degree translates to workforce readiness, and how we can better prepare teachers and students. It’s certainly an exciting way to get civilian advocates!”
Scheffel also serves on the Colorado State Board of Education (representing the 6th Congressional District), which sets academic expectations for districts across the state. Her work there naturally dovetails with her role as a dean: in both she is asking what K-12 students need to know as they graduate, and how educators can best impart that knowledge.