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W&M School of Education to partner with Virginia STEAM Academy

  • Collaborating for the Commonwealth
    Collaborating for the Commonwealth  William & Mary's School of Education will partner with the Virginia Science Technology Engineering and Applied Mathematics (STEAM) Academy to help improve STEM education in the Commonwealth.  
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William & Mary’s School of Education will partner with the Virginia Science Technology Engineering and Applied Mathematics (STEAM) Academy to help improve STEM education for middle- and high-school students in the Commonwealth.

The two institutions recently signed a memorandum of understanding, committing to a partnership that will benefit students and faculty at both schools through a variety of collaborations and research opportunities.

“We are delighted to partner with the Virginia STEAM Academy to help students prepare for the science and technology jobs of the future,” said Virginia McLaughlin, dean of the W&M School of Education. “Given our programs at William and Mary, particularly our Center for Gifted Education and our STEM education initiatives, we hope to make some unique contributions to this highly collaborative effort.”

Formed through a grassroots effort by parents, educators, business people and others, the Virginia STEAM Academy will offer 1,000 exceptionally able and interested high school students from across the state a chance to participate in a residential learning program. The public academy will also host a summer residential program for talented middle school students and provide professional development opportunities for teachers. The academy, which will potentially be housed at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., expects to hold its first classes in 2014.

William & Mary will provide support to the academy by assisting with grant writing, research and development activities, curriculum and professional development, student assessment and teacher evaluation, and student mentoring. Students at the academy may also have the chance to collaborate with William & Mary students and faculty on research projects.

Students in the School of Education interested in teaching or counseling will be able to conduct clinical work at the academy. Additionally, William & Mary faculty will be able partner with Virginia STEAM Academy faculty to develop and test curricular materials.

The academy has already called upon William & Mary’s Center for Gifted Education for guidance, tapping into the expertise of its executive director, Tracy Cross. Cross once served as the executive director of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities -- a state-supported, residential school for academically gifted adolescents. Cross and members of his team are contributing to a standards-setting framework that will drive all aspects of the academy and to the design of the academy's inaugural summer camp for middle school students.

“The School of Education at the College of William & Mary and the Virginia STEAM Academy have a unique opportunity to nurture the next generations of STEAM leaders by impacting our STEAM teacher workforce and student learning directly,” said Virginia STEAM Academy co-founders Judy K. Stewart and M. Caroline Martin.   

Several other organizations and universities – including Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Virginia Tech and the Virginia Military Institute – have also entered into agreements with the Virginia STEAM Academy, all in an effort to address an expected increase in STEM-related jobs in the near future. According to a 2010 report from Georgetown University, the Commonwealth will need to fill 400,000 STEM jobs by 2018.

To address that need, Governor Bob McDonnell has made STEM education one of his priorities. Additionally, the Virginia General Assembly has provided the Virginia STEAM Academy with a $200,000 grant to advance its planning process.

For more about STEM outreach initiatives at William & Mary, see the stories in this series from Ideation Magazine.