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A Progress Report on STEM at Village Glen

Last week, Village Glen had a visitor, someone who had heard about our programs and about STEM at Village Glen in particular. He himself runs a school in England for students with special needs, so it was a rare opportunity to see how someone unconnected to and unfamiliar with our school would view us.
His impressions were uniformly positive. He was amazed by middle school students milling about a single laptop open on a table where they where trying to debug the code running on their robot. The students were excitedly trying one substitution after another, eager to get the robot to do their bidding—their enthusiasm was palpable. The high school students in programming amazed by running games of their own design, as did the students in AP Environmental Science who presented meticulously maintained journals on the ecology of different environments at risk. In high school robotics, he asked one student to explain the device they were making for the JPL challenge this Saturday, and then asked the student to repeat it so he could film it to show back home. He was quiet as they chatted among themselves, commenting to me numerous times how accomplished and articulate they all seemed.
In all of the classes, social skills were at work. He remarked on how kind the students were to each other, how they complimented each other on their good work and good ideas, and how they rarely pushed themselves first, always being ready to promote the work of another or the team. This, for me, was a revelation too. It was an opportunity to see our programs through the eyes of another, to see how far the students had come in developing skills that will be essential to them in whatever career they pursue. It was an opportunity to see first-hand the results of a student-centered classroom, of having students work on real-world problems; it was an opportunity to see them engaged and passionate about what they were doing, and collaborating and advocating for an idea. It was an opportunity to see Village Glen with fresh eyes.

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