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A Montessori Inspired Middle School

Montessori education is appropriate for all children. Montessori schools offer children opportunities to express their unique personalities, and help each child develop a sense of creativity, confidence, inquisitiveness, and individuality.

STEM and Technologies

What is STEM?

There is no universally agreed-upon definition of STEM. Experts generally do agree, however, that STEM workers use their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, or math to try to understand how the world works and to solve problems. Their work often involves the use of computers and other tools. STEM occupations are identified in a variety of ways. This article uses a list based on the Standard Occupational Classification Manual to analyze occupations from six groups, including computer and mathematics; architecture and engineering; and life, physical, and social sciences. 

Read more about STEM by checking out STEM Intro to Tomorrow’s Jobs

The importance of STEM education

All of this effort is to meet a need. According to a report by the website STEMconnector.org, by 2018, projections estimate the need for 8.65 million workers in STEM-related jobs. The manufacturing sector faces an alarmingly large shortage of employees with the necessary skills — nearly 600,000. The field of cloud computing alone will have created 1.7 million jobs between 2011 and 2015, according to the report.

STEM jobs do not all require higher education or even a college degree. Less than half of entry-level STEM jobs require a bachelor's degree or higher. However, a four-year degree is incredibly helpful with salary — the average advertised starting salary for entry-level STEM jobs with a bachelor's requirement was 26 percent higher than jobs in the non-STEM fields, according to the STEMconnect report. For every job posting for a bachelor's degree recipient in a non-STEM field, there were 2.5 entry-level job postings for a bachelor's degree recipient in a STEM field.

This is not a problem unique to the United States. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Academy of Engineering reports that the Brits will have to graduate 100,000 STEM majors every year until 2020 just to meet demand. According to the report, Germany has a shortage of 210,000 workers in the mathematics, computer science, natural science and technology disciplines.

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Science-Technology-Engineering-Math

At the Valley School, we know that strong skills in math and science could be critical to our children's future career options. Many of our current middle school students will have jobs that we don't even have names for today and will be in the fastest growing industries, such as healthcare, aerospace and biotech. This will require our students to have a good amount of proficiency in the technologies, sciences, mathematics and engineering. Our goal is to encourage our students to explore and learn to love the STEM subject areas, to build their confidence, curiosity, and proficiency in these areas so they continue to take STEM classes in high school and beyond.

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Allowing personalized learning anywhere, anytime, anyplace

The Valley School's curriculum integrates technology in a unique way. Personalized devices allows access to an enormous amount of rich curriculum content available for free. Online audio clips, videos, photos, podcasts, real-life historical footage, interactive educational sites and other multi-media presentations bring curriculum to life, helping develop a deeper, fuller, more complex understanding of the world. Teaching students how to create projects through technology (prezi's, wikis, e-books, idea boards, mind maps, classroom blogs, movie clips, photo collages, etc) builds higher-level organization and planning skills. These are the skills our students will need to succeed in our global, technology-driven world.

Rather than a teacher moving a whole class of students through the same curriculum content at the same pace, utilizing technology and project-based learning allows students to individualize their learning, practice goal setting, time management and become self-directed learners. Technology integration also allows students to more easily collaborate and thus increases team-work, efficiency and personal accountable.

Blended Learning

What separates STEM from the traditional science and math education is the blended learning environment and showing students how the scientific method can be applied to everyday life. It teaches students computational thinking and focuses on the real world applications of problem solving. As mentioned before, STEM education begins while students are very young:

Elementary school — STEM education focuses on the introductory level STEM courses, as well as awareness of the STEM fields and occupations. This initial step provides standards-based structured inquiry-based and real world problem-based learning, connecting all four of the STEM subjects.

Middle school — At this stage, the courses become more rigorous and challenging. Student awareness of STEM fields and occupations is still pursued, as well as the academic requirements of such fields. Student exploration of STEM related careers begins at this level, particularly for underrepresented populations.

High school — The program of study focuses on the application of the subjects in a challenging and rigorous manner. 
Much of the STEM curriculum is aimed toward attracting underrepresented populations. Female students, for example, are significantly less likely to pursue a college major or career in the STEM fields.