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Tallmadge Middle School formally submitted its application for a STEM designation to a state agency last week, reports its principal, Rob Kearns. Interest in STEM -- an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math -- "is high" among the city's middle schoolers, according to Kearns; he noted students are already writing computer code, developing apps and programming robots.
While awaiting a response from the STEM Committee at the Ohio Department of Education, the school has created a STEM advisory board. Partners include; Summit Racing, WARDJet, Kent State University and the University of Akron. Members work for entities as diverse as NASA, the Cleveland Clinic, Summit Racing Equipment and the Six District Educational Compact. Forming an advisory committee is recommended but not required for state STEM designation, according to Kearns.
"We plan to use the STEM designation to recruit more business partners and spread the word of the amazing things that happen at Tallmadge Middle School every day," says Kearns, adding, "We are always seeking additional business partners who are willing to share expertise and real world problems with our students and teachers." The STEM Advisory Board meets quarterly throughout the school year.
To earn a STEM designation from the state, the school must demonstrate solid and growing STEM learning experiences across its curriculum as well as evidence of strong partnerships with STEM-focused businesses, higher education and the community.
"On a recent survey, 38 percent of our eighth-graders were highly interested in pursuing a STEM-related career," Kearns says, noting all students at Tallmadge Middle School take STEM classes. Jeff Smith, Information Technology project manager with Summit Racing Equipment, says he is "willing and eager to offer my time and share my knowledge and experience" as a member of the STEM Advisory Board as a means of giving back to the community where he grew up. "STEM is dynamic, exciting and fascinating and serves as a platform to promote advanced learning in significantly important disciplines," according to Smith, who adds, "I want to help Tallmadge Middle School students understand that STEM is the frontier to the future."
Fellow Advisory Board member Paul Bishop, Peripheral Vascular Core lab manager at the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, resides in Tallmadge with his wife and elementary school-age daughters. "STEM-related topics have increasingly become the focus for many career paths," Bishops reports, "and will be required for many new jobs in the future. Students need to have cutting edge STEM educational opportunities available so they can be fully prepared for the future."
SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL FORMED
Rebecca Furbay, director of student services for the Tallmadge City School District, said she is "very excited" to announce the formation of a Special Education Parent Advisory Council. Furbay has invited parents of youngsters with a disability from each of the district's school buildings to serve on the panel, which meets once a month at Tallmadge High School. She said she anticipates offering quarterly parent meetings beginning with the 2017-18 school year. "The idea behind it is to enhance our parent engagement and for us to become more of a resource for those families and their children because a lot of them are going through some very unique situations," according to Furbay.
This school year approximately 300 Tallmadge students receive some type of special education services. The families of these children will be sent information about SEPAC once the council has developed its mission and goals. Furbay said they will also all be sent invitations when SEPAC opens up its meetings and offers workshops next school year. Parents who want more information can contact Furbay directly with questions at 330-633-3291, ext. 6004.
At its Feb. 15 meeting, the Board of Education approved the hiring of Roy Zeman as a school psychologist, effective at the start of the 2017-18 school year. Zeman's salary was not provided to the Express by press time.
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC