Middle School Summit Offers New Skills, Connection

Jul 13, 2023 at 01:51 pm by WGNS News

Jasmine Straughter attends a session on incorporating new STEM tools in the classroom.

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - As students prepare themselves for the inevitable end of summer, Jasmine Straughter, a STEM teacher at Rockvale Middle School, is coding robots as part of Rutherford County Schools’ middle school Summer Summit.  

“For me it’s a chance to problem solve and hear how other teachers have used this in their classroom. Being able to come together and PLC as one big group and hear other people’s ideas inspires me like — oh! I could do that,” Straughter said.  


The session, STEM Teacher Toolbox Part 1, gives teachers new ideas about incorporating robots and other tools into their curriculum. It’s all part of the professional development opportunity all RCS teachers have during the month of July.  

“I think at the end of the summer where you are in July, we already start focusing on what we are going to do next year. Having this kind of helps you shake off that summer vacation and get back into focus on being ready to help the students and to improve your curriculum. These sessions kind of help me personally just get back into my thinking brain,” Straughter said.  

Administrators like Kyle Nix, principal at Christiana Middle, are also benefiting from the sessions.  

“We are here because we want to be better at what we're doing, and you can only get better with professional development,” Nix said. “Rutherford County just does professional development very well. We try to push ourselves to be better. Summer is great, but you do miss being in the classroom and with students.”  

Barbara Powers is the middle school coordinator for Rutherford County. Powers felt strongly about the opportunity Summer Summit provides for teachers and administrators alike.  

“If they can get a little nugget and leave here with several nuggets to take back to their classroom, it’s a win. I think it’s exciting for the teachers to come back, principals to come back, and collaborate with one another and talk in an informal setting. It gets us back in the mood to start school again,” Powers said. “Teachers receive in-service credit, so they’re able to get some service credit, but they also enjoy learning.”  

While sessions are completely optional, Powers noted that math was very popular this year as RCS has adopted a new math curriculum; but overall, participants have shown lots of joy, she said.

“They come, they enjoy being with each other and networking with teachers from other schools. It gives them an opportunity to see things from across the district,” Powers said. “I think that Rutherford County has a unique group of teachers who are willing to go the extra mile.”

Elementary teachers and administrators wrapped up their Summer Summit July 11, while RCS high school educators will begin their professional development summit next week.

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