Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics inspires each student at Mountain View School, 18302 W. Burton Ave., Waddell, in the Dysart Unified School District.
This campus earned an AdvancED STEAM certification in 2019, providing inspiration to students to become creators, collaborators, communicators and critical thinkers. Principal Gail Miller said the journey has been in the works for the past eight years, with the mindset the first two years of starting slow to go fast.
The certification requires in all areas, students learn to use the Engineering Design Process to solve real-world problems, design and evaluate their solutions. The rubric indicator includes high standards across different content areas.
“We look at specific science competencies and make sure we are hitting them at each grade level and student discourse,” Ms. Miller said. “And how well students can articulate learning that has occurred in what they are doing.”
Offering signature programs throughout the districts, Dysart Unified has created several different pathways for students to explore and find their way. Ms. Miller said offering the school’s specific program is critical now more than ever because of the motivation and purpose students need.
“I’ve been in education for over 25 years and before students didn’t understand their pathway until they reached high school and for some programs, they felt it was too late,” she said. “Now we have students in high school getting certifications. If they are freshmen and just beginning the process, they are missing the boat. While students are in middle school they need to know why they are learning something and research shows when kids can trace work back to a true purpose they have that buy in and deeper understanding of mastering those skills.”
Every grade level at Mountain View implements STEAM units, including business marketing, digital communication and engineering. After learning the skills several events occur throughout the year to showcase student’s work, including Shark Tank and robotics competitions, Skills USA and Science Olympiad. A key component in the success of the program includes building STEAM partnerships to give kids a deeper understanding of the skills they are learning.
Ms. Miller said challenging her staff as they pursued the accreditation really allowed them to shine, saying if they know it’s good for kids, they are going to do it. She said providing the training and putting systems in place for them to be successful and allowing them permission to take a risk has been beneficial.
“I feel like I am being supported as the principal as this is truly my vision for this school and I am passionate for it,” she said. “This is an umbrella of everything we are doing, not leaving out any standard or student and it is for everyone. Families have a choice and not matter who their child is or what their needs are this program will fit them. At the district level, Superintendent Dr. Quinn Kellis supports this vision 100-percent and our school feels that support.”
Ms. Miller said seeing the uniqueness within the district brings out people’s different passions and connects to learning.
“What I love about our signature program is students love to be creative and they have student choice, which gives them power in their learning and real ownership,” she said. “Not too many elementary schools offer CTE (Career & Technical Education) and this is a difference maker for students.”