With the first day of school approaching rapidly, students and parents of East New York and Cypress Hills can celebrate with the doors of the community’s first dedicated Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school officially open.
District 19 STEM Academies, located at 76 Dinsmore Pl, includes Middle School 935 and Public Schools 938 and 4. The new facility holds 1,000 seats for grades K-8 and aims to set students on a path to college and career readiness.
“In the East New York community we have schools dedicated towards the arts, business, social justice, but there is no school completely dedicated to STEM until now,” Jermaine Lewis, founding principal of M.S. 935 told BK Reader ahead of Friday’s ribbon cutting ceremony.
“With the abundance of STEM careers emerging, it is important to expose all of our students so that they have an equitable chance in the future work world.”
Lewis, a Brooklyn native, New York public school graduate and 15 year Department of Education veteran, said that he wanted to provide his students with an education on par with that of their private and charter school peers.
“I want to provide them with a learning experience that challenges their thinking yet fosters their imagination and innovation so that they can be prepared to tackle the problems of tomorrow,” he said.
In order to do so, the school is using grant money and partnerships with local companies like Brooklyn Boatworks, Beam Center and NY Sun Works to bring specialized activities such as lego-robotics, boat building, droning, hydroponics, aquaponics and video-game design to its students.
“Our students will be able to apply their classroom learning to real world experiences that they will be able to take with them forever,” Lewis said.
While Friday’s event gave staff, students and families of the District 19 STEM Academies a chance to celebrate with the official ribbon cutting as well as a homecoming block party, Monday is back to work for the first day of the school year.
Following much speculation regarding the logistics of this school year, the city decided to return to full time, in-person learning despite rising COVID-19 numbers. All students and staff will be required to wear masks, both indoors and outdoors, while also maintaining three feet of social distance when possible.
While this poses a challenge for all of those involved, Principal Lewis believes that his staff are more than capable of making it work.
“I think the opportunity to apply what we learned from COVID to revolutionize education and instruction is the exciting outcome of all of this,” he said.
“Our teachers have found imaginative ways to use the tools made available to them during remote learning and apply them to in-person instruction, but most importantly I think it has provided the opportunity for administrators, teachers and students to be creative and show their versatility.”
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