Transforming STEM Education in Rural Schools: John Stumbo School

Meet Jaynie Watts, the driving force behind John M. Stumbo Elementary School’s journey towards a brighter future in education. With eight years of experience, including teaching intermediate reading and writing, Jaynie understands the challenges and opportunities in today’s classrooms.

Q: What were your school’s STEM goals and how did EDforTech help you meet them?

A: “We are an extremely rural school. There are absolutely no businesses or towns. We are at least 30 minutes away from it all. There is high poverty in our area. We saw an opportunity for funding for our area and wanted to jump on that. The grant and STEM, those were two things we really needed to pursue. When we were able to get it, we used the success maker. During the pandemic, it worked to our advantage. It gave us the ability to monitor student progress virtually in new ways. When we got back in school, we did our summer camp. We jumped onto the robotics portion. We wanted our kids to have that hands-on experience that they weren’t able to have before.”

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in implementing a STEM program that EDforTech has helped solve for your school?

A: “Funding is always an issue. We are a small school in a poor community. We have funding but it’s trying to balance all the things that we need. Getting the grant helped us with that tremendously. We just hired a STEM teacher for the school, and now we have a program for them to follow.”

Q: Did students have fun participating in the program? 

A: “Oh yeah. Both of my boys attended the summer program. They loved the coding and robotics. We had a lot more participation because that was offered. It isn’t something we have typically offered. It has given the momentum to teach reading and math.”

Q: How have the programs made a positive impact for your students?

A: “I know we had a lot of kids that were not successful with online learning, and they didn’t participate. Not every student had adequate internet access. Offering the summer program was to get them back in so they didn’t have to repeat a grade. STEM and robots helped get them in and get that momentum back so they could move onto the next level. I can’t say enough good things.”

Q: How have the programs made a difference for educators?

A: “I think in the past we had one teacher that focused on STEM. In summer school, all teachers had a hand. We can incorporate it in math, science, reading, and different ways as a motivator for all subjects. I have seen them more comfortable and motivated to take that plunge and incorporate it. Before they were afraid. Now they have more confidence. They had that time to cut loose with it. They can do it with everyone.”

Q: Why do you think it is important to support STEM education in schools?

A: “That is totally the way our world is going right now. Our district has a school of innovation for high school that students can apply to go to. It’s STEM related and they can get certified for Dell and Apple, there are lots of opportunities. They can walk out with a job in engineering. I feel like having that basis is important. We are a K-8 school. We want kids to have a good solid foundation so they can be successful. Before it was a gap in our instruction. Kids used to lack the means to get there. A lot of our kids are in poverty and going to college is a struggle. They had no means to get started. It is important to be able to get them ready during elementary and middle school. They may be able to work in STEM and get on going sooner, breaking the cycle of poverty. It’s generational here. Any way we can find to break that and get them self-sufficient in life, that is what is going to make the difference. With technology and stem, it brings it to them. That’s amazing. We are one of those in the middle of nowhere schools. Through the EDforTech program, we had things we would not have had.”

Q: Would you recommend EDforTech programs for other schools? Why?

A: “Absolutely. First of all, any way that you can offer STEM education to your students is an improvement. EDforTech has been such a wonderful company to work with. They are passionate about kids and their success. They are passionate about the future of education and what it is going to be. You don’t see that with everything. It’s not about money. It’s about providing opportunities for kids, and that is refreshing. I have never ever received such good data from any program I have been in, ever. The amount of good data. It’s not 50 charts that you have to flip through and figure out. It’s specific to kids each week. With success maker we would see gaps, and where kids were growing.”

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STEM education encourages the next generation of engineers, technologists, scientists, and artists. Our team of STEM experts are here to support you in implementing meaningful K-12 learning experiences that empower students and educators. Request more information today about how you can incorporate STEM learning at your school and increase student achievement.

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