By Tara Cavanaugh
Creating a world-class system of education means learning from many sources –– even those halfway across the world.
The district is partnering with Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. as the company creates an international program that helps school districts develop science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at the secondary level by touring innovative educational institutes around the world.
AAPS will be Toyota’s first district to try out its new program, which will take district staff to Singapore. AAPS will also help Toyota in the planning stages: Toyota is inviting a few AAPS staff to Singapore in Spring 2013 to help the company design the two-week pilot program, which will take place in Fall 2013 or Spring 2014.
So why Singapore?
“Singapore is known for having the best STEM programs,” said Liz Margolis, AAPS Communications Director. “Singapore has some of the educational institutes we looked at when creating the district’s strategic plan.”
Toyota, which has a Technical Center in Ann Arbor, already supports STEM lessons in several AAPS schools. The company’s new international program would help districts create and implement STEM curriculum district-wide.
Five AAPS staff are making the first planning trip, and up to 25 AAPS staff will embark on the two-week trip program. Toyota will cover all costs.
“The teachers, administrators and curriculum directors will come back and make programs to implement some of the things they’ve learned during the exchange into the curriculum across the entire district,” Margolis said.
Toyota has expressed interest in helping the district with costs that result from the new programs, Margolis added.
This new program will replace Toyota’s International Teacher Program. Over 14 years, 685 secondary teachers and librarians have traveled to Japan, the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica and South Africa to study environmental issues. The company works with the Institute of International Education, which helps take care of details such as visas and hotel stays.
The Toyota international program was first introduced to the AAPS Board of Education in late October, and plans are still being developed. Stay tuned to the AAPS News for updates.