STEAM Academy finally moves into a state-of-the-art facility
The district’s STEAM Academy is finally housed in its long-awaited state-of-the-art facility. The program, which started in 2013, was initially supposed to be located on the University of Kentucky campus. After spending several years in the old Johnson Elementary building on East Sixth Street, STEAM has landed at 1555 Georgetown Road in the former Imani church complex. Staff moved into the revamped facility in the fall of 2020, and students resumed in-person instruction there in late March.
Tina Stevenson, the program director, cannot wait for everything to be running at full capacity. “This is a game-changer for our kids – just the space and the opportunity to do some of the things we want to do,” she said.
Let’s take a look at some of the neat elements …
Collaboration areas in between classrooms feature dry-erase-board walls with colored markers. Modern chairs and functional tables are also front and center throughout. “The furniture and structure are designed so our students can work independently, own their education, and show their voice and choice in how they learn,” Stevenson said. “The whole building gives a college feel, and that’s what we wanted – an early college feel.”
The building boasts a ton of natural light and plenty of windows. Visitors can readily observe classrooms without interrupting the lessons.
One innovative classroom area is for “clean” projects, and another for “dirty.” The latter will eventually contain a kiln, for instance.
The STEAM Academy shares the 1555 facility with the unrelated Success Academy; each has a separate main entrance. Students from both programs use the same cafeteria and gymnasium, which includes a second-floor walking track. With COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the cafeteria does not look like the architects intended. When everything is eventually put back together, students will enjoy the booth seating and a cozier atmosphere.
STEAM has gone from zero to four science labs, so students can now have the same experience as their peers in the district’s main high schools.
This looks like a professional outfit already, complete with giant green screen, electrical power in the ceiling with dropdowns, plenty of camera equipment, and an anchor desk.
STEAM does not have an art teacher because “there’s art in everything we do,” as Stevenson said. The studio, for instance, incorporates math and geometry in the ceiling configuration. “The goal is to have visiting artists come in and work with teachers on how to integrate art with science, social studies, and exploratory classes. We want students to know art comes in many forms and is in every discipline.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“It’s a welcoming environment, and you feel good when you walk in here. We care about the whole child, and it shows. We’re always preparing them for the next level,” Stevenson said. “We’re super excited for the space and the opportunities it’ll provide for our students.”
(Posted April 8, 2021)
Video by Robert Lewis; text and photos by Tammy L. Lane