ELKTON — When James Lane was appointed Virginia’s 25th superintendent of public instruction by Gov. Ralph Northam in June 2018, he made a commitment to himself to visit all 132 school divisions in two years.
He’s been to about 80 so far, and on Monday, Rockingham County Public Schools was on the agenda. Lane spent time at Elkton Middle School, observing the STEM Academy and various other programs.
“It’s known that Rockingham County is one of the most innovative school divisions in the state,” Lane said. “So I wanted to see that in person.”
While observing the STEM Academy, co-taught by Brad Saylor and Anne Senger, Lane got to see eighth grade students work on programming for a video game that teaches about the process for a bill becoming a law.
“This is one of the cooler things I’ve seen,” Lane said.
The video game is just one project that students are working on, Saylor said. They are also working on a class project creating “The Price is Right” games, which will focus on teaching about the Constitution and incorporate a simple machine in the construction of the games.
This is an example of cross-instructional focus that is important at Elkton Middle School, Saylor said.
Lastly, students are also working on yearlong independent study projects, where they are asked to come up with a problem that means something to them and develop a procedure to fix it. Students will present these projects at James Madison University in May.
After observing the STEM class, Lane talked with students in the media center who were participating in a breakout session, where they had a multilocked box and had to solve puzzles and clues to unlock it, like a mini escape room.
A number of School Board members, along with Superintendent Oskar Scheikl, toured the school with Lane on Monday.