Spring brings high school graduations — joyous occasions for those senior students and their proud families. This spring’s graduation was especially memorable at Global Impact STEM Academy because it was the school’s first. The early-college high school in Springfield, Ohio, in Clark County was founded in 2013 and graduated its first class in May. To find out more about the academy and its seniors, we contacted Jamison Truebenbach, the high school’s director of programming and a founding staff member:
Q: What is the educational philosophy at Global Impact STEM Academy, and how is it carried out?
A: The educational philosophy is to ensure that all students are prepared for college and the workforce. We want all students to be independent thinkers, effective collaborators and problem solvers so that they can be active contributors to society.
Our philosophy is carried out through project/problem-based learning. By educating students via projects and problems, we are preparing them to solve real-world problems with a group of peers, which is a necessity for success outside of high school.
Q: With its emphasis on FFA and 4–H, is Global unique among STEM schools in Ohio?
A: Our emphasis on FFA, 4-H and ag-bioscience makes Global Impact STEM Academy unique among the STEM schools in Ohio. We have one of the largest FFA chapters in Ohio. Our students are exposed to a variety of soft skills through FFA, such as public speaking, job interviewing, resume writing and running for an office.
The lab skills our students have obtained because of our focus on ag-bioscience and our cutting edge put them well ahead of their peers in college-level science courses.
Q: How has the school evolved during its first four years?
A: As I think about how Global Impact STEM Academy has evolved over the past four years, I am in complete shock. I couldn’t have imagined going from 50 students our first year to 363 students in year four. We went from two classrooms at Clark State Community College to our own building housed in the Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome.
We have nearly tripled our staff, and our students went from two sections of college credit plus courses our third year to 92 sections of college credit plus courses this year. We have 28 charter seniors in our graduating class of 57.
Q: What does it mean to the school to be graduating its first class? Do most of the seniors plan to go to college, or are their plans varied?
A: It is very exciting to have our first graduating class. These students have made an enormous impact on who we are as a school family. I am beyond proud of all their accomplishments over the past four years, and they have set the bar high for future graduates.
Of our 57 graduating seniors, 28 have been with Global Impact STEM Academy since its origination; 50 (87.7%) are attending postsecondary education options; five (8.8%) are joining the military; and two (3.5%) are going into the workforce.
Q: What changes/additions are planned, if any, for the high school going forward?
A: We are very excited for the addition of staff members along with the addition of our AgShop and horticulture lab.
In the AgShop, students will work on FFA projects plus do welding and woodworking and create raised beds to grow food to give to the local food bank. In our new horticulture lab, activities will include aquaponics, bioenergy gardens, pollinator gardens, student research projects and projects with middle school science buddies.
Q: Are plans on track to open a middle school on your campus? What was the impetus behind the middle school, and what will be its emphasis?
A: Global Impact STEM Academy’s middle school will open in fall 2017. We have 230 incoming seventh- and eighth-graders.
The impetus behind the middle school is to make a smooth transition from middle school to high school. We serve 17 school districts, so students come to us at a variety of skill levels. We hope that the middle school will help fill in some of these gaps.
The emphasis for the middle school is the same as the high school: a focus on ag-bioscience and mastery learning. We also hope that the middle school will add to our school culture at an earlier age allowing us to build on the amazing culture that we already have.