Community, post-secondary, business/industry partners and/or families actively support and are engaged with teachers and students in the STEM program. (AdvancED STEM Indicator ST1.10)
In 2009, Michelin North America announced a program, Michelin Challenge Education, that provides assistance to public elementary schools in Michelin facility communities. Every major Michelin facility in South Carolina adopted a public school in need. Fairforest Elementary School was fortunate enough to be closely located to Spartanburg’s U8 plant.
Michelin Challenge Education differs at each school, with the principal and plant manager working out the plans. Over the last seven years, Michelin volunteers have read books each morning to our kindergarten students, tutored students weekly, and mentored students by serving as lunch buddies. Over the past two years our school has seen discrepancies between the performance of our students in science in relation to other subjects. With the input of our School Improvement Council and our grade level chairs, we decided that a STEAM approach could easily be integrated into our core academic subject material.
Beginning in 2014 and in addition to the services that our Michelin volunteers were already providing to our students, we assigned willing volunteers to “push in” to classrooms. In this role, volunteers would lead class lessons and discussions on various topics and subject areas. Michelin employees taught lessons on electricity to 3rd graders, lead a presentation on Law and Physics and Fun to 2nd, 4th, and 5th graders, brought in a boa constrictor to teach “prey and predator” to 2nd graders, and conducted experiments with 5th graders. Artifacts: Michelin Results 2011-2012; Michelin Results 2012-2013; Michelin Results 2013-2014
Fairforest Elementary School is also fortunate to have a very active School Improvement Council. Our School Improvement Council has given input and ideas as we began using a STEAM approach in our academic instruction. The SIC along with the PTO assisted with the creation of our outdoor classroom. Comprised of 8 elected members (parents and teachers), 4 appointed members (community member, translator, and two assistant principals, and 1 ex officio (principal), the SIC meets 4 times a year to discuss specific needs of our school and plans for improvement and events. In the current school year, our School Improvement Council has discussed events such as our school-wide Goldilocks STEAM challenge, and our upcoming accreditation. STEM has consistently been a focus of our SIC in recent years, with other topics including our technology initiatives and possible after-school clubs that could bring a STEM focus to our students outside of the regular school day. Artifacts: First SIC Meeting Agenda; December SIC Meeting Agenda; February SIC Meeting Agenda
Parent involvement is also a focus and area in which we strive to improve. While we have many supportive parents in our school community, many of them are not always able to physically be present during school-wide events. This year, we have worked to incorporate STEM into our family events, with a good deal of success so far. In January, we hosted a family STEAM Night and popcorn party, during which our reading coach and technology integration specialist led students and parents through and inquiry- and technology- based lesson. This event helped our parents to better understand what is involved in a STEM-based classroom. Parent attendance and response was very encouraging; we are planning on at least one more STEM-related event for families in the spring, in order to continue to encourage this type of parental involvement. Artifacts: STEAM Night Invitation; Padlet of Student and Parent Discoveries