The small town of Mount Pleasant, Tennessee is embarking on a first-in-the-nation program aimed at transforming education in the community and beyond.
Dr. Ryan Jackson, executive lead principal of the Mt. Pleasant Arts Innovation Zone, announced Wednesday the formation of the country’s first K-12 STEAM campus, a collaborative effort involving the town’s three schools and a group of local and national organizations. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
“With so much technological advancement in our society, the most puzzling, if not scariest, irony is our unfathomable commitment to an industrial-age education model that has stood now for more than 100 years,” Jackson said. “Imagine instead a world where students as young as three years old begin a life-long journey toward personal excellence through artistic expression with advanced STEM curriculum.”
The STEAM initiative brings Jackson’s imagination to life by seeking to build the next generation of creators, thinkers and problem-solvers through project-based learning and experiential learning models. The initiative not only involves Mount Pleasant Elementary, Middle and High Schools, but also several other organizations. Joining Mount Pleasant and Maury County Public Schools (MCPS) in the endeavor are:
- The town’s renowned Kids on Stage program, which for decades has equipped Mount Pleasant students with experience in visual, performing and technical arts;
- Discovery Education, a national organization currently partnering with MCPS to transform education using engaging interactive content and services; and
- Clarcor, a world-wide filtration company headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee. The company recently relocated its CLARCOR Innovation Center (CIC) to Columbia, Tennessee in 2014. The new facility focuses on providing technical expertise and leading-edge technology for filtration applications.
In the coming months, Mount Pleasant’s schools will launch a diverse array of programs aimed at identifying and building students’ strengths, talents and passions. A mechatronics program will familiarize students with principles of engineering and electronics. Mount Pleasant Middle School’s award-winning Destination Imagination team will expand to the elementary and high school levels. The schools will also combine for a K-12 chess team.
The ultimate goal of the STEAM initiative is to align students with collaborative goal-setting in order to solve societal issues.
“This experiential learning model places students right where they belong — at the center of their own learning, while charging them with identifying, investigating and proposing theoretical or practical solutions to community and/or global problems,” Jackson said.
Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Marczak, who hired Jackson this summer from Maplewood High School in Nashville, praised Mount Pleasant’s vision and pledged his support.
“This revolutionary educational approach will inspire students to achieve unprecedented success,” Marczak said. “The result will be transformative not only for our educational system, but also for our workforce and Maury County’s economy.”
The STEAM initiative is an embodiment of the MCPS Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness, a set of educational benchmarks established this year through collaboration between educators and community members.
The school system is also partnering with the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance on the Grow Maury Initiative, an award-winning effort to unite the community toward educational achievement and workforce development. The initiative has brought nationally respected education and business leaders to the area to discuss ways to empower students and rally the community behind academic growth.
For more information about Mount Pleasant’s STEAM initiative or the Grow Maury Initiative, visit GrowMaury.com or call Maury County Public Schools Communications Specialist Kim Doddridge at (931) 388-8403, ext. 8132.
To learn more about the conceptual framework behind Mount Pleasant’s STEAM initiative, click here to read Jackson’s blog post on the topic.