A New Chapter Unfolds for Stratford STEM Magnet School

logo-StratfordRead about the dramatic impact that STEM education has had on the lives of students at Stratford STEM Magnet High School. In 2010, TSIN partnered with Metro Nashville Schools to form a STEM platform school at Stratford. We are proud of their progress and bright outlook for the future. The school’s academy model and turn around was recently featured in an article by Jon Gugala published in the The East Nashvillian May/June 2014 issue.

STEM-ing THE TIDE: Stratford STEM Magnet High School starts over to revolutionize Nashville’s workforce, with or without college

      In May, a demolition crew will enter Stratford High School to rip out the past. As part of a $20 million facelift, workers will be replacing the outdated HVAC systems, windows from the 1950s, asbestos floors, and energy-inefficient ceilings. The work also symbolizes rippingout another, more notorious piece of the school’s recent past: Until 2010, Stratford, at the corner of Preston Drive and Porter Road in Inglewood, wasn’t the type of school to which parents wanted to send their children. And East Nashville residents, if they could afford not to, didn’t.
     A quick Web search reveals just how bad problems were at Stratford. Thefts. Stabbings. Rapes. In 2006, 772 of Stratford’s 993 students
— 78 percent — were defined as “truant,” meaning they’d tallied five or more unexcused absences. It was the highest percentage of any Metro Nashville Public School, and Metro Police has long said it believes in a link between out-of-school teens and increased crime levels. That year, the most likely time for an East Nashville juvenile to commit a violent crime was on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday between 10 and 11 a.m.

      But this isn’t a story about where Stratford High School, which died of asphyxiation on its own toxic output, has been. Rather, it’s about a new, robust, and smaller experiment called the Stratford STEM Magnet High School, which has partially filled the halls since the 2010-11 school year. In May, when the last of Stratford’s ignoble heritage is torn out and thrown into industrial-sized dumpsters, it will physically be free of its past.
     Jennifer Berry, PhD, is chipper and energetic. With brown, chin-length hair and colored hornrimmed glasses, she is eager to be a tour guide for the new Stratford STEM Magnet. Berry is an Academy Coach; “Academy” is the divisional nomenclature for the school’s two main wings of study. Those two wings further subdivide into several “pathways,” each of which are equivalent to a college major.
     The idea of having a major in high school is something universally part of the MNPS system, not just Stratford. Its significance is largely credited with raising attendance rates, lowering discipline incidents, and producing a higher number of graduates citywide. “It’s an interest path, and what does interest do? It gives you buy-in,” Berry says. “Because of the academies of Nashville, there’s been some significant change in each [school] in a positive manner.”
     But while “majoring” in city high schools may which Stratford was once deficient, it’s only the tip of the revolution that this model is banking on.
      STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and this is where Stratford stands apart. A national program, STEM is designed to build the skilled workers of tomorrow in high school rather than college. The way they do this is with a lot of expensive equipment, funded through President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top Fund, for which Stratford qualified chiefly due to its contemptible prior performance.
     At Stratford, there are two pathways in the Academy of National Safety and Security Technologies: National Security Technology and Computer Simulation & Game Programming. The Academy of Science and Engineering has pathways in Interdisciplinary Science and Research, Engineering, and Biotechnology.
     In addition to providing students with the skills and expertise required to embark upon a high-paying career path right out of high school, the STEM program also gives students a choice when it comes to another major issue: student loan debt. Read the full article here.

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