Knob Noster schools STE+AM ahead with help from Department of Defense grant


By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

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The Knob Noster School District recently received notification it is one of the outstanding schools in the state in not one but several categories.

The district was notified of its APR (Annual Progress Report) receiving a score of 98.6 percent (138 points out of a possible 140).

“Our score is the highest since the inception of MSIP Cycle Five,” Superintendent of Knob Noster Schools Dr. Kristie Lorenz said. “We are extremely proud of our success and we feel a large part of that can be attributed to our STE+AM program.”

STE+AM is a program the district began three years ago that “integrates creativity” through the arts with science, technology, engineering and mathematics to develop career-ready students.

“Three years ago we received a $1.8 million grant through the Department of Defense to implement the STE+AM project,” April Williams, STE+AM director said. “It was a three-year grant and this October we found out that our entire general ed staff in grade pre-K through 12 qualified as fully certified STE+AM instructors.”

As one of the nation’s only schools to achieve that distinction, both Lorenz and Williams believe the program has benefited not only the students but staff as well.

“We have focused on our instructional planning with the staff,” Lorenz said. “Every decision they make is based on how to make our students better and how can we engage them at higher levels.

“We have found that our kids want to discuss subjects on a higher level and they want to learn,” Lorenz added. “Our staff feels we have a collective responsibility to our students because they are all ours.”

The district is home to 1,550 students and 60 percent are military or Whiteman Air Force Base-related children, which has typically resulted in a 30 percent annual student turnover.

Despite the constant changes to the student body, the school scored in the top 26 percent in the state in the four tested core areas.

“We were in the top 11 percent in social studies, the top 12 percent in English language arts, the top 14 percent in math and the top 26 percent in science,” Lorenz said. “It truly is because we challenge our students by our focused instructional plan.”

The district uses a cross curricular strategy with its instruction.

“Our students may be learning about parabolas in math,” Williams said. “Later that day they will apply the same principles and concepts when they are playing volleyball in PE.

“We firmly believe that all of our students can learn and that they each possess true gifts and talents that we try to develop, foster and recognize,” Williams went on to say. “One of the best feelings is when we hear students say, ‘I can do that.’”

The STE+AM grant is in its third and final year, but district officials are hopeful they will receive the grant again.

“We’re very hopeful that we will be awarded this again, but it is a federally-funded grant from the Department of Defense and so it is highly competitive,” Williams said. “While it is an instructional strategy, it is also a philosophy as well.

“We will continue to implement the program because of the benefits it has brought to the district,” she added. “This program enables all of us, both students and staff, to get excited about learning.”

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

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