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STEM

STEM

Ashford Park is a AdvancED nationally accredited STEM certified school!!!!


STEM Mission:
Our mission is to provide challenging, relevant, authentic, and inquiry based STEM experiences for our diverse learners. All stakeholders including community business partners will collaborate to ask questions and define problems, plan and carry out investigations, construct scientific frameworks, and use critical thinking.

STEM Vision:
Our vision is to serve as a collaborative STEM learning community that challenges and engages all students across the curriculum as well as encouraging 21st century skills and STEM careers.



Executive Summary:

"Why now?"
One might ask the question, “Why Now? Why STEM?” The answer to that question is multi-faceted. The journey towards becoming a STEM school is not a new phenomenon among the Ashford Park family. Ashford Park has been working towards becoming a STEM certified elementary school since 2014. To be more specific, we joined the District STEM Cohort in Fall 2014, and have been working towards the integration of STEM since that time. Our teachers have participated in professional development workshops, offsite collaborative planning, and vertical articulation meetings with their peers and teachers from our feeder middle school. Throughout the process, we have engaged in the ongoing process of reflection and revision to go deeper with our implementation of STEM throughout the building.
Our STEM journey has been deliberate and intentional. We have shared our goal for the implementation of STEM with students, parents, and the community since 2014. To that end, our stakeholders have provided us with a great deal of support in the form of in-kind donations, financial donations, and the donation of time and talent to make STEM come alive for our students.
 
We are striving towards STEM certification because STEM defines what we do at AshfordPark.  An Ashford Park education is like no other school around us. Ashford Park students are provided with weekly access to a STEM lab, a dedicated STEM teacher, and the implementation of STEM lessons / activities in their homeroom. Moreover, an Ashford Park student has the opportunity to participate in the Lego League, Odyssey of the Mind, Girl Scouts, STEM Gems, STEM Fair, and Technology Fair.  Our students have the benefit of visiting and working with professionals from the Atlanta Zoo, The Georgia Aquarium, Tellus Science Museum, The Elachee Nature Center, The G.A.B.I.E. bus, City of Brookhaven, Tybee Island -Burton 4H Center, and many more partners.  Our students have immediate access to parents that are Scientists, Engineers, and Technology professionals that come into the classroom to share their knowledge with our students.
 
Finally, students at Ashford Park are provided with STEM lessons regardless of their grade level or class type.  STEM takes place in our Dual Language program, our self contained Special Education program, and our general classrooms.  Ashford Park students are exposed to STEM in their classroom, as well as in our afterschool program, and in our rising Kindergarten Eagle Camp and STEM Camp.  Moreover, students are exposed to STEM during our regularly scheduled Family Science Nights and during Career Day. We have worked and will continue to work to make STEM a part of our culture. We recognize that the implementation of STEM units is a best practice that provides tremendous academic benefits to our students and the community at large.  When STEM is implemented in the classroom, the level of rigor increases, while also moving students towards a higher degree of engagement.

Our Culture
Ashford Park Elementary, a public school serving students in grades PreK-5, was established in 1955. It is a cornerstone of the Brookhaven community, a highly sought-after place to live in the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta. Officially incorporated by its residents in December, 2012, Brookhaven is the largest city in DeKalb County, with a population of about 50,000. Proximity to shopping, public transportation, and major Atlanta employers make for desirable real estate in this location. In recent years many of the established neighborhoods are undergoing home renovations and rebuilding. Despite being a city, Brookhaven maintains a neighborhood feel and is noted for its diversity and good schools. Many who live here are increasingly choosing the public schools, including Ashford Park, over private school options in the area. There are many young families in the community and neighborhood associations are known for their active involvement in the community.

With an enrollment of 713 students, Ashford Park is proud to house two distinct programs within the building. More specifically, the school serves students in regular education classes and a German Dual Immersion program. In addition to providing instruction in the four content areas, the school also provides weekly enrichment to students in the form of Health/PE, Art, Music, and STEM classes. Fourth and fifth graders also have the option to participate in Band/Strings instruction three times a week. The faculty and staff at Ashford Park pride themselves on providing students with a well-rounded and holistic education.

As previously stated, Ashford Park is working towards becoming a STEM certified elementary school. We joined the District STEM Cohort in Fall 2014 and have been working towards the integration of STEM across the Curriculum since that time. The mission of our STEM program is to prepare students through rigorous and relevant content while engaging higher-level critical thinking skills through a systematic process, needed to solve real world problems. Moreover, the vision of the Ashford Park STEM Program is to provide a challenging learning environment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, which maximizes individual potential, collaboration and ensures that students are well-equipped to meet the challenges in the world around them.

Ashford Park is a German Dual Language Immersion School and the first one of its kind in the State of Georgia. The Dual Language Immersion program consists of two classes in grades K-3 and one class in grades 4-5. Dual Language Immersion students spend half of their day with the English partner teacher and the other half of the day with their German teacher. The curriculum, class assignments, and assessments are the same as those of the non-Immersion students.

Although we are home to two distinct programs, we consider ourselves to be one school community. The teachers and parents work together for the academic success of all students. More importantly, the students interact with each other on a daily basis while on the playground; in the lunchroom; during the afterschool program; and at afterschool events.

Ashford Park has 713 students, consisting of 54% boys and 46% girls. It is important to note that the student body is diverse in racial makeup, as well as ethnicity. A breakdown of student demographics is as follows: 6% Asian/Pacific Islander; 1% American Indian/Alaskan; 7% Multiracial; 13% African American; 13% Hispanic; and 61% White. It is also important to note that 9% of our student body are English Language (EL) learners; 12% are Special Education students; and 10% are in the Gifted Program. 10% of the student population are identified as economically disadvantaged as determined by the number of students who receive Free and Reduced Lunch.


School staff includes 48 teachers, with 51% having advanced degrees. On average, teachers at the school have eleven years of experience. There are also several classified staff members; 11 paraprofessionals; two School Counselors; one Instructional Coach; one Media Specialist; one Nurse; one itinerant School Psychologist; one itinerant LTSE (Lead Teacher for Special Education); one full-time Speech Therapist; and one itinerant Occupational Therapist.

School’s Purpose
The purpose of Ashford Park Elementary is to serve as a collaborative learning community that engages students, staff, and parents towards the goal of improved academic achievement. It is our mission to provide challenging, relevant, and authentic instruction for all learners. All stakeholders work together to assist our students in achieving their full potential and embrace learning as a lifelong process.

We firmly believe that the learning that occurs in elementary school builds the foundation essential for college and career readiness. A core belief of Ashford Park Elementary is that every student can succeed. Our highly qualified teachers employ instructional practices which meet the needs of individual students. It is a major priority at our school that teachers and staff engage in a continuous process for improving student achievement. Data analysis, goal setting, and research-based strategic actions are the driving force behind efforts to increase student learning outcomes.
Ashford Park Elementary offers the following programs as a means to achieve the school’s purpose: German Dual Immersion Program; Gifted Program; Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS); Special Education Program; English Language Program (EL); Counseling Program; and After-School Tutorial Program.

Notable Achievements
Ashford Park Elementary ranked in the top 8% of elementary schools in the state of Georgia, based on the school wide 2016 Georgia Milestones. The statewide rank percentile increased from 69.4% in 2014 to 84.9% in 2015 to 92.6% in 2016. The school moved up ninety-six places from 2015 to 2016 on the list of elementary schools in Georgia ranked according to academic achievement. Additionally, the percentage of students school wide who scored a 2 or higher on the Georgia Milestones increased in every subject area from 2015 to 2016. The percentage of students who scored a 3 or higher on the Georgia Milestones also increased in every subject area from 2015 to 2016. Specific increases in the content areas from the 2015 to 2016 Georgia Milestone Assessment are: 10% in Language Arts; 12% in Math; 14% in Science; and 7% in Social Studies.

A noteworthy aspect of Ashford Park Elementary is the high level of engagement and support from parents and the community. The school has an exceptionally active PTA and School Council. In addition, there is the Ashford Park School Education Foundation (APSEF), a non-profit whose mission is to provide resources that support and enhance educational programs and opportunities for students. The Brookhaven Bolt, a 5K run sponsored by the community, donates 100% of its proceeds to the school. Over the past ten years, this event has raised over $100,000 to directly benefit Ashford Park students and staff. These groups work tirelessly with school leadership to support the school’s pursuit of a premier education for all students.                                                        

Ashford Park Elementary received the prestigious PASCH award in 2014, in recognition of its German Dual Immersion Program. As a recipient of the PASCH award, which translates to Schools: Partners for the Future, the school is a member of a global, multi-cultural network of schools offering rigorous German programs.

In recent years Ashford Park has increased the number of extracurricular, service, and leadership
opportunities available to students. Extracurricular activities include Run Club, Odyssey of the Mind, Lego League, Reading Bowl, and the Ashford Park Chorale. In 2016, the Reading Bowl Team advanced to the State Championship for the first time in school history and placed second in the state in a close match. Also in 2016, the Lego League Team placed first in Research. In addition, two of the school’s Odyssey of the Mind Teams advanced to state level competition.

Leadership opportunities for students include Principal’s Leadership Roundtable, Safety Patrol, Green Team, and Beta Club. Students in these groups hold a variety of leadership roles in the school and participate in leading several service projects for the school throughout the year. Ashford Park operates a successful after school program, ASAP (After School @ Ashford Park).  The program serves approximately 200 students daily. Students enrolled in the after school program receive homework support and enrichment activities in German, Computers, Arts and Crafts, Gardening, Physical Education, Science, and Cooking.

Areas of Opportunity
We will continue to work towards the expansion of our STEM program.  More specifically, we will continue to work towards increased representation of girls and minorities in our STEM clubs.  Furthermore, we will continue to work to strengthen our relationships with community partners that aid in the advancement of STEM knowledge for our students.  We have found that the increase in technology and the expansion of bringing STEM experts inside the classroom is major area of opportunity.

Ashford Park will continue to work diligently to increase the number of students scoring proficient and distinguished on the Georgia Milestones, especially in the areas of Math and Writing, as outlined in our school’s Continuous Improvement Plan. The focus is not only on increasing achievement levels for lower performing students, but for high achieving students as well. Teachers will continue to make data-based decisions to differentiate instruction so that all levels of students can realize gains in learning. In addition, this year has seen a renewed school wide initiative to utilize the Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to help all students realize their learning potential. Finally, the school will continue to work towards the implementation of STEM with fidelity.  This has been a goal of our school for the past 4 years and will continue with this goal as it has helped us to go deeper with teaching and learning.

Ashford Park is an older facility and a challenge the school faces is maintaining the facilities and equipment. Leadership will continue to plan and implement improvement of school conditions and monitor timely completion of maintenance requests. As the student population increases, having adequate space is an issue. The school currently has fourteen trailers.

Ashford Park, as noted previously, has a highly engaged parent population. The school will continue to strive to increase the involvement of the Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and Special Education population in school activities. In addition, the school will be mindful of increasing the inclusiveness of stakeholders without easy access to technology in school communications.

Another challenge the school faces is competition from an increased number of charter schools and established private schools in the area. School stakeholders must continue to work together to help Ashford Park Elementary School maintain its standard of excellence so that it is the school of choice for area residents. School leadership and staff will continue to engage in best practices surrounding the implementation of STEM experiences, curriculum, instruction, and assessment to maintain a position of strength in student achievement. To further improve, school staff will aim to continuously and consistently analyze school data to guide instruction and formulate action plans. The goal going forward is for all staff to take ownership of the school’s STEM journey and our Continuous Improvement Plan, while holding each other accountable for achieving school goals.

Sustainability
In order to sustain our focus and the implementation of STEM, we will continue with the following:
Weekly grade level planning, Offsite Collaborative Planning, Summer Retreat Planning, Monthly STEM Steering Committee Meetings, and Monthly Instructional Planning Meetings with School Administration to focus on STEM learning and experiences
Utilization of the Engineering Design Process across the Curriculum
The use of Rubrics and Interactive Notebooks
Cultivating our relationships with Community Partners and Patrons so that students are provided with real world experiences both inside and outside of the classroom
Maintain our focus on our target population of girls, with the addition of girl specific STEM opportunities
Maintain our relationship with the District's Professional Learning and Career Technology Department as they ensure that we are up to date on Professional Development offerings and technology additions among STEM cohort schools
Use of digital resources so that students can demonstrate their learning to peers, parents, teachers, and experts.  The use of digital resources also promotes self directed learning and problem solving.
Continued collaboration among teachers to plan rich, meaningful STEM lessons that allow students to make personal choices in their learning while also engaging collaboration with their peers.
A continued focus on student opportunity to engage in STEM experiences and competitions after school. This includes, but is not limited to the After School Extended Day Program, Girl Scouts, Lego League, Odyssey of the Mind, the DeKalb Regional Science Fair, and STEM fair.
A continued commitment to hosting community events that promote STEM among families such as Family Science Night and the STEM fair.

Conclusion
As previously stated, we have been on a STEM journey since joining the District STEM cohort in 2013. It is a journey that has helped us to go deeper with teaching and learning. It is one that helped us to realize strong academic gains in the areas of Science and Math. It is also a journey that has been tough, but rewarding.  

We remain focused on our plan to implement STEM with consistency and fidelity in our building.  As we implement our plan and adhere to the AdvancED STEM standards, we will continue with the great things that we are doing.

Finally,  we are committed to going deeper with our business partners.  We have great partners and a long standing relationship with our partners.  By expanding their role inside the building, this will only benefit our students as they seek to make real world connections.  Our ultimate goal in this entire process is to prepare our students to compete in a global society.  We are fully committed to preparing our students for post secondary options and workforce readiness, and we realize that STEM is the avenue to provide this for our students.

 

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