(Pictured above: Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring and Board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown are joined by Principal Brent McBride and Jackson Elementary School staff and students during a recent STEM certification ceremony.)
Students, parents, administrators, staff and District officials gathered at Warren T. Jackson Elementary School on May 11, as Jackson celebrated its long-awaited Cognia STEM certification, becoming only the second public elementary school in the country to receive both STEM and International Baccalaureate certifications.
Held in the state-of-the-art STEM lab at Jackson – which features a new maker space workroom and space for other inquiry-based learning – the program included brief remarks from Principal Brent McBride, STEM Coordinator Laura Dostie, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, Associate Superintendent Tommy Usher, as well as the school’s IB coordinator and PTSA presidents (past and present). Board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown and community partners were also in attendance.
“This has been a goal of ours for four years, and it’s come to fruition,” said Laura Dostie, Jackson’s STEM coordinator. “Knowing that the work we’ve been doing with our students matters and knowing that is important, this certification process makes us we feel validated. The fact that we’re one of two public schools in the nation with this dual certification gives us the hope that we can improve even more.”
Principal Brent McBride said Jackson’s mission is to prepare students to be lifelong learners, indepedent thinkers, and kind citizens. According to McBride, the STEM certification is significant particularly because it serves as a milestone in achieving that mission.
“We’re already an IB school. Now with STEM, we’re challenging our students. As a school, we’re required to have a signature program, but we’re not required to have a STEM certification. So, that’s the extra that we’re able to give our kids,” McBride said. “This shows that we’ve reached a milestone in meeting our goal to challenge our students, that we’re making progress, and the work of our teachers, community partners and parents is successful and is recognized by others as being successful.”
Throughout the day, students rotated to inquiry-based, hands-on learning stations, which included an obstacle course, robotics demonstration, rocket making, and the “trout patrol,” an outdoor activity where students raise trout to release in the Chattahoochee River in fall and spring. In total, Jackson raises about 2,500 trout each season, thanks to the help of Small Fry To Go, one of Jackson’s community partners.
With a full STEAM focus, Jackson’s STEM certification followed a rigorous, three-month evaluation process, which included interviews with students, teachers, parents and partners, diagnostic reflections, as well as an examination of the school’s goals and student learning outcomes.
The Cognia STEM certification provides schools, and programs within schools, a research-based framework and criteria to support implementation, continuous improvement, and assessment of the quality, rigor, and substance of a STEM educational program. Cognia STEM certification is a mark of distinction and excellence for schools and programs that meet the commission’s high standards.
“I am extremely proud and excited for all of our Jackson Jaguars for earning this incredible distinction,” McBride said. “Our dedicated staff, curious students, and supportive community have worked hard to achieve the Cognia STEM certification. It began with a vision four years ago to ‘challenge and prepare students to be independent thinkers, kind citizens and passionate learners.’”
“This certification is the realization of that vision,” he added. “The Cognia STEM certification enhances our already robust programming in place as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program School. Becoming a STEM-certified school has strengthened our inquiry-based program of study to further fulfill Jackson’s vision. There is no doubt that Jackson students will change the world!”
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