BLMS Executive Summary

Bluffton Middle School, opened in 2010, is a state of the art, STEM-focused middle school.  Our diverse population serves 772 students, 53% males and 47% females. Concerning ethnicity, 49% are Hispanic or Latino, 32% classify as white, 14% are African American, 4% are multi-racial, and 1% are Asian. At Bluffton Middle School we strongly believe that STEM literacy is for everyone and through an integrated STEM curriculum, students will be able to use concepts from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to think critically, collaborate with others, and solve complex problems.

Through a district technology initiative, Bluffton Middle School students have been afforded the opportunity to have a 1:1 personal device, which they use in the classroom and take home with them nightly.  Since 2012, our students have been able to use their devices to personalize and self-direct their learning as they prepare themselves to become college and career ready in their near future. All BLMS teachers use Google Classroom to provide resources to students and collect digital assignments, and students access this platform daily through their personal devices.

In 2016, BLMS partnered with the Southern Region Educational Board to begin implementing the Mathematics Design Collaborative and the Literacy Design Collaborative. The LDC and MDC models have helped shift the focus away from teacher-directed lessons to more student focused learning. We have worked to develop investigative and problem-solving skills to better prepare our students for post-secondary education and the workforce. These models also have a heavy emphasis on collaboration and communication as students work together to solve problems, critically analyze information, and work through challenging material.  This year, we are in our second year phasing in these models, with approximately 60% of our teachers participating. By 2018-19, 100% of our math, science, social studies, and ELA teachers will be trained in MDC/LDC and using the models in their classrooms regularly.

Bluffton Middle School strives to be a “school of tomorrow” where technology and stem-focused learning empowers the students to meet the challenges needed to prepare for a future in the international workforce.  Four critical traits that we strive to develop in all students include the 4 C’s: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.

Our Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program emphasizes critical learning skills by providing a curriculum that encourages hands-on engagement, real-world application, and the use of technology for research, collaboration and project presentation.  In addition, PLTW offers a project-based curriculum with an emphasis on the engineering process, so that students may design and test their ideas with advanced modeling software.  Our students also have the opportunity to study mechanical and computer control systems, robotics and animation.

The Beaufort County School District Stem Learner description provides a blueprint for all schools to follow as they prepare students to become college and career ready.  Our annual Career Fair in March exposes students to a variety of STEM-related professions they can pursue as they make decisions about their future. Our teachers have the opportunity to attend STEM-related professional development held at Bluffton Middle School, as well as participate in a Technology Cohort and a STEM Cohort provided through the district.

         In summary, our mission is to provide each student with a learning environment that is both challenging and rewarding; one that encourages discovery and the development of special talents, abilities and interests; one in which the teacher serves as a facilitator and catalyst to learning as well as a source of knowledge.  Through work with the district office staff, we will continue to provide professional development with a STEM focus and will use these professional development opportunities to focus on lessons, activities, and assessments that will enhance the learning environment for our students. We focus on the whole child to strengthen academic skills as well as social, emotional and physical well-being.  By infusing the use of technology, STEM-learning, and critical thinking, we aim to develop responsible global citizens who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be successful in tomorrow’s workforce.