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Anoka High School teachers attend voluntary professional development academy as building aims to become STEAM school

STEAM Academy (06/21/19) More than 20 Anoka High School (AHS) teachers from eight different departments attended the school’s voluntary two-day STEAM Academy June 11-12, where they received training and shared ideas about incorporating arts into the building’s curriculum.

STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, became a specialty focus for the school two years ago, but the ultimate goal is to expand from a STEAM program to a STEAM high school, where students would find those learning components sprinkled into all courses at AHS. (See photos from the STEAM Academy.)

“This (academy) was a very important two days for the future of our educational and curricular programming at (AHS),” said Principal Mike Farley.” The more staff that go through this academy, the more clear our vision and communication will become as we head into the future.”

Rana Nestrud, the STEAM coordinator at AHS, said teachers who attended the academy worked with artists from COMPAS, a Minneapolis based organization that facilitates workshops and residencies with professional artists. Sessions included animating graphics with photoshop, visual scavenger hunts, the art of making a video, small sculpture, and others.

"As we transition from a STEAM program to a full STEAM school, it's important to provide teachers with professional development opportunities and give them time to collaborate and share ideas,” Nestrud said.

For those who attended the academy, it was a useful professional development opportunity. “I think having the artists here to work with us is very beneficial because it gives us new ideas to incorporate into our classes,” said family and consumer science teacher Katie Hale. “It adds more art and STEAM to our lesson options. I love these days."

Nestrud said she was thrilled so many teachers were willing to attend the academy, and that so many found value in it. “(AHS) has an incredibly dedicated staff,” she said. “They are willing to try things, and truly want to enhance the learning experience for our students.”

Teachers who attended the STEAM Academy were there on a volunteer basis as the previous school year had ended and summer break had begun, Nestrud said.

She’s also already thinking about next year’s academy. “Next year I would like to use a combination of our own teachers and guest-artists to provide experiences to a larger group,” Nestrud said.