The Standard completes its first year in STEM Connect

Volunteers and 5th grade students explore the science behind water filtration

Volunteers and 5th grade students explore the science behind water filtration

At The Standard, giving back to the communities where its employees live and work is a high priority. From donating millions of dollars annually, to volunteering thousands of hours each year, The Standard and its employees are making a real difference.

So when one of those employees, Jonah Yearick, learned about In4All and the impact it is making on students who have been historically underserved, he knew it would be a great opportunity for The Standard to be involved. “I hear a lot of statistics about students who lose interest in math at a young age and I wanted to do something about it,” said Yearick, a Director and Actuary for Individual Disability. “The STEM Connect program seemed like a great opportunity to share my love of math and spur student interest in STEM subjects.”

The Standard signed up to sponsor the 4th and 5th grade classrooms at Creston Elementary in the Portland Public School District. “At first, I was a bit worried about finding enough volunteers because so many of our employees are already involved in the community. But, people were really excited about it and quickly took ownership of the process, making my job of coordinating our involvement much easier.”

While some volunteers were a little hesitant about stepping into the classroom the first time, they quickly realized there was nothing to worry about. “The In4All training prepared us well for that first visit and working with the teachers in advance helped us feel at ease. They managed the classrooms so we could focus on the activity.”

Volunteers from The Standard divided into four groups that visited the classroom three times and participated in a STEAM event at the school. When asked how the experience compared to what they expected, Yearick noted “the one thing we didn’t expect was how knowledgeable students at that age are about STEM subjects. They blew us away with what they knew. And they were so into it that they turned each activity into a competition to see who could do better! It was fun to be a part of that.”

With their volunteering done for the school year, The Standard is already looking ahead. “We’re expecting more volunteers will want to be involved based on how much fun we had this year. We’ve even thought about how great it would be to hire one of these kids someday when they are done with school.”

Elaine Philippi