Gilmer County Schools pick up STEAM

West Virginia district has also relied on industry to augment instruction in its tech labs
By: | July 2, 2020
Gilmer County Schools in West Virginia has combine grants with business partnerships to introduce students to new career and academic possibilities.Gilmer County Schools in West Virginia has combine grants with business partnerships to introduce students to new career and academic possibilities.

Gilmer County Schools in West Virginia has used $220,000 in state grants to create STEAM labs that transformed its K-5 and 7-12 buildings into West Virginia “model tech schools,” says Kelly Barr, a 7th-grade math teacher at Gilmer County High School.

The district has also relied on the community to augment instruction in the labs, which contain walls made of LEGO bricks, multiple types of robotics equipment and a variety of circuits.

“We’ve been really fortunate to partner with some local businesses who not only donated funding to our buildings but have also donated services,” says Barr, who presented on STEAM integration in rural schools at DA’s 2020 Future of Education Technology® Conference.

Employees from Thrasher Industries, an oil and gas surveying company located about an hour away, have brought drones to the elementary school to show students how the devices are used in industry. The company also plans to hire and train graduates straight out of high school.

Barr recommends that rural educators follow Gilmer’s model of combining grants with business partnerships to introduce students to new career and academic possibilities that don’t require college.

Read the other stories in our series on rural school districts and the challenges of COVID: