STORM FORCE was conceived over four years ago when more than 70 community members including elected leaders, school administrators and teachers, and program directors gathered to discuss a community vision for Socorro. It is now a community-wide effort whose mission is to inspire and empower Socorro County residents by promoting mentoring, skills in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM), and a culture of lifelong learning. The New Mexico Tech Office of Outreach is coordinating this effort.
Imagine Socorro as the epicenter for educational excellence in New Mexico, where strong relationships between New Mexico Tech (NMT), Socorro Consolidated Schools (SCS), and community partners coordinate resources to support programs that increase student engagement in STEAM through hands-on activities that inspire students to learn and create. These programs provide clear pathways for students to not only find their passion, but to cultivate the persistence, confidence, and skills to turn that passion into a career that builds the workforce in Socorro and across New Mexico. Mentoring programs support students in their academics while building strong relationships that promote a culture of caring and inspire mentors to become teachers. NMT’s Master of Science for Teachers (MST) program provides exceptional teacher professional development and research opportunities with NMT faculty. This is the vision of STORM FORCE conceived four years ago.
STORM–STEAM OutReach and Mentoring—is the core strategy; FORCE–Fueling Opportunity through Relationships, Community, and Education—is our purpose. The key element is fostering relationships and community partnerships to support students through the medium of education.
It’s been four years since defining the vision, what progress have we seen?
STORM FORCE was conceived as a result of the success of the MATCH mentoring program which is now in its sixth year. NMT students are hired to work with third and fourth graders at Parkview to improve reading literacy. This has been a foundational collaboration between NMT and SCS (with the original programming and partnership with MATCH New Mexico). This has expanded to include hiring Socorro High students to mentor at Cottonwood Valley Charter School and Sarracino Middle School.
In 2016, NMT received a $50,000 grant from FIRST Inspires to start a FIRST Lego League robotics program county-wide. The grant supported the robotics program for 3 years and was possible through the dedication of community partners and volunteers.
The NMT-SCS partnership has supported the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering curriculum and college preparatory Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program at Socorro High School, as well as expanded access to dual credit courses at NMT.
NMT reinstated the Alternative Licensure Program to provide an alternate pathway for teacher certification and piloted a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program which provided the opportunity for three SCS teachers to engage in research at NMT last summer.
When the STORM FORCE vision was conceived four years ago, the founding members recognized the need of Socorro’s most vulnerable citizens to have access to the services needed for basic survival. At the time, it was not clear that it was possible to meet all of the needs of the community, and STORM FORCE collectively decided to focus on education-related activities. In the process of developing community relationships, SCOPE (the Socorro County Health Council) surfaced as a collective impact organization that was already coordinating survival services across the county. Today, SCOPE and STORM FORCE are leading the 100% Socorro initiative—to ensure that 100% of Socorro residents have access to all services needed to survive and thrive. This includes building momentum toward the vision of Socorro as the epicenter for educational excellence in New Mexico.