“By year five — 5th grade — [students] need to have those basic skills in math. Those two things open up doors to possibility and opportunity for kids in middle school, high school and beyond.”
But the fine arts, such as music, dance, visual arts and languages, also cannot be overlooked, Woods said.
“For the first time in 23 years, we have a person at the [Department of Education] that is working on fine arts,” he said. “Across the state, one of the big initiatives is STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — but we’re also looking to be STEAM certified: science, technology, engineering arts and math. There’s a race across the state to see who becomes the first STEAM certified school.”
So far, only about 30-40 schools are STEM certified, Woods said. However, about 1,000 schools — nearly half of all schools in Georgia — are looking to become STEM certified.
Woods said the students in the STEM certified schools are already doing great things.
“They are working with schools across Georgia – some are flagship universities, I think UGA and Tech are involved – but we have kids who are talking and working with people across the world,” Woods said. “Last year, a group [of students] was doing research with someone in New Zealand. That is what technology, and the power of what we’re able to do today with that, [allows.]”
Woods also recognized the fundamental role Georgia teachers play and commended educators for their work.
“I [enjoy] getting out of Atlanta so see the staff and teachers for who they really are,” Woods said. “I assure you, every now and then, you might find one who’s a dud. But when I look at our teacher core, they are individuals that care. They have heart when caring for our kids. I appreciate the work of our teachers and what they do, and I thank you again for the opportunity to represent you as state school superintendent.”
And although an education system can’t be perfected overnight, Woods is confident about the future of Georgia schools.
“Yeah, maybe we’re not there, but I think we’re beginning to change the conversation to talk about the child. That’s where it has to be – we’re here to serve the child, we’re here to serve you, Forsyth County.”
View at: http://www.forsythnews.com/section/3/article/30742/
Georgia's State School Superintendent
Richard Woods has over 25 years of pre-k through 12th grade experience in public education. > Read Full Bio