San Juan school district recognized as 'STEM' leader

San Juan Island School District has been named one of five "STEM Lighthouse Districts" by Washington state, following a statewide competition.

The Lighthouse designation acknowledges districts that have developed the state's best STEM programs.

Short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the term STEM was originally used by immigration officers in fast-tracking qualified foreign applicants for entry into the American workplace. It has now become a focus for educators, elected officials, industrialists, professional associations and unions intent on bringing the skills and knowledge of high school graduates in-line with high paying technical jobs in the modern workplace.

School district board member Jack McKenna is the author of the district's STEM resolution.

“While we have been recognized as one of the top districts in the nation, the fact is that even the best American schools continue to prepare graduates for yesterday," McKenna said. "Through the further development and implementation of STEM curriculum on San Juan Island we can begin to carefully move our teaching and learning in the right direction.”

As recipient of the state's STEM LIghthouse designation, the district will function as a resource and as an example of best practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics instruction for other school districts, especially small districts, for which quality STEM programs are considered especially challenging.

STEM teacher and former engineer Larry Wight wrote the district's successful application.

“Those of us that have been pushing for STEM here have been frustrated at the slow pace when we compare ourselves to larger districts with more resources." White said. "But now, this award recognizes that among small districts, San Juan Island is actually a leader in STEM innovation and implementation. It is simply harder in a small district to find the necessary resources. I am so grateful that superintendent (Rick)Thompson strongly encouraged me to write the proposal. The award affirms that our efforts are on the right track, and the grant will allow us to move forward without having to cut other worthwhile programs.”

— Editor's note: information above was provided in a school district press release




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