Bethlehem-Center School District

If you visit the Bethlehem-Center School District website, you’re greeted with the statement, “Striving to be a great place to work and even better place to learn.” If you visit the school itself, it’s clear that that is their endeavor. They’ve got a strong, invigorated team paving the way, with plans for transformation, expansion, and progression across the board. Their mission above all others is for the students who leave the halls of Beth-Center to be well-prepared to succeed and thrive in todays world and workplace… and with the initiatives they have in order to revamp several different facets of the school district, that goal will surely be met.

BC has assessed their entire district from the ground up to try and identify their strengths, and build on those strengths, but also areas where improvements are needed. They have been working tirelessly to address any needs, starting with the growth and expansion of their computer science and STEM/STEAM programs. The importance of further incorporating the equipment and manufacturing-based disciplines into the curriculum seems to grow daily, so the plan is to not only enhance classes with more rigorous coursework, but to also boost project-based learning outside of the classroom. STEM kits will be available to pickup from their two local libraries, and a digital learning center will house essential STEM/STEAM equipment for cross-curricular lessons. Educational opportunities for K-12 students, as well as Professional Development opportunities for teachers, will increase with the expansion of the program. Thankfully, they won’t be starting from scratch as their middle school STEAM course is already forging ahead. In true STEAM fashion, the students have completed projects like the creation of model bridges. They began by researching examples of different types of bridges and their engineering features, then created the blueprints, and worked their way through constructing the bridges while following a checklist of specific speculations and requirements. The students showed a ton of enthusiasm and engagement which is especially promising for the future of STEM/STEAM at BC.

Teaching methods are also experiencing an adjustment. Teachers are taking the initiatives to grow and improve in stride, and with that are utilizing a different approach, the backward design model, to create their lesson plans. That means they are beginning with what they want their students to know by the end of the lesson and constructing their plans for projects and assignments based on what it will take to get them there. Paired with resources like new ELA and math textbooks, and the digital platform HMH for math, reading, and literature, the tools are in place to guarantee equal and consistent educational access for all students grades K-8, no matter what their level of need may be.

The courses and procedures aren’t the only thing at BC getting updated. The technology has gotten quite the overhaul recently, starting with the installation of 10G fiberoptic internet throughout the entire district. New phones in every classroom, a dozen new Cannon copiers, 100 new laptops for teachers, and a new key fob entry system to boost security measures are some of the other upgrades. Remember the outdated overhead projectors your teacher would use to show documents enlarged on a pulldown screen? The 21st century version of that is called an Ipevo document camera, and every teacher at BC now has one. Also, with approximately 1,200 new Chromebooks, they have officially become a one-to-one school district.

The Bulldogs do their fair share out in the community, as well. Over the last several years, the middle school social studies class has become very educated and involved when it comes to local history, veterans, and paying their respects to both. They have participated in philanthropic activities such as paying their respects at the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville PA, replacing flags on veteran’s graves for Memorial Day, laying wreaths on veteran’s graves for Christmas, and collecting/donating supplies to homeless veteran shelters. Not to mention, the middle school STEAM class learned about mental health awareness and spread a little holiday cheer by making inspirational and motivational Christmas cards which were distributed to individuals in local mental health programs.

All things considered, Beth-Center is certainly striving to evolve and move forward. Their central focus is and always has been the students, and by taking this proactive approach and paying attention to how every aspect of the district is functioning, significant advancements are already in the works. Watching the Bulldogs rise to the challenge to continue to progress and reinvent themselves will surely be something to see.

*Special thanks to Superintendent Mr. Donald MacFann, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Services, and Director of Special Education Dr. Betsy D’Emidio, Middle School Principal Mrs. Katelyn Vogel, and Automated Systems Coordinator Mrs. Brandy Sirianni for meeting with the IU1 and for providing the pictures.