Monday Update: Scranton STEMM Academy prepares to welcome first class of students

2022-07-12 03:17:05 By : Ms. eunice wu

Jul. 11—In just two months, Scranton School District students will start following a pathway for computer science, engineering or medicine.

The district will open its STEMM Academy for science, technology, engineering, math and medicine when school resumes in September. A total of 120 students — 60 each in seventh and eighth grades — will enroll in the program located at Scranton High School.

This spring, officials received 240 applications for the 120 available seats.

"It shows the need," said Katona Miller, program coordinator. "There are kids who are interested in this stuff."

The district's recovery plan, which includes both financial and academic initiatives, calls for the creation of the academy. The school board in June 2021 appointed Miller, who in 2019 was a finalist for the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year award, to lead the efforts.

In February, school directors approved creating the academy in the Scranton High library and adjoining space. Construction, renovation and equipment were estimated at $3.7 million.

The first phase of the renovation is nearing completion with crews now unpacking supplies and preparing to place modular, modern furniture and install technology.

The program will eventually expand to include seventh through 12th graders who will choose a pathway and take courses to prepare for higher education or the workforce. Students will find a math/science merged block period, more technical reading and writing, greater emphasis on research and project-based learning and new Advanced Placement courses.

Curriculum was approved in June, and current teachers have bid into the open positions. The program will include five full-time teachers and two others who will spend half the day with STEMM students. As the academy grows, the number of teachers will increase.

Teachers will receive training this summer on the new courses and technology, Miller said.

Officials also see opportunities for industry partnerships and the chance to inspire students for future careers.

"Every single director is excited about it," said Tara Yanni, school board president.

James Harris, who will enter seventh grade in the fall, looks forward to learning more about the STEMM subjects.

"I think it will be interesting," the 11-year-old said. "I'm going to do a little bit of everything."

His mother, Rita Harris, said she appreciates how the program will show students real-life applications and opportunities for the future.

"If we can give them a jump start, then why not?" she said. "We're hoping great things come from it."

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