One movie that many of us remember from years ago is the classic, “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.”
I can still remember the notes that were played in the background when each of the three main characters appeared on the screen.
Well, I’m going to use that theme to sound those notes and explain some possible misconceptions about our STEM Program.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the acronym, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Our school’s high school STEM program began several years ago when we observed that the number of students graduating from our high school that went on to college and majored in a STEM major was 100% higher than the national average. Why? It was the teachers. You see, several of our high school teachers come from STEM backgrounds and their passion and love for what they were teaching was rubbing off on the students.
More Good: We also took note of our country’s job landscape for the next 20 years and saw that occupations in STEM fields were forecasted to be the highest demand and highest paying. Conclusion: Because we have the expertise and we can provide the kind of specialized education that will help our students qualify for some of the best jobs in the future, we formalized a program at CCHS that was at the time, one of the first STEM programs in the country. This May, we will graduate eight students from this special and excellent program.
At this point, you may be wondering what can be bad about this program. Well, there is nothing bad that is coming from the program, but there are some bad misconceptions that are being circulated around the school. I would like to address them by answering them in the form of the comments that I have heard.
Comment: “STEM is just for the super smart kids.”
My response: While the program does require students and their parents to be committed to their schooling, the program does not select only the super smart students. Students with A’s and B’s (and even some C’s) have been accepted into the program.
Comment: “The whole high school is now STEM kids.”
My response: One in four of our high school students is in the STEM program, so this rumor is not even close to being true.
Comment: “My child doesn’t like STEM subjects so that program means nothing to me.”
My response: Parents should be careful to not close any doors to their children’s likes or dislikes as they often change as they get older. Frankly, even many high school age children are changing their minds about what they are interested in learning and doing for the rest of their lives.
The ugly is different than the bad because the ugly involves insinuations and inferences around character issues.
Comment: The administration doesn’t care about any of the students who aren’t STEM.”
My response: There is not one student in our school for whom we do not have deep concern. We want the very best for every student and as God has given us the talent and ability to teach STEM, we are seizing that opportunity to give a more specialized curriculum track to those who are interested.
In the same way and for the same reasons, we will be launching a special Liberal Arts focused curriculum track for those who are interested in that area of learning. Look for that to be announced for the 2015-2016 school year. Sorry, no acronym decided on just yet!
Comment: “The STEM students are snobs and they look down on the other students.”
My response: This comment came from an elementary school parent and frankly I have no idea how he arrived at that conclusion. The fact of the matter is that the STEM students are a varied group of kids. Some are into sports, some are into fine arts, and some are self-proclaimed geeks, and are not known for being confident young people, never mind accusations of arrogance.
There is so much more that could be said about this wonderful program, but I will leave you with only two more points.
Recently, my 30-year-old son mentioned that he is thinking about changing jobs because he is falling behind in education that is needed for his job. He has been in sales in the lighting business for five years and the changes in how lights and fixtures actually work is changing rapidly. You see, even though he is in sales, he is now finding that he must know more about the science of how his product works in order to sell it properly. The fact is that no matter what field of work our children pursue in the future, they will need to know something about how Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math applies to their job.
Finally, I want you to join with me and thank God for how He, the Master Engineer, placed STEM in our school. And STEM will not just be for our high school. No, we expect to do more teaching in the STEM subjects in the middle and elementary grades in the coming years. Join me in seeing our school as an instrument in the hands of God. He is worthy to be praised!