Written by Jerry Miller
Elmore / Autauga News
Millbrook High School (MMS) hosted the Elmar County Board of Education on Tuesday afternoon, and the focus was on the growing programs of the County of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
MMS Director Sean Crawter first announced that the school was named one of only 31 schools in the state that won the distinctive School of Leadership School in Alabama (CLAS) school for the 2020-21 school year. The award was established in 2001 to recognize schools in Alabama that showcase excellent programs and services for students. Each school was nominated by its headmaster out of 138 school programs nominated nationwide.
Teachers and staff from MMS, Coosada Elementary, Airport Road Intermediate School and Stanhope Elmore High School shared details on how they incorporated STEM and STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, art and math) into their classes.
Sixth-grade teacher Kristen Atkins told the board about Project Lead the Way, a STEM program where students could learn about infection detection and automation and robotics in fifth grade. In the sixth grade, students were introduced to the programs Design and Molding and App Creators.
Assistant Principal Dr Rene Tucker spoke about how the concepts taught in fifth and sixth grades are included in the junior curriculum, where students can take medical detectives, practical techniques and a physics lesson.
There are also opportunities for students interested in computer science for innovators, coding and programs, energy and the environment, and automation and robotics. They also study algorithms and mechanisms.
The program is not limited to gifted students. “All students have the opportunity to take these programs,” Dr. Tucker said.
Students from the MMS robotics team demonstrated the use of IQ robots to the school board. Students design their own robots and code them to play the game. Students gain hands-on experience creating and programming robots to solve problems.
School Board Chairman Richard Dennis congratulated the MMS Robotics team on their recent victory. The school teams took second and eighth place in the finals for grades 6-8 in the SCORE Vex IQ robotics competition. The fifth grade team finished second and eighth in the final. This weekend the teams will compete in the state competitions in Auburn.
Dennis said the goal is to set up a STEM lab at every high school in the county. “All this shows that STEM programs are not only in the Technical Center,” he said.
Dennis also praised Holtville High School principal Kyle Futral for having the Alabama High School Principals Association (AASSP) named him director of Alabama High School 2022.
The case will be celebrated at the awards ceremony during the CLAS convention on June 14, 2022 at the BJCC in Birmingham. The CLAS Convention is the largest meeting of school leaders in Alabama.
Dennis briefed the Construction Council and said there would be a race soon to expand the district’s career technology center. He said a kitchen modernization project for Stanhope Elmar High School would begin in July.
Dennis also introduced new Redland Road Primary School principal Corey Eckstein. Previously, Eckstein was an assistant principal and also held the position of head of educational technology at Talas urban schools.
The meeting will take place next month at the Elmar County Technical Center.