FORT WALTON BEACH — The integration of arts, science, technology, engineering and math into the curriculum at Northwood Elementary School is going to be a slow but steady process.
The Crestview school will focus on expanding the art element first and the STEM aspects later, according to Barry Blackburn, one of two educators overseeing the implementation of Northwood Arts and Science Academy (NASA).
Blackburn, the assistant principal at neighboring Richbourg School, and Northwood Principal Jacquelyn Craig shared their plans Monday night with the Okaloosa County School Board at its meeting in Fort Walton Beach.
What we looked at was way to slowly integrate this,” Blackburn said during the short presentation.
The goal is not to garner student interest initially, but to build on it year by year until the school has a fully-functional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program, Blackburn said.
For next year, that will mean simply adding another music teacher and a full-time art teacher. By the following year, dance and science programs will be added. In the third year, the school will add the final pieces with drama and technology.
Craig, who shared some of statistics about the benefits of art programs on academic performance during the presentation, said Northwood could enroll 56 additional students the first year, although that could change based on space and class size restrictions in the coming years.
Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson said district officials hope the program will play another important role by easing high enrollment issues at neighboring schools.
“I think there is a huge desire in the north end of the county to have this type of program for our students,” she said. “I would appreciate any consideration the board can give us.”
Board member Cathy Thigpen expressed her support for the program. She said she was impressed at the level of community support she already has seen at two community meetings held by Craig and Blackburn.
Board vice chairwoman Cindy Frakes asked a few questions about growth options before offering her support of the initiative.
“I think the motivation to learn … is a huge thing for me because all kids don’t learn alike and all students aren’t motivated by the same things,” Frakes said.
Applications for school zoning waivers will be accepted beginning in April.
People interested in learning more about the program or helping with it can attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. April 11 in the art room at Northwood.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Katie Tammen at 850-315-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KatieTnwfdn.