The 2018 Gala & Auction: Creating “Boundless” Educational Opportunities

The Biome School Annual Gala and Auction is right around the corner – February 17, 2018. This year, the theme of the gala is “Boundless.” At The Biome, we believe learning is boundless. Our annual gala is where we are able to come together and create boundless possibilities for The Biome. No matter your role in The Biome Community, we believe everyone has the opportunity to contribute to this special event.

Damion Jones, Global Director for Diversity and Inclusion at Monsanto, was first introduced to The Biome by his colleague, Deborah Patterson. For Damion, becoming involved with The Biome allowed him to extend his personal passion for STEAM education and building diverse talent in St. Louis beyond his role at Monsanto. Now, as one of our many committed board members, he has taken an active role in helping to spread awareness to why we need to change the way we educate and prepare our future STEAM workforce.

“Today, education is not geared to the way young people learn. Honestly, I think the video game industry is really who has learned the right way to engage kids. They give them problems to solve that are rooted in reality. Kids naturally ask why and where will we use this in life? We need to change the way we educate students and provide them with realistic contexts for learning. The jobs of today do not match rote memorization. Rather, they require students to be active problem solvers,” said Jones.

The active, hands-on approach The Biome takes is what inspires Damion. At the Biome, we encourage learners to ask what, why, and how. Curiosity and inquiry shape learning. For example, every grade participates in Big Question units. Big Questions are interdisciplinary projects derived from state and national standards but are guided by the passions and interests of learners. Learners answer questions such as, “What is a scientist?” or “What is energy?” With a Big Question – there isn’t just one right answer. Damion has witnessed the value of Big Questions and echoes the need for this type of learning, “By leading with inquiry, we’re allowing education to be boundless.”

This year, Damion’s advocacy and support for The Biome have been instrumental. In the 2017-2018 academic year, with Damion’s support, The Biome was proud to be awarded a $40,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to help sustain and grow our innovative, project-based Adaptive Thinking class. Adaptive Thinking is one of The Biome’s core enrichment classes that teaches children to solve problems creatively. Furthermore, at the 2018 Gala, we will be proud to recognize the Monsanto Fund as a Diamond Level sponsor.

Damion firmly believes St. Louis has a huge opportunity to become recognized as a hub for building the next generation of diverse STEM leaders. “Consider all the infrastructure already in place – the number of STEM companies, plus the many universities – there should be no reason for St. Louis to not be growing diverse talent.” While many companies are making investments solely at a collegiate level, both Damion and the Monsanto Fund see the importance of investing at the elementary level as well. At the collegiate level, it is often too late and the number of students impacted is limited. Today there are gaps in certain STEM disciplines because many people lack awareness of these careers or are not prepared to enter these fields. Instead of waiting until college, it is important to build connections in kindergarten so that students grow up continually broadening their scope of career possibilities.

We invite you to consider how you can help broaden the scope of possibilities for students in St. Louis. To learn more about ways to support the 2018 Gala, visit our webpage. We would love for you to join us at the gala, where boundless possibilities will be created.