STEM academy sees growth

By Ciara Conley - [email protected]

The Portsmouth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Academy continues to see growth in its programs. Founded in 2014, the school specializes in a small-class size, hands-on approach to learning for those in grades kindergarten through twelve.

While the school name focuses on STEM, the school also offers a complete education in the arts, through partnerships with the Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre, language arts and foreign language courses.

The pillars of the STEM Academy are collaborative, open-classroom, student-centered learning environment, learning groups based on student achievement levels, teachers as coaches and mentors fostering exploration, hands-on practice and experimentation through long-term group projects and accommodation of students’ individual interests through student-led activities.

“We ended our first year with eighteen kids, our second year we had 46 and this year we have 86 students,” said Principal Megan Warnock. The first and second years of the program, schooling was only available for children in grades kindergarten through eighth. Entering its third year, the school decided to expand into high school education as well. “We are graduating two kids for the first time so we’re very excited about that. We are projected to have 15 graduates in two years.”

Students at the STEM Academy follow the same academic calendar as Shawnee State University and attend school year-round. Students have a two-week break every trimester.

The STEM Academy also boasts a large number of students enrolled in College Credit Plus through Shawnee State. Students earn both high school and college credit by attending classes at Shawnee State, the school currently has 20 students enrolled in the program.

“We are expected to have 35 percent of our students in College Credit Plus, proximity makes it so nice. They can walk back and forth with our chaperones,” Warnock said. “We have a student in the seventh grade getting ready to take Calculus II and we have some in Statistics and Spanish. We’ve seen such high success, that transition to college can sometimes be difficult for kids and I’ve watched self-esteem rise with it. It’s such a neat thing to be able to almost cushion them their first year of college classes, especially when you’re talking about seventh and eighth grade kids can take college classes, they’re academically ready but they still need support with the social-emotional side,” said Warnock. When the students aren’t in their college courses, they have a special lounge in the school to complete homework assignments and additional tutoring with staff members.

In order to accommodate growth, the school will be adding new classrooms and hiring more teachers. The school prides itself on it’s student to teacher ratio, currently, there is one teacher for every 14 students. Warnock says the ratio will never exceed 15 to 1, keeping class sizes small and manageable.

The academic year begins in August and the school is currently accepting applications for enrollment. For more information, please call the school at 740-351-0591, you can also email [email protected] to arrange a tour or request more information.

By Ciara Conley

[email protected]

Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley – Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.

Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.