Southeast, Jefferson Elementary Team to Attend STEAM Summit


A six-person team of educators from Southeast Missouri State University and the Cape Girardeau Public Schools will attend the Teach to Lead® STEAM Summit Sept. 28-30 in San Jose, California, where they will work to expand their professional development plan for incorporating science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) methods at Jefferson Elementary.

“The summit will give us the opportunity to develop a professional development model for teachers and teacher candidates in STEAM education,” said Dr. Trudy Giasi, assistant professor of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at Southeast and an Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (ASCD) 2018 Emerging Leader.

Out of 20 teams attending the summit, the Southeast/Jefferson Elementary team is the only team from Missouri. Those participating in the summit were invited through a competitive application process that required teams to submit their ideas, identifying needs, desired results and sustainability.

Giasi and Allison Laws, a junior elementary education major and president of Southeast’s ASCD student chapter, are representing the University on the team. The four team members attending from Cape Girardeau Public Schools’ Jefferson Elementary are Kelley Branch, STREAM instructional specialist; Ashley Kelley, teacher, reading specialist and chair of the district professional development committee; Leigh Ragsdale, principal of Jefferson Elementary; and Maddy Ringer, teacher and chair of the district professional development committee.

The team’s idea, entitled “Integrated STREAM Living Lab: A Professional Development Model,” was developed between the school district and the University to assist Jefferson Elementary with their transformation into an innovative STEAM school. The professional development is designed to energize teachers while providing learning, tools and support for this transformation. The summit will provide opportunities to network with innovative educators to develop specific plan details.

During the summit, the team will share and learn from examples of existing teacher leadership; identify shared issues, develop ideas to address those issues and create actionable leadership plans to execute in schools, districts or states; and work together, network and build relationships with other educators and leaders.

“It’s very important to close the gap between the K-12 and post-secondary levels in education,” Giasi said. “For Southeast, we are trying to build a strong pipeline from K-12 to higher education. By having open communication channels, we can work to ensure smooth transitions and vertical alignment of curriculum. For our teacher candidates, this partnership provides opportunities for them to work alongside in-service teachers. The partnership also has benefits for Jefferson Elementary and Cape Schools. Teachers and administrators are able to call on and utilize the University’s expertise and technology to help develop, implement and sustain STEAM in the school.”

Laws is looking forward to networking and sharing ideas with teaching professionals.

“As a teacher candidate, it is a unique opportunity to get to work alongside professionals in a professional development realm. I also want to learn more about how STEAM can be incorporated in all subject areas,” she said. “I hope to use this information as a resource for my future classroom and school. I feel like the information learned from this summit will be a great asset for many schools in the future.”

The summit will also include speakers, visits to schools that are implementing STEAM education, a visit to Google’s headquarters and presentations on utilizing Microsoft tools in education.

The summit will build on the mission of Teach to Lead®, which is to expand opportunities for teacher leadership by providing resources, facilitating stakeholder consultation and encouraging professional collaborations to develop and amplify the work of teacher leaders.

“There is a need to incorporate more STEAM projects in schools,” Giasi explained. “Faculty expertise and advancements such as the EDvolution Center and Southeast’s designation as an Apple Distinguished School have positioned the University as a model and national frontrunner for integrated STEAM education as well as teacher preparation.”

Photo Caption: From left to right are Ashley Kelley, Leigh Ragsdale, Maddy Ringer, Kelley Branch all of Cape Girardeau Public Schools’ Jefferson Elementary; and Dr. Trudy Giasi, assistant professor of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at Southeast, and Allison Laws, a junior elementary education major and president of Southeast’s ASCD student chapter.