On Wednesday, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Institute at Newton County College and Career Academy (NCCA) became the first college and career academy in Georgia to be awarded “STEM Certification” by the Georgia Department of Education (DOE). It is the 41st school and the 10th high school to receive this distinction.
According to Tim Schmitt, director of career technical and agricultural education for the NCSS, when the decision was shared with the STEM Institute’s students, there were cheers, tears and hugs.
“This means a lot to the students,” Schmitt said. “They own the programs.”
The students had a big role in convincing the official certification team on Wednesday.
“The team was impressed with how articulate the students are and how obviously connected they are to all the work going on,” Schmitt said. “The STEM Institute students are engaged and excited. They sold it.”
The certification team’s visit and decision was the final hurdle in a process that the STEM Institute’s 156 students, teachers and administrators have been working through for several years.
The certification team was led by Gilda Lyon, STEM coordinator for the DOE, and included representatives from education, business, industry and the DOE. Such teams review a school’s application and supporting documents. They then visit the school to interview students, business partners, teachers and other stakeholders and make a final decision. The purpose is to verify whether or not a school under consideration for certification is substantially meeting the 19 criteria outlined in the DOE’s STEM Certification Continuum.
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