STEM Academy begins in August

By Chase Jordan

July 24, 2014

In a couple of weeks, a group of Sampson County students will begin to cultivate their knowledge in the animal science and biotechnology fields.

During a recent work session for the Sampson County Board of Education, Col. Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent for academics and student services, reported that the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Academy is scheduled to startup Aug. 6.

“I emphasize startup because this a prerequisite of what’s going to happen in the future in terms of our future vision of developing a center with five credential-awarding courses that our students in all four districts can attend,” Macon said.

In March, the Board of Education unanimously approved a one-year memorandum of understanding for a STEM Academy, which is a project the school district and Sampson Community College are partnering to establish. It will be housed on the college campus and will serve high school juniors and seniors.

Macon said students will take two courses each semester. The classes will focus on biotechnology, agroscience research. Students will also take a college and career course.

After the morning courses, the students will go back to their respective schools for other regular course work.The same process will continue for the second semester with students taking advanced biotechnology and college and career ready courses as well.

Macon also discussed the expansion of the program by having one location for the entire county. Board member Glenn Tart expressed his feelings about STEM growing in Sampson County.

“My vision is a standalone school,” Tart said. “I want to know what we can be doing now, in the future, to make that reality happen.”

Macon said STEM officials will come back in the fall and discuss that vision with the board.

“It could be the Charles E. Perry (in Roseboro) or another place, in addition to the potential of having students, onsite, taking their regular curriculum courses such as math and English,” Macon said. “That’s a huge endeavor as you can imagine.”

According to previous reports, the academy can serve close to 30 students. Each district is allowed a certain number of spots. The selected students were required to apply for the academy. The selection process is similar to the application process for Sampson Early College High School.

Currently, 10 students are enrolled in the program. Eight are from Lakewood High School, one is from Hobbton High School and the other is from Midway High School.