Dayton Early College Education PREP last week was approved as a designated science, technology, engineering and mathematics school by the Ohio Department of Education.
DECA’s high school and middle school were previously recognized as STEM schools by the state, but now the elementary school is approved as a STEM school for the upcoming school year. It is the first time the ODE has allowed elementary schools to be recognized as STEM schools.
This recognition adds value to those looking for good STEM schools for their children, says David Taylor, DECA’s chief academic officer.
“I think for us, we value STEM and we’ve always valued STEM, but we wanted parents and community to understand and realize that these things are built in the DNA of our school,” he said. “If people are looking for a STEM option for their children, well DECA prep is right down the street.”
Children will receive a high-quality education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Taylor said.
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“Our aim is to ensure that all of our students, as they matriculate to college, are able to be successful in STEM majors. Any student that attends and graduates in DECA can enroll in a 4-year college. We’re proud to say that a third of our graduates are going into STEM majors,” he said.
The school collaborates with many organizations such as the Vectren Foundation, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, University of Dayton, Victoria Theatre and Wright State University.
Wright State was singled out for its help to DECA PREP.
“We actually have a long-running partnership with them building a garden. Several of their students come out and help our students understand what sustainability looks like and work with them to grow crops in the city. It’s been running for 2 years now and it’s been a huge success,” Taylor said.
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To become eligible as a designated STEM school, DECA PREP first had to submit a proposal to the Ohio Department of Education.
Proposals had to include:
• Evidence of a working partnership with both public and private entities, including higher education entities and business organizations;
• Evidence that the school submitting the proposal will offer a rigorous, diverse, integrated and project-based curriculum to students in any of grades kindergarten through 12, with the goal to prepare those students for college, the workforce, and citizenship;
• Emphasize the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in promoting innovation and economic progress and incorporates scientific inquiry and technological design;
• Include the arts and humanities; and
• Emphasize personalized learning and teamwork skills.
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Since its establishment in 2012, the STEM school’s focus has been helping young learners establish the core skills and habits of mind necessary to achieve college success later in life, according to DECA PREP.
“DECA PREP is a school that works tirelessly to help students from the city of Dayton to send them to college. We want to make sure that STEM learning is an option for every child,” Taylor said.