Cottonwood Middle School named APS STEM School
Professional development sessions planned for fall at both NAU and CMS
COTTONWOOD – Cottonwood Middle School has been selected as one of five schools to participate in Arizona Public Service’s STEM School for the Future program.
Partnering with Northern Arizona University’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning, the program provides hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math not only to Arizona educators, but also to school administrators.
According to Cottonwood Middle School Principal Matt Schumacher, the school applied for a grant to participate in the program “that largely involves extensive professional development for CMS science teachers and administration.”
“We enjoy the diversity of our programs at the middle school, particularly our elective offerings,” Schumacher said. “But the STEM philosophy and subsequent training will give us a platform to begin integrating all subjects around real-world, project-based, STEM-focused learning opportunities for students.”
The APS STEM School for the Future program provides hands-on learning to teachers and administrators, and will help schools develop community partnerships, according to a press release.
Made possible because of a $250,000 grant from the APS Foundation, the professional development program also selected Gowan Science Academy in Yuma, Thompson Ranch Elementary School in El Mirage, Sierra Verde STEM Academy in Glendale, and The STAR School in Flagstaff as this year’s participating schools.
Schumacher said that Cottonwood Middle School will utilize the program’s “insight to develop an action plan that will result in Cottonwood students and staff working with partners in our community to create authentic learning opportunities for students centered on the 21st century skills of adaptability, problem-solving, self-management and systems thinking as we work toward encouraging sustainability throughout the Verde Valley.”
According to Kenric Kesler, professional development coordinator at the NAU Center for Science Teaching and Learning, each of the participating schools will bring a “unique vision for how they want to see STEM coming to life in the classroom for their students.
“We are using what we learned from working with the first cohort of 13 schools over the past few years to help provide concrete tools that will help our group of schools reach their goals,” Kesler stated.
The grant is the second round of funding from the APS Foundation to the Northern Arizona University Foundation Inc. for the APS STEM School for the Future program, which is a three-year partnership with APS and NAU that constitutes two-day trainings in both the fall and spring coupled with a week-long summer institute each year.
NAU recently hosted teacher representatives and principals at the university, where they both identified goals and mapped future plans.
Following a June 5-9 gathering, the program has planned additional professional development sessions for the fall, both at NAU and at the participating schools.
“I am excited about the prospect of creating integrated, meaningful, STEM learning experiences for students that empower them and our community as we continue to prepare our students for the realities of the working world they’ll encounter,” Schumacher said.
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