Northwest Arkansas Education Cooperative Hears STEM Program Presentation
The Northwest Arkansas Education Services Cooperative Board of Directors also:
• Elected Frank Holman to continue representing the co-op on the Washington County Equalization Board.
• Elected Andrea Martin, Superintendent of the Greenland School District, to continue representing the cooperative with the Arkansas Rural Education Association.
• Terminated the Education Academic Competition due to lack of participation.
• Approved a recruitment and retention plan for novice teachers.
Source: Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
FARMINGTON — The Arkansas STEM Model program has invited schools in northwest Arkansas to take a step toward participating in the initiative.
Mary Beth Hatch, STEM integration specialist for the Arkansas Department of Education, presented information about the program to the board of directors of the Northwest Arkansas Education Cooperative on Thursday during of its April meeting. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
She invited administrators to attend one of three webinars in May to learn more about applying for the program.
“I strongly believe in something like STEM education that starts in pre-kindergarten and works all the way up,” she said.
The model program links STEM education to careers and training opportunities in Arkansas, Hatch said. It is based on the federal STEM education curriculum and aims to lay the foundation for STEM literacy; increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM education; and preparing students for the STEM workforce, she said.
“It’s what the industry tells us their employees need,” Hatch said. “They need to learn critical thinking skills. They need to learn problem-solving skills. They need to be able to collaborate and work in teams and work together, and that’s something that true STEM integration in all domains and content domains can really do.”
The model program has set goals of increasing STEM opportunities for students; recognize model STEM schools across the state; develop and strengthen partnerships with business, industry and the community; and supporting growth and diversity in Arkansas’ STEM teacher pipeline, she said.
The program – in its first year – is being piloted in four Arkansas schools, including the Izard County Consolidated School District in Brockwell; Nettleton STEAM, which serves students in grades three through six in Jonesboro; Forest Heights STEM Academy, which serves kindergarten through eighth graders in Little Rock; and Oaklawn STEM Magnet, which serves K-6 students in Hot Springs.
No schools in northwest Arkansas are participating, Hatch said.
To become STEM Model pilot schools, districts must go through a bridging process that includes criteria submission and site visits, Hatch said. They also go through five professional development sessions and have the opportunity to be recognized as model schools, she said.
Hatch said it expects several of the pilot schools to qualify to become model schools this year.
Northwest Arkansas is full of STEM learning opportunities, but many of them happen outside of school, said Jenny Gammill, STEM specialist for the education cooperative, who also contributed in the model state curriculum.
Gammill said she hopes to see STEM provided to children during the school day starting in junior kindergarten and kindergarten.
Arkansas is a little behind in developing a STEM model program, Gammill said. Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas are among the states that already have model STEM programs, Gammill said.
“I know in particular that northwest Arkansas has these schools, and I want to see us become a state that is being considered for STEM K-12,” she said.