By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
167th Airlift Wing
With the pandemic in full-swing at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, school districts across the country made tough decisions to ensure education continued as effectively and safely as possible.
While some districts opted for distance learning, others offered in-class learning, and others instituted hybrid models of attendance.
Therefore many education programs including STARBASE, a Department of Defense-sponsored education program, had to rework their standard methods for delivering curriculum.
STARBASE Martinsburg and the Winchester STARBASE Academy took their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program “on the road” since COVID-19 limitations precluded students from travelling to the STARBASE classrooms.
STARBASE Martinsburg, co-located with the 167th Airlift Wing at Shepherd Field, Martinsburg, West Virginia, typically hosts approximately 2,400 fifth graders from Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties each year. Twenty-five miles south in Virginia, the Winchester STARBASE Academy at the Army National Guard 116th Infantry Regiment, Winchester Readiness Center, serves approximately 1,400 students in Frederick and Clarke counties annually.
“We really had to think outside the box this school year, rework our curriculum, and find ways to take our hands-on, minds-on activities out of our STARBASE classrooms and into the schools,” said Sherra Triggs, STARBASE Martinsburg director.
Since the West Virginia schools were not permitting visitors as part of their COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the school year, Triggs and her team travelled to Greencastle, Pennsylvania, October through December to provide STEM lessons to students there.
Then the Winchester and Martinsburg staffs teamed up during February through mid-April, to deliver an abbreviated version of their curriculum to schools in Frederick County, Virginia.
“This meant that none of the fifth graders from the Frederick County Public Schools that had originally been scheduled this year missed out on our exceptional hands-on STEM program,” said Dr. Susan Corrigan, Winchester STARBASE Academy director.
In mid-April, the partnership continued as the Martinsburg and Winchester staffs were granted permission to deliver the STARBASE lessons in Berkeley County schools.
“This collaboration has been a positive outcome of what has been a trying year for both sites,” said Triggs. “We teach collaboration as part of our curriculum, and this is one more way we can demonstrate collaboration in action to our students.”