Move Over Sports; Parish Boasts STEM Booster Club

Parents organization provides volunteers, raises $50,000 in first five years

Parish Episcopal School’s sySTEMs Booster Club brings parents together to enhance science, technology, engineering, and math programming through fundraising and volunteer work.

Booster club president Andy Mahtani got involved in the group four years ago because his senior daughter is involved with STEM, specifically on the rover team.

SySTEMs works with the school to help with programming — such as the annual STEM speaker series — and provide grants to teachers for learning materials.

“Bringing in kids, especially girls who might otherwise not think of STEM as their field, it’s a great way to get them exposed to it to figure out STEM can be fun,” Mahtani said.

The booster club recently provided the anatomy and physiology department with a model leg and funded a model arm a few years ago.

“The anatomy teacher felt that the kids will learn a lot more seeing this item with the veins and all that,” Mahtani said. 

Kristen Twomey, assistant director of development at Parish, said the boosters fund “things above and beyond what is naturally built into the budget.” 

SySTEMs also has a scholarship program where faculty and staff select one junior and one senior each year to earn a $1,000 scholarship.

With sySTEMs, Parish has three stakeholders in the world of STEM.

“It creates an interaction between the teachers and the sySTEMs membership because now, as parents, we’re sort of aware of what the teachers’ needs are,” Mahtani said. “The faculty know who they can reach out to outside of the administration as well. It just brings about a very positive environment for the school, all the stakeholders.”

SySTEMs, now in its sixth year, has a board of 16 parents and two faculty members. The group raised about $50,000 in its first five years.

“There’s a real culture of philanthropy here at Parish, and it’s not just monetary,” Twomey said. “It is a gift of time as well, and our parents enjoy volunteering. … They want to be here and help in any way (to) help enhance the experience.”

Parish STEM coordinator Megan Williams said the booster club supports school programs by providing supplies and help to students in class and at home. During the pandemic, when students were learning remotely, sySTEMs provided 100 robots for students to learn the robotics curriculum from home.

“(The parents) are all completely supportive,” Williams said. “Everyone on that sySTEMs board and just involved in the organization altogether is just ready to help in any way they can.”

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