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New STEAM Center To Help Teachers Tackle Pandemic-Related Learning Loss

student doing robot with screwdriver in robotics coding class
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West Virginia K-12 teachers now have a new way to bolster their science, technology, engineering, arts and math skills in their classrooms.

During the West Virginia Board of Education’s December meeting Wednesday, board members formally recognized and celebrated the establishment of a new STEAM Technical Assistance Center, or STEAM TAC, in the state. It’s the third TAC to be launched this year with a fourth one on the way that will focus on early learning.

The two already established TACs focus on accessibility and transitions, located in Romney at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, while the other focuses on behavioral and mental health and is located at Marshall University in Huntington.

The newest STEAM TAC was developed via a partnership with West Virginia University, and it will be accessible to all teachers in the state. It will focus primarily on grades 6-8 throughout 2022 and provide professional learning for teachers.

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch told board members he was excited about what will be available to students and educators. He said the STEAM TAC will help cultivate unique partnerships between STEAM experts and help to motivate students.

“Our goal is to empower educators to integrate these exercises into their classroom teaching. It’s a win-win for our West Virginia educators and students,” Burch said.

WVU’s President Gordon Gee said in a news release that the new TAC is “especially important given the obstacles so many of our students have faced during the pandemic.”

The West Virginia Department of Education says on its website that the TACs were established to address learning loss created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WVDE also says TACs will help to tackle the many challenges and risks to West Virginia students that existed before the pandemic.

Teachers who sign up with the STEAM TAC will receive tailored lesson plans, toolkits and instructional resources for free and engage in a transdisciplinary STEAM TAC classroom immersion experience that will be tailored to their grade level.

A grand opening ceremony for the media will be held at Mountaineer Middle School in Morgantown on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 1:30 p.m.

Webmaster/Eastern Panhandle Bureau Chief/Part-time Education Reporter/Producer, emccormick@wvpublic.org, 304-876-9313, @LizMcCormickWV

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