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Story of the Creation of the STEM Academy: Part Five

By Dr. Richard Canfield, Superintendent of Schools

In the midst of celebrating the town’s 375 years, 2014 also heralded the opening of the Sandwich STEM Academy.  I felt it was appropriate to document the story of The STEM Academy, as it becomes part of a proud tradition of excellent schooling in Sandwich. 

Part Five: Attending to the details….

While all of this was occurring, Dr. Booras, Gil Newton, members of the various advisory groups, and Lee Savery, the network administrator, worked through varied iterations of a complex academic schedule founded on middle level practices using evidence-based research.

The challenges of preserving the integrity of the basic tenets of middle school education, primarily interdisciplinary teaching and learning, were considerable. Creating a vibrant learning space supporting teaming, while working with the realities of shared occupancy with the high school presented creative and considerable challenges. Defining the needs of a schedule, creating a schedule and integrating SHS and The STEM Academy seamlessly into the student management system required strong partnerships and teamwork. Thanks to that partnership, all this was accomplished with no negative impact on high school offerings. Additionally, to provide common planning time for academy teams of teachers, to function as a Professional Learning Community (PLC), and to develop interdisciplinary plans, high school teachers are able to offer course electives for academy students.

While all of this was occurring, Alan Hall, the Director of Facilities, was leading the work with his team of custodians and maintenance workers, to prepare the A-Wing to become The STEM Academy.  It was a long and winding process. After a sill fell out of a third-story window onto a sidewalk, 132 A-Wing window sills were removed and replaced with a more secure system.  This was required.  The swimming pool leak and the failed HVAC system were also being addressed in order to provide a second teaching station for physical education for the more than 1300 students that would occupy the building.  The new stadium was also progressing, providing many capital projects for the facilities team to be engaged in.

Specific to the A-Wing STEM Academy space, walls were put up and painting done throughout the summer of 2014 as all school buildings in the district were also being prepared for the September 2 opening.  In the end, two new engineering rooms, two new art rooms, and two new science rooms and a new nurse’s suite were created for The STEM Academy.   The 7th & 8th grade curriculum materials were loaded onto pallets and moved from Oak Ridge, Forestdale and Wing to the STEM Academy.

All the work was completed efficiently and economically to preserve funding for the actual program provided for the students.

Read more about the construction work that took place over the summer here and  here.



Part One: How the idea for a Middle School/STEM Academy came to be….

Part Two: Starting the process of building a new and different school for Sandwich…

Part Three: Considering what Teaching and Learning in The STEM Academy would look like….

Part Four: Parents and Community Members become involved….

Part Six: Teachers and Students contribute in a variety of ways…

Part Seven: Reflecting on the Sandwich STEM Academy and looking forward…