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Mount Airy City Schools: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead

Mount Airy City Schools
North Carolina
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Program: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Category: STEM

Mount Airy City Schools needed a new model to help students meet North Carolina’s more rigorous, Common Core-based college readiness standards while also training teachers to teach the enhanced curriculum.

The primary and intermediate schools put STEAM in place through exploration rooms. Specialized STEAM instructors also co-teach with core teachers to bring a daily math and science focus into classrooms.

The middle school launched a Students with Ambitious Goals program, which offers an academic competition class every afternoon. These courses, such as Math Counts, Science Olympiad and Quill, helped the middle school earn the fifth-highest number of points in statewide academic competitions. The high school partnered with a local community college to provide an early college experience by teaching scientific visualization. The North Carolina School of Mathematics and Science professors teach AP and STEAM courses remotely.

The district has seen double digit growth in state test scores in elementary literacy and high school mathematics in just one year. Unofficial results show that reading proficiency for third grade grew from 43 to 63 percent while the high school’s math 1 scores rose from 26 to 61 percent.

“We want our students to think critically, innovatively solve problems, be confident leaders and responsible citizens with a passion for learning. In short we want to create innovators,” says Superintendent Greg Little.

In recognition of the innovation and success of this initiative, Mount Airy City Schools has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration. The district was among 49 districts that were honored in the inaugural round of Districts of Distinction, the magazine’s new national recognition program.

“We are pleased to honor Mount Airy City Schools as a District of Distinction,” says JD Solomon, editorial director at District Administration magazine. “Like all our honorees, the district serves as a model for school leaders across the country.”

For more information about Districts of Distinction, including how to apply and a list of all current honorees, visit