By: Savannah Sherrer
The Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) program at Newnan High School, launched by Mrs. Finger, bridges the concepts of math and science and draws in students who show both a heightened interest in pursuing a STEM related field as well as an ability to excel in challenging STEM courses.
The fundamental STEM courses at Newnan include AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics 1, AP Physics C, AP Statistics and AP Calculus.
The rising ninth grade students who are interested in being a part of the STEM program can apply during the spring semester of their eighth grade year. In order to be accepted into the program, the students must have strong math and science performance in the classroom as well as strong standardized test scores.
The STEM courses focus on targeting incoming freshman and placing them in a program that will allow them to pursue a path that will better prepare them for college level rigor and for possible STEM related careers.
Once accepted into the STEM program, the students, along with their parents, will meet with an adviser and create a plan of study. The students can choose between a bio-medical course path and an engineering path.
The plan of study will be signed by the student and the parents and serves as their written commitment to being part of the STEM program.
It is up to the students to meet the requirements of the program, and failure to meet the requirements will result in dismissal from the STEM program. The STEM students must maintain an eighty or better in all AP math and science courses, a ninety or better in all advanced math and science courses and a seventy-five or better in all non-math and non-science courses.
In addition to maintaining their grades, the STEM students must take a minimum of six AP courses upon graduation.
The benefits of being a part of the STEM program are immense. Mrs. Finger has worked diligently to provide the students with an effective path of instruction, and she works with them to make sure that they are on the right path.
One of the most recognized benefits of choosing to be a part of the STEM program is the preparation for more rigorous courses that the students will face in college.
Sara Ivy Fulmer, NHS senior, explained how the STEM program has benefited her “They have helped me prepare for future math and science courses.”
The students will also have the opportunity to experience their career interests first hand with the STEM internship that they can pursue their senior year.
Mallory Greene, NHS senior, stated, “The STEM internship was able to really show me what the medical field is like.”
The STEM internship has been one of the most helpful pieces of the STEM program, because it allowed the students to see for themselves what it was going to be like working in a medical or engineering field.
The size of the STEM program has grown tremendously since it began five years ago. Although its first year only had only a handful of freshman willing to try the program, the success of the overall concept was evident. “The freshman did very well, in fact, they out scored my sophomores and juniors,” Mrs. Finger explained.
The STEM program continues to be promoted through hands on meetings with the rising ninth grade class. Student leaders in the STEM program visit middle schools and explain the concept and benefits of taking STEM courses.
The promotion of the STEM program is seen throughout Newnan itself through the positive word of mouth coming from former and current and also the accolades it has received.
“STEM concepts like trial and error and experiments are incorporated in the classroom,” Dr. Hurston stated, when asked how STEM applies to her lessons.
The STEM program competes in various competitions throughout the year. The AMP’d math competition at Auburn University and the Business of STEM competition held at West Georgia are two of their major events.
This year the Newnan High STEM program, represented by Mallory Greene, Luke Morgan, Yannick Powder and Rad Wyrick, swept away the competition and received first place at the annual Business of STEM competition held at the University of West Georgia.
For the past four going on five years, Mrs. Finger has put tremendous time and effort into growing the STEM program into the successful concept that it is, but next year it will emerge with a new leader to continue growing the program.
Dr. Hurston, who teaches freshman AP Biology, will be taking on the role as the head of the STEM program. She has worked closely with Mrs. Finger and understands her role.
Dr. Hurston plans to continue the concepts that Mrs.Finger has put in place. She has worked with freshman in the AP setting, and she knows the value of maintaining a close relationship with the students.
Within its first two graduating cohorts, STEM students went on to be accepted and study at major universities like Dartmouth, Stanford, Duke, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.