Graham Local Schools receive STEM designation banners

Representatives from the Ohio Board of Education presented STEM Designation banners to Graham Local Schools this week.

Graham Middle School and Graham Elementary School were awarded STEM designations by the Ohio Department of Education earlier this year, making the district one of only four in the state with multiple schools holding that distinction.

“Graham local schools have deliberately made the decision to help these kids get these opportunities,” Ohio State Board of Education Member Linda Haycock said. “To have the opportunity to expose them to robotics, to coding, to farming, to all sorts of different things that are included in that stem curriculum is very unique to rural schools.”

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Haycock was accompanied by Ohio Department of Education Director Bud Harris. They met with students, teachers, principals to learn more about the district’s STEM efforts.

“STEM opportunities in this rural setting provide equity and access not happening in many rural places,” Haycock said.

The STEM and STEAM awards, both included in Grahams designation, are awarded according to the school’s curriculum and strategic plan over the course of several years, Haycock said. A STEM curriculum immerses students in hands-on science, technology, engineering, art, and math work. A STEM curriculum prepares students for real-world careers.

The interest in STEM schools is growing, although it takes years of preparation and community involvement to create a working curriculum, Haycock said. She said schools often need grants and extra funding to bring in technological aids, science and art tools, community experts and sponsors.

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For example, Graham schools set up an entire garden, along with a chicken coop.

“To get the curriculum, to get the programs in place, it requires local community partnerships with places of higher education, with places of business to create real world experience, and to get out into the field. So, it does take building,” Haycock said. “Whenever they receive that or reach that, then they receive the designation.”

Principal Chad Lensman said the Graham program is rigorous and relevant. “Our Career Gears system is about exposing students to pathways they can explore to decide who they want to become. These banners represent who we are, the best STEM schools in Southwest Ohio,” he said in news release.

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