The STEM school/program supports non-traditional student participation through outreach to groups often underrepresented in STEM program areas. (AdvancED STEM Indicator ST1.1)
Fairforest Elementary School is a diverse community of students with a wide range of experiences, strengths, and needs. As a Title I school, much of our student population can be classified as typically "underrepresented" in one way or another. Over the past 5 years, our poverty rate has been over 80%, with 73.7% of our students currently receiving free or reduced lunch. 35% of our students speak English as a second language, with a large number of these students speaking Spanish or Russian. Currently, 49% of our students are white, 17% are black, 22% are Hispanic, and 12% are other ethnicities. 16% of our students receive special education services, and 1% have 504 plans in place. Additionally, 7% of our students have qualified for the academically gifted program, 3% are identified as artistically gifted, and 3% are musically gifted.
STEM Outreach at Fairforest Elementary School
Outside of the regular classroom, Fairforest Elementary continues to support non-traditional student participation and outreach to underrepresented groups. Our partnership with Michelin connects students to "real-life" engineers who build relationships with them and enable them to connect what they're learning in class to the real world. Our STEM-focused extracurricular activities are open to all students, and spots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, rather than an application process. Our family night events are designed with students of all ages in mind, and offer engaging, non-threatening challenges that enable our students and their parents to better understand our focus on STEM.
Since our school does not have an isolated STEM program, it is up to our STEM educators to design curriculum and support participation of ALL students in engaging, student-led activities. Our teachers work diligently to design lessons that include and appeal to each student. Students are not recruited, nor do they apply to be a part of our STEM program; rather, it is an expectation of the regular classroom. For our students who receive special services, such as special education or ESOL instruction, a quality STEM education is still a reality. Special teachers pull students out of the regular classroom for their required times, and they "push in" to the classrooms when appropriate. As a result, our students with special needs are spending as much time as possible in the regular classroom, where STEM education is integrated into the curriculum. All students are encouraged and expected to participate in our school's STEM program, because it is an integral part of the classroom each day.