Your world–and your child’s–has been turned upside down. School buildings have closed, jobs have been lost or become more demanding, day care is not an option for many making the last few months extraordinarily difficult. Yet, this crisis has helped us grow. This crisis has revealed what our children need most and helped us discover new ways to keep them fulfilled and growing especially when it comes to their education. And our Catholic STEM Schools in Los Angeles and San Gabriel have embraced the challenge going above and beyond most schools to nurture your child’s present and set them up for a bright future.
Catholic STEM Schools: The right fit...right now.
Our students build confidence and resilience through the entire STEM learning ecosystem making a TK-8th Catholic STEM School education one of the best gifts you can give your child. Teaching your child to solve problems creatively, collaborate with their teachers and peers, and utilize real world applications to promote deeper learning are all gifts that will equip them for an uncertain future.
Of course, every student at our STEM Catholic schools continue to learn the basic curriculum you would find at most schools, however science, technology, engineering and math knowledge is emphasized at our schools.
You’ll see the impact of a more integrated approach to education on your child quickly, and that impact will last a lifetime. A Catholic STEM education prepares your child for a dynamic and competitive career while at the same time builds up their character, integrity and virtues. STEM jobs are projected to grow at a faster rate than non-STEM jobs by 2027 (13% vs 9%). Also, out of 100 STEM occupations, 93% of them had wages above the national average. An investment now in your child’s education will put them on the fast track to a stable and thriving future.
Responding to the Unknown
We are all facing the unexpected right now. Our school leaders and teachers, along with support from the Department of Catholic Schools at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles worked diligently to transition to remote learning once school building closures took place. We provided regular check-ins: including daily prayer, liturgies and community building with students, as well as, devices to all families who needed it so that the learning could continue within a matter of 2 -3 days. Our ability to respond to the situation quickly and take each step as a learning experience is in our DNA at each of our STEM schools. However, we all know that learning together, in-person, is best for children. It matters not only for each child’s academic growth, but for their spiritual and emotional well-being–a priority that we take as seriously as their physical health.
In close collaboration with the county and the archdiocese, and with the support of generous donors to provide PPE equipment, we are scheduled to resume in-person learning for our students this Fall. While each school in our network will approach instruction based on the needs of the school community, all our schools are uniquely positioned to maintain a robust academic program–even with social distancing guidelines.
You can rest assured knowing that we will do all we reasonably can to keep your child and your family safe this year.
Scholarships and Support
If you currently send your child to a public school you may be thinking, “This sounds great, but how can I afford this?”
Catholic Schools are founded on the premise that all children are deserving of equal access to an excellent education. One of our values is to promote equity in STEM education and in the STEM workforce, contributing to better solutions to the world’s diverse problems.
If tuition is the reason you can’t afford a STEM Catholic School, then please get in touch so we can talk to you about scholarships and financial aid. You may be surprised to find out that Catholic Schools are more affordable than you originally thought, compared to the typical private STEM school in Los Angeles.
Give the Gift of a Powerful Education to Your Child!
We are here to serve you and your family. Get in touch with us today so you can learn more about a school near you. Give your child the skills to succeed and the integrity to transform the world!
Interested in learning more about a Catholic STEM School for you child?
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Our Catholic schools are showing their resiliency and innovation. Within one week of announcing school closures due to COVID-19, all 265 schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles implemented distance learning. Due to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ partnership with Sprint, 20,000 iPads with cellular service were distributed to students without internet access or a device.
Holy Spirit STEM Academy, part of our first cohort of STEM Catholic Schools, have seen an uptick in enrollment amidst the crisis. Principal Claudia Garcia led her team to embrace change and within days of the school’s closure, transitioned Holy Spirit into an Online Remote Learning Academy. A Holy Spirit family that had moved to Florida caught wind of this change and, due to their disappointment with local options, enrolled in the Online Academy. The family is paying tuition, the children are keeping up with all their lessons, and most especially, the children are happy to be reunited with their friends at Holy Spirit!
This is a perfect example of how STEM learning translate beyond the traditional education setting you may have grown up with. Problems motivate rather than discourage. Obstacles are seen as opportunities to innovate.
We are grateful to our Catholic school educators for always delivering for their students, despite unprecedented challenges. Thank you for your commitment to Catholic STEM education!
Get to know Holy Spirit STEM Academy through this sweet video tour!
Interested in learning more about a Catholic STEM School for you child?
Fill out the form below to get started!
by Leslie De Leonardis
In lieu of my 4th blog post, I decided to replace it with a link to a podcast I was recently interviewed on. It is the second time I was lucky enough to be on this podcast. It is hosted by another Catholic school in the Diocese of San Diego. What I especially love about being on this podcast is the opportunity to collaborate not only with another Catholic school, but also to collaborate across Diocese! This is what Catholic education is all about ... collaboration and systemness. If you have 40 minutes to spare, check it out! I try and cover all the innovation taking place in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles around STEM and give some actionable tips not only for schools and teachers, but for parents as well!
The link to the podcast can be found HERE, enjoy!
by Leslie De Leonardis (@MsDeLSTEM)
I have been on a much longer hiatus from blogging than I would have liked. Part of the reason for this hiatus is that I have been busy getting our Cohort 1 STEM schools ready for their STEM transition for 2019-2020. This preparation includes gearing up for STEM classroom makeovers, participating in a week long Professional Development boot camp and tying up loose ends for their new curriculum. There is so much excitement as this preparation takes place. The other reason for my hiatus is simply writer’s block. I had a hard time finding a worthwhile topic to blog about … but I found one! It's a bit long, but hopefully worth the read!
These last few months have been filled with visits to about 30 catholic elementary schools interested in joining the STEM Network. As the Network grows to adding 3 school every year, there are many schools eagerly awaiting their turn. In ALL my visits, principals have asked me one simple question: What can we do in the meantime to prepare for a STEM transition? This is such a great question! Schools, teachers and principals should and can be empowered to begin this STEM transition on their own.
One important lesson I have learned in my previous 5 years as a principal of a school going through a very tough transition/rebuild is that change doesn’t (and shouldn’t) happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race. True change must occur with a strong foundation so that it can stand the test of time. It is important to be patient with all initiatives we put into place in our schools. I hate to break it to everyone out there, but there is no magic fix or golden ticket that will transform your school as you envision - immediately. It takes time, talent, cultural shifts and so much more. This includes STEM. It will not be that magical band-aid everyone hopes will “fix” their schools. Rather, as I stated in my other blogs, it must be a commitment to a (STEM) mindset that has the ultimate goal of equipping and empowering our students beyond their time in our schools. Putting STEM learning into place should come with the aim of changing current statistics our students are facing - above and beyond our 4 walls (check out blog #2). In order to do so, we must put into place a strong foundation.
However, just because we can’t do it all doesn't mean we can’t do something. Every school is in a different place when it comes to their readiness to incorporate STEM. Below, I outlined a simple 3-item list that schools can use as a guide to begin their STEM Journey:
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare … your teachers!
Advice I give all schools is to spend time - even one whole school year - preparing your teachers in understanding the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This surprises many principals who are maybe expecting me to say they should buy this curriculum or buy these resources. Spending a year simply taking the time to unpack and understand the NGSS standards will have immense impact on all classroom instruction. These “new” standards have been written in a way that not only promotes STEM learning, but also fosters interdisciplinary approaches in the classroom. I also recommend involving ALL your teachers in this NGSS PD (not just your science teachers). This will create a natural interdisciplinary culture among your staff. And yes, I do mean just spending a year for teachers to consume all they can about NGSS. Building your teachers’ capacity is one of your best investments.
2. Commit, Commit, Commit … your school!
As administrators think about STEM for their school, it is important to decide, as a school, to what degree will STEM be part of your school life and culture. For example, will STEM learning be a mindset that takes place in every classroom, everyday? Or will it be a block of learning once a day/week or only after school? The level of commitment to STEM should be decided as a whole school with all stakeholders. It must also involve studying your neighborhood and having a clear understanding of your local community. MiddleWeb is a great resource for information and more detailed steps to take for such commitments.
3. Empower, Empower, Empower … your parents!
Parents are your biggest allies. They are the key piece needed to make your STEM transition possible and successful. Therefore, it is important to equip parents with the tools to continue the conversations about STEM at home. It is integral to create a true STEM ecosystem that links all stakeholders together in a learning process that brings STEM to our students on all levels. To do this, holding parent meetings that do more than just discuss school business is fundamental. Why not have a parent meeting that reviews the shifts in NGSS/common core standards and provides them with strategies to support their children to a reasonable capacity? Why not have parent meetings that the sole focus is for them to be involved, alongside their children, in a hands-on science/STEM activity? A great resource for schools to learn details on how to accomplish this is the book Staging Family Science Nights.
Of course there is so much more that can be done to transition to STEM. I, however, felt that a simple list is a great way to implement low pressure/low stakes initiatives for schools to build a foundation. If I could add one last step, it would be to just do something! Margaret Shepard said it best, "Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”
by Leslie De Leonardis (@MsDeLSTEM)
It has been a few months since my last blog post attempting to define STEM education. A large part of the reason for my hiatus is, of course, work. I find myself so deep into STEM research (for work) that I forget to come up for air. It’s a good problem to have, trust me! As already mentioned (see blog #1), in my new position I have decided to organize my research into two buckets of thoughts: #1 What actually is STEM education/learning? And #2, Is there a need for STEM learning? My first blog post discussed bucket #1. This blog addresses bucket #2, all about one of my other favorite things - NUMBERS! That is, numbers in the form of statistics related to STEM learning and STEM careers. A disclaimer before I begin: all statistics referred to in this post can be found on my STEMtistics page accompanied by their original source.
Let’s get to it! It seems like everyone loves talking about STEM learning and how it is the future of education - including me! Yet, many conversations stray away from the startling statistics related to STEM. Do we really need STEM learning in our schools? The short answer is a resounding YES! There are a lot of ‘whys’ pointing to not just a need for STEM learning, but truly a demand for it. According to a January 2017 online report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, occupations in fields related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) are growing at a faster rate than non-STEM occupations - STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2 percent growth in non-STEM occupations (Fayer et al, 2017). This growth took place in just six years, even before the boom of the technological advances we have seen in the recent 5 years. Not to mention, as educators we have all heard the saying that we are preparing students for jobs not yet created, which the above-stated statistics are clear indicators of such a reality coming.
This growth alone displays the high demand of future STEM-related careers, yet a demand that is barely being met by our higher education system. According to the National Math & Science Initiative, only 36% of all high school graduates are ready to take a college-level science course. Moreover, this demand is rarely met by our elementary educational system. The four STEM areas are currently receiving immense global attention and focus that is simply increasing not only in the current workforce, but also in creating careers still not known. The education world has yet to truly meet these demands. Many of our Catholic school students are in our elementary school system for close to 9 years when they enter in kindergarten (and now even 10 years if they enter in transitional kindergarten). Students lack equitable access to innovative and immersive programs that push the limits of education in STEM. Elementary schools are the prime years of formation, however not all our students learn in a daily environment that integrates the 4 STEM competencies to better prepare our future engineers, computer technicians, architects, etc. “Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in early childhood education is an area currently given little attention ... which is unfortunate since young children are natural scientists and engineers” (Tippett & Milford, 2017).
These statistics do not even touch upon groups in our society that are underrepresented in STEM majors and careers such as women, Hispanics/Latinos and African-Americans. 74% of middle school girls express an interest in engineering, science, and math, but only 0.3% choose computer science as a major when they get to college (girlswhocode.org). African-American and Latino workers represent 29% of the general workforce population, but only 15% of the computing workforce and 12% of the engineering workforce (US News, 2015). The lack of representation from these groups, coupled with the exponential growth of future STEM jobs creates a pretty clear picture. It is clear that there is a need to concentrate on creating an innovative learning focused on daily, integrated STEM learning, particularly in Catholic Elementary education.
One of the best ways to sum up the need for STEM learning is with my favorite quote from Marian Wright Edelman, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” If our students - of all races, all genders and all socioeconomic levels - do not see or engage in the viability of STEM in their classrooms (daily), then how do we expect them to go into this perpetually changing world equipped and empowered to be innovative and compassionate agents of change? It may seem overwhelming to think about tackling these statistics. However just because we can’t do it all, doesn’t mean we can’t do something! The approach of our ADLA STEM Network hopes to address these achievement and opportunity gaps in a more systematic way for our school communities.
Young ladies from two Los Angeles Catholic schools were recently recognized in a major way, combining their interest in sports with their love of the sciences, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).
Also known as STEAM education, this school curriculum encourages young people to pursue careers in the rapidly growing science and technology fields.
Together with the USA Science and Engineering Festival, the Los Angeles Clippers hosted the inaugural Clippers SciFest SoCal, an interactive STEAM fair at the LA Convention Center March 22-23.
It was the first time the festival, typically held in Washington, D.C., came to Los Angeles, and the first time its brand of ‘“edutainment” had partnered with an NBA sports team.
More than 150 Southern California elementary and middle schools attended and participated in hands-on activities, exhibitions, science, and technology demonstrations geared toward increasing overall youth interest in STEAM.
Similar to the Clippers’ longstanding Read to Achieve program, students (read more HERE).
by Leslie De Leonardis (@MsDeLSTEM)
As I embarked on my new position as STEM Network Specialist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Department of Catholic Schools) this past July, I was blessed to have ample time just to research STEM in the context of learning. What I found as I began my research is that STEM (education) is an overused academic term with an underused definition. Many “do” STEM learning, yet what is it that they do? This epiphany prompted me to organize my research into two buckets of thoughts: #1 What actually is STEM education/learning? And #2, Is there a need for STEM learning? As my very first attempt at blogging, I have decided to take on the task of defining STEM education, in the context of schools …. clearly I like a challenge.
STEM education is often identified by educational institutions as having STEM-themed clubs or classes mainly centered on such things as coding and robotics. Yes, this is a large part of what constitutes STEM. One can see the importance of such fields as coding since many consider it to be a literacy in its own right - similar to how English Language Arts and Math are literacies. However, STEM education can also be so very much more.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Although each letter represents an individual subject, put together they truly represent an approach to education. I found that STEM education is more than just a focus on those individual subjects. It is a focus on a strategic way to present learning that allows the students to take more ownership in their educational process. One of the clearest definitions of STEM education I have come across comes from Vasquez, Comer and Sneider (2013): “STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that removes traditional barriers separating the four disciplines … and integrates them into real world, rigorous, and relevant learning experiences for students.” This type of learning shifts the teacher's role from being the “the sage on the stage” to one of “the guide on the side”. STEM education goes beyond the focus of the four independent subjects. It allows students the opportunity to connect these subjects together and stop viewing them as independent periods of learning. Rather, STEM education views these four subjects as one allied discipline that promotes application of skills to relevant and real world problems (including our popular robotics and coding). It is important to note that STEM learning does not mean that all 4 disciplines are incorporated all the time in all lessons or all projects. Alternately, it truly connotes a mindset and culture that promotes integrated strategies and application of skills to the real world contexts. It is about empowering students to lead their learning (with the necessary guidance from their teachers) and equips them with the tools to truly impact our world beyond what traditional paper and pencil tests do. It allows students to do their learning through projects, rather than the traditional way of doing all the learning first just to culminate in a stand alone project. In addition, the beauty of STEM education being in the realm of Catholic schools is that we can now, more than ever, focus our students on learning and applying our religious traditions and teachings (such as the 7 Themes of the Catholic Social Teachings) in a capacity and scope beyond just reading about them. Through STEM learning and through learning with STEM projects, students will truly grasp such religious teachings, while also compassionately applying them to their lives using the necessary Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math skills that are best suited.
Is accomplishing such a holistic approach to STEM learning an easy task? No. Is it an impossible task? No! You don’t have to do it alone! The STEM Network has sprung into existence as a way to help formalize a program model that empowers and equips schools, educators and students to accomplish such a feat in our Catholic schools! This network initiative is about approaching learning with a STEM mindset recognizing that the implementation of such educational shifts is an active process, best done with others.
Although I did my best to help define STEM learning (I could write pages on this topic or speak for hours - ask anyone that knows me!), I have yet to touch on my 2nd research question: is there is a need for such learning? I will have to save this for another blog …. stay tuned.