Little Elm ISD ‘turned dirt’ on their 31-acre site in The Colony this morning signifying the start of construction on one of the only K-8 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academies in the country.
“The new STEM Academy has set the tone for the transformation we are leading in all of our classrooms, “ said Lynne Leuthard, superintendent of schools. “On behalf of our current students and the many more to come, I thank you for the role you have played and are about to play in the creation of this campus.”
The STEM Academy will provide students in kindergarten through eighth grades a unique opportunity to build a strong foundation in subjects that are increasingly important in today’s technology-dependent society.
“We must educate our workforce to keep up with the demands of our economy,” said Representative Pat Fallon, Texas House of Representative – District 106. “It has been proven that graduates who have STEM experience have vastly more earning potential over a lifetime, so clearly this is the direction schools need to be headed.”
More than 120 attendees included residents of The Tribute, future students, as well as current teachers and staff joined in the ceremony as everyone took turns shoveling dirt on the property.
A unique partnership between the district and Matthews Southwest, developer of The Tribute, made possible the issuance of $15 million in new bond debt to fund construction of the 80,000 square foot campus.
The design documents, created by SHW Architects, set the tone for an innovative and collaborative learning environment. Pogue Construction will be the contractor for the project.
The exterior of the campus will mirror key characteristics of The Tribute development, and is situated on a 31-acre site the district purchased from the 2002 Little Elm ISD Capital Improvements Plan. It pairs brick and stone to accent the existing amenities of the neighborhood.
The entry area to the campus will serve as a centralized meeting area with a “staired” space for seating. This space will also be used for multi-purposes and informal gatherings. It will be tucked beneath a sweeping, circular stairway that will connect the first and second floors.
The primary grades will be housed on the first floor of the facility and secondary students will attend on the second floor. All students will have access to common learning areas including a cafeteria, gymnasium as well as outdoor learning spaces.
Most importantly, flexible learning spaces will divide grade levels into “houses” rather than traditional hallways lined with classrooms. Collaborative areas will inspire students to work on projects and facilitate the shift in instruction that the district is striving to achieve.
Each “house” will have a common center for resource and reference materials for direct access. All of the “houses” will be connected by a two-story atrium for school-wide meetings that can also be used to facilitate small group instruction.
The entire facility will be wireless with interactive technology for student use. The district currently provides laptops for students in grades 6-12.
Students who reside with in The Tribute will have the first opportunity to enroll, and remaining students will be selected at random from other Little Elm ISD campuses. Entrance into the STEM Academy will not be based on academic achievement, or other criteria.