Students show STEM potential at board meeting
Making its final stop at Hallett Elementary during its annual visit to different schools in the district, the Medical Lake School District board of directors held its final meeting during the school year.
Students at Hallett in Sheila Overman’s fourth-grade class demonstrated at the Tuesday, May 28 meeting some of the different ways of learning math through iPad applications.
The apps allow a teacher to guide students as they solve a problem, and display a student’s iPad up on the projector so they can explain their work. Programs also let students create a video to explain a subject, rather than putting pen to paper.
Students showed videos about the skeleton, muscles, the Shortfin mako shark and how to solve the area or perimeter of a shape.
When asked after their presentation if they liked using the iPad, students said it was easier and let them be more creative when working on their projects. Overman said the students appeared to be more engaged with the iPads, and said the possibilities for future learning opportunities are endless.
The school board passed a number of policy changes, including policies 3410, which like other previous measures required labeling marijuana as a controlled substance. Policies 3420 and 3420P relating to anaphylaxis prevention and response have been procedures for a while, but are now included in the district’s policy.
The board also voted for the non-renewal of provisional employees’ contracts, in response to not having a budget from the state Legislature to work with going into next school year. The item affected three employees, two who were hired on by the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grant.
“We’re still waiting for our Legislature to provide a budget,” Superintendent Dr. Pam Veltri said. “Until we have that, we’re not sure what our revenues will be for next year.”
Also passed at the meeting was the district’s enrollment and annual certification with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
High school principal John McSmith and high school teacher Ann Everett provided the board with an update on the district’s STEM grant. The district will enter its second year of the grant next year, which focuses on improving the availability of science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses for students.
“Our STEM coaches were busy this year, starting to get the whole ball rolling, infusing STEM into the elementary, middle and high school,” Everett said.
Everett said STEM has challenged the way teachers approach their subject matter, even the traditional material that’s been taught for a number of years.
“When you’re teaching something, you have to find the relevancy in it,” she said. “You really need to be able to apply it to something so kids can have a vision of why they’re learning and what they do.”
The district now has a STEM library where students at the elementary schools can interact with items for robotics, cameras and other elements related to lessons. Teachers are able to check items out depending on the lesson they’re teaching.
“That becomes really a nice problem to have; developing these rich resources and technologies that people can use at whatever time they want,” Everett said.
At the meeting, the school board also recognized director of teaching and learning Dan Mueller as well as food services supervisor Charlotte Cook.
“Dan has worked hard for us for the last several years,” Veltri said. “He’s ensured students had access to core curriculum classes every day.”
Mueller was principal at Medical Lake Elementary for 20 years, before moving to the administration building for the last three years to serve as director of teaching and learning.
Cook was recently awarded the National School Association’s Food Director of the Year award for both Washington state and the Northwest region. A representative from the organization was on-hand at the meeting to give Cook a certificate and gift in recognition of the award.
Letters read regarding Cook’s nomination included her emphasis on safety and sanitation in the workplace while encouraging families to eat lunch with students. Nomination letters also included how Cook sent out monthly newsletters, organized school barbecues and donated her time to help with Lions Club barbecues.
Medical Lake High School will hold its graduation ceremony at Eastern Washington University’s Reese Court Saturday, June 8 at 11 a.m. The alternative high school will hold its commencement ceremony Thursday, June 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Medical Lake High School.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.