Students at Gratts Elementary enjoy the day’s STEAM on Demand project, the Edible Heart.
Program inspires high schoolers to consider teaching
July 25, 2022
With the shortage of teachers nationwide, a handful of high school students in Los Angeles USD are getting the chance to explore the teaching profession thanks to a new program.
LAUSD Local District Central Superintendent Frances Baez in partnership with Beyond the Bell and STEAM on Demand has launched an innovative, five-week STEAM training model that has employed four high school students from Miguel Contreras High School to teach 50 students from Gratts Elementary School.
Baez had the idea of using STEAM on Demand, an ACSA Partner4Purpose, to empower high school students to teach elementary school students, thereby teaching leadership to the older students and inspiring the younger students with diverse role models.
“With STEAM on Demand, we are employing high school students to teach STEAM to elementary students,” Baez said. “If this works, we have something big and impactful!”
The process included teaching the high school students résumé writing, interview and job search skills. They went through a selection process, background checks and were trained to use the practical and engaging STEAM program called STEAM on Demand with elementary students after school. is a video streaming platform that offers STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — powered by their “Play, Pause, Learn” design. Since Local District Central launched the training program on May 9, daily lessons are taught by two teams of students with access to in the classroom. Teams taught dual STEAM lessons to 25 kindergarten through second graders and 25 third through fifth graders until June 10, the last day of instruction.
“What we love most is that not only do the high school students receive pay for their work, but they are learning STEAM concepts themselves, as well as leadership and communication skills and ideas for future careers, including teaching,” said Cynthia Tusan, founder of STEAM on Demand. “Everyone is growing.”
Integral in initiating this new program were Luis Ochoa, director of Acceleration & Innovation, and Ana Madero, STEAM coordinator in Local District Central, who also developed the process for hiring students.
“We posted a job in the school bulletin, interviewed applicants on Zoom, and selected four,” Ochoa said. “It was a great experience for students, even the ones who did not get hired, to develop their job seeking skills.”
The local district encompasses 158 schools and with the success of this training model, hopes to broaden the reach of this new approach across more than just the elementary school students. While still early in the program, preliminary feedback from students has been positive.
“The students are having fun learning and making science projects. I love seeing the smiles on the students’ faces,” said Sarai Sanchez, an 11th grader at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex.
The rookie student teachers earn $16.91 per hour from Beyond the Bell funding. They were also issued LAUSD employee numbers in addition to obtaining work permits. While teaching in the classroom, the high school students are supervised by the afterschool program, LA’s Best.
LAUSD Local District Central Superintendent Frances Baez and STEAM on Demand CEO Cynthia Tusan.
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