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Accolades for pre-engineering program continue from MASB

From left: Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Dr. James Schwarz, Oxford Middle School Teachers Christie Watson, Natalie Daversa, OMS Principal Ken Weaver, Teacher Jason Cady and Superintendent Dr. William Skilling were honored at the 2014 Michigan Association of School Board's Education Excellence Awards May 14. (click for larger version)
May 28, 2014 - Oxford Schools has once again been recognized with an Educational Excellence Award from the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), making it number eight for the district.

Staff and administrators from Oxford Middle School were honored during the 2014 MASB Education Excellence Awards on May 14. The OMS Pre-Engineering Program was one of 20 programs selected.

"These districts have found unique solutions to complex educational challenges, and haven't let financial challenges and limited resources stand in the way of attaining excellence," stated the MASB press release.

According to the press release, the U.S. Department of Commerce states that jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields will grow 17 percent by 2018.

Oxford Community Schools chose to help meet this demand in 2008 by establishing a strategic goal to implement research-based curriculum and instructional practices that provide authentic, real-world skills applicable to a global marketplace. One of those is the Oxford Middle School Pre- Engineering Program, a comprehensive, required program designed to expose and prepare all sixth-through-eighth-grade students for higher education in STEM fields utilizing Project Lead The Way (PLTW) courses.

Before implementing the program, OMS had no STEM/PLTW programming beyond the required core math and science classes.

Today, all 1,100-plus middle school students are being introduced to STEM. Every OMS student is immersed in a project-based, pre-engineering curriculum designed to challenge and inspire their ingenuity. The students utilize industry-grade software to solve complex problems during their eight-to-nine week sessions.

The result was an increase in student interest in STEM fields leading to a significant rise in engineering program participation, particularly among females, at Oxford High School.

"Our instructors are the backbone of the program. They have been extremely dedicated, attending numerous training sessions to ensure their courses offer the most current instruction," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. James Schwarz. "Without their work and commitment, this program would not be a success."

Superintendent Dr. William Skilling agreed. "The credit for this program goes to Jim Schwarz, OMS Principal Ken Weaver and teachers Natalie Daversa, Christie Watson and Jason Cady," Skilling said. "They are the ones who made this program possible at the middle school."

The pre-engineering program has also created awareness for skilled-trade jobs as well, noted Skilling.

"It's not just mechanical and electrical engineering, but for kids who might be interested in plumbing, tool and dye work, electrician or computer tech occupations," he added.

The Education Excellence Awards honor the top local school districts in four categories, as well as the top intermediate school district programs. Winning programs receive an unrestricted cash donation from SET SEG, a trophy, and a metal street sign to display in their community proclaiming their district as an "Education Excellence Winner."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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