Teachers and students at HISD’s Attucks Middle School will soon be reaping the benefit of a new STEM-based partnership, thanks to the campus’ newly acquired status as a Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (T-STEM) Academy.
The school was designated a T-STEM Academy for the 2012–2013 school year by the Texas Education Agency, which means educators there can now access professional development opportunities, receive technical assistance, and network with other STEM academies to share best practices.
The school has already forged such a partnership with nearby Jones High School, which became a magnet school for STEM studies in the 2011–2012 school year (see related story here). Called the Jones-Attucks Collaborative (JAC-STEM), this arrangement will enable teachers and leaders from Jones to work directly with their peers at Attucks.
“I am very passionate about giving students of color exposure to STEM-related subjects,” explained Attucks MS Principal Deirdre Sharkey. “There is a shortage of students of color who choose careers in the STEM areas, and this is an opportunity to expose them to rigorous curriculum in math and science.”
As a part of the JAC-STEM arrangement, partnerships are being established with Houston-area universities to create a pipeline for STEM students who wish to pursue higher education. These universities would support teachers through learning communities, offer students summer enrichment programs and scholarship assistance, and provide ongoing feedback to both STEM campuses as they increase the rigor of their science and math curricula.
The Texas Education Agency will also provide both campuses with professional development opportunities for teachers in the areas of project-based learning and instructional best practices. Representatives from that agency will conduct regular visits to evaluate whether the STEM Academy structure has been established with fidelity.