EWSC has all three schools STEM certified

Ava Sowder

[click headline for full story] After lots of planning, meetings and hard work, East Washington School Corporation has reached an achievement only a few in the state have reached. All three campuses are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Certified.
Eastern High School was recently announced as one of 19 schools certified by the Indiana Department of Education.
EHS Principal Darin Farris was pleased to make the announcement.
Farris said the school’s STEM team did such a good the IDOE wants to highlight the work.
“They want to do a STEM Spotlight on us as an exemplary STEM high school,” Farris said. “It is nice to receive the certification and recognition, but the main purpose behind our STEM initiative is to prepare students for the future.
“Providing lessons and activities that allow students to be problem solvers will help prepare them for their career choice after high school.”
Indiana’s Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner said schools that are driving STEM are ensuring students who are ready to step into those types of careers.
“The schools we spotlight this year have demonstrated a commitment to providing high-quality, engaging STEM experiences that not only support students in developing problem-solving skills, but also prepare them for careers in emerging industries,” Jenner said. “As careers in STEM fields continue to drive our state’s economy, our role is to ensure every Hoosier student has access to high-quality STEM curriculum needed to meet both current and future demands.”
Heading up Eastern’s journey into certification was Jacob Johanningsmeier. He had gone through this at the school he worked at before joining the staff at Eastern.
He said he felt like that experience was very useful in helping EHS gain its certification.
“In my former job, I was a principal of a school that was nearly 100-percent project based learning,” he said. “The training that I received there was extremely similar to the expectations of this certification.”
Another key factor, Johanningsmeier said, was bringing on a former colleague, Deonna Lynch, who also had invaluable experience.
“We both had experience on collaborating with multiple subjects on project designs and lessons,” Johanningsmeier said. “I definitely think that this was helpful with this process. From generating ideas to enhancing lessons to answering questions from teachers, our previous experiences were very helpful.”
The final hurdle in becoming STEM certified was a site visit in early March. Even though Johanningsmeier said there were a few hiccups that day, the folks from the department of education gave them reason to have confidence.
“At the end of the day, they told us congratulations,” Johanningsmeier said. “They were thoroughly impressed with what we had implemented and they said that our work was exemplary. Those words, for me, prompted a huge sigh of relief. Although I felt fairly confident that we had done the things they had asked for, it was a great feeling to cross the finish line. This was two years of work that had been validated by the IDOE.”  
Like Farris, Johanningsmeier said everyone involved was able to breath a sigh of relief.
“It was a great feeling,” Johanningsmeier said. “For our STEM team and the entire staff, we are very proud of the work our staff has done and look forward to our development.”
Johanningsmeier also agreed with Jenner. He said what the certification means for the corporation as a whole is that the learning styles at East Washington are keeping up with advancements in society.
“I think that (this certification) shows that our corporation is committed to 21st century learning,” Johanningsmeier said. “The classroom of 2023 should look very different than 20-30 years ago. The jobs available to kids and the job that will be created will look different that what I have seen in my lifetime.  
“I think that adjusting our teaching practices reflect an understanding that we have to engage students differently. I think that we are trying to do that across all three buildings now which says a lot about where we are as a corporation.”


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