It’s understandable if the Mustangs of Midvale Elementary School seem to be galloping proudly into the summer break. Administrators and faculty celebrated last month when they officially received their STEM certification from AdvancED, an international accrediting agency that works with schools in more than 70 countries.
The recognition comes after three years of hard work by educators at Midvale, specifically STEM coordinators Latoya Burse and Burian Kitchen. They introduced age-appropriate technological teaching tools, while working with industry partners – including the City of Tucker – to bring students face-to-face with real world applications of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“We were ecstatic at the news,” Burse recalls. “After three years working toward STEM accreditation, this was the year we considered ourselves to be STEM-ready.”
While there are several other elementary schools in DeKalb County that have gained – or are working toward – STEM accreditation, Midvale becomes the first elementary school in the state of Georgia to be STEM certified, while also offering International Baccalaureate (IB) education.
“One of the main reasons we pursued STEM certification was that IB and STEM are the perfect marriage,” Burse explains. “IB is based on real-world connections, STEM is based on real-world connections. IB uses inquiry-based learning, STEM uses inquiry-based learning.”
According to AdvancED, STEM certified schools must have an “ongoing commitment and capacity to prepare students for STEM fields of study and work.” While it seems far-fetched for grade-schoolers to be thinking ahead to professional careers, students at Midvale have definitely caught STEM fever.
“Principal Satterfield actually announced [the accreditation] on the intercom and we played the song ‘Celebration’,” Burse says. “As the kids were leaving for the day, we sprayed them with silly string.”
Midvale feeds into Tucker Middle School and Tucker High School, both of which have well-regarded STEM programs of their own. What does that mean? The next generation of gifted surgeons, inventors and computer programmers may just come from right here in the City of Tucker.