Monthly STEM Executive Highlight: Patrick Roewe, Spokane County Library District
Who are you and your company?
Patrick Roewe, Executive Director, Spokane County Library District. The Library District is made up of 11 full-service libraries and provides library services and experiential learning programs for all ages to more than 279,000 residents in unincorporated Spokane County and the affiliated cities and towns of Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Latah, Medical Lake, Millwood, Rockford, Spangle, Spokane Valley, Waverly, and Airway Heights. Our mission is to provide resources, experiences, and places that empower people to learn, explore, and succeed.
What role/or industry do you represent on the STEM Executive Committee?
I represent public libraries, or more specifically, that network of public institutions that provides both early learning and supplemental educational experiences for kids (and adults) of all ages. From the early learning angle, a lot of our work is focused on providing learning experiences for kids, as well as tools for their parents and caregivers, which give kids a jumpstart in STEM learning as they are readied for kindergarten. In terms of supplemental learning, we provide learning opportunities for kids outside of school that can spark interest in STEM topics like 3D printing, programming, and robotics.
What does STEM mean to you? And why do you feel STEM is important?
The value of STEM aligns with three strategic priorities of the Library District. The first is that early learning focus that helps kids in informal or home-based, pre-school care develop the aptitude and interest in STEM concepts that will get them started off on the right foot in school. The second is economic and workforce development. Fun, hands-on exposure to STEM can plant the seeds that grow the next generations of creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Third, and applicable to all ages, is that STEM provides another avenue to spark curiosity and a lifelong desire to learn.
All of these things contribute towards a community that is economically vibrant and educationally focused, and the continued investment in that will pay significant community dividends in the future.
Looking ahead, what would 1-2 things would you like to see happen in Spokane?
Continued advocacy and outreach that advances the idea that STEM education is scalable to all ages and stages of learning in the cradle to career pipeline, with a particular emphasis on its long-term impact when incorporated into early learning curriculum.
Why is it important to have a regional leadership team for statewide work?
The Spokane region excels at collaboration and community partnerships, and the regional focus leverages the opportunities that are unique to us here in the area. The collaboration between public sector, private sector, K-12 and higher education gives us a stronger voice on the state level, and helps showcase the local talent that puts STEM to work every day in our business, schools, colleges, and libraries.
Anything else you might like to highlight?
Spokane County Library District offers Ready for School with STEM kits made with parents and early learning educators in mind that provide picture books and hands-on STEM activities geared towards 3-5 year olds. These kits introduce STEM concepts in a fun and accessible way with themes like dinosaurs, weather, construction, and math. They are a great tool to help kids get kindergarten ready and on the path to academic success. And all at no cost at your local library.