The Tennessee Department of Education in conjunction with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network announced that Portland Gateview, Howard Elementary, Millersville Elementary and White House High School have received Tennessee STEM / STEAM School Designation. The honor recognizes schools for their commitment to promoting and integrating science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics learning for all students that ultimately prepares them for post-secondary college and career success in the 21st century.
“We work hard to equip our kids for the world they will meet 10, 20, 50 years down the road and we want them to use the real-world lessons, curiosity and creativity they are learning now to be productive and successful citizens,” Howard Elementary Principal, Cindy Swafford said. “Receiving STEM Designation is the result of a lot of hard but fruitful work and was the result of a team effort including Dr. Louise Griffith (STEAM Committee Chair), devoted members of our STEAM committee, teachers, students, community partners, and our parents who have worked tirelessly to achieve this goal.”
Since the designation program launched in 2018, 88 schools have earned the Tennessee STEM / STEAM Designation, which the department developed in partnership with the STEM Leadership Council to provide a “roadmap” for schools to successfully implement a STEM and/or STEAM education plan at the local level. Schools that receive this honor also serve as models to inspire and teach others. All K-12 public and private schools serving students in Tennessee are eligible. Of the 88 designated schools across the state, 11 are home to Sumner County Schools. They include Jack Anderson Elementary, Union Elementary, Station Camp Elementary, Oakmont Elementary, Dr. William Burrus Elementary, Indian Lake Elementary, Portland East Middle, Portland Gateview Elementary, Howard Elementary, Millersville Elementary and White House High School.
Each school that received the Tennessee STEM/STEAM School Designation underwent a rigorous application process, including completing a self-evaluation, participating in interviews, and hosting site visits with the Tennessee STEM/STEAM Designation review team. The designation rubric included five focus areas: infrastructure, curriculum and instruction, professional development, achievement, and community and postsecondary partnerships. As a part of the process, schools were also required to submit a plan of action for implementing and sustaining STEM and/or STEAM education for the next five years.
“Portland Gateview is excited to be awarded STEAM designation from the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) and the Tennessee Department of Education. At PGE, we are focused on providing hands-on learning and ensuring our students receive the foundational skills to be successful learners,” Portland Gateview Principal Dr. Karen Jarrett said. “Our students are exposed to community project-based learning and are building skills to be college and career ready. We want to thank all of our community partners for helping us achieve this goal of becoming STEAM designated!”
Starting this school year, schools could either apply for a STEM or STEAM Designation through the designation rubric. Schools that sought to apply for the STEAM Designation emphasized the integration of the arts in their STEM application.
“Schools that earn STEM Designation incorporate strong STEM teaching and learning experiences that rest on inquiry, technology integration, work-based learning, and project/problem-based learning strategies tied to the world around us,” said Brandi Stroecker, Tennessee STEM Innovation Network Director. “Each school has a unique STEM program yet incorporates a similar approach by providing cross-curricular teaching practices where students apply the concepts they are learning. The network appreciates these schools as they are providing students with learning experiences that shape their aspirations for the future.”
STEM/STEAM education is an interdisciplinary curriculum in which activities in one class complement those in other classes. It also offers teaching and learning opportunities focused on inquiry, technology, and project-based learning activities and lessons connected to the real world.