I hope you are finding time to enjoy the weather and the upcoming summer. This is an extremely busy time of year for all of us. As we come to the end of the school year there are many thing that need to be finalize as we begin the work of preparing for the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. One aspect of planning for next year is reviewing our current curricula and determining any necessary changes that will help our children to build the foundational skills needed for the 21st Century.
One important change that is happening in the middle school is the development of a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program. The retiring of our Home Economics position presented me with a difficult, yet extremely exciting opportunity for the vision of our school and for developing our children’s college and career readiness while building their 21st Century competencies needed to successfully achieve in middle school, high school, and college and future careers. Through conversations with the Oak Bluffs School Committee, the Oak Bluffs School Advisory Committee, staff members, and state and national policy makers I decided to change the position from a 50% Home Economics/50% Industrial Arts position to a 100% middle school Engineering/STEAM position. Currently, we have gathered exemplary Engineering/STEAM curriculums. These curriculum will not only support the Oak Bluffs School Community’s vision to prepare our students for college and career readiness and develop their 21st century skills but they will also allow the teacher to incorporate the learning objectives set forth by the Home Economics and the Industrial Arts Technologist standards.
Developing a strong STEAM education is vital for the future of our children. Job opportunities in STEAM fields are growing fast but too few of our high school graduates are ready for college coursework or careers in STEM areas (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). The majority of U.S. students, particularly low-income and minority youth, lack foundational skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Change the Equation, 2012). Employers report a shortage of talent for STEM-specific jobs – and in areas such as health care that require basic STEM competencies. These gaps have broad implications. They limit not only individual prospects for college readiness they also limits our students readiness to enter the work force if they decide alternative routes. The bottom lines is this gap could limit our children potential for further economic independence. We are very excited to be developing an innovative program that will grow our students overall potential.
We are very excited to implement this new program yet know that we also value all of the standards that are embedded in the Home Economics curriculum. Discussion has begun with the Oak Bluffs School Committee which has focused on investigating ways we can offer food, nutrition, and cooking classes to middle school students in an after school club next year.
Thank you for your support and understanding. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me.
Dr. Megan Farrell