A Model for Urban STEM Education

D’Andre Weaver, a product of Chicago Public Schools, returned to the city and became principal of Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in 2012 after a one-year position as Assistant Principal at Walter Payton College Preparatory Academy. At the time of his arrival at Brooks, the school lacked access to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) resources, resulting in the students’ reduced motivation to learn about STEM subjects and careers.

In 2014, with support from The Fund, D’Andre launched an ambitious plan to integrate the science and math departments at Brooks into a unified STEM program. Along with Dr. Steven Rogg, director of STEM education, he used the 2014 Summer Design Program as an opportunity to redesign science and math learning in their school.

During the Summer Design Program, D’Andre, Steven and the rest of the Brooks team decided to dissolve the math and science departments and create a new STEM program, with the goal of transforming Brooks into a national model for urban STEM education.

The leaders designed a unique curriculum that would both challenge students with project- and design-based learning, as well as prepare them with the necessary skills for college and careers. The new curriculum and classrooms would foster collaboration among students and teachers and promote STEM literacy. The newly formed STEM department requires each of the classroom teachers to be certified to teach both math and science

Currently, the Brooks staff has fully enrolled the freshman class into its new STEM program. By the 2017-18 school year, D’Andre envisions a school-wide, fully integrated STEMprogram for all grades.