Alice Drive Elementary (ADE) is an inquiry based school where learning is connected to real-world experiences. Our mission is to prepare students for the demands of the 21st Century by becoming positive, college and career ready citizens through educational excellence. Our vision is that all students will receive the respect, encouragement, and opportunities they need to build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to be successful, contributing members of a global society.
As a Title-One School, we understand that many of our students arrive with limited experiences. As a result, our goal is to prepare our students for college and career readiness by involving every student and every family in relevant STEAM experiences; all grade levels from Pre-K through 5th grade. We have 751 students with an average class size of 24 students. ADE’s staff consists of 48 teachers, 14 paraprofessionals, two guidance counselors, one registered nurse, one secretary, one receptionist, one curriculum coach, one literacy coach, two assistant principals, one principal, seven custodians and seven cafeteria workers. Of the 48 professional staff, two serve learning disabled students, two are speech therapists, two are reading interventionists, and two are resource teachers. Twelve teachers are National Board Certified.
We believe an integrated approach to learning through student collaboration and team projects promotes an environment which prepares our students for success. Daily instruction through reading workshop and writing workshop, hands on math, guided math and research supported science kits are all taught through an inquiry approach to learning. All of our kindergarten through fifth grade students participate in a STEAM lab as one of their related arts courses. The use of Project Lead the Way, science kits, educational field trips, technology, and guest speakers are just a few of the resources we use to bring real world experiences to life in our classrooms. We believe that learning is a lifelong process involving family, school, and community cooperation.
Our STEAM journey began in 2015 with the inclusion of inquiry standards to our English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. The South Carolina Department of Education provided a Profile of the South Carolina Graduate and we began focusing on preparing our students, as early as preschool, to be successful contributors to our society. The focus of our standards shifted and our teaching began to transform into more teacher as facilitator of learning approach. In some classes there may be 2 teachers, one general education and one special education as well as a paraprofessional or shadow in order to provide inclusion for our special needs students. We use a variety of learning experiences in which our STEAM students are most successful: The use of Project Lead The Way curriculum such as Structure and Functions: Human Body with our kindergarten students where one of the highlights for them was making their own casts. The Full Option Science System (FOSS) kits are used in many of our science units; fourth grade students use the weather kit to make weather instruments. Our field trips are designed to give students real world experiences outside of the school walls. While studying ecosystems our fifth graders go to Georgetown, South Carolina to study salt marshes and various ecosystems as well as biotic and abiotic factors. Google Classroom, Gmail, Flipgrid and SeeSaw are some of the technology sources that are used most frequently with our students as a way to collaborate with their peers, parents and their teacher. One of our third grade teachers has guest speakers come, on Welcome Wednesdays, to highlight STEAM careers. Recently one of our parents, who is a civil engineer came and spoke with her class. That same class is looking for a pastry chef, a videographer, police officer, and an obstetrician to add to their guest speakers. Other grade levels have speakers throughout the year as well as STEAM night and Career Day. We began integrating more of our science and social studies and continued to apply a workshop approach to teaching. After 5th grade our students attend an AdvancED STEM Certified middle school and we saw the need to prepare them for their next school experience. In 2017, we changed our annual Family Science Night to Family STEAM Night and expanded the night to include more community involvement and introduced coding and robotics. A committee was formed and we created a 3 year timeline that would help our school move into the 21st Century with STEAM principles as our focus. We began in our related arts area and implemented our own STEAM lab, which is part of our related arts six day rotation. Upon reflection at the end of year one, the committee reassessed the timeline to reflect on things we had done in previous years to prepare us for STEAM implementation. We noticed other areas that needed growth and agreed to continue to expand the number of before and after school clubs that are STEAM related. In the classroom our teachers are working to create a curriculum that includes STEAM units. This will be an ongoing process that will implement and sustain the core tenets of an effective and age-appropriate STEM curriculum. We are also working on how we assess our students. The use of rubrics and projects are more prevalent than ever before.
As we look to the future, we will seek more opportunities to bring in the community and real world events into everyday learning experiences. There is still more to be done to encourage our minority groups to participate in STEAM and feel successful. Completing our unit plans and moving to a standards based report card will allow us to fully use rubrics and projects to assess our students learning more authentically. We strive to continue to provide professional development for our teachers that is relevant and supports the engineering design process and the 5 C’s-collaborating, critical thinking, creativity, communication and community. We added community as our fifth “C” because we felt it was important for our students, parents, teachers, and all stakeholders to know they are part of our STEAM journey and will continue to be in the future. All of our students deserve a rigorous curriculum that is both meaningful and engaging in order to prepare them for future success.