What is it?

The STEM Leadership Academy was a 12-month professional learning opportunity for elementary school district administrators, specifically principals and the district administrator who supports them. The goal of this experience is to deepen their knowledge and understanding of STEM teaching and learning through an Equity Lens so that they may more effectively serve in their roles. This opportunity would connect education leaders across three regional STEM Hubs (Portland Metro STEM Partnership, South Metro-Salem STEM, and East Metro STEAM Partnership) in a cohort model utilizing Action Learning Teams to both learn broadly across key issues while diving deeply into specific areas of concern. 

Professional Development learning outcomes for the participants included:

  • Deeper understanding of the NGSS and how to provide meaningful coaching and feedback to teachers
  • Identifying the key “instructional look-for’s” in the classroom
  • Strategies for building effective partnerships with industry and community-based organizations
  • Designing systems and structures to support STEM learning for all students, with particular focus on addressing marginalized or underserved students
  • Social Emotional Learning and its connection to academic achievement

A planning group of STE(A)M hub and district representatives developed a comprehensive plan that articulated parameters of the project, including the project structure (e.g., formation of a Project Team and/or PD Team and/or advisory groups, etc.), scope of the experience, additional resources needed, etc.

Why It’s Important:

School administrators and especially principals rarely have the opportunity to participate in professional development and rarely come to their roles with a background in STEAM. This academy built a professional learning community for them with the potential to develop a leadership style, learning around implementing STEAM in their schools, and demonstration of successful STEAM in other communities.

How It Works:

Approximately 20 participants met together for specific professional development opportunities as identified by the participants. Participants would met approximately five times over the 12 months to learn together on topics and issues relevant to STEM education in the region, in their buildings and connected to issues of Equity. The group was provided a prescribed set of experiences.


Gresham-Barlow School District
Michele Cook, Principal of Powell Valley Elementary School
ODE STEM Innovation Fund
Portland Metro STEM Partnership
South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership