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Mill Creek earns CLAS Banner status

Mill Creek has been named a CLAS Banner school. In this photo, Principal Carmen Buchanan assists students in a STEM activity. CONTRIBUTED
Mill Creek has been named a CLAS Banner school. In this photo, Principal Carmen Buchanan assists students in a STEM activity. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – For exemplary standards as a model for other schools, Mill Creek Elementary School has earned the status of 2015 CLAS Banner School.

CLAS abbreviates Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. CLAS hails as premier provider of professional development for public school administrators in Alabama.

From 178 nominees, 14 schools received CLAS status.

Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools, nominated Mill Creek. Mill Creek Principal Carmen Buchanan wrote and submitted their application for evaluation by CLAS.

Reading the confirmation letter, Buchanan “screamed … loud enough to bring our office staff in my office. They told me they knew by my inflection it was a good scream.”

Buchanan couldn’t wait to share the good news with Mill Creek teachers, students and parents. She first told assistant principal Kacy McKay and Jackie Smith, who teaches STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). “I’m just extremely proud that others can see and recognized” Mill Creek’s hard work, Buchanan said.

To qualify for CLAS Banner status, Buchanan and staff showcased Mill Creek’s STEM classes for grades 5-6. “We restructured science classes (in) a blended learning environment that empowers students to explore many aspects of science and” everyday applications, she said.

To enhance STEM curriculum, Mill Creek hosted their 2014 STEM Fair so third- through sixth-graders could meet scientists, engineers, pilots, farmers, meteorologists and others. “It was amazing to see our students converse with community leaders and complete their journal with facts and ideas,” Buchanan said.

In addition, Mill Creek offers clubs and teams for robotics, ham radio, math, technology and computer coding. To fund STEM projects at Mill Creek, Huntsville Association of Technical Societies (HATS) has awarded seven STEDTRAIN (Science and Technology Education and Training) grants.

For their Environmental Science Initiative, Mill Creek PTA funded an outdoor classroom with a learning pavilion and weather station. “Students have collaborated with Boy Scouts to create walking trails that safely interact with the natural habitat,” Buchanan said.

Students are photographing and cataloging plant and animal species indigenous to Mill Creek’s vicinity.

Mill Creek and district personnel will attend the CLAS awards luncheon in Montgomery on March 9.

For more information, visit clasleaders.org.

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