HOUSTON – Stafford Municipal School District (SMSD), the only municipal school district in Texas, opened its new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Magnet Academy.
The new $2.8 million STEM Magnet Academy — the first and only one of its kind in Fort Bend County – will accommodate nearly 200 students in grades 3-8 initially and will eventually expand admission all the way to grade 12. The academy’s educational program will focus on medical technology, coding, and robotics to prepare students for 21st century skills.
“The SMSD philosophy is ‘STEM to Learn, STEM to Earn’ and it really was built and born here,” said SMSD Superintendent Dr. Robert Bostic. “Eight years ago, we started with incorporating robotics, drones SWIFT coding, and gaming into our curriculum because we looked at the future outlook of where jobs would be. We came up with these plans including our newest jewel, the STEM Magnet Academy. In its inaugural year, students are set up for success through project-based curriculum, partnerships, mentorships, and we’re also planning for international travel when it’s safe to do so. We are cutting and blazing a path that others have not done.”
The approximately 67,000-square-foot facility features thirty-two classrooms, two science rooms, a medical and coding lab, a gaming room, a robotics lab, as well as a reading room, where students can review periodical literature. The facility also contains several breakout areas for students to collaborate and a learning stair that will allow teachers to combine students from two different classrooms and provide instructions.
“Unlike Career and Technical Education programs that are typically offered to high school students, this STEM Magnet Academy will prepare students to learn specialized skills like coding and robotics from an early age,” said Victor Fleming at Lockwood Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN), which is serving as the program manager for the bond program.
The facility, designed by AutoArch Architects and constructed by Jamail & Smith Construction, is part of SMSD’s $62 million bond program that passed in November 2017. The bond program provided funds to address growth and expansion at SMSD, which enrolled approximately 3,600 students in the 2019-20 school year.
Other elements of the bond program include a new middle school and administrative facility that opened last year, a repurposed community center in place of the former administration building, a new outdoor educational plaza, a former intermediate school that was converted into an early childhood center, and renovation of the existing elementary and high school library and special needs room.