WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., June 19, 2019 — What better way to learn to be a teacher than to work with students so excited that they sign up for class? Well, that’s what West Liberty University students in Instructor Melesa Swartz’s class experienced this past year.
Swartz is a math and science instructor for the WLU teacher education program.
These college students who plan on becoming teachers, established a STEM Club several years ago at West Liberty Elementary School.
“Our STEM Club meets one hour a week and is completely voluntary. Each week we pick a different topic, biology, physical science, chemistry, weather, water, mathematics, engineering and so forth. It has become very popular and attracts about 60 youngsters, Pre-K – 5th,” explained Swartz.
“Students look forward to the club and always want to know what we’ve planned for next week. Astronomy is one of the favorite topics with the students,” she said.
West Liberty University is an official Partner in Education with West Liberty Elementary and the two campuses are within walking distance of each other.
About 50 percent of the students stay after school to take advantage of the extra learning, according to Swartz. The hands-on activities are fun and offer a real-world look at topics covered in the classroom.
“I cannot tell you how much we appreciate Professor Swartz and the program she has implemented at West Liberty Elementary School. The really impressive news is that the after school STEM Club has increased our statewide testing scores since its implementation three years ago,” said Principal Stacy Dietz, who is principal at both Bethlehem and West Liberty Elementary schools.
Swartz, who has a middle and elementary school background and is a graduate of Michigan State University, plans to continue the club next year.
A resident of Triadelphia, W.Va., she’s been with WLU since 2013. The WLU students that work with the STEM Club are students in her Physics 340 content course for education majors.
“The club offers West Liberty University students a chance to experience teaching in a different way and we are pleased that it is working out so well,” Swartz added.
“Our state average raw score at this time for all fifth graders in West Virginia taking the statewide Science Assessment is 36 percent. Ohio County Schools average in the same assessment is 35 percent, and West Liberty Elementary School’s raw score is 80 percent. Hands down this program and the quality students who helped develop the lessons are a huge part of this success!“ added Dietz.
The College of Education and Human Performance traces its roots to the inception of the West Liberty as an academy in 1837 and then as a well-known Teachers College. Since 2009, WLU has enjoyed University status and the College of Education has grown to encompass programs in Athletic Training, Exercise Physiology, and Community Education.