Ann Avila

Ann Avila

Victoria ISD is committed to all students finding their “And”: they will leave us prepared for their successful launch into a career, military, college, and life to be contributing members of society.

Launching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education in Victoria this past year has created opportunities for our students to experience a hands-on instructional model that fosters design-based thinking while supporting flexible, creative, and innovative problem solving that is the basis for the 21st Century Workforce skills.

According to the Regional Labor Market Information for the Golden Crescent Workforce Development Area, STEM is a high-demand high-wage collection of occupations that will increase by 17.6% over the next five years. This past year, engaging in a STEM Learning Pathway has benefited our students, teachers, and community members, in addition to establishing a collaborative effort around the incubation of 21st Century Workforce skills needed for the increased occupational demand.

Our two new school district-managed models, Smith STEM Academy and Stroman STEM Academy, have both journeyed over the past year to provide a choice pathway that incorporates evidence-based strategies while implementing standards focused on the implementation of the engineering design process in key STEM areas using an innovative approach to learning. The leaders at each of the new academies operated under a continuous state of iteration as they operationalized their New School Design Guide, which details their vision, educational model, curriculum, school operating autonomies, school culture, climate processes, and other structures and systems of improvement.

STEM is a way of thinking. Students are learning how to apply STEM thinking to many educational and career fields throughout the STEM pathway.

During the Spring School Quality Review visit conducted by School Empowerment Network (SEN), Smith STEM Academy received positive comments and unprecedented remarks of achievement for a first-year campus. Students at both Smith STEM Academy and Stroman STEM Academy shared their experiences of design challenges and positive attitudes toward STEM that empowered their learning by offering opportunities for voice and choice.

During the year, the district teamed up with the University of Houston-Victoria to strengthen Victoria’s future workforce. UHV college professors were engaged with both STEM academies helping with STEM challenges, career informational sessions, and serving as career mentors on future projects. UHV also facilitated a STEM Bridge Experience for sixth graders attending Stroman STEM Academy. Students participated in lab stations centered around a variety of STEM-influenced careers.

VISD also partnered with Victoria College for future STEM professional development opportunities for educators and access to specialized STEM equipment. This year students at Stroman STEM Academy were presented with a unique opportunity to participate in the VC STEM Expo located at Victoria College. The expo provided learning opportunities about biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, mathematics, and physics through a variety of hands-on activities and demonstrations.

Together VISD, UHV, and VC are excited to expand local opportunities to expose our students to a future pathway of choices.

So, what’s next?

VISD will be launching our third installment of the STEM Learning Pathway, a Texas Science Technology Engineering and Math Academy at Victoria East High School for the 2022-2023 school year.

T-STEM is a College and Career Readiness School Model. The main distinction of a T-STEM is the 6th-12th grade progression. The T-STEM and the Healthcare Pathways in Technology Early College High School at Victoria East High School will be the culminating experience at high school for our students in the K-12 STEM Pathway being developed with Smith STEM Academy and Stroman STEM Academy.

We are excited and pleased with the growth of our STEM Learning Pathway and look forward to future iterations.

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Ann Avila is an innovation specialist with Victoria ISD.

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