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Big changes ahead for STEM

West Fargo Public Schools recently announced big plans for the future of its STEM Program.

Besides announcing the replacement of former Assistant STEM Principal Tabatha Joice, Superintendent David Flowers developed a leadership plan to ensure that the lessons learned from the STEM program (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathamatics) benefit the entire district.

This is particularly important with the Board of Education's recent adoption of a strategic plan, which embraces many of the 21st century skills addressed in the STEM program.

Current Ceney Middle School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Denise Jonas will be given overall responsibility for the planning and integration of STEM into the mainstream middle schools and, eventually, the entire K-12 program. In two years, STEM will no longer be housed at the Lodoen Center as a separate program, but will be integrated into not just one, but two middle schools.

To relieve Jonas of a portion of her duties in order to carry out the collaborative work necessary with the Cheney and STEM-at-Lodoen staffs, Jerry Standifer, who currently teaches AVID one block and assists in the Cheney office the remainder of the day, will be named fulltime Dean of Students at Cheney. A 0.33 FTE replacement for his AVID teaching assignment will be funded from the existing emerging needs staff budget.

Standifer will continue to work on a teaching contract, with additional days and leadership opportunities. He also will continue to train AVID teachers and coordinate the AVID program.

Michelle Weber, currently the district's halftime counseling coordinator and halftime STEM counselor, will become the Assistant Principal and will assume the day-to-day operation of the STEM program and site. Weber will work to assist Denise Jonas in the long-term STEM integration planning.

Weber will assume her new role immediately. She replaces Joyce, who accepted a new position within the district as Principal of Westside Elementary.