MCS to expand music, art and STEM in elementary schools

MADISON – A good situation in Madison City Schools soon will get much, much better.

When the 2023-2024 school year starts, staffing at all MCS elementary schools will include a teacher for art, music and STEM. For several years, MCS’ strategic goal has included these new teachers.

“Now, thanks to support from the board and assistance from a STEM grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity or DoDEA, it will become a reality. All elementary students will have art, music and STEM instruction year-round,” MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said in his “District Update.” (madisoncity.k12.al.us)

High school teachers in art, music and theater often have stated the need to increase this instruction in MCS elementaries. “Certainly, early exposure will help identify interest and create better performers later,” Nichols said.

Other benefits will result. Classroom teachers will have more collaborative planning time. “Art and music programs also help children tap into their creative side and hone skills that might not be the focus of other content areas, including communication, fine motor skills and emotional intelligence,” Nichols said.

“Also, studies have shown that students from districts with strong arts programs scored higher overall on statewide tests in math, science and citizenship than students from districts without,” Nichols said.

The $2 million grant will help in expanding STEM programs in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and strengthen career and technical education programs in secondary schools. The DoDEA grant will provide highly-qualified, well-trained STEM teachers, evidence-based activities and project-based STEM literacy, along with awareness of STEM careers, state-of-the art supplies and motivated advisors for STEM careers, Nichols said.

A planning team for curriculum in the Elementary STEM Program has been working already on building a firm foundation for STEM expansion. The MCS Instruction Department has definite goals to reach.

The STEM program’s goal for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade is to develop 21st-century skills and a foundational knowledge base important to STEM fields and global citizenship. This program also is designed to prepare students for middle school STEM opportunities and create awareness of pathways to STEM careers. (mcsinstruction.com)

The STEM teachers in MCS are Julie Vandiver, Kawana Gardner, Megan Hockey, Jennifer Corley, Clairissa Stegherr, Megan Gowan, Carlalee Mckee and Sarah Stewart.

For more information, visit dodeagrants.org or madisoncity.k12.al.us.

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