WMS in ‘full STEAM ahead’ mode: Recruiting a STEAM program coordinator

  • The school is currently recruiting a program coordinator to oversee their STEAM Learning Center that was added in January. (COURTESY PHOTO/WMS)

  • Mary Beth Laychak from Canada France Hawaii Telescope visits Waimea Middle School’s STEAM Learning Center Demonstration Lab Thursday with an inflatable planetarium to share with sixth-grade students about archaeoastronomy. It’s one example of how community organizations work with WMS in their STEAM classes. (COURTESY PHOTO/WMS)

WAIMEA — “Full STEAM ahead,” the 2018 Hawaii State Legislature said as they authorized a substantial $298,000 Grant In Aid (GIA) to help Waimea Middle School (WMS) more fully embrace 21st-century teaching and learning in its new $15 million, 9-classroom Keaoakea STEAM Learning Center.

Gov. David Ige has now released this funding to the State Department of Education and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is in place with WMS. The school is currently recruiting a STEAM program coordinator to collaborate closely with teachers and staff to more fully meet the needs of students and the wider community, including educators from throughout the region.

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“The new STEAM Learning Center was dedicated in January, and WMS teachers have already significantly changed their approach to teaching, embracing more integrated curriculum and project-based learning best practices,” WMS Principal Janice English said. “This has been a huge undertaking because it completely changes how you deliver instruction.

“But we didn’t have needed technology, so we sought out private donors to help support our teachers. These donors contributed essential technology such as 3D printers for the makerspace, video cameras and editing equipment for the new — still in its infancy — broadcast studio and presentation technology for the large demonstration lab,” she added.

To fulfill the vision shared by both the school and the legislature to fund the 21st-century learning center, considerably more technology and support were needed, including new partnerships with leaders in the science-technology world, English said.

“The legislature and governor understood this and awarded us the GIA both to purchase needed technology and, as important, to fund a STEAM program coordinator. This will ensure technological and educational expertise is provided for our students, families and educators throughout the region to collaborate in developing and implementing relevant and engaging lessons and projects which challenge students and the community to find solutions to real-world problems,” she explained.

The program coordinator’s responsibilities will include establishing a sustainable STEAM Professional Development Center; researching and implementing STEAM promising practices and protocols in collaboration with WMS teachers and the wider community; procuring and maintaining end-user technology and equipment for the center; and securing community technological, educational and cultural expertise and funding support. Other focuses will be on planning, providing and evaluating STEAM professional development activities for educators within the school and the region, and STEAM lessons and activities for students, staff, families and community members within the region. Advocating and supporting inquiry- and project-based learning will also be important, in addition to assisting the WMS principal and staff in writing grants and developing partnerships to support STEAM programming.

The Legislative GIA is a one-year grant but the school has made a commitment to work to secure funding support for at least three years to develop a sustainable STEAM program that strengthens student engagement and college-career readiness.

WMS’ GIA also includes about $175,000 in needed technology.

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“We are indebted to the legislature and governor for helping us raise the academic bar for all of our students and community by providing educational programming that meet the needs of the 21st-century world and workplace,” English said.

Info: For more details on the STEAM program coordinator position and WMS’ Keaoakea STEAM Learning Center, go to www.WaimeaMiddleSchool.org, or email Janice_English@wmpccs.org