Elkin City Schools announced at the June 24, 2013 school board meeting a plan to become a Pre-K thru grade 12 STEAM-focused school system. STEAM is the acronym for (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) and is directly related to the North Carolina STEM programs that are comprised of 29 elementary, middle and high schools across the state. Elkin City Schools will be the first school system in North Carolina to embrace the STEAM education concept for every student, Pre-K through grade 12. STEAM represents the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics across the curriculum and includes the Arts such as Language Arts, performing arts, visual arts and humanities. Dr. June Atkinson, State Superintendent of The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction comments, “STEM Education is one strategy North Carolina is using to build a world-class workforce that leads to graduation and postsecondary education. Students will enter high skill careers as well as high wage and high demand careers in North Carolina and our global economy. “
The three year plan will begin in 2013-2014 with grades 4-8 integrating STEAM instruction through Project Based Learning. Grades 2-3 and 9-10 will follow in 2014 and Pre-k thru grade 2 and grades 11-12 will complete the program implementation in 2015. During the summer of 2013, all teachers in grades 4-8 will receive staff development on STEAM-based education and Project Based Learning. Georgette Yakman, originator of the STEAM: A Framework for Teaching Across the Disciplines program, will provide two days of professional development on the integration of STEAM into the curriculum. The BUCK Institute, dedicated to improving 21st Century teaching and learning throughout the world, will provide three days of training for the Project Based Learning (PBL) model to the ECS staff. All Elkin City Schools staff members will be trained in PBL and STEAM concepts by the end of the three year cycle.
Dr. Randy Bledsoe, superintendent of Elkin City Schools stated, “STEAM education will transform the educational system of the Elkin City Schools.” ECS traditionally enjoys a statewide reputation for K-12 academic achievement and excellence, we lead the state in graduation rate, and provide quality curricular and extracurricular clubs/activities/athletics that have provided many opportunities for students to highlight his/her special talents and skills. “A STEAM-focused education will raise the level of expectations of academic knowledge to that of application, discovery and critical thinking.” Through Project Based Learning, students will learn many of the critical skills needed in today’s job market: critical thinking, creativity, team work, collaboration, verbal and written communication skills, and responsibility. “A STEAM-focused education will provide yet another opportunity for Elkin High School graduates to be better prepared to compete at colleges and universities for scholarships and enrollment; and provide all of our graduates with necessary skills needed to enter the workforce as leading candidates for many of the entrepreneurial STEM-related occupations in North Carolina.”