April 2, 2024

Diana Rogers has over two decades of experience working in the education sector. From her tenure with the School Improvement initiative in Ohio to her advocacy for at-risk student groups, her work has focused on promoting STEM in schools and empowering students throughout their educational journey. Now, she serves as the executive director of the Northern Ohio Rural STEM Collaborative, where she is uniquely positioned to foster change on a wider scale.

In addition to spearheading the Collaborative’s work, Diana also leads AEOP’s Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), a STEM educational program for 5th through 8th-grade students. For the past seven years, she has introduced the JSS program to urban and rural schools across northern Ohio, opening doors of opportunity for students who might otherwise never have experienced access to quality STEM programs. One of the highlights of this program for Diana is that, unlike other hands-on STEM experiences, it is one of the few where you can engage students, parents, and the community alike, fostering an even greater sense of accomplishment among participating students and teachers.

The core principles of JSS are rooted in hands-on engagement and real-world application. Diana believes the reason why the program has resonated deeply with students and educators alike is because of those two elements. Students are able to learn about STEM principles while learning how to build solar-powered cars. And, they get to unleash their creativity and test their racing skills. Teachers, motivated by the impact they witness in their classrooms, embrace JSS from the start. It is not just about building solar cars; it is about fostering a culture of inquiry, persistence and collaboration that extends far beyond the school walls.

Central to the success of the JSS program is the unwavering support of educators. Teachers, often the unsung heroes of our education system, play a pivotal role in igniting and sustaining students’ passion for STEM. They create an environment where every student feels valued and empowered to succeed.

In her experience, Diana has seen teachers year after year return to participate in JSS, not only because of the impact of the program on students’ overall academic performance but also because of how it motivates students and pushes them to redefine the boundaries of their potential inside and outside the classroom.

The support she receives from education leaders and elected officials, businesses, and the community at large speaks to the resounding success of the program and its long-lasting impact on the school community. Diana leverages partnerships with key stakeholders who provide funding and additional resources to ensure students in rural and Title I schools can continue to participate and race their solar-powered cars.

In addition to the dedicated community of educators who share Diana’s passion, Sue King, Junior and Senior Solar Sprint Manager, has played a pivotal role in championing this initiative and a driving force behind the program’s success.

Diana also recognizes how this program creates an even greater sense of community between teachers. They share tips, provide support, offer words of encouragement, and mentor each other. Educators have come together to change the narrative around STEM education in northern Ohio, proving that with dedication and support, anything is possible.

As the Northern Ohio Rural STEM Collaborative continues to evolve and expand its reach, and as JSS continues to expand to more schools in northern Ohio, Diana remains committed to her belief that every child deserves access to quality STEM education. Through programs like JSS, she’s not just building solar cars, she’s laying the groundwork for future innovators, problem solvers, and leaders.

To students contemplating joining the JSS program, Diana highlights the friendships forged, the challenges overcome as a team, and the joy of discovery that awaits. Above all, she emphasizes the importance of perseverance, curiosity, and the pursuit of excellence.

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    The eCYBERMISSION Mini-Grant is intended to support teachers/program leaders as they implement eCYBERMISSION with their teams. Educators (formal and informal) of students in grades 6-9 are encouraged to apply. Special consideration is given to Title 1 schools and to those with underserved/ under-represented populations.