RINCON, Ga. – After months of construction and renovation, Effingham county students and teachers are starting to feel at home.
236 ninth and tenth graders make up the first class of Effingham College and Career Academy’s new S.T.E.M. Academy in Rincon, Georgia. The new program, which is a branch off of E.C.C.A. charter school, offers focused hands-on education for high school students students specializing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
“I never dreamed I would get to have a special school,” Sophomore Caitlin Warnick said.
The academy is a result of a $7 million dollars project funded through the local penny-per-dollar sales tax. A new facility comprised of classrooms, a cafeteria, software programming, design machinery, multiple 3D printers, and more continue to be set up for students and faculty to use. The hands-on curriculum is provided by Project Lead The Way, which is based on giving students real world experience in the realm of engineering.
“You can just see how much effort they put into this and how much they care about our future instead of back at the high school just getting your education,” Warnick said.
Warnick is one of 116 females making approximately 50% of the first year class. Something uncommon in the world of S.T.E.M.
“That’s one of the things engineers want to see,” Engineering teacher Casey Martin said. “They want to see more girls because typically girls are better engineers. They’re better problem solvers, they’re more patient with the process that they need to go through as an engineer.”
Those students who are in the Effingham County Public School System are eligible to enroll. Students are chosen to attend the S.T.E.M. Academy through high math and science test scores or the lottery system. Student take classes outside of the math and sciences but also place themselves on a path to finish with a focus on computer science, health care, or engineering.
The Academy continues to be under construction for months to come, according to Effingham Superintendent Dr. Randy Shearouse, but the school looks to have 500 students in the next two years, including expanding to 11th and 12th grade classes.
For now, teachers look to students to feedback and partnership for building the learning environment of the Academy.
“They’re our first class,” Martin said. “They’re our first run. It’s kinda cool but they’re kinda like our trial and error you could say.”
Martin is confident the training and education students learn through the Academy will prepare them for life after high school, be that directly into the work force or secondary education.
To learn more about the S.T.E.M. Academy, click here.