By Tara Cavanaugh
Ten AAPS teachers and administrators are currently halfway across the world in Singapore, learning about a world-renowned STEM education program.
The group is on a fully-funded two-week pilot program provided by Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. and organized by the International Institute of Education. According to feedback from the group, the first-ever program is already a success.
During the first week of the trip, the AAPS Development Team (as the ten AAPS staff are called; for a full list please see here) has spent time in professional development and training with the Academy of Singapore Teachers, the School of Science and Technology and the Singapore National Institute of Education.
The group was also joined by Michael Rouse, Toyota’s Vice President of Diversity, Philanthropy and Community Affairs.
“Toyota has a firm commitment to education,” Rouse said. “After spending a few days with the teams from Singapore and AAPS, I am confident both districts will identify and implement innovative practices in STEM and Arts education relative to design — career fields critical to Toyota and similar industries”
Rouse’s presence “allowed us to hear firsthand what the company’s immediate job needs are and the kind of skills that they’re looking for as students complete school and move into the work force, so that was extremely valuable,” said AAPS Deputy Superintendent for Instruction Alesia Flye.
The Development Team is impressed by Singapore’s well-organized focus on STEM education.
“In the schools that we visited, we saw a clear connection between the mission and vision of the Ministry of Education or the school and what was being implemented in classrooms,” Flye said.
Amy Deller, Pioneer High School science teacher and science department chair, agreed with Flye. “Everything in Singapore is well-planned, from the areas of land reclaimed from the sea to the location of each plant and tree and most particularly to the education of their children,” she said. “Everything is done with intention. Preparing our students for STEM careers and 21st century education can be best accomplished with a similar degree of intentionality.”
The Development Team has also given presentations on AAPS practices for the Singapore teachers and administrators. “They recognize that Ann Arbor is a strong school district,” said Flye. “They’re interested in partnering with us so we can collaborate and learn from each other and produce very strong learning programs.”
After the trip is over, the AAPS staff will continue the partnership with Toyota, helping the company develop the Singapore program into an opportunity for school districts across the nation.
But before that, the Development Team still has another week in Singapore, filled with more visits to schools and more professional development training.
“We’re so grateful to Toyota for making this possible,” said Flye, “and to IIE for coordinating all the logistics of the trip.
“We’ve already learned things we’re excited to return to the district and share,” Flye added. “We think it certainly has the potential to have an immediate impact on our district in terms of student learning.”
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