Little Elm ISD announced it has opened the doors to the new Prestwick Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) K-8 Academy, one of the first of its kind in Texas. Acting Superintendent of Schools Matthew Gutierrez says the first two weeks of school at the STEM Academy was smooth and seamless.
“We had a pivotal first few weeks and the feedback from parents, teachers and students has all been very positive,” said Gutierrez. “Parents like the layout and when they walk in the school, they can see the learning taking place.”
The vision of the STEM Academy is to create a collaborative learning environment. As a project-based learning campus, the students take ownership of their learning and teachers facilitate by providing an authentic experience in lessons of discovery with real-world applications and twenty-first century skills.
“This school is giving students the best opportunity to go into the world and make them successful for life,” said STEM Principal Christine Gibson. “It’s a chance to be creative and get their hands dirty. As an educator, it makes me excited to give kids the chance to shine.”
The STEM Academy provides a unique opportunity to build a strong foundation in subjects that are increasingly important in today’s technology-dependent society. The structure also has the added benefit of allowing middle school students to mentor and teach younger students, which reinforces their learning.
“It’s the school of the future,” said STEM parent Anna Williams. “Research shows having kindergarteners with eighth graders promotes positive behavior among the kids because they have a sense of community and they know they are role models for the younger students.”
Little Elm ISD designed the 90,000 square-foot public school from the ground up, creating flexible learning spaces, which makes it easier for students to learn and collaborate. The grades are set up as ‘houses’ with open centers for school-wide meetings or small-group discussion.
“It’s a different way to learn,” said Gutierrez. “We want our students to think critically and independently so they will have the tools to be prepared for future career opportunities. Once students get to high school they will already have an idea about what they want to study in college and also what career path they will take because of the exposure they have already experienced.”
In middle school, students choose a STEM, public service or fine arts endorsement. The district plans to implement project-based learning on a smaller scale in all of its campuses. The goal is to provide rigorous, quality instruction to every student in LEISD, continuously considering the needs of each campus. The District’s Digital Learning Initiative provides laptops for students in grades 6-12. Beginning September 18, 4th and 5th graders will be issued Google ChromeBooks.
The STEM Academy is located within The Tribute, a 1,600-acre lakeside golf and resort community in The Colony, in the southern portion of the district and serves students residing in the community and throughout the district.
The school’s official dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 21.
The Little Elm Independent School District encompasses 40 square miles in the southeast corner of Denton County on the east side of Lake Lewisville with more than 6,800 students enrolled. LEISD is one of the fastest growing districts in Texas and serves students who reside in Little Elm, Frisco, Hackberry, Lakewood Village, The Colony and Oak Point.