Henrico County Public Schools is reimagining middle schools.

“STEAM” integration

HCPS is considering integrating STEAM curricula – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math – into its middle schools. The STEAM programs would add more high-quality options for students in grades 6-8. HCPS is also beginning the process of developing a more comprehensive redistricting plan to address overcrowding at Hungary Creek Middle School and provide programming space for a gifted academy at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School. This process will continue over the next year. Henrico Schools also offers three existing middle school International Baccalaureate programs.

Latest News

Aug. 10: Board gets update on STEAM integration process for middle schools

The School Board heard an update at its Aug. 10 work session on the integration of STEAM into the curricula at HCPS middle schools; the update had been originally scheduled for June.

The presentation described how HCPS is creating the foundation for more STEAM integration. HCPS staff members discussed the current research and analysis process that would support this integration and provide a deeper learning experience for all students. The feedback gathered over the past year from Henrico County stakeholders has been used to create a plan for the program. Staff members discussed the process of establishing a deeper, more student-centered learning model; increasing rigor; and adding more real-world applications across all subjects in order to prepare students for a changing world.

The new HCPS middle school model aims to create a common language with which to discuss effective learning for middle school students. The model rests on four pillars: students should be able to learn anytime and anywhere; learning should be authentic and connected; learning should be student-owned, giving students a choice and a voice; and learning should be supported by the entire school community. This model will guide the changes in middle school curricula. A summit was held in June at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School to introduce, discuss and learn about the new deeper learning model; more than 300 attendees were at the summit.

HCPS staff members responded to Board questions about the process and changes in learning methods.

What’s next for the integration of STEAM at HCPS middle schools?

– HCPS will continue to seek input from stakeholders about the STEAM process during the 2017-18 school year.
– A new community of middle school teachers will collaborate during the 2017-18 school year, using the new model as their guide.
– HCPS staff members and faculty members will consider ways to involve community leaders in the process.
– Middle school principals will continue to receive training in implementation of the model.
– The creation of new curricula will be an ongoing process over the next two academic years. Some teachers will get professional development opportunities during 2017-18 to help them, and there will be pockets of STEAM integration introduced in 2017-18 as the process proceeds.
– By 2020 the rollout will conclude and all 12 HCPS middle schools should have STEAM integration in their curricula.

March 9: Board hears plans to move forward with integrating STEAM

The School Board heard an update at its March 9 work session on the integration of STEAM into the curricula at HCPS middle schools.

The presentation detailed results of input gathered on integrating STEAM concepts. Most parents and guardians who participated said that STEAM should be adopted across all subject areas; that it could support the material on Virginia’s SOL tests; that middle school teachers should have opportunities for more professional development in STEAM concepts; and that more funding would be needed to provide for improved technology, training materials and field trips.

What’s next for the integration of STEAM at HCPS middle schools? HCPS will:

– Develop a STEAM Integration Curriculum Committee to start the 2017-18 school year.
– Create pilot programs for 2018-19 at John Rolfe and Short Pump middle schools.
– Continue to seek stakeholder input as curricula and programming are developed.
– Facilitate the development of middle school transformation projects during the summer and fall of 2017.
– Provide the School Board with an update at its June 22 work session.

Feb. 9: Board hears recommendations on Hungary Creek Middle School, gifted academy

At its Feb. 9 work session, the School Board heard a presentation on the status of the middle school transformation process.

HCPS staff members had met with members of the HCPS Gifted Advisory Committee, comprised of parents, administrators and a student representative. That committee provided ideas about what a gifted academy at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School should include. Staff members recommended that a gifted academy at Wilder be created and launched in fall 2018.

Staff members recommended a hybrid approach to addressing overcrowding at Hungary Creek Middle School: some smaller shifts would be recommended for the 2017-18 school year, providing some short-term relief to Hungary Creek. A more comprehensive long-term redistricting plan would be proposed for the 2018-19 school year. All proposals would offer ample opportunities for family and community feedback. Find out more about the redistricting process as it unfolds by visiting HCPS’ 2017 Middle School Redistricting page.

HCPS staff members conducted two simultaneous input sessions Feb. 15 (at Glen Allen High School and John Rolfe Middle School) on incorporating STEAM concepts more broadly across all HCPS middle schools. STEAM is an acronym meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

At the School Board’s Feb. 23 work session, HCPS staff members hope to be able to present to the Board a plan for how the redistricting process will proceed.

Jan. 27 presentation: Academy format shifts to focus on integrating STEAM at all middle schools

At its Jan. 27 work session, Board members heard an update on the middle school transformation process. Based on input gathered from focus groups, a plan for a middle school STEAM academy – emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math – will focus more broadly on integrating STEAM concepts across all HCPS middle schools. The broader format would begin with a two-school pilot program in the 2018-19 school year. Members of the focus groups spoke positively about the advantages of having STEAM opportunities available for all students.

Still being considered is a plan to open a separate academy for gifted students at L. Douglas Wilder Middle School for the 2018-19 school year.

HCPS staff members will hold two simultaneous community input sessions to gather feedback about the proposals and then make recommendations to the Board in February.

Board hears Jan. 12 update on academies, redistricting

At the School Board’s Jan. 8 work session, members heard the latest on the possible establishment of Young Scholar Academies within HCPS. The update included a PowerPoint presentation.

Three planned focus groups will gather more information and insight about what Henrico students, families and teachers think about Young Scholar Academies. Members of the HCPS Department of Research and Planning hope to learn:

– Insights into participants’ interest in the academies.
– Participants’ visions of the program.
– Questions the school division needs to address as it moves forward.
– Whether participants prefer the concept of having academies at one or two schools in Henrico County, or whether they would like to see a more integrated approach that would involve all HCPS middle schools.

The presentation also addressed the need for middle school redistricting, how that might work with Young Scholar Academies, and the pros and cons of adopting new district boundaries for the 2017-18 school year vs. the 2018-19 school year.

Among the next steps in the process:
– Conduct and analyze focus group interviews.
– Plan community input sessions.
– Continue to develop an FAQ document addressing questions about Young Scholar Academies.

Board hears Dec. 8 update on survey, academy options

At its Dec. 8 work session, the School Board heard an update and saw a PowerPoint presentation on the status of the middle school transformation process.

The update included the results of the survey that asked families about middle school changes. There were 4,047 responses, 61 percent of which were from parents or guardians of elementary school students. Some survey results:Brookland (STEAM) and Wilder (talented and gifted) are two locations being considered for the middle-school young scholar academies. In answer to transportation concerns, both schools are centrally located, have easy access to I-295 and align with HCPS transportation logistics. Some survey results:

The most popular option for a possible middle school academy (chosen by 56 percent) was a focus on STEM/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math/Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).

– The second most popular option (selected by 42 percent) was a focus on gifted and talented education.
– Respondents cited project-based learning, advanced academics and teachers with specialized training as reasons for their interest in young scholar academies.
– Respondents cited distance from home, transportation around after-school activities and perceptions of the host school as reasons they might not participate.
– Comments generally supportive of the concept made up 46 percent of responses. Comments unsupportive of the concept comprised 43 percent of responses.

HCPS staff members are considering the results of the survey and the concerns expressed by respondents.

The presentation also discussed how the young scholar academies might fit into a larger strategy for middle school redistricting.

What’s next? HCPS staff members will now:

– Visit school divisions with similar academies.
– Conduct focus groups in January with teachers and parents representing all of Henrico’s magisterial districts.
– Seek approval of academy locations, themes and redistricting goals in early 2017.
– Work with a planning consultant to draft some possible redistricting ideas to be presented to the Board in February.
– Communicate in coming months with Henrico families and other stakeholders about how the redistricting process works.
– Develop a marketing plan in the spring to recruit students with an interest in the academies.
– Research and write curricula in summer and fall for selected programs.

Want to know more about the transformation?

Watch a video of the Feb. 23 update to the School Board.

Watch a video of the Feb. 9 update to the School Board.

Watch a video of the Jan. 27 update to the School Board.

Watch a video of the Jan. 12 update to the School Board.

Check out a PowerPoint presentation to the School Board from its Jan. 12 work session.
Watch a video of the Dec. 8 update to the School Board:

Check out a PowerPoint presentation to the School Board, from its Nov. 10 work session.

Watch a video of the Nov. 10 presentation and hear Board members’ questions:

Click here to find out more ways HCPS is enhancing student achievement.

Learn more about Henrico Schools at our “About us” page, and see our vision for the future by checking out our 2015-18 strategic plan.