Portsmouth STEM Academy is a new private, non-profit K-8 Ohio school opening in Portsmouth for the 2014-2015 school year. We offer a robust curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math, while still providing a full program in liberal arts, international cultures, and foreign language (Spanish and Mandarin). We will also be opening the High School Academy in a second phase.
We believe children deserve a learning center focused on their intellectual, emotional, and physical needs, not those of adults. Schools should be exciting worlds of exploration, guiding students through what they need to know, and encouraging them to excel in the realms that most appeal to them individually. We believe in learning by coaching, hands-on practice, and experimentation.
We provide a collaborative, open-classroom environment, with learning groups based on student achievement levels within each course of study. Every student should work at their level of understanding, whether above or below their grade in different content areas. We foster student collaboration and mentorship through long-term group projects and student-led activities.
We operate on a year-round trimester, coinciding with the Shawnee State University academic calendar. Fall and Winter trimesters are supplemented with a unique and fun Summer trimester that blends enrichment and special projects, including transportation to and from age-appropriate sports, music, fine and performing arts, science fair projects, tech camps, and more. Each trimester is separated by a 2-week intersession break.
Portsmouth STEM Academy FAQ
Portsmouth STEM Academy is finishing up its first school year. How did it go?
We have been overwhelmed at how successful our first year has been. I mean, you expect problems when you start anything new, and even more so when the school is very different than what has been traditionally offered in this region. Instead, the teachers saw the vision, and they created something even better than we could have hoped for.
So as the Spring session wraps up, the kids are moving into a summer session?
Yes, we offer a full summer session, which we really see as more of a summer day camp, which includes academics, but is focused on enrichment and special activities. We want summer to always be a really special session, one that staff and students get excited for. I mean, it's summer! We all want to have fun in summer, but for those of us who work, we need a place we feel good about for our kids, even through the summer. And it works out great, because parents know they can still take their kids out for vacations, even long ones, really any time through the summer or rest of the year.
So what is planned for this summer at Portsmouth STEM Academy?
There is a 10-day theatre camp, put together for us by PAAC/PACT, with a show at the end of course. The kids will really take charge of their on-stage or behind-the-scenes role. Southern Ohio Museum is providing a week-long Artist in Residence to teach the Art of Paper Making. COSI will be doing two of their COSI on Wheels programs - Simply Chemistry and Exploring Ecology. Our Lego Robotics projects will be in full swing, and the kids are also starting a sustainable garden and learning about the economics of farming.
What are those external events the kids will participate in?
PSA sends all of its students to the Kids on Campus program at Shawnee State University. They spend 4 full days in self-selected classes, from art to science, to sports to themes like Harry Potter. It's really an amazing program. The kids will also be doing community service projects, like painting the porch and adding some landscaping at the homeless shelter.
Would you say Portsmouth STEM Academy is already making a difference?
Yes, it's incredible. I have 3 boys. They love to go to school. They negotiate with me every morning whether or not they can stay after to collaborate with friends. I see them integrate what they have learned into their conversations and activities at home - I mean, it's incredible when you see that kind of true learning, where they are turning right around and applying it on their own. And the first set of test scores showed huge gains across the whole school - we knew the concept had been successful in other places. But to see that kind of academic and social success in the first year, I can't say enough about what the teachers and aides have done. It's like a fairy tale, simply magical.