Guest post by Mary Benek with SySTEM Phoenix
We keep hearing from parents who are enrolling their children for Fall 2018 that we’re the best kept secret in Arizona! SySTEM is Phoenix’s only diverse, public, project-based STEM school for kids in grades 6-12. Now heading into our fourth year, we know our methods work because our AIMS Science and AzMERIT test scores show us growing faster than the State growth rates.
Why the success? Because SySTEM provides what a school is supposed to provide: a future-oriented, solid academic education along with an incredible number of extras — completely out of the money you already pay in taxes for public education!
Students Engage with Cambridge Curriculum
The SySTEM curriculum is based on the Cambridge International curriculum — yes, the one from Cambridge, England. With Cambridge programs, students build more than just a deep understanding of their subjects; they also develop higher order thinking skills so they can apply what they’ve learned.
Cambridge students get to play an active role in the classroom. They are asked to think critically, to learn how to construct an argument, and evaluate evidence. They learn to work independently, and to collaborate with one another to bring a project to a successful outcome (and if it’s not successful, they’ll also learn from reflecting on why that might be). The student projects focus on creating change in the local and global community, including topics that are relevant to the students’ own interests and to the world they’ll live in. They are also encouraged to develop an international outlook and become confident, global citizens.
FREE College Tour for Students
Each year, we take our older students on FREE college visits around the country to cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, and California. We aim for our students to go to top colleges around the country like MIT, Cal Tech, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins. Our younger scholars get to visit ASU, NAU, and the University of Arizona.
As soon as students are ready, we offer access to FREE college classes so that it’s possible to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. On the other hand, students who need more of a catch-up benefit from our small classes (we only have 150 students) and individualized attention.
FREE Chromebooks to Teach Digital Skills
Every student receives a FREE Chromebook for use at school and home with digital skills training built into the curriculum, not part of a separate lab. And all our after-school clubs are FREE, including astronomy, orchestra, robotics, coding, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Leadership, intramural sports and biotech. And every student receives FREE breakfast, lunch, and snack, regardless of income level.
Why the emphasis on FREE? Because we are not a rich school with a parent-teacher-organization that has a foundation. We are proudly diverse. We are in the city and of the city. Our programs are provided with the help of generous community partners who believe in our mission and want to help. New students who arrive at SySTEM are often baffled by the difference between our school and a traditional classroom, but they soon come alive.