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State school superintendent visits West End to present STEM certification

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Normally a five year process, West End Elementary school celebrated its STEM certification with a visit from Georgia’s School Superintendent Richard Woods — and afterward with a parade.

The certification serves as an approach to education which expands current teaching models for science and mathematics by incorporating technology and engineering concepts into standardized instruction.

This project began three years ago under the guidance of Buffi Murphy, previous principal at West End.

“When we began the process of obtaining our certification, our main goal was to implement the program at the highest levels,” Murphy said.

“A big part of the process is how you begin the teaching and learning. We achieved this by embedding EIE units, Engineering is Elementary, and PBL units, Project Based Learning, to allow our students to take literacy and incorporate the STEM aspect in all content areas. We educated the students to develop and foster those critical thinking skills that we know will build future leaders.”

The STEM ceremony was held in the gymnasium at West End and was packed, shoulder-to-shoulder, with students, educators and a variety of guests that came to honor the accomplishment.

Dennis Drummond, current West End Principal, led the introductions and the celebration to start off the ceremony.

“I want to first give credit to Buffi Murphy. I have been at West End for the last two years and it’s been a privilege to see Mrs. Murphy’s vision. She did such an absolutely amazing job implementing a focus on STEM without sacrificing rigorous standard-based instruction,” Drummond said.

“We have outstanding instructional coaches and the finest teachers in the state. They go above and beyond, and we would have not achieved this without them. We also could not have accomplished this without our amazing student body. Our students are smart, well behaved and I’m just so thankful to be working with them.”

Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods, who presented West End with their STEM certification banner, said the students’ hard work will continue into the future.

“In looking at the future of these young people, the vast majority of Georgia students will have jobs that are directly tied to STEM education. It does make education more relevant for them as it involves the community, businesses and it’s very encouraging as a collaborative effort. This is something that the whole school was really focused on, but more importantly it really gives our kids the very best of what education should be about.”