STEAMed Magazine July 2015 - Page 30

Our school was in crisis six years ago. Due to school choice, a changing demographics, enrollment decline and student achievement dipping, Wiley was at a critical crossroads. The perception of Wiley as being a negative, non-choice for a school had permeated our community. As a school leader who served as the face of the school, it was disheartening to receive negative barbs. I truly believed that Wiley’s best days were ahead of them. I had to dig deeply into my core beliefs as a person, educator and lead learner. Those beliefs had to be articulated to our staff on a daily basis. I had to build relationships with our teachers and have many crucial conversations. Also, I had to build better communication with parents to garner support. Furthermore, I had to reach out to our school district for support. All of this communication had to be rooted in sincerity, professionalism, and doing what is best for our kids. When we received the green light to implement STEAM, the move was to start it on a small scale. We piloted a program with our Sixth Grade Level Teachers. A strategic plan was written with involvement from teachers, administrators, school district leaders, community members and parents. Sixth Grade Teachers were trained in Problem-Based Learning and this process unified them into an “Innovator Grade Level House.” Sharing the story is another important lesson on this STEAM Journey. As a principal, it is important to champion and promote the vision in action. I used Twitter as a main source to promote creative things happening in our classrooms. I also encouraged teachers to do the same. My Twitter Posting was a bit frenzied at times, but I am passionate about being championing our school’s story. Others take positive notice of this and the perception shifts to a more positive one. Tweeting also gave me an excuse to be more visible and supportive in the classroom. Partnerships serve as the foundation for any organization. I do believe in the old adage of “It takes a village.” Just as our teachers value collaboration to build student achievement, I believe that the surrounding community has a responsibility to share a positive impact within our schools. Community Partnerships are rarely going to fall on one’s doorstep. I have found that in order to make things happen one must simply reach out and ask. Our team pounded the proverbial pavement to reach out to community partners who would be willing to share and support of vision of “Inspiring Innovative Minds.” We found amazingly 30