Magazine article District Administration

Building Powerful Middle-School STEM Programs with Professional Development and Strategic Plans: Discovery Education Provides This Missouri School District's STEM Innovator Program with Personalized Learning Experiences and Instructional Growth Opportunities

Magazine article District Administration

Building Powerful Middle-School STEM Programs with Professional Development and Strategic Plans: Discovery Education Provides This Missouri School District's STEM Innovator Program with Personalized Learning Experiences and Instructional Growth Opportunities

Article excerpt

Two years ago, the Mehlville School District in suburban St. Louis passed a tax levy that included dedicated funding for professional development and strategic plans focusing on middle school STEM programs. For Tina Plummer, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in Mehlville, that meant implementing the STEM Innovator program with Discovery Education, where staff had ongoing professional development and coaching focused on STEM education and career opportunities.

"We were looking to personalize learning experiences for middle-school students and to provide teachers with training, modeling, coaching and support for implementation of programming that would integrate STEM and project-based learning into instruction," Plummer says. "The Discovery Education STEM Innovator program fit our needs."

Implementation and integration

Plummer says before the STEM Innovator program was rolled out to the district's four middle schools and 2,300 students, there were launch events at each school for teachers and administrators at the end of the 2015-16 school year. There was also a STEM summer training for middle school teachers, who also signed up for extensive training with Discovery Education STEM specialists as part of the STEM Innovator program. Each middle school has eight STEM innovators, who are part of a three-year program that features three extra training days in the summer and six days of coaching from Discovery Education. Before the start of the 2017-18 school year, the district offered three additional days of STEM training for all middle school teachers.

Plummer says the STEM Innovator program has improved the district's "Project Lead The Way," which offers course pathways focusing on the medical field, engineering and computer science. …

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