All Saints Academy Principal Anita Brouse has been a Catholic school educator for 40 years and has taught in the dioceses of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Providence.
Brouse has been employed by All Saints Academy, in Middletown, for the past two decades and has helped it achieve a science, technology, engineering, art and math – or STEAM – curriculum with the help of Roger Williams University.
Brouse was named a National Teacher of the Year for the New England region in 2013.
PBN: All Saints Academy recently earned STEAM accreditation from Roger Williams University. How did this process begin?
BROUSE: All Saints Academy began to incorporate project-based learning and innovation five years ago. It was then that the Diocese of Providence embraced the author Tom Pilecki and his work “From Stem to STEAM,” and we realized how much of Pilecki’s research we were already achieving.
PBN: How is RWU involved in the school’s day-to-day operations?
BROUSE: RWU joined with the diocese and Pilecki to advance STEAM certification in every diocesan school. All Saints Academy completed all 10 standards for certification, which were awarded in October 2017.
While I continue to invite RWU to our STEAM Night showcases, as well as to various functions throughout the year, and they are there if I have any questions, they do not manage any day-to-day [activities].
PBN: Why was it important to incorporate arts and creativity – the “A” in STEAM – into the curriculum rather than pursue a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum alone?
BROUSE: The A in STEAM is the visual and dramatic arts – or creative expression. It is the right-brain development that expands whole-brain function and allows students full expression of their thoughts beyond a purely literate world.
It is the innovation process – allowing a student to fashion a dog vest to deter coyote attacks equipped with lights and sound, all created with electronic circuitry and computer coding, which one of our alumni created last year. Arts education has supported awards in both robotics and staged drama [productions in the spring].
PBN: How has this accreditation helped propel the school forward? Is there increased interest in enrollment?
BROUSE: This year, for the design of our solar water filter, which focuses on water evaporation, we won the FIRST Lego League Global Innovation Award.
[In addition,] we hold three state titles in robotics; have presented our student projects at University of Rhode Island CS4RI summits, the Community College of Rhode Island computer programming summit and the Brown University Robot Block Party; we have hosted a state championship semi-final robotics competition; we were the first Rhode Island school to speak with the [International Space Station] astronaut Jeff Williams in 2016; and our middle school CyberPatriot teams have won [multiple] state competitions.
STEAM accreditation has expanded our presence in the technological education area, and our enrollment is growing [as a result].
PBN: What has been the impact on the school’s role in the community since the accreditation was received?
BROUSE: Our community efforts [include] … [training] more than 220 educators from public and private schools, [including some Catholic institutions], in our Copernicus Science Learning Lab.
Educators [who] have [learned] computer coding … return to share their lessons and results … with other colleagues.
All Saints STEAM Academy expanded its role in the community as [a] STEAM-certified educator in Newport County and our students have shared their projects at local SCRATCH Day events, including a session at Newport’s Frank E. Thompson Middle School.