Northwestern Launches Evanston Partnership Office Staffed by Kristen Perkins

Northwestern Launches Evanston Partnership Office Staffed by Kristen Perkins

Kristen Perkins

A ribbon cutting ceremony with President Morton Schapiro, Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and ETHS superintendent Eric Witherspoon opened a new partnership office to strengthen the ties between the University and Evanston Township High School. The purple office at the high school is staffed by Kristen Perkins of Northwestern’s Office of STEM Education Partnerships.

Perkins serves as the full-time Northwestern-ETHS partnership coordinator, focusing especially on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. She will coach science teachers and give students access to the extensive resources of the University, as well as serve as a liaison between ETHS and Northwestern in a variety of other ways.

In his remarks at the reception Schapiro stated, “I’m very proud that we have this outreach to ETHS.” He noted Northwestern’s role in making ETHS a strong school and emphasized the significance of taking the University’s partnership with ETHS “to the next level.”

He explained that from Northwestern’s point of view “we’re making our University even better by strengthening the partnership with a great school and a great city.” He also asserted that making a major investment in ETHS is “doing the right thing.”

Tisdahl’s remarks reinforced the value of Northwestern’s decision to fund the office at ETHS. “The best thing you can do for the City of Evanston is to make ETHS an even better school,” said Tisdahl. She also emphasized the importance of partnerships, saying, “We’re more powerful when we all work together.”

Witherspoon explained the origin of the partnership office, which he described as a “wonderful commitment.” During a visit to the high school last year, Schapiro suggested an established partnership with a visible office. Witherspoon and ETHS teachers concluded that Northwestern could make the most impact through a partnership around STEM.

The new full-time position based at Evanston Township High School is part of Schapiro’s Good Neighbor, Great University initiative. Through the new partnership office and the efforts of Perkins, ETHS students will encounter Northwestern at the center of the school, across from the main lobby.  This presence may inspire them to apply to Northwestern, according to Schapiro, whose initiative includes scholarships for ETHS students who are accepted at the University.

The Office of STEM Education Partnerships (OSEP), directed by SESP research professor Kemi Jona, aims to connect K-12 schools with Northwestern University’s cutting-edge resources and education expertise. OSEP efforts are already underway at ETHS. For example, Fuse after-school program offers highly motivating STEM activities and aims to encourage students who have shown little interest in STEM to become engaged. In addition, the Reach for the Stars program places Northwestern graduate students into ETHS classrooms as "resident scientists."

By Marilyn Sherman with photo by Jim Prisching
Last Modified: 3/7/17