At the University of Maine, underserved students are invited to take part in STEM seminars, mainly engineering, from a water quality perspective.

Making a difference in student’s lives is a key reason many choose to become a teacher. For Camdenton High School Science teacher Christopher Reeves, this desire has led to the benefit of many underserved students at Camdenton R-III.

Reeves will receive a $3,000 stipend and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC for the Advocate Training Institute and continued support throughout the year for his work in developing the educational opportunities for underserved students in the STEM field. 

For Camdenton, the definition of “underserved student” takes a number of factors into account. This includes those who receive free and reduced lunch, those who may not sign up for STEM classes and minority groups. Reeves was nominated for the $3,000 grant due to his work with an internship in Bangor, Maine. 

At the University of Maine, underserved students are invited to take part in STEM seminars, mainly engineering, from a water quality perspective. Researchers will take a day with students teaching water chemistry and biology of streams. After these initial courses, the students are taken out in the field to learn to identify and address the problem. 

“I would love to take a ton of students to this, but there’s limited funding for the trip,” Reeves said.

Because of his work in getting this trip put together, the school was able to apply to the Society for Science and the Public grant. Reeves says he wasn’t sure if the school had much of a chance to received the grant, but was pleasantly surprised when word had come in that they would be one of the recipients. 

Now, Reeves says he is able to take this funding and allow more underserved students within the district to take part in STEM classes that they may have otherwise not been able to. He says that he has already been able to pull over a student from LCTC who went on to win first place in a state competition with the work he completed in these classes. The money from this grant paid for the materials this student needed for his project.

“He came in and said ‘I don’t think I’m as smart as these other kids’,” Reeves said. “I told him he’s just as smart, just in another way. He went on to use his experience working with a landscaping business over the summer to find a problem and solve it.”

The University of Maine has also reached out to Reeves to become the Midwest director of their STEM projects. This would consist of around 10 states. While the position is still be officialized, Reeves is excited to eventually accept this position. He would be recruiting students and teachers into the field for various projects.  

This is now the second year in a row that Reeves has received this award. Recipients are only allowed to receive it twice. He says that the staff around him at Camdenton R-III has been one of the main components in helping him achieve this. Working at the school for 12 years, Reeves says that the staff around him, including Superintendent Tim Hadfield, have helped feed resources towards the development of STEM projects. He says the combined support has helped him succeed in completing these grants.

“When I talk to other teachers and I tell them about our school, they just cannot believe the amount of support we have from the administration,” Reeves said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”