Wiley Magnet Middle SchoolSTEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math
Inspiring Innovative Minds1400 Northwest Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27104
Phone: (336) 727-2378 | Fax: (336) 727-8412
Hours: 7:25am - 2:00pm
Lisa Bodenheimer, Principal
Visit the school website at https://www.wsfcs.k12.nc.us/Domain/2948
Wiley received support from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools administrators and the Board of Education to become the district's newest MAGNET SCHOOL. Wiley has been piloting it’s magnet theme — STEAM, a version of the popular science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, with the addition of the arts — with the sixth grade for the past two years. Becoming a magnet school will allow Wiley to enroll students from the entire county — not just its residential zone, which covers downtown and the areas around it, primarily to the northwest.
It will allow Wiley to officially expand STEAM throughout the building, though seventh- and eighth-grade teachers have already been implementing it to a lesser degree, Gaillard said.
It also may be the ticket to turning Wiley around. A historic school, Wiley was once considered one of the city’s best.
Changes in school system policy — namely how students are assigned to Wiley — and changes in the city were reflected by shifts in Wiley’s student population. As the student body became more diverse — racially and economically — new challenges were introduced, said Phyllis Harvey, a sixth\-grade teacher.
Harvey has taught at Wiley since 1985 and has ridden the ebbs and flows of school dynamics.
“We were one of three top middle schools,” Harvey said. “We had kids at a very high level and very few (poor kids). Over the years, our population changed; the kids changed. We were always diverse, but we became more diverse.”
Today, Wiley pulls students from affluent neighborhoods around Buena Vista, while nearly 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. It’s one of the most racially diverse schools in the district, with about one-third Hispanic students, one-third black students and a quarter white students. It also has large achievement gaps, making it one of the N.C. Department of Public Instructions “focus schools.” It will keep that designation for three years, at which point the state will reevaluate it.
Gaillard said that with the progress he’s already seen in the last year, he is confident Wiley will come off of that list. The school’s STEAM focus is a big part of that success, he said.
Having a STEAM focus means the school will teach the same content standards as all other middle schools — those are nonnegotiable and are set by the state — but will do so in a new way. Gaillard points to sixth-grade math teacher Joey Cutts as an example. One of the sixth-grade math standards deals with rate reasoning and ratios. Instead of constructing tables from numbers supplied to them by a book or teacher, Cutts’ students were given figurines and rubber bands. They move around the room, seeing how far the figurines stretch the rubber bands when dropped from various heights. Those numbers are added to tables, where students will later extrapolate the data to guess how many rubber bands it would take to reach the bottom of the stairs.
They’ll test their answers at the end.
“We want to know how many rubber bands it takes to get this down the stairs,” explained Derrick Ferguson, dangling a wrestling figurine from the end of a long rubber band.
Cutts said his classroom has changed completely since the implementation of STEAM and problem-based learning last year.
“Student engagement is through the roof,” Cutts said.
“I don’t want to leave,” added sixth-grader Janita Williams.
That engagement, Gaillard said, is what the school was looking for when it adopted STEAM. The hope now is that increased engagement will turn into greater student achievement. While proficiency scores on the new exams were low — just 31.5 percent of reading, math and science tests taken by Wiley students were passed — the school exceeded its expected growth. Students learned more in the course of one school year than they were expected to — something Gaillard attributes to STEAM.
Gaillard said the school is also working on developing some unique class offerings to supplement the STEAM curriculum. Courses in technology design and innovation, invention and innovation, and technological systems have already been added.
With around 500 students and a capacity of nearly 900, Wiley has room to grow. Gaillard said that the main draw for becoming a magnet school was being able to implement the STEAM theme for all his current students. But he welcomes the chance to bring in new students and add to an already diverse school.
“There’s a lot of great history in this building,” Gaillard said. “We want to bring the pride Wiley was known for back in the day back in the building.”
Directions to Wiley
From Business I-40, exit at Cloverdale Ave. Turn left at bottom of ramp. Go through light at First St. to end of Cloverdale, turn left on Hawthorne Road. School will be on right. Go around the building to enter the main bulding area; turn left as you enter the lobby and the office is first door on left.