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Rural leaders in STEM: Northwestern Local Schools
for a chat about rural STEM implementation. Their robust STEM programming draws hundreds of students from 13 area districts, open enrolling to take advantage of the unique opportunities afforded under the direction of Superintendent Layton.
Elementary Principal Julie McCumber recalls when STEM was first introduced in the classroom. Teachers presented third graders with an open-ended problem to solve as part of a STEM-focused lesson. McCumber remembers what a teacher told her after a rocky start.


STEM skills are taught early with
 kid-friendly activities in elementary classrooms

We've told them that they need to solve the problem, and the response was - why? You're an adult; you'll solve it for us."
This did nothing to deter them, rather demonstrating the serious need for innovative education approaches for the students of West Salem, in McCumber's words, "to change the mindset of these little ones so that they have the confidence and the initiative to be the problem solvers themselves."

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Northwestern middle, high schools named top performers for STEM curricula

By EMILY MORGAN Staff Writer Published: December 28, 2016 4:00 AM
WEST SALEM -- Northwestern middle and high school recently received recognition as two of the top performing schools in Northeast Ohio by Making Middle Grades Work and High Schools That Work.
The organizations praised the schools for their STEM curricula. The high school's recognition was based on the performance of its 2016 graduates on the national 2016 HSTW Student Survey. The school was a top performer in the HSTW NE Ohio Region for math, science, career pathways and supporting students with individualized extra help.

"We strive to live in a culture of continuous improvement and not sit on our laurels. To be recognized for the number, and rigor, of our student's classes, for the high expectations we hold for our students, and for the support structures we have put in place is appreciated," said Mike Burkholder, principal of Northwestern High School.
The middle school exceeded all schools nationally in the Southern Regional Education Board 2016 MMGW Student and Teacher Surveys. The 107 eighth-grade students at Northwestern who took the survey indicated their school had an intensive emphasis in science, engineering and math, career development and pathways, engaging science as well as extra help.
"As a building, we continue to set high expectations, increase the rigor and engage our students in higher level learning that is real and authentic," Northwestern Middle School Principal Joey Brightbill said.
"NMS has created a culture of collaboration that promotes all staff to work together to improve teaching and learning as evidenced by the student and teacher responses on the surveys to curriculum instruction and the learning culture."
Diana Rogers, the executive director of HSTW, noted the crucial role the middle school plays in preparing its students for success in the rigorous ninth-grade courses. She also praised the high school for graduating students who are ready to be enrolled in a post-secondary school, employed out of high school or enlisted into service.
"We offer all students the opportunity to engage in challenging middle school courses that are preparing them for success at the high school, and ready for postsecondary education and careers," Brightbill said.
The board of trustees for the HSTW Ohio Network, a nonprofit organization that supports HSTW and MMGW around the state, presented the recognition to the Northwestern schools.
HSTW is a data-driven school improvement design that challenges schools to create a high performing school improvement culture in which all students take challenging academics and career/technical courses in high school to prepare for success in post-secondary education and careers.

Reporter Emily Morgan can be reached at 330-287-1632 or emorgan@the-daily-record.com.

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7571 North Elyria Road, West Salem, OH 44287 | Phone: (419) 846-3151 | Fax: (419) 846-3361
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7571 North Elyria Road, West Salem, OH 44287 | Phone: (419) 846-3151 | Fax: (419) 846-3361