“STEM is a culture, not a curriculum.”

The previous words were spoken last February at the AdvancED STEM Summit. The quote resonates with me because the Rockhurst STEAM initiative involves much more than a few new courses.

In the Spring of 2017, Rockhurst High School will pursue a STEM Certification through the only international accrediting agency that offers such a credential. A couple of years after reaching our STEM Certification goal, Rockhurst will celebrate 100 years of school accreditation through this agency!

One of the great things about pursuing the STEM Certification is the fact that the indicators already align and reinforce the existing direction of the Rockhurst STEAM initiative.

This is how AdvancED standardizes a STEM school:

Looking back on recent blog posts, I think the words innovative, creative, thinking strategies, problem-solvers, and study already exemplify the initiative.

The certification contains eleven indicators broken down into three themes: Learners, Teachers, and Experiences.

The above 5 indicators are already being realized! All students participate within the Active Learning Classrooms and a thriving Robotics Program. Moreover, every freshman will be taking Introduction to Computer Science. (ST1.1)

The Active Learning Classrooms support nearly half the student body and support independent as well as collaborative work (ST1.2).

Self-directed time is a primary feature of next year’s new academic schedule. (ST1.3)

Technology resources could not be more prominent than Rockhurst’s the 1-1 iPad program. (ST1.4)

Performance based assessments are the modus operandi of the Robotics program. (ST1.5)

Rockhurst is already engaged in a curriculum design and review process that is focusing on Backwards Design and influenced by professional development from Research for Better Teaching. (ST1.6)

Next year’s schedule will allow all of our teachers to meet more frequently with colleagues in professional learning communities and teachers will be able to grow as the teaching profession evolves with the 21st century. Moreover, the STEAM Team engages in nearly daily meetings regarding the future of STEAM at Rockhurst. (ST1.7)

The exceptional Advanced Placement scores from our students already demonstrate STEM literacy. Moreover, the perception responses regarding the Active Learning Classrooms also exemplify the STEM Standard. (ST1.8)

Teachers have attended nearly a dozen conferences this year alone. Some highlights include the NCSSS conference, the NSTA, the iPad Summit, and even this AdvancED STEM Summit! (ST1.9)

The mentor model serves as a foundation of the Robotics success. The motto for the Robotics mentors is “Teach them, lead them, let them.” (ST1.10)

Students experience extended day opportunities in collaboration with the Astronomy club, Outdoors Club. Adult-world connections already occur through the service-learning model. (ST1.11)

I must admit, I feel confident that Rockhurst will achieve a STEM Certification. The blog posts from this year alone demonstrate ample evidence of the indicators.

It has been a great first year and I’m very excited for the incoming class of 2020, they will experience an extraordinarily innovative education. St. Ignatius will be proud.