Maria Simpson

STARBASE Oklahoma 2.0, Department of Defense, Kerr Middle School, Del City
Mentees: STARBASE 2.0 Club Women’s Energy Network Club
Years Matched: One

Maria Simpson, an accountant for Chesapeake Energy, was instrumental in establishing the STARBASE 2.0 Club at Kerr Middle School in Del City, spending more than one year planning with STARBASE, Women’s Energy Network (WEN) and Kerr administrators. She was commended as the “key to the club’s success” who is always supportive of the mentees and other mentors.

“Maria is a tremendous role model for the Kerr Middle School eighth-grade girls,” shared David Stacey, deputy director of STARBASE Oklahoma. “She shows a genuine interest in all the girls and makes them feel they are a priority. She looks forward to participating in every club meeting, and her enthusiasm is evident in everything she does.”

Simpson shares her knowledge of the energy industry with the students through hands-on lessons on oil and gas extraction, geology, mapping, chemistry, as well as casing and cementing activities. She also coordinates other facilitators to present modules on a variety of STEM topics. As a native of Tbilisi, Georgia, Simpson brings a new cultural perspective to her work with students.

In addition, Simpson has developed a special “Jewel Stone Jar” system to encourage all students to participate and speak up during club time. Students earn a jewel stone when they answer a question, ask a question, show support for a team member, or volunteer to help with a presentation. Team members can redeem jewels for special rewards.

“It means so much to know with Maria in charge that every meeting will be well planned, facilitators will be prepared, all supplies will be ready, and every effort made to ensure a positive and supportive experience for the girls,” said Stacey. “Maria expresses a warm concern for all the girls. We are so fortunate to have Maria as a mentor.”

About the Program: STARBASE 2.0 combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities with a relationship-rich, school-based environment serving at-risk youth in fifth through eighth grades. The program uses a team mentoring approach, pairing teams of three to four students with one adult mentor for four hours each month.