ST1.10: Community, post-secondary, and business/industry partners and/or families actively support and are engaged with teachers and students in the STEM program.

Self Assessment Score: 4

Alice Drive Elementary has a supportive Advisory Board that is actively involved in the continued success of STEAM learning at our school.  Their support has increased the depth of our program by providing knowledgeable guest speakers and donations of items we would not have been able to acquire without their support. We also have strong community support with our Career Fair participation and guest speakers. Our  strength, however, is also our weakness. While we have a great deal of community involvement, we continue to seek community members that would be appealing to our underrepresented group of students.  There are many more occupations in the arts and industry that need to be explored to spark their interest so all of our students can see a successful career in their future.

My Community and Me 

For more than 20 years, My Community and Me has been a part of public schools in Sumter County. It is organized by The Sumter Volunteer Group with the goal of sharing information about the Sumter Community with all fourth grade students in Sumter School District.  They also encourage citizenship. A large representation of Sumter business people come together to meet with the students and share information on what they do in the community.  They form a circle together and sing a song called, “My Community and Me”,  to show the connections within a community.  Each student receives an interactive notebook about the community.


Career Fair and Guest Speakers 

Our Career Fair is organized each year by our guidance department.  The purpose is for students to hear about various occupations from professionals in our community.  In grades 3-5 displays are set up, some with demonstrations, to offer students the opportunity to ask questions about the career.  Students are free to visit any booth they would like during their allotted time.  Our younger students, grades K-2, are invited to go outside and tour the many career vehicles.  This allows them to begin thinking about what a career is and what might be involved in a particular job.  Some of the vehicles have been lift trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, bulldozers, dump trucks and many others.  The children are able to sit inside many of the vehicles and talk with the operators. A yearly event is “Real Men Read Day”.  We have about 100 men from our community come into the school throughout the day as guest readers in our classrooms.  We also ask them to share with the students how they use reading at their job or in everyday life.  There are numerous speakers who come in throughout the year.  One of our teachers has a “Welcome Wednesday”.  The class listed the careers they were interested in and their teachers is working toward finding someone in that profession to come in and speak with the class.  They have had a fireman, a nurse, an engineer and numerous others.  This will continue throughout the year in order to highlight STEAM careers.


Community Partnerships 

ADE has numerous community partnerships that work closely with our school to ensure we have what we need to move forward in our STEAM journey. The Thompson Group (Thompson Construction Group, Thompson Industrial Services, and Thompson Turner Construction) help sponsor the eSTEAM Festival, the e3 Conference, a three-day professional development opportunity for Sumter School District, and have sent their workers to our annual STEAM night. They helped students and parents to create a peg board game using power tools, even donating all the supplies. Mr. Thompson also helped fund our reviewer team’s trip to Sumter. Merchant Ironworks is a huge ADE supporter and most recently donated numerous iPads, as well as VR Goggles, to our STEAM Lab. USC Sumter allows us to use their auditorium for Winter Spectacular presentation, and our student teachers and practicum students are from their Education department. Many of our guest scientists for STEAM night come from USC as well. Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) has also invested much time and money in our school. Their welding program provided the two metal sculptures of bees outside our school’s entrance, and their biology clubs came and made paper with our parents and students. They did this with all fifth grade students during  school last year, as well as, during Family STEAM Night. In December, CCTC hosts a Winter Wonderland Day for kindergarten and first grade students.  Students walk to CCTC and spend the morning making crafts while the teachers are given snacks and drinks and a moment to relax.  This is a great show of appreciation for our teachers and another opportunity for our students to be creative.  In addition, they donated a 3D printer to our STEAM Lab. ADE feeds into Alice Drive Middle School, which is a Nationally Accredited STEM School. We have quite the positive reciprocal relationship with them. Last year their eighth grade Project Lead the Way Class, Medical Detectives, presented at our STEAM night. Their eighth grade Pro-Team comes at least twice a month to work with their assigned teachers and classes. The Principal brought a group of girls over to share and present their NASA project with our older students. ADMS also allows their Pro-Team students and National Junior Honor Society students to help with our Color Run, Freaky Friday, and our Field Days. We appreciate their support throughout the year with various activities. Currently, we are making an effort to set up some of our classes to visit their Project Lead the Way Robotics classes. ADE is fortunate to have such strong community partners.


External Funding

External Funding at Alice Drive Elementary has been plentiful and not just from our community partners and industries. Our teachers have written numerous Donors Choose grants that have been awarded and their classrooms are overflowing with donated items. Our Robotics Club was started with a Donors Choose grant written by a third grade teacher. Recently, several teachers have written healthy snack grants and flexible seating grants. Flexible seating provides more opportunity for collaboration and inquiry based learning, allowing students to be more engaged in conversation and community.  One classroom completely got rid of their desks and now has stand up desks, stools, bouncy ball chairs, pub style tables, etc. The students are loving it! Several teachers ordered lamps and black lights for math time, giving students a more creative outlet for solving mathematical problems. A first grade teacher’s grant for green plants was funded and a second grade teacher’s request for a USB camera projector was also funded. This past summer, a teacher in Sumter School District started an Adopt a Teacher Facebook page. Teachers set up Amazon Wish Lists and various parents, businesses, families, and friends donated to their classes. They asked for normal school supplies, but also STEAM bin items, STEAM books, math manipulatives and games, etc. This kindness and generosity was overwhelming to witness. School budgets are often limited and all these external donations have allowed our teachers and students to go beyond a textbook and paper.


STEAM Advisory Board

Our STEAM Advisory Board began last year and has been actively involved in our STEAM journey. It is comprised of ADE faculty, community members, parents, and district level employees. A facilitator and secretary were chosen last year and this year a goal was added. Thanks to the support of our board members, we have had numerous items donated including iPads, VR Goggles, and a 3D Printer. The members are also very knowledgeable and have made tremendous contributions to our overall understanding of STEAM and related careers.  They have provided us with numerous contacts of people willing to come in and speak with our students on STEAM careers. As valuable stakeholders, they never miss an opportunity to share a positive word in the community about our STEAM journey at ADE. 

The  goal of the Alice Drive Elementary STEAM Board  is to provide support for the development of STEAM at Alice Drive Elementary.  Board members will actively engage in attending all scheduled meetings, seeking out community members to provide internships and apprenticeships in STEAM related career fields, encouraging financial support,  keeping the community informed of the STEAM program and being a positive advocate for continued success.