Parent Teacher Magazine Union County Public Schools March/April 2019 - Page 11

UCPS educators and business leaders collaborate to transform STEM culture in schools and the community STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. But according to Discovery Education Director of Global STEM Initiatives Dr. Robert Corbin, it can also stand for “Students & Teachers Energizing Minds” because STEM is a culture, not a class. Finding ways to integrate STEM culture into UCPS schools was the overarching theme of the district’s Feb. 19 STEM Leadership Retreat, which was co-hosted by UCPS and Discovery Education. During the half- day retreat, as many as 75 UCPS educators and local business leaders worked side-by-side to discuss STEM education and how it can help shape the larger community. “What’s going to be different about the way our kids learn so we can make sure they’re not learning the same way we did 10, 15 or 30 years ago?” UCPS Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan asked attendees at the beginning of the retreat. “That’s why we’re here today – not to only continue the conversation but look at the actions that align to our EmpowerED framework.” During the retreat, Corbin led discussions about the importance of STEM education to Union County students and examined data about STEM jobs now and in the future. At times, he had the educators and business leaders participating in hands-on activities that reinforced the 4 Cs of 21st century learning -- critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – and had attendees discuss how they support STEM initiatives in schools, the district and in the community. This is a picture from the retreat “This has been an eye- opening experience. Hopefully, it will spark a whole new way of Waxhaw-Marvin Swim & Tennis! Take the plunge...and come join us this summer! • Open May 1st - Oct. 15th • Jr. Olympic Size Pool the place to be • Family Environment • Swim Lessons • Covered Picnic Area • Grill & Fridge for Members • Tennis Courts 8302 Viking Drive • Waxhaw, NC 28173 • 35% Discount for New Members for a limited time! thinking, living and being,” Tommy Morrison with Barefoot & Company said, adding that his company often visits UCPS high schools to lend real-world perspectives to classroom lessons. “I’m a firm believer that it takes a community to raise a child. We, as a company, want to be involved and give back to our community and the youth is where it starts.” Other areas of focus during the retreat included the importance of transdisciplinary lessons as well as an emphasis on clearly communicating to students why they are learning lessons and how those lessons can be applied in the real world. “I’m looking forward to going back to our school and pointing out what we’re doing well and what we can do to be better,” Sun Valley High Assistant Principal Dru Thomas said. “We have science and technology classes and we have a great CTE program -- I want us to build on these great programs by using problem solving, giving students an overall purpose for what they’re learning and putting real-world scenarios with it.” At the end of the retreat, East Elementary Principal Matt Lasher said conversations about community and local business partnerships particularly stuck out to him and encouraged him to continue to work with area businesses to benefit students. “The overwhelming takeaway for me is, ‘How can we get students excited about learning here at East Elementary?’ Science, technology, engineering and math is one specific thing, but how are we gauging how excited our students are every day,” he said. “If our kids are excited to be here every day, I think we’re doing the right thing.” There’s Something Here For Everyone! Mineral Springs Fertilizer, Inc. ...More than JUST Fertilizer! • Landscape Materials: Mulches, Top Soil, Wheat Straw • Compost Bulk & Bagged • Vegetable Seeds • Fertilizers • Chemicals • Organic Gardening & Supplies • Wild Bird Feeders & Seed • Garden Flags & Giftware • Purina Feeds • Animal Healthcare Products • Bagged & Bulk Shavings • Alfalfa, Coastal & Fescue Hays In The Heart of Mineral Springs Since 1957 704.843.2683 Parent Teacher Magazine • Mar/Apr 2019 • 9