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STEM students love new Academy
STEM 1 Web
Students at the STEM Academy enjoy lunch during the first week in the brand new school. - photo by Kim Dennis

        Effingham County’s newest educational facility opened its doors to students last week with a smooth transition with unique learning opportunities all around.
        The STEM Academy, an addition to the Effingham College and Career Academy (ECCA,) is geared specifically toward students with a passion for math and science.
        One hundred twenty-five freshmen and 125 sophomores make up the first group of STEM students. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the academy is one of only 25 STEM-certified schools in the state. After freshman students enroll the next two years, the Academy will reach its 500 student capacity.
        Dr. Barbara Prosser, the CEO of ECCA and Stem Academy, was pleased with the opening.
        “The first day of school was very, very good; it went very smoothly,” Prosser said. “The students were very excited to be here. It’s a good choice for many of them.
        “I have been amazed that ninth and tenth graders know what they are interested in at an early age and the STEM Academy gives them the opportunity t pursue that.”
        Prosser pointed out that there is a shortage of STEM-equipped job applicants across the country and this new STEM Academy has the potential to bridge that gap.
        Prosser has been at ECCA for five years. Prior to the opening of the STEM Academy, the ECCA offered the career classes of automotive maintenance and technology, culinary arts, allied health, nursing, engineering, logistics, computer sciences and web-design. Those classes continue and students are bused in or drive from Effingham County High School or South Effingham High School for that coursework only.
        Those 650 non-STEM students complete academic coursework at their base high schools. The new STEM students complete all coursework at the Academy, but can take part in extra-curricular activities at their own base high school.
        Prosser said, “The STEM and Career teachers work together to create opportunities for real-work scenarios where they apply science and math learning,” said Prosser. “They work on problem solving skills with real problems and use scientific research to prepare for 21st Century jobs.”
        Some of the students were asked what they liked about being a STEM student at ECCA during the first week of class, and the affirmative responses were overwhelming.
        Students said: “All the teachers know my name.” “Small classes and more room.” “Everyone is focused on learning and cares.” “The cafeteria is awesome.” “No distractions.” “More freedom.” “Very positive setting.” “More opportunities.”
        Prosser said extensive research took place before adding the STEM Academy with an attempt to model the Academy after other successful ones in the state, for both the physical structure of the school and to include a highly-skilled group of teachers.
        “It’s a great thing,” said Prosser of the STEM Academy addition. “It shows the commitment of the Effingham Board of Education to high-quality education. I am blessed. I don’t take that for granted.”