District Administration March 2018 - 3

SPONSORED CASE STUDY

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

T

wo 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 projectbased 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.
To facilitate the introduction of these changes, Mehlville
also developed a STEM Advisory Board made of community
members and district administrators, and created another
community event, "Breakfast With The Experts." Plummer
says this group brings engineers and people who work in
finance and other STEM-related fields to talk with middle
school girls about future job opportunities and to do fun
activities.

"The Discovery Education STEM
Innovator program fit our needs."
Feedback and results
At a recent STEM Advisory Board meeting, Mehlville's STEM
Innovators shared memorable moments from the first year
of the program, including an assignment in which students
had to create a functioning body part. Plummer says the
district conducted surveys with students and teachers.
Students surveyed reported a 70 percent satisfaction rate
with STEM activities in their classes. Students said that the
program's hands-on activities, such as the assignment to
create a body part, made STEM classes more interesting.
The satisfaction rate for surveyed teachers was 95 percent, and the quality of the professional development was
often cited as a reason. Plummer says teachers' positive
feedback also focused on students becoming more engaged and on developing their critical-thinking skills.
"Classrooms are more engaging, and students are helping to facilitate their learning," Plummer says. "Students are
exploring and developing real-world connections."

For more information, visit www.discoveryeducation.com
View, comment, share this story online at DAmag.me/discoveryed


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

District Administration March 2018 - Cover1
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District Administration March 2018 - 1
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