The Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation (MJCHF) held an open house for the Alma Irene Aitch STEM Center on Wed., Dec. 6 in Edwardsville, Ill. The STEM Center, named in memory of education and social rights champion Alma Irene Aitch, will be home to programming which connects the human and technical dimensions of the humanities and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
A special program was held at the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities at 2 p.m. in honor of Alma Irene Aitch and the new STEM hub for Madison County. Mannie Jackson, MJCHF President, gave his comments on the new center and the importance of STEM education to this region’s youth. Mayor Hal Patton spoke, as well as Dr. Dale Chapman, President of Lewis and Clark Community College and Dr. Randy Pembrook, Chancellor of Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville (SIUE). Partners of the “STEM Meets Humanities” program also gave their comments, including Dr. Andrew Reinking, Assistant Regional Superintendent of Madison County Schools and Dr. Sharon Locke, Director of the SIUE STEM Center.
“In the early part of the 20th century, educators and regional thought leaders—particularly if they were women of color—were often overlooked in terms of their critical contribution to teaching the skills essential for a pluralistic democracy. Alma Irene Aitch is certainly one of those people and it is fitting that the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation STEM Center bear her name as one of our region’s pioneers in education,” said Mannie Jackson.
Alma Irene Aitch’s nephew, Dr. Harry Shaw, was also present to share his fond memories of Aunt Alma Aitch. “Aunt Aitch was the long-term educator in our family. She instilled within us the need to expand our world views and our places in the world. She stressed daily that in order to achieve success, we must have an education. She demonstrated through her life achievements and commitment to service that one person can make a difference,” said Dr. Harry Shaw, former Associate Dean at the University of Florida.
The STEM hub for Madison County youth will utilize programs including urban gardening, math games league, digital humanities, and robotics, among others. Hands-on activities and curriculum at the Alma Irene Aitch STEM Center will be used for finding critical solutions to fundamental social and human problems using the MJCH’s core principles – respect, dignity, understanding, and forgiveness. The new center is located at the former Kraft Building at 1310 N. Main Street, Edwardsville, adjacent to the MJCH. Learn more at www.mjchf.org and www.lc.edu/MJCH.