Living up to its name, Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy has become the first campus in Ector County ISD to earn the National Certificate for STEM Excellence from the National Institute for STEM Education.
A school-wide assembly to mark the occasion was held June 12 at the campus, which offers an extended-year calendar.
The STEAM in Alamo’s name stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Seven teachers also were recognized for earning the individual National Certificate for STEM Teaching. They include David Cupp, fifth grade; Maria DelBosque, fifth grade; Nicole Miller, fifth grade; Kathryn Moreno, fourth grade; Marcia Bryant, second grade; Ale Caceres, first grade; and Barbara Hirst, first grade.
Seven more Alamo teachers are currently working on other individual certificates, a news release said.
Fifth-grade students did the honors of unfurling a banner showing the school’s achievement.
NISE is a research-based support system for campuses and teachers seeking to strengthen STEM instruction and outcomes, a news release said. Based on 15 STEM Teacher Actions that evolved from STEM professional development originally created at Rice University, NISE’s Campus and Teacher certificates help school leaders and teachers understand and apply research and best practices in STEM, 21st century learning and professional development, the release said.
Principal Regina Lee said the process of earning the National Certificate for STEM Excellence started last August, so it took a whole school year. Lee said the campus will have the certification for three years.
“… It means the kids have teachers that know the instructional strategies that are going to be best for them, how they need to learn based on what the world is going to be like when they’re out of school, so we try, we do incorporate traditional teaching,” Lee said.
“However, we have to be aware as educators that how they learn is different, so … teachers have to learn how to deliver instruction the way kids are learning. … I hope what it means is that teachers and students are able to take pride in their campus and know that we’re all doing what we can to make their future amazing,” Lee added.
NISE representative Lia Turk said the certification process is very rigorous and there are few campuses in Texas and the nation that have it.
“… The site committee meets. They decide what their goals are … They look at data. They look where they want to grow to and then they set some parameters and measurable pieces all throughout the year in order to meet that certification. Part of the campus certification is at least five teachers or staff getting the teacher STEM certification and they way went over that, so it’s very, very exciting what they’re doing,” Turk said.
Fifth-graders Miranda Villa, Alessandra Molinar, Ethan Galindo and Michael Barraza, all 11, were among a large group of their peers that unfurled the STEM certification banner.
“I’m very proud and excited,” Galindo said. “I’m proud that we actually accomplished this and we’re one of the very few in the nation and I hope we strive to do better.”
Molinar said she was proud of the teachers who went through the long certification process.
“I really hope we can keep achieving goals and be very awesome,” Molinar said.
“I think that is amazing that we got this STEM achievement and I’m very happy for the teachers who got their certifications and I’m also happy to be at this school for like the very last time,” Villa said.
She added that unfurling the banner was a meaningful moment for her.
Moreno, a fourth-grade math teacher, said she feels very accomplished.
“To me as a newer teacher, it was very helpful to gain this new perspective and to learn this information about what it means to incorporate STEM in the classroom and it’s great to have this recognition,” Moreno said.