Toledo Superintendent Romules Durant speaks about the upcoming transition of two of the district's schools to a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine (STEMM) model. Marshall and McKinley elementary schools will move to the STEMM model in the fall.
Toledo Public Schools is converting McKinley and Marshall elementary schools into STEMM schools, following a path blazed first by Chase STEM Academy.
McKinley and Marshall will have a heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering, math and medicine, and a project-based approach that will seep into the standard school subjects that every student must know.
“These are just more examples of thematic schools that are giving parents choice and opportunities to get deeper into the curriculum for students to ultimately be successful,” said Jim Gault, the school district’s executive transformational leader of curriculum and instruction.
The schools will remain neighborhood schools, but students from outside the elementary school boundaries can attend if space permits. The goal is to have one STEMM school in each learning community, Mr. Gault said.
Parents have been notified of the transition, which will occur in the fall, and future meetings will explain the differences between a STEMM school and an elementary school. If parents opt out, it creates space for students outside the boundaries to attend.
“When you go to one of these thematics, your focus is solely on that. Everything that surrounds you is about that theme,” TPS Superintendent Romules Durant said.
At Chase, students are frequently out of the classroom and working on group projects in collaborative spaces, a model that will be replicated in the district’s new STEMM schools.
“These schools are designed to develop problem solvers, unique critical thinkers, and more importantly working together within a team to fulfill a particular task,” Mr. Durant said.
More STEMM schools and other thematic schools will be coming, Mr. Durant said, including at the high school level. That will allow students interested in a particular subject to focus on it from kindergarten through high school, while still building the skills that can transfer to other school subjects and careers.
“Whether you go into a STEMM field or not, you'll benefit from the fact that you'll work in a team and learn those soft skills,” Mr. Gault said.
The teachers at McKinley and Marshall will reapply for their jobs, and other teachers from the district will have the chance to apply for the teaching spots at the two new STEMM schools.
“Despite some of the consternation that can come with the thought of moving, everybody seems to be pretty excited about it,” said Kevin Dalton, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers. “We have not heard a lot of negative feedback.”
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