Welcome to the Waukesha STEM Academy, where our mission is simple, yet complex at the same time. How is this possible you may ask? Think about it like this... when we went to school, we may have been asked to learn about events and dates & times in history, memorize math facts and take quizzes & tests, learn a foreign language and then be expected to ask, "How do I go to the bathroom?," in Spanish. Did this bring us success and true application of what we really knew though? More importantly, are we using many of these skills today and how often were we taught how to actually apply any of these skills in real-life and more so, in context?
At WSA, we strive to have our students not just become masters of content, but EXPERTS in CONTEXT... to be able to apply knowledge & skills and problem-solve in their everyday lives. Why teach students something that they will never use, or find no value in? What is the point? So they can "ace a test" and pin it up on the refrigerator? Don't get me wrong, these look nice, but what value is there in this, especially for the student? What about the student who can take the skills that he or she learned by completing a project and by mapping out a product on a program such as CAD or Inventor and then actually physically creating the product on a 3-D printer, to be used as a prototype, to try to solve a real-world problem and possibly creating model parts for engineering tools and machines? Think about the power in that and how marketable those type of skills are in our über-competitive job-market today.
When you walk through our hallways and speak with staff, students and parents, there are five words that should resonate with you at all times:
- THINK - ENGAGE - COLLABORATE - INNOVATE - CREATE -
Why wouldn't all students want to be involved in a PERSONALIZED learning experience that offers them all of these facets of growing themselves as not just students, but as a life-long learner and more importantly, as a leader? In a PROFICIENCY-BASED system, our students are able to do just that and also enter our schools at different places in their educational career and then move at different paces. These journeys aren't based on a "Born-On Date," of each student, because of their age, but rather, their Readiness-Level and where they truly are at academically and socially, along their learning and developmental continuum. Think about this like a number line, with grades Kindergarten through Grade 12 (or up through College and beyond)... one at each [opposite] end of the continuum. We are helping students constantly reflect on where they personally are and helping them get to the next level of their education. That is our role at the Waukesha STEM Academy... to help students tap into their true potential. We are not going to do the work for them, but we will definitely help them tap into skills and strategies that they never thought possible and when they succeed... that is the learning that we are seeking.
Students own their learning at WSA and at any given point in the day, they should be able to tell you what they are learning, how they are learning it and how they can demonstrate it. More recently and as we continue to develop our student STEMfolios (digital portfolios), students can also highlight and articulate where they have been and where they are going next, in their educational pathways. Similar to a roadmap in college, or at a real job, they need to see big picture... the 30,000 foot view. We have just given them that.
Come along for the ride and see what a difference it makes to work with a group of excited students and educators who are continuously innovating and moving edUcation forward.