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Decking the halls in Dothan, AL, with STEM

Published February 17, 2020
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By Ruthie Muller, Senior Outbound Marketing Manager and Systems Portfolio Manager
rmuller@pitsco.com

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

STUDENT DEMOGRAPHICS:

  • 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

“You don’t have to wait until they get to the intermediate grades to start teaching science because they’re very capable, science is very engaging, and it’s high interest for the little ones. It’s fun, and they can do it!”

– Shakeatha Butler, elementary science director, Duval County, Florida

We enable young learners to develop the mind-set, skill set, and tool set needed for future success.

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