Mansfield City Schools’ Springmill STEM Elementary is the first school in Richland County to be designated a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics school by the Ohio Department of Education.

Springmill earned the designation after district administrators appeared before ODE’s STEM Committee. The elementary school, located in a wing of Springmill Learning Center at 1200 Nestor Drive, is one of only 42 STEM-designated schools in Ohio. “The Ohio Department of Education recognized that the work we are doing at Springmill is good work,” said Stephen Rizzo, district curriculum director.

In December Gov. John Kasich signed legislation that expanded STEM designation to include grades kindergarten through five. Schools had until Feb. 24 to submit applications to the ODE STEM Committee. Of 30 schools considered by the panel in late March only Springmill and 11 others were granted STEM certification.

The ODE STEM Committee determined that Mansfield City Schools showed evidence that Springmill “will offer a rigorous, diverse, integrated and project-based curriculum … while emphasizing the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics… and include the arts and humanities.”

Springmill STEM Elementary opened in August with two kindergarten classes. First grade will be added in 2017-18 and an additional grade each succeeding year until it is a K-3 school. A similar format was followed at the Spanish Immersion School, which opened in 2008 and has since expanded to grades K-8. While following the same core curriculum as other elementary schools, Springmill incorporates scientific inquiry and emphasizes personalized learning and teamwork skills.

“STEM designation by the state means we have another option for parents who are looking for a non-traditional school program,” said Principal Gabe Costa. “ODE was very excited to see our kindergarten integrating STEM practices into everyday lessons.”

Springmill’s community and education partners include the Richland County Foundation and Ohio State University at Mansfield. Within OSU, individuals directly supporting Springmill’s initiatives include Terri Bucci, associate professor in the Department of Education, Teaching and Learning; Adrienne Hopson, a lecturer in Teaching and Learning; Suzanna Hammond, an OSU student majoring in child and youth studies, and Christina Drain, program coordinator of the Math Literacy Initiative.

Costa said the district is working to develop local and area business partners at Springmill.

The classroom staff at Springmill includes kindergarten teachers Cindy Rice and Nancy Niedermier, intervention specialist Lori Brumenshenkel, math coach Meg Strong and paraprofessional Michelle Hamrick. Others include Maggie Voedisch, health/physical education; Rachel Yaeger, visual arts, and Rachelle Schwall, music.

For information about enrolling in kindergarten or first grade at Springmill STEM Elementary for 2017-18, contact the school at 419-525-6348, ext. 1.

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