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Leesburg, Wildwood schools to share $473,000 STEM grant

Lake County Schools has been awarded $473,000 grant to provide intensive training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for teachers during the 2015-16 school year.

The K-12 Math and Science Partnership STEM Grant, awarded by the Florida Department of Education, specifically targets teachers in grades 3 through 12 in Leesburg and in the Wildwood area of Sumter County. The goal is to improve teacher content knowledge tied directly to the Florida Standards for the purpose of creating quality educators and increasing student achievement.

Lake County Schools and Sumter District Schools are partners in this project. The two districts share an adjacent boundary that encompasses the Leesburg and Wildwood area feeder patterns, including 11 schools serving more than 9,000 students. All of the schools are in high poverty areas with free and reduced lunch rates above 60 percent. The Lake Schools are Beverly Shores, Fruitland Park, Leesburg, Treadway and Villages elementary; Carver and Oak Park middle; and Leesburg High. The Sumter schools are Wildwood Elementary, South Sumter Middle and Wildwood Middle High.

Teachers will receive expert training and technical assistance from Florida State University, Florida Polytechnic University, the Orlando Science Center and TechKNOW Associates. They will form 42 STEM teams consisting of two to four members each across all 11 schools. Those teams will create STEM project-based integrated lessons and mastery-based student work that will be published on CPALMS, the state of Florida’s official source for information, resources and interactive tools to help educators implement teaching standards.

Ultimately, the project is expected to increase knowledge and skills for teachers and achievement and engagement for students. “I am very excited that the Leesburg schools will have the opportunity for the teachers to receive training in the STEM subjects,’’ said school board member Rosanne Brandeburg, whose district includes the Leesburg schools. “This will greatly enhance the learning opportunities for our students.”