Putnam County School District

Providing every student with opportunities to succeed

With schools in Palatka, Interlachen, Crescent City, Melrose, and Florahome, Putnam County is dedicated to providing every student with opportunities to succeed. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math instruction are vitally important components in the formula for success.

North Central Florida is known for beautiful waterways, nature trails, and woodlands, and Putnam County School District calls the area home. Governed by an elected school board of five individuals and an elected superintendent, Putnam County School District employs 1,557 people and serves 10,900 students.

Putnam County School District knows that to create innovators, it needs to inspire its students to explore STEM careers through rigorous and engaging instruction. To that end, the district has grown the STEM ecosystem as well as increased STEM courses and activities across each campus.

Through initiatives and partnerships with organizations STEM2 Hub, LEGO Education, and Woz Education, Putnam County School District has three goals:

  1.  Increase professional development opportunities that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Provide innovative training to all teachers.
  2.  Provide differentiated, active instruction to deliver STEM learning activities to promote student exploration of STEM through programs such as robotics, drones, aerospace technology, advanced manufacturing, coding, web design, cybersecurity, advanced computer sciences, cybersecurity, and augmented and virtual reality.
  3. Build collaborative partnerships with area businesses to align STEM activities with workforce needs

A pilot program was carried out in 2018 at C.L. Overturf Sixth Grade Center using curriculum from Woz Education for drones. Professional development by STEM2 Hub yielded promising results. In 2019, the programming was expanded to offer instruction in coding, microbots, and LEGO EV3 Mindstorm Robots to facilitate cyberlearning. All Middle Schools will participate in the drone program in 2019 and all are expanding their STEM course offerings. Additionally, students at Q.I. Roberts Jr-Sr High School built and programmed a drone to compete in the Aerospace Robotics Competition, where they placed second in the state.

Other components of Putnam County School District’s STEM Ecosystem include the STEM Van, a mobile STEM Lab filled with tools to inspire students. Professional development through NICERC (National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center) will be offered in October 2019.

Three Putnam County teachers and one administrator were invited to participate in Microsoft Hackathon in Seattle, where they learned pedagogy—and hacks!—that will benefit all PCSD students.

Chief Science Officer Program – PCSD, in partnership with STEM2 Hub, will participate in the International Chief Science Officer Program. The program will:

  1. Cultivate a pipeline of diverse STEM leaders
  2.  Foster communication and collaboration among CSOs
  3. Enrich school STEM culture and career awareness
  4. Amplify student voice in STEM conversations in the community

There are robotic clubs at every 21st Century Afterschool Program and additional robotics instruction has been added during school hours. Four schools participated in First LEGO League Competitions last year and the district will host a competition this year. Additionally, six elementary schools in the district have expanded STEM instruction into media centers or new labs, with one school selected to be a STEM Demonstration School. The elementary schools have incorporated a STEM elective, as well as STEM integration, into the curriculum for every grade.

Because Putnam County is a rural district with high poverty, the need for instruction that prepares students for high-demand, well-paying jobs is critical to break the cycle of poverty. There are positive indicators that PCSD is moving in the right direction: the district celebrated the highest increase in graduation rates in the state, moving from 54.9% in 2015 to 84.8% in 2018. There was also a decrease in the number of underperforming schools in the district and more students are in accelerated classes.

Through partnerships, initiatives, and a focus on students’ futures, Putnam County School District provides learners of today with opportunities for a bright tomorrow.

Putnam County School District

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