Smithsonian Science Education Center Will Host Education Summit With Goal To Increase Diversity Within the STEM Teacher Workforce

March 4, 2020 

In an effort to confront the underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teaching and leadership, the Smithsonian Science Education Center will host a STEM Education Summit March 6–8 at Xavier University of Louisiana.

This summit is the fourth of its kind to be offered by Smithsonian and the second to be held in New Orleans. At the summit, 20 teams of educators from diverse regions across the nation will embrace their roles as change agents to create plans for attracting and retaining STEM teachers from underrepresented populations in their schools or districts. Research shows that by increasing the diversity of the STEM teacher workforce, students from underrepresented populations are more likely to become interested in STEM and ultimately the career opportunities available to them.

“STEM teachers of color represent only 15% of the teacher workforce, yet students of color make up more than 45% of the preK-12 population. A significant body of research says that students tend to benefit from having teachers who look like them, especially nonwhite students. Attracting and retaining STEM teachers from underrepresented populations is critical to ensuring more equitable experiences for our students and building a more diverse STEM workforce. We are honored to undertake this important work alongside Shell Oil Company and Xavier University of Louisiana,” said Carol O’Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center.

“It is fitting that Xavier University of Louisiana host this event because of our dedication to diversity and abundance of great teachers, particularly in STEM fields,” said Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana. “Partnerships and collaborations like this are essential to engaging the talents of our children early in their education by affording them passionate and highly qualified teachers.”

This work is made possible by a steering committee composed of education thought leaders including experts from PK–12 and postsecondary education, minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and nonprofits collectively working to build a coalition to attract and retain STEM teachers from underrepresented groups resulting in 30,000 new and existing teachers by 2030. More information is available at

About the Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) is transforming K–12 Education Through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. SSEC promotes authentic, interactive, inquiry-based K–12 STEM teaching and learning; ensures diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion in K–12 STEM education; advances STEM education for sustainable development; and transforms the research and collections of the Smithsonian into meaningful content for youth. SSEC achieves its goals by developing exemplary curriculum materials and digital resources, supporting the professional growth of K–12 teachers and school leaders and conducting outreach programs through LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform) to help schools, school districts, state education agencies and ministries of education throughout the world implement inquiry-based science education programs. The SSEC is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its programs and its impact on K–12 STEM education.

About the Sponsor

Shell Oil Company is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch Shell plc, a global group of energy and petrochemical companies with operations in more than 70 countries. In the U.S., Shell operates in 50 states and employs more than 16,000 people working to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future. As such, Shell aims to cut the Net Carbon Footprint of the energy products they sell by around half by 2050. In addition, by 2030, they have ambitious plans to provide a reliable electricity supply to 100 million people in the developing world who do not have this today.

About Xavier University of New Orleans

Being America’s only historically black and Catholic university is just the first of the distinctions that have set Xavier University of Louisiana apart for more than eight decades.

Despite its relatively small size (3,300 students), Xavier is a nationally recognized leader in the STEM and the health sciences, producing more African American students who graduate from medical schools each year than any other university in the United States. Its College of Pharmacy is among the top producers of African American pharmacists.