Woods awards 2 STEM schools

State School Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Woods holds award cer­e­monies for North Heights and Cave Spring schools for earn­ing STEM cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and rec­og­nizes Elm Street as a Fam­ily-Friendly Part­ner­ship School.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Spencer Lahr Staff Writer SLahr@RN-T.com

State School Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Woods vis­ited North Heights and Cave Spring el­e­men­tary schools on Wed­nes­day to rec­og­nize their achieve­ments in earn­ing STEM — science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics — cer­ti­fi­ca­tion back in May.

The schools also re­ceived their STEM-cer­ti­fied ban­ners dur­ing award cer­e­monies in­volv­ing stu­dents, teach­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors and community part­ners. In be­tween his pre­sen­ta­tions at the two schools, Woods went to Elm Street El­e­men­tary to com­mend them for be­ing a 2017 Fam­ily-Friendly Part­ner­ship School Award win­ner.

North Heights El­e­men­tary be­came a STEM-cer­ti­fied school on May 3, mak­ing them the sec­ond in the Rome City school sys­tem and the 49th in the state to do so. On May 13, Cave Spring El­e­men­tary be­came the first school in the Floyd County sys­tem and the 53rd in the state to earn its cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Their statewide rank­ings are out of all schools, from el­e­men­tary to high school.

With about 2,300 schools statewide, Woods em­pha­sized the sig­nif­i­cance of both schools’ ac­com­plish­ments, say­ing they are in elite com­pany. STEM ed­u­ca­tion fo­cuses on blend­ing the cur­ricu­lum of the four fields to im­prove stu­dents’ prob­lem-solv­ing abil­i­ties and stim­u­late cre­ativ­ity and dis­cov­ery.

The morn­ing cer­e­mony in the cafe­te­ria at North Heights El­e­men­tary in­cluded the show­ing of a video that doc­u­mented the four- years of STEMori­ented projects.

Clus­ters of stu­dents seated on the floor re­sponded with laughs or sounds of as­ton­ish­ment as they saw them­selves or their class­mates ap­pear on the screen, ex­plain­ing what STEM meant to them or work­ing on a com­puter or mak­ing card­board de­signs.

Woods said that he was im­pressed by the school plac­ing im­por­tance on agri­cul­ture and en­vi­ron­men­tal science, in­clud­ing grow­ing food in its gar­den, in its STEM ed­u­ca­tion de­spite be­ing a city school.

“You have to work at it and earn it,” he said. “This is not the end of your story; it’s just the close of a chap­ter.”

Later in the day, Cave Spring El­e­men­tary Prin­ci­pal Trina Self told the au­di­ence in the school’s au­di­to­rium that “it’s been a long three- year jour­ney” to get to this point. Amongst the kids seated be­fore her were those who will go on to cure can­cer, in­crease the food sup­ply and solve global warm­ing, she said.

Fifth- grader Ni­co­las Deaton then took to the podium to de­scribe his best STEM day, a trip to the Floyd County Schools Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy, where he pro­grammed lights and played tic- tac- toe with a ro­bot. But be­fore he stepped down, he shared a joke.

Be­fore be­com­ing a STEM school, stu­dents might an­swer “air” when asked what do they all need but aren’t able to see, Deaton said. Now they might say “Wi- Fi,” he said.

“This does not hap­pen un­less you buy in,” said Woods. “Now you have opened your door for a broader reach.”

Woods told stu­dents at both schools they are in a good spot for se­cur­ing their fu­ture, as by the time they grad­u­ate, most jobs in Ge­or­gia will be re­lated to STEM.

Elm Street Prin­ci­pal JoAnn Moss ac­cepted a plaque from Woods in the school’s gym Wed­nes­day morn­ing, and a wel­come mat with the award’s name on it was rolled out. The school was one of five in the state to be rec­og­nized as a Fam­ily-Friendly Part­ner­ship School that cre­ates a wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment for all who en­ter and es­tab­lishes co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ships with fam­i­lies and community mem­bers.

A school com­mit­tee had to de­fine and ex­plain the fam­ily en­gage­ment ini-

tia­tives Elm Street does in an ap­pli­ca­tion to the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of

Ed­u­ca­tion Par­ent En­gage­ment Pro­gram. Woods said mem­bers of the re­view team posed as par­ents and vis­ited the school to con­firm they were the real deal be­yond what was put on pa­per.

“You cer­tainly do ed­u­ca­tion right,” he said.

Stu­dents need to know their community ex­tends be­yond their school and they are a part of it, Moss said. Some of the school’s community work in­cludes pro­vid­ing six months worth of food to the Community Kitchen with fund­ing help and build­ing a tiny house that even­tu­ally be­came part of a larger home for a home­less vet­eran.

Spencer Lahr / Rome News-Tri­bune

State School Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Woods (cen­ter) holds up a ban­ner rec­og­niz­ing Cave Spring El­e­men­tary School as a STEM-cer­ti­fied school with fifth-graders Ni­co­las Deaton (right) and and Cort­ney Sel­lears.

Spencer Lahr / Rome News-Tri­bune

State School Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Woods (stand­ing, from left), North Heights El­e­men­tary School Prin­ci­pal Tonya Wood, Rome City Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Lou Byars, along with stu­dents Adela Cabr­era (kneel­ing, from left), Bai­ley Booth, La­maria Studyvent, Sain Aguado, Ta­lynn Peek and Bai­ley Shooks pose with a ban­ner rec­og­niz­ing North Heights for be­com­ing STEM cer­ti­fied.

Spencer Lahr / Rome News-Tri­bune

State School Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Woods un­veils a floor mat with the help of Elm Street El­e­men­tary School six­th­graders Corey Gard­high (left) and Ja­mar Chat­man (right) while Prin­ci­pal JoAnn Moss watches dur­ing a cer­e­mony in the gym.

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