STEMtastic News - May 2021

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


NC Department of Public Instruction

May 2021


Home of STEMtastic News


Congrats Ms Marilyn
Marilyn J Crop



We are pleased to announce and congratulate Mrs. Marilyn Johns on 45 years of service to the state of NC.

Marilyn Johns joins the distinguished ranks of long-serving employees who have earned the award established in tribute to North Carolina’s first governor. She has served the state of NC for 45 years in several capacities and currently serves as the Administrative Specialist for the Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction Math, Science, and STEM section for the NC Department of Public Instruction.

Seventeen state employees with 45 years of public service have been honored with the 2021 Richard Caswell Award. Collectively, the 17 state employees have devoted more than 765 years to public service. Since 2015, 142 state employees have been recognized for their extraordinary duration of service, which reflects a cumulative total nearly 6,400 years.


Please take a moment to watch this message and join in congratulating our remarkable specialist, Marilyn Johns, and her fellow honored colleagues.


Caswell Award Crop


More Than a Recognition Program


The STEM Schools of Distinction program was developed to identify and recognize exemplary STEM schools and STEM programs. The application process rubric is built around five Overarching Principles which describe characteristics of a high-quality STEM school.


The STEM Schools Progress Rubric is a strategic planning document that is valuable for any school or program within a school that wants to improve STEM teaching and learning.


To get the most out of the STEM rubric, consider the following:

  • The rubric is an instrument to be used by the whole school rather than an individual. It requires the input and perspective of various stakeholders within the school as well as outside such as parents, business partners, and community members.
  • Begin by identifying your current level of performance for each Key Element. The provided Quality Indicators serve as benchmarks for coordinating areas upon which to focus within your School Improvement Plan.
  • Be patient. There are many attributes associated with quality STEM instructional design. Finding what is right for your school and community will take time. Involve all stakeholders, both within and outside of your school, and keep record of what works well with your student population.
  • Let STEM develop your culture of learning. Student achievement through inquiry is highly rewarding and often leads to expanded student interests and deeper understanding of content. Nourish extracurricular opportunities that may arise and encourage academic exploration across content areas within your school.
  • Successful applicants for the School of Distinction have spent a minimum of six months gathering artifacts and data and soliciting input from stakeholders.
  • After all the evidence has been gathered, it's usually best if no more than one or two people complete the application. At least one person inside the school and one person outside the school should review the final application before submission. 
  • There is no specific number of artifacts that should be submitted. The best guidance is to consider whether a reviewer will have enough information to determine that the school is meeting the metrics of the rubric and that you've demonstrated your work is ongoing.

Schools interested in the opportunity to submit an application providing narrative and artifactual evidence of their distinguished STEM approaches to leading and learning should obtain a copy of the STEM Schools Progress Rubric. Schools should self-assess their performance across the five Overarching Principles and the Key Elements within and engage purposefully within their school improvement process before seeking recognition. Applications for the 2021-2022 school year will be available this Fall.



The NCSSM Mathematics department is hosting two virtual workshops this summer! 


Discrete Math Workshop - July 26-29, 2021

We invite North Carolina mathematics teachers interested in teaching topics related to Discrete or Finite Mathematics to join us for a free virtual workshop over the course of 4 days facilitated by NCSSM math faculty Tamar Avineri & Ashley Loftis. Discrete Mathematics can help us engage our students in applying mathematical concepts to real-world, authentic contexts. The course material can motivate students to be active problem-solvers and build their strengths in mathematical reasoning and justification. We hope you can join us!


Desmos Workshop - July 13-15, 2021

Did you know that Desmos can do more than just graphing? We invite North Carolina middle and high school math teachers to join NCSSM math faculty Christine Belledin and Nicholas Koberstein in this free, 3-day virtual workshop. We will explore ways to use Desmos Activities to enhance learning in your classroom, show how the teacher tools can help guide and promote student engagement, and demonstrate how to edit and improve activities already available. Once we have the basics down, we will explore how to use the Computation Layer to make activities more dynamic and impactful and discuss best practices for creating engaging and effective activities. Registration is open through June 15. Limited space available.


Learn more and register at

For further inquiries, please contact Nicholas Koberstein at


Setting Students Up for Success: Engaging Practices for Course Design

FREE Webinar for Educators!

What does it mean to design a course with learners in mind? We think it means that well before a student arrives at our classrooms, a course infrastructure is in place that creates space for students with diverse backgrounds, varied learning needs, and a wide range of lived experiences that inform how they learn and approach educational opportunities. How do we use this infrastructure to set learners up for success and meet them where they are?


In this session we will reflect on and explore how initial interactions and clear structure in the course learning management system (LMS) helps to create and shape a supportive and intentional learning environment that facilitates instructor-to-learner, learner-tolearner, and learner-to-content interactions. Participants will also learn how to design detailed assignment instructions and rubrics for inquiry-based instruction that encourages student agency, creativity, and learning that transcends the classroom. Additionally, participants will come away with Canvas Commons templates that are adaptable or ready for use in their course(s).


Learn more and register here:


Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching (PAEMST)

Presidential Awards

  • To all district leaders, coaches, teachers, administrators, university personnel, and those from the private sector who reviewed applications with this year's cycle of the Presidential Awards... Thank you!!!
    This year we had 67 individuals reviewing applications this year, which is an NC record!
  • The NC 2020 Finalists for the Presidential Awards will be recognized at the upcoming State Board of Education meeting on May 6. Recognitions are typically first on the agenda.
  • The NC 2021 Finalists will be announced in mid-May.
  • The next cycle of the Presidential Awards is for K-6 STEM teachers and will open at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
  • For more information, please go to or contact the PAEMST state coordinator, Joseph Reaper at   

How Many of Your Students Have Earned the GLE, NC's Seal of Biliteracy?

Global Languages Endorsement (GLE), NC's Seal of Biliteracy

Over 30,000 graduating seniors have earned the Global Languages Endorsement (GLE), North Carolina’s Seal of Biliteracy, since it was first approved as a diploma endorsement in 2015.


For the Class of 2020, who faced challenges with the pandemic, 6% of graduates or 6,244 students were recognized for their multiliteracy in English and at least one World Language.


How many of these 30,000 GLE earners came from your PSU? Find out by checking the spreadsheet for charter schools or districts!


For additional details about the GLE results or the English and World Language requirements to qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy, go to the GLE webpage at


A variety of resources are also posted on the GLE webpage, including:

  • Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ on the GLE policy and its implementation,
  • National reports, articles, and research about the Seal of Biliteracy, and
  • Archived webinars and broadcast materials like the one from March 30 of this year.


school report cards  

Beginning in 2021, the GLE information will be posted for each high school on the School Report Cards, along with other global education recognitions like the Global-Ready School (GRS) and Global-Ready District (GRD) designations.

SciNC PBS logo

Brand New Season of Sci NC

From Your Local PBS Station

Discover new uses for kudzu, learn why birds sing more loudly in the morning and join us for more fascinating finds as we share the latest North Carolina science stories.


Find Out More

NC Science Essential Standards - Spanish Translation for Parents

The North Carolina Science Essential Standards have been translated into Spanish for grades K-5 and 6-8.  You can access the Spanish translations in each of the following:

Thank-You! Teacher Appreciation Week

May 3-7 is #TeacherAppreciationWeek 


We've all had that one teacher who has made a difference in our lives and for that we thank you today and every day!

There are not enough words to show our appreciation for everything that you - teachers - do to ensure every child has the opportunity, guidance and encouragement to reach their full potential.  

NC DPI STEM Consultant

Howard Ginsburg


If you are currently not subscribed and would like to receive future releases of STEMtastic News, please visit the NCDPI Subscriptions webpage and register for the NCDPI STEM newsletter. You will first be prompted to enter your email to create an account. Once your account is created, return to the NCDPI Subscriptions webpage to choose your interests.