by Gil Newton, Director of the STEM Academy
As I write this column I am pleased to say that I am surrounded by construction activity in the STEM Academy. Someone give me a hardhat! Window sills are being repaired. New furniture and cabinets have arrived. Walls are going up in new offices. Sinks are being installed in the new art and science classrooms. The phones are being hooked up. And work on the swimming pool has begun. My thanks again to Alan Hall, Director of Facilities & Grounds and his crew for all their hard work.
The summer has also been a busy time for many teachers. Working in teams and in discipline areas several teachers have been designing and writing curriculum for our students this year. New programs, many based on digital resources, will be part of the STEM Academy. We also offered the class on Project Based Learning (PBL) once again to new staff and others including elementary and high school teachers. We will be focusing on the use of PBL in all our classes this year.
I am pleased to welcome Assistant Principal Beth Hebb. She and I, along with Secretary Carolyn Perry, have been working this summer to enroll new students, organize the schedules, and order materials and supplies for the classes. I also welcome Victor Roberts who has joined our staff as an 8th grade math teacher. Mr. Roberts has taught at several middle schools, most recently at the Mattacheese Middle School in West Yarmouth.
Many of our STEM students are looking forward to our new and expanded sports program. Athletic Administrator Neil Murphy has announced that online registration for STEM Academy sports is now available. You can register here.
I have had a lot of requests from parents regarding supplies needed this fall. We decided not to send out a long list of materials because many of these will be provided. For example, all students will be given an agenda book the first day. And several teachers will identify specific needs for their classes when they distribute their expectation sheets to the students.
However, there are some items which every student should have. I recommend two 2 inch binders with a total of 8 dividers. Each binder should also include some paper. A student should bring pens and pencils to class as well. Some classes may require colored pencils. Students in 8th grade English should have a composition book.
One of the big changes in the STEM Academy is that the physical education class is now 82 minutes in length like all other subjects. All students will need to dress for gym. A student should have sneakers, socks, gym shorts, and a T-shirt. No tank tops are allowed. Each student should also have a combination padlock for their gym locker. And please emphasize that a student should write down the combination number in a safe place and not share it with others.
Students will receive a STEM Academy handbook the first day. The teachers will review important information in the handbook. I recommend that parents also review the book with their children, particularly the code of conduct and the dress code.
Student pictures will be taken on September 22 and retakes on October 28. Additional information will be given later.
Bus routes will be listed in the Sandwich Enterprise and the Cape Cod Times. We are planning on late buses on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Once we have finalized the changes for traffic flow at the high school and the Academy this will be sent out to the media and I will review it in a special edition of Newton’s News.
On August 27 at 7:00 PM we are having a Welcome Night at the STEM Academy for students and parents. We will begin in the auditorium and the students will be escorted to their homerooms (advisories) to receive their schedules and go on a tour. The STEM Parents Task Force has also planned a special event that evening. Parents will have an opportunity to meet the administrative staff and also to tour the Academy.
Beginning the first week, STEM Technology Specialist Josh Rodrigues will issue the Chrome Books to the students and he will review the proper use and care with them. This may take several days as we initiate a one to one technology for the STEM students. All classes will be using the Chrome Books in addition to
their other curriculum materials.
Eventually we will also have a STEM Academy web site that will contain up to date information on our activities and events.
Many of the members of the Arts and Humanities and Science and Engineering Advisory Boards will be available to work with teachers on projects, guest presentations, and field trips. I am predicting that there will be a strong community connection for all of our students.
I very excited that we are on the verge of opening our new school. Over a year of careful and detailed planning by many dedicated individuals has taken place, and we will be ready to open the doors to a great group of young people.
On opening day I have scheduled an assembly for our students. After a few brief introductions from me, the students will see a warm and enthusiastic recorded video from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. This will be followed by an exciting presentation by oceanographer Dr. Katy Croff Bell. The students will then begin their classes on our first Blue Day.
The STEM Academy offers all of our students the opportunity for success. With a strong core program, a variety of new classes, and the adoption of project based learning methods, I believe that the teachers will continue to provide an excellent education for all our students.
I had the privilege this summer of serving my 10th year as Director of the Advanced Studies and Leadership Program (ASLP) at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and sponsored by the Cape Cod Collaborative. We had around 200 middle school students from the Cape and Islands and a few towns off Cape for a three week residential STEM program. In fact ASLP is one of the first STEM programs in Massachusetts. There I saw how successful a hands-on, project based program can be for middle school kids. And I am convinced that this approach can benefit all students in our school. With that commitment in mind I am looking forward to greeting each and every student on opening day.
Director, Sandwich STEM Academy