Last updated: February 27. 2014 8:29PM - 799 Views
By Tanya Chilton tchilton@civitasmedia.com

Mary Shepherd displays to the school board examples of student projects that help in the understanding of nature and science. They are functional in and outside of the classroom.
Mary Shepherd displays to the school board examples of student projects that help in the understanding of nature and science. They are functional in and outside of the classroom.
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February is National Career and Technical Education Month and Elkin City Schools rose to the occasion on Monday by inviting CTE teacher Beth Felts to give a school presentation by students in front of the Elkin City School Board.

Fifth-grade elementary teacher Mary Shepherd also was highlighted on Monday for her work and initiative in implementing STEAM-based projects inside the classroom. STEAM stands for Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math.

When illustrating the applied nature of technology, Felts displayed to the board and attendees a demonstration prepared by students showing their expertise in handling subject matter and their communications strengths, in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.

Students illustrated skills in marketing savvy by promoting resume skills in a slide show and demonstrated artistic and technical ingenuity with how-to presentations, that included sushi making.

In addition, they demonstrated special effects mastery in the form of subjects in motion, animation skills and virtual techniques.

As national emphasis on public schools across the country continues to increase a focus on the improvement of these skills, Felts demonstrated to the board how Elkin students continue to excel in the area.

Before entering college, Felts said Elkin students already are certified in the computer programs, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Fluency in those areas influence students’ earning potential in career paths that include entrepreneurship, merchandising and fields, such as sports and entertainment marketing, said Felts.

Felts reported that 90 percent of CTE graduates show a tendency to be devoted to education.

“It prepares them for a career in college.” She added that learning technological skills also enhances life skills.

Felts publicly invited President Barack Obama to take a look at the Elkin City program and see how well the staff and students have implemented CTE education by making the most of its opportunities. She profiled Elkin High School graduates Nefi Aguilar, Carrie Parker and Maggie Simmons as examples.

Aguilar, a 2013 graduate who represented North Carolina and Elkin in a top national finish, placed fourth in the National Future Business Leaders of America competition against 37 other FBLA representatives from other states.

Also, as STEAM-based initiatives continue and Elkin continues to press for becoming a STEAM-based public school program, fifth-grade teacher Shepherd demonstrated benefits in a segment at the public meeting by demonstrating how art and design work in conjunction with other disciplines drive innovation in the products industry. At the end of the day, those factors help competition on a global scale, said Shepherd.

The STEAM approach “looks to creative thinking skills,” said Shepherd. She brought in several hand-made student models and, with them, Shepherd demonstrated how adept students are when making model designs that connect form, function and nature. She said the method of learning and application “encompasses everything” while encouraging teamwork in the process.

Shepherd called Elkin City Schools’ approach one that is in the forefront and labeled it “STEAM in the trenches.” Shepherd said with the approach, students are performing high school level work.

Elkin Elementary School Principal Anthony Davis said Shepherd “takes a lot on herself, goes and gets better things and brings them back to school.” He referenced her recent attendance to learn more about STEAM at a symposium held at the Rhode Island School of Design. “She brings excitement to her classroom,” added Davis.

Elkin City School Board Chairman Foley Norman concluded the board meeting by remarking on the positive outcome of the recent Board Retreat and thanked the school superintendent, Dr. Randy Bledsoe.

Norman affirmed a belief that Elkin City Schools remain on the “road to significance.”

Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.

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