STEAM is an educational philosophy that involves using Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics to promote critical thinking and creativity. Originally focused on the rigid sciences (STEM), in recent years, the move to STEAM (being inclusive of Art, thus STEAM) has gained traction. According to Arts Integration, “STEM alone misses several key components that many employers, educators, and parents have voiced as critical for our children to thrive in the present and rapidly approaching future.”
Georgia is home to some charter schools that are devoted to out and out STEM & STEAM education. So, who are some of the STEM & STEAM heavy hitters in Georgia’s charter school scene?
Amana Academy’s STEM Certification
In 2016, Amana Academy became the first K-8 school in the state to become STEM certified by the Georgia Department of Education.
“Five years ago we made a commitment to inspire the next generation of responsible, innovative professionals using the Expeditionary Learning framework for delivering Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education,” said Amana Academy’s Executive Director Ehab Jaleel in 2016. “The goal to become STEM certified became a key element of our Vision 2020 strategic plan. We are very proud to have received this recognition from the Department of Education.”
The school was recertified by the department for another five years in 2021. The following September, State School Superintendent Richard Woods presented the school with a STEM Certification award and visited classrooms to observe STEM learning in action.
Georgia Charter Schools Association President and CEO, Tony Roberts, was there for the award ceremony and wrote about the significant achievement on LinkedIn.
“Congrats to @AmanaAcademy and my friend @Ejaleel for achieving a new Stem Certification. Ehab has been a visionary leader of that school that has served literally thousands of GA students. @GaCharters @Fultoncoschools @STEMgeorgia.“
Since opening 17 years ago, Amana Academy North Fulton has been empowering students to achieve exceptional academic results while building the skills to become critical-thinking change-makers with intercultural understanding. The organization is continuing to build on this tradition with the recent opening of its second campus, Amana Academy West Atlanta, in Mableton.
Drew Charter Elementary Academy’s STEAM Certification
In 2017, Charles R. Drew Charter School Elementary Academy became certified as an official STEAM School by the Georgia Department of Education, becoming the first school in Atlanta Public Schools and the second school in the state of Georgia to achieve this important designation.
Photo Caption: L to R: APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, Drew Charter Head of Schools Don Doran, Drew Elementary Academy Principal Monishae O’Neill, State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods and Drew Elementary Academy students.
“It’s never too early to start thinking about college and a potential career,” said former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen. “We need scientists, we need people who are going to be computer programmers, we need engineers, we need artists, and we need mathematicians. Explore and tinker, and really start thinking about your futures in STEAM.
Soon after, the school’s Junior Academy received state STEAM certification. Then, in spring of 2021, Drew’s Senior Academy earned statewide certification and became the first K-12 STEAM certified school in the state of Georgia. The designation certifies that the Drew’s entire student population is engaged in STEAM learning and confirms the school’s position as a statewide leader in innovative education.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods presented Drew with the STEAM certification award last fall during a special ceremony held at the school. The ceremony was also attended by state Sen. Elena Parent, state Rep. Becky Evans and GCSA Chief Strategy Officer, Bonnie Holliday.
Tybee Island Maritime Academy’s STEAM Certification
Tybee Island Maritime Academy (TIMA) is another notable charter school to have achieved statewide STEAM status. The school was the first in its region to receive STEAM certification.
“It’s an important way for students to learn because it’s teaching them 21st century skills that are going to set them apart from their peers,” said TIMA academic coach Alicia Beck to local news station WTOC.
We also celebrated TIMA’s success in October of 2022 on our social media channels:
GCSA is thrilled to celebrate @TybeeMaritime for being the first K-8 school in the region to be STEAM certified! In a presentation ceremony yesterday, State School Superintendent @SuptWoods presented TIMA with their official STEAM banner. pic.twitter.com/GXToQbGPGv
— GA Charter Schools (@GACharters) October 14, 2022
Additionally, 2nd grade teacher Torey Connelly at TIMA shared one of the awesome projects she plans to do with her class that answers the question: “How can we use impressionism to teach younger learners about the patterns of the day and night sky?” Watch as she explains in our story about the benefits of STEM and STEAM education.
Is your child’s charter school on this list? If not, maybe you should consider bringing it up to your school leader!
STEM Georgia actually provides the steps and resources to get the STEAM certification process started.