Published February 17, 2020
By Ruthie Muller, Senior Outbound Marketing Manager and Systems Portfolio Manager
It is difficult to teach our students how to
become contributing citizens in the modern
global economy when classrooms are stagnant
and boring. Modern creative learning spaces
cannot only revitalize a room, they can spark
STEM love and learning. An elementary school
in Dothan, Alabama, is learning this.
Seating rows and columns are no more at
Jerry Lee Faine Elementary School in Dothan,
Alabama. Hallways are no longer beige and
boring. Though Christmas has passed, the
halls are decked with STEM all year-round, and
students have the opportunity daily to showcase
their STEM learning in front of a backdrop that
says, “I am a STEM Superstar!”
Faine Assistant Principal Nikki Burns says that
when people walk down the STEM hallway,
it is evident this is a place where magic
happens and creative minds work together. In
August, a Pitsco crew traveled to Alabama to
decorate halls with custom-created graphics.
This was after another crew had installed a
variety of Pitsco STEM curricula and products
and trained teachers to prepare for a new K-6
STEM program. Community members, staff,
and students gathered to meet teachers and
experience this new creative learning space.
We caught up with Nikki over Christmas break
to find out just how things were going in Dothan.
RUTHIE: What drove the decision to deck
the halls with STEM?
NIKKI: It is my opinion that the walls tell our
story. I have asked my teachers and staff: “What
is the vocabulary of our walls? When people
walk into our building, do they know we are
a STEM school?” Having our amazing Pitsco
art on the walls creates that sense of pride in
our STEM signature at Jerry Lee Faine. I love
watching the faces of our visitors when they
enter our building and are greeted with two
larger-than-life characters inviting them into
our school. With a new signature, restructuring
in our district, and a faculty over half new to
the building, I wanted something fresh. If there
was a time to make any changes, this was the
time. When you walk down the STEM hallway,
it is evident you are in a place where we are
ready to make magic happen and let our
creative minds work together!
RUTHIE: How has the new atmosphere brought
learning and creativity to life for students?
NIKKI: The very first few weeks of school, the
buzz was high. I loved hearing children as
they looked at each character. “What are they
holding? Will I build that too?” They knew
they were walking into an area of change,
and they couldn’t wait to get in the labs
with Mr. Wiggins and experiment, build, and
collaborate. One of the most precious things
about our Pitsco walls is that the characters
actually look like our children. We even have
a student with the same glasses and jacket.
He likes to model by that one! Essentially, the
atmosphere of the hallway shows our students
this hall is different, and this is important work.
RUTHIE: How has the new atmosphere allowed
students to see themselves in STEM careers
they might not have considered before?
NIKKI: This is truly one of the first times our students
have been engaged in learning of this caliber. We
are able to open possibilities these students never
knew existed. Pitsco offers us the opportunity to
explore and create a vision for our students.
Pitsco can help you bring your learning
space to life as well. From curriculum to
furniture to custom graphics to professional
development, we will do whatever it takes
to help teachers shape students into
STEM thinkers, lifelong learners, successful
professionals, and engaged citizens.
Jerry Lee Faine Elementary, Dothan, AL
THE NEED: A K-6 STEM program in a revitalized learning environment to
engage students and community
- 93% Black, 3% White, 2% Hispanic, 2% other
- 99% free/reduced lunch eligible
THE SOLUTION: Two STEM labs in a “technology hallway” complete with
customized STEM decor, Pitsco programs, professional development, and services
PITSCO PRODUCTS AND PROGRAMS IMPLEMENTED:
- KUBO Coding
- KUBO Coding+
- Elementary STEM Units
- STEM in the Gym™
- Maker Projects
- STREAM Missions
- STEM Expeditions®
- EmployABILITY Soft Skills