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An “innovative mindset” within a school culture inspires innovation and motivates school leaders, teachers, students and community alliances to think, dream and do in an atmosphere that has been thoughtfully created to embody a spirit of American ingenuity and inquiry.

Saluda Trail Middle School is a dynamic community, moving from an International Baccalaureate (IB), to STEM, to STEAM school in three-year’s time.  We have done so as a community of educators, students, parents, learners and ultimately, innovators.

Transitioning to STEM
Having been established as an IB school, we promoted qualities that included self-directedness, intentionality, empathy, and purpose.  When our vision expanded to STEM, we realized that the identifiable qualities must expand as well. We added a stronger inquiry approach and created a culture allowing students and teachers to learn through risk-taking and failure. Units of study were revamped to integrate content and to emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math. New related arts classes such as Digital Piano, Photography, Robotics, Digital Animation, and Video Production were added, even though we did not gain any personnel.  The Fine Arts teachers wrote and received grants to fund a Distinguished Arts Program and Arts Based Curriculum. The funding of the arts programs naturally launched us into STEAM. 
Adding the “A” to Become STEAM
We became a STEAM school in the Spring of 2014. A simple addition of the letter “a” for the arts was nothing simple at all as we challenged ourselves as a community of learners to also integrate the arts with content areas.  Teachers of academic content and the arts rose to the challenge as they embraced the move to a transdisciplinary, project-based learning approach.  Faculty and staff worked to clarify our vision for what we wanted our students to achieve as future citizens. From a list of qualities developed during this process came our Blueprint for Student Success.

Partners in our Success
We were fortunate to partner with two organizations who shared our vision.  Providing support and advocacy was TransformSC, a grassroots group of state stakeholders who developed the Profile of the SC Graduate identifying the characteristics that students must have to be successful in life, college, and careers. As we navigated the challenges that come with change, for three years we received on-going, on-site professional learning from S2TEM Centers SC. Their coaching and program assessment tool, Innovation Configuration Maps helped us to gauge our progress and make informed next steps.   Through our work with S2TEM Centers SC and TransformSC, our school embraced project-based learning, which was a perfect fit in our STEAM program. 

We Continue to Grow
Our innovation mindset drives us to reach new milestonesIn December, 2014, we were one of only 14 schools named as a P21 National Exemplar School. P21 is a national association that works to build collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders so that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops.

Additionally, this year we achieved STEM Certification through the AdvancED school accreditation process.

As a community of STEAM advocates, our focus is on student success and valuing the individual talents and interests of our students. As a community, we share responsibility for our students, from monitoring their instructional needs to home needs.  We define our roles as more than the grade or subject we teach.  We define ourselves as caretakers of a whole community.  In our school, we open doors, we cross grade levels and content areas, we live as a community, and we work as a community – we have a collective responsibility for each other.
Professional Development Opportunities

10 Session STEM Instructional Leadership Training
Currently accepting new teams to participate in iSTEM:  an in-depth, 10-day, instructional leadership experience for STEM educators preparing to understand and implement engineering practices as identified in the South Carolina Curriculum Standards and national standards documents. 

8 Session Cognitive Coaching Seminar
Inquires are being accepted for Cognitive CoachingSM,  a research-based 8-day foundations training seminar.  Participants meet once per month starting in September 2016.  The mission of Cognitive CoachingSM is to produce self-directed persons with the cognitive capacity for excellence both independently and as members of a community.  Cognitive CoachingSM is recommended for anyone within an educational environment from teachers to superintendents.

Program Details Just Announced

September 26 - 28, 2016
The Next Steps Institute:  "Next Steps for STEM Learning and Leadership In and Out of School"
Charleston Convention Center, Charleston, SC

Visit STEM Linx to learn about more STEM events and opportunities around the state.
Strategy of the Month
Close Reading
Close Reading is a strategy that involves structured multiple readings that result in progressively deeper comprehension of text. Students focus on different details and patterns for each reading, and are directed toward focused activities between readings.  It is a framework in which various disciplinary literacy strategies can be inserted as part of a coherent, unfolding lesson.

For more, visit the S2TEM Centers SC Disciplinary Literacy Virtual Library.

What S2TEM Centers SC clients say about their Professional Learning Experience...

"There is always a rich learning experience waiting at S2TEM Centers. The experience always confirms the need for hands on science explorations that extend into other content areas."
Marian Marlowe, STEM Coordinator
Manning Elementary, Clarendon 2
Instructional Materials Support
"Your professional development was more enjoyable to us all because we all were involved.  It helped me think outside the box and use my own creative skills to come up with ideas."
Kelly Johnson, Teacher
Batesburg-Leesville Primary, Lexington 3
Math Professional Development - Numeracy

"The S2TEM Center helped shine new light and ideas of creative ways to increase math instruction and students understanding while making math even more exciting and fun."
Charlene High, Assistant Principal
Batesburg-Leesville Primary, Lexington 3
Math Professional Development - Numeracy

Copyright © 2016 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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