The STEM Factory: Opening Doors to Lifelong Learning & Success

May 12, 2022

It’s said that a passionate teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill the love of learning. Mrs. Charmaine Silvas-Price does all that and more as the Executive Director of The STEM Factory After School Tutoring Programs & Camps, Inc. based in Hollywood, Florida. The program assists students in kindergarten through fifth grade with tutoring.

“Reading and reading comprehension is the foundation of our program and what I do,” states Mrs. Charmaine. “A child must be able to not only read, but comprehend what is written to be successful.” The STEM Factory offers a hands-on, problem-solving approach which engages students by combining Montessori, traditional and a method that she calls “processing to channel STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning. A strong STEM education is recognized as a driver of lifelong learning and opportunity, opening the door for students to succeed in their future careers.

My joy is watching them smile as they figure out solutions.” She, and her STEM Factory coaches, show that knowing how to teach children to learn, be confident and excel in life goes beyond their teaching degrees.   

For prospective students, a complimentary session is offered where the child participates in hands-on take away science experiences, teachable moments and socializes with other children in the program. An assessment, which includes questions below and at grade level, is then given to see if a child is working at grade level, or if there are lessons that were missed or not mastered in the previous grade.

Parents are also empowered as Mrs. Charmaine teaches classes for parents–at no charge on Saturdays and some evenings. Many parents struggle with the New Math, reading and reading comprehension. To overcome challenges, Mrs. Charmaine connects with their child’s teachers and obtains the lessons that will be taught in class.

With all of her experience, certifications and skills, Mrs. Charmaine still goes to school—on behalf of the parents. She accompanies them to parent conferences so that she can hear what is going on academically and ask specific questions that a parent may not think to ask. She also checks in weekly with teachers to see how each student is doing and gets the homework they need.

When students arrive at The STEM Factory, homework is done before the tutoring sessions. All work is checked and initialed by a STEM Coach. Six STEM coaches to a maximum of 30 students, personal attention gets gold stars for greatness. 

Mrs. Charmaine traces her passion for education back to her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Albury, in Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas where she was raised. Mrs. Albury left a lasting impression. “She would tell us it was ok to make mistakes and let’s fix it in a positive way.” That lesson has been carried on.

Mrs. Charmaine uses a “no erasing” policy to help children succeed. “We don’t allow children in our program to erase a wrong answer. We put a line through it, see what was missed and correct it. If it is erased, we cannot learn from our mistakes.” 

After graduating from high school, Mrs. Charmaine took a job as a bank teller. But with her love for helping children learn and succeed, she knew she had to do something different. She started a preschool in her mom Michelle’s house in Nassau, Bahamas. Services included breakfast and transportation to help working families. Her father, Livingston, who was also an educator and a government administrator at the time, encouraged her to move to Florida to make an even greater impact.

In Florida, Mrs. Charmaine applied her belief that knowledge is not power if you don’t use what you learned, to key educational positions including curriculum director for a private school, nutritionist, staffing consultant and administrator. But to ensure no child is left behind, she needed to tutor and teach.

She began by advertising her tutoring services on Craig’s List with the help of her husband, Charles “Charlie,” who she says is not only her best friend but #1 supporter and prayer warrior. “He keeps me grounded so that I get it right.” Her success blossomed into the STEM Factory, located at 6241 Pembroke Road in Hollywood, with a second location set to open by early June in Hallandale. She is also an approved vendor to offer services in Broward County Public Schools. 

Like learning, Mrs. Charmaine never stops. When the pandemic paused traditional teaching, she knew students would need her even more. She safely beat the challenges and kept connected with parents, students and their teachers to ensure learning would be seamless. “I win when my students win.”

At The STEM Factory, every student crosses the finish line feeling confident. They are celebrated, especially every Friday at “happy hour.” Together, they talk about their week and each student is recognized for trying their best. Beyond books, personal interest and caring builds hope and self-esteem.

Parents say she is making a positive impact through one on one and group tutoring. Students agree. They proudly wear t-shirts she had made for them. Emblazoned on the front are the words, ‘I’m a big deal.” The back? “My friends are too.” That message can also be an answer to a question they are asked daily, “What is your life lesson for today? 

Life skills are a part of the STEM system, which goes beyond simple test performance and connects classroom learning to the real world. STEM focuses on the child as a whole. Students learn collaboration, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and other skills that are needed to be successful, survive and thrive in today's world.

At The STEM Factory, situations children may face are replicated and they learn how to respond calmly. For example, Mrs. Charmaine, a certified CPR instructor, ensures every child learns children’s CPR. This enabled a 10-year-old student to save her grandmother's life from a heart attack last year.  

Mrs. Charmaine and her teaching coaches are dedicated to ensuring our future leaders are prepared and feel empowered to turn challenges into rewarding opportunities.

All children need to know that they can do it! This is where I come in,” says Mrs. Charmaine, who is the proud mother of two children, doting grandmother to Arielle and bonus mom of six. Not only is Mrs. Charmaine making a positive contribution and change in the community, so are her children. Her daughter Gianna is an herbalist and her son Algernon is a police officer. “All children deserve a good education and a fair shot in life no matter their ethnic backgrounds, race or abilities. This is my passion, my purpose and my calling. I love them all.” says Mrs. Charmaine. And she does. One moment in her class and you will see her words come to life through heartfelt actions to empower students to succeed.

The STEM Factory offers tutoring and homework help as well as mini–STEM Camps for children and parents. Tutoring is specifically provided for grades K-5th grade. But as the child comes first, they will provide or refer for tutoring beyond 5th grade. For information, please call 954-251-1890 or email:
stemfactory123@yahoo.com

Additional information is available on the website, www.stemfactory.net