By Paloma Garcia-Lopez
As students take their final quizzes before winter break and educators reflect on their year of service, Maker Ed has been gearing up for a robust expansion of maker programming rather than winding down. This season, Maker Ed staff witnessed the swearing in of our Maker Americorps VISTA Leader, Jeremy Mitchell. Chad Davis, California Program Specialist for the Corporation for National & Community Service, visited the Maker Ed office just before Thanksgiving to officially “swear in” Jeremy. “This is an exciting partnership and we are eager to see the impact that Maker VISTAs will have on changing the lives of high poverty youth through increasing maker volunteers and programming,” shared Mr. Davis.
Jeremy comes to us from Memphis, Tennessee , having driven clear across the country to contribute another year of service to his country. Before joining the Maker Ed team, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in charge of community relations and volunteer management at Families of Incarcerated Individuals in Memphis, TN. As a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a native of Memphis, he felt it was time to experience a new part of the country and a join a new movement: The Maker Movement. Maker VISTA is a result of President Obama’s announcement at the White House Science Fair, to launch a STEM AmeriCorps to inspire youth to engage in STEM studies as part of his “Educate to Innovate” Campaign.
Jeremy will lead a team of VISTA members Maker Ed has placed in maker movement organizations across the state of California. A second Maker VISTA team will be placed in five cities across the county next year. In his first week on the job, Jeremy met state representative of science in school, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, MESA Development Manager Mae Cendaña Torlakson, and Afterschool Division Director Michael Funk, of the California Department of Education. Jeremy shares, “It has been an incredible experience thus far and I’m eager to share my passion for what making can do for kids with our entire Maker VISTA team.”Maker Ed’s Jeremy Mitchell and Steve Davee meeting the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabar 2013 CA STEM Symposium
A week later, he did just that: Maker Ed’s National Program Director Dr. Lisa Regalla and VISTA Leader Jeremy Mitchel were present in Los Angeles when nine Maker VISTA members also pledged, “I will get things done for America to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.” They joined thousands of Americans that have used their knowledge and skills to help those in disadvantaged circumstances turn their dreams into reality. President John F. Kennedy came up with the idea in 1965 as a national service program designed specifically to fight poverty in America. Today, over 45 million Americans live in poverty.
We believe that engaging kids in meaningful making activities can change their life trajectory. This month our Maker VISTAs settled into their communities of Santa Ana, Los Angeles, Fresno/Sanger, Stockton, and Oakland to commence their year of service. Our VISTAs will build the capacity of Maker Ed partner organizations by developing community-school partnerships and other collaborations, recruiting volunteers, expanding programs and assisting with fundraising efforts. Welcome Jeremy, Jessica, Rachel, Andrea, Max, Danielle, Victoria, Janet, Tom, and Abigal!@Americorps, @VISTAbuzz, and @MakerEdOrg