Everyone knows the saying, “Two heads are better than one.” That’s what teachers at Ruskin Elementary think, too. When Ruskin began planning for their school-wide STEM project, “Ruskin: An Environmentally Aware School”, they looked to their academic neighbors, Coastal Pines, for a partnership. Recently, Ruskin’s STEM coordinators Latricia Wesley and Tammy Gardner, along with their Principal Donna Solomon and Ware County School Superintendent Jim LeBrun, met with Dr. Glenn Diebert, Coastal Pines Technical College President, Jason Strickland, Dean of Academic Affairs, and Amanda Morris, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and a partnership was formed.
For those who are not familiar, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. As a focus for Ruskin’s STEM project, students in each grade level will participate in standards-based lessons that integrate STEM. To make learning more authentic for the students, instructors from Coastal Pines have agreed to meet with Ruskin’s students and teachers to share their wealth of knowledge in the fields they teach that are related to the school’s STEM project.
To kick off the partnership, Mr. Tommy Peagler, the Forestry Instructor for Coastal Pines, came out to Ruskin and gave a presentation to Kindergartners and first and second graders about the importance of managing forests. Students not only listened with enthusiasm, but they also posed many great questions to tap into Mr. Peagler’s expertise. Students and teachers expressed that they look forward to learning more from the Coastal Pines instructors.
In addition to the partnership with Coastal Pines, Ruskin has also gained Republic Services as a sponsor to help support the project. Republic Services representatives, Division Manager Mr. Richard Lee and Operations Spervisors Mr. Lonnie Jones, have worked with the 3rd grade teachers in the past to help educate them on the importance of waste management, which goes hand in hand with their “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” science unit. Mr. Lee and Mr. Jones expressed their delight in helping students learn about how to care for the environment at an early age and about being part of this project.
Enthusiasm about Ruskin’s school-wide STEM project is escalating as the project unfolds across the grade levels. Each grade has a “job” that correlates with their standards and fits into the school-wide project. Principal Solomon expressed her excitement, saying "Our students are engaged and inspired by the wonders of STEM. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM related occupations is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. Therefore, we are preparing our students for tomorrow's jobs."
Pictured are (L-R): Jason Strickland, Amanda Morris, Dr. Glenn Diebert, Teacher Latricia Wesley, Teacher Tammy Gardner, Principal Donna Solomon, and Supt. Jim LeBrun