St. Johns, a town of less than 10,000 people between Lansing and Mount Pleasant, is often seen as the quintessential farming community. Now, through a partnership between the school district and Central Michigan University, St. Johns’ students will be introduced to science, technology, engineering and math concepts that have a decidedly agricultural focus.
The partnership promises meaningful exchanges between CMU faculty and St. Johns’ teachers and staff, as well as clinical experiences for CMU’s teacher education students. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, describes the initiative as a grassroots effort spearheaded by Larry Corbett, assistant to the dean and director of clinical experiences.
Dedrick Martin, superintendent of St. Johns Public Schools, is excited by the collaborative possibilities. “I look forward to CMU bringing expertise with the teaching and learning process to help the staff improve the learning environment, culture and outcome for our students,” he said.
“Often, when people think of STEM, they envision things such as robotics, chemistry and manufacturing goods,” Martin said. “However, living in St. Johns, we have a pretty good understanding of how the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math play a vital role in the world of agriculture and our nation’s ability to feed the country.
Unfortunately, many students, and even adults, haven’t stopped to realize the significant amount of job and career-related opportunities that exist within the field of agriculture.”
Corbett said that the preliminary plans call for partnering prestudent teachers and student teachers from CMU with host teachers to emphasize the STEM disciplines at Gateway Elementary.
“In addition, CMU faculty can provide professional development to both our teacher education students and the elementary-level host teachers at St. Johns,” Corbett said. “This could create another step to increasing student achievement for P-5 students and creating a more effective teacher education candidate and classroom instructor.”
Corbett believes the partnership could become a model for improving education in P-5 classrooms and in teacher preparation institutions.
Michael Gealt, executive vice president and provost, along with other CMU administrators, will be on hand for a Dec. 10 signing at the Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers’ headquarters. The Ag-STEM effort, which will begin in Gateway Elementary School, will eventually be shared across the district. The partnership hopes to explore opportunities for working with staff and students in St. Johns middle and high schools.