Posted on December 13, 2012 · Posted in Blog, Question and Answer

St. Laurence High School (StL) has a long history of academic excellence. Principal Muting, how would you describe StL’s academic approach and philosophy?
From a big picture standpoint, we strive to help develop tomorrow’s leaders. We believe a foundation in critical thinking, problem-solving, understanding group dynamics and good communication gives our students a skill-set that will help them throughout college and beyond.

Our goal is to graduate students who are genuinely interested in learning and getting involved in things they’re passionate about and not just focused on getting good grades and high test scores. That being said, we know we need to ensure our students have what it takes to get into their college of choice.

In addition to our rigorous college-prep curriculum, including AP classes and the requirement that all students participate in extracurricular activities, we’ve recently introduced our new StL STEM learning approach.

In order to compete in the global marketplace, our young people need to gain a deeper competence in subjects like math, science and technology.  Our new StL STEM approach, which stands for Spirituality, Leadership, Science, Technology, English and Mathematics, is inspired by the nationally renowned STEM approach to education.  It aims to integrate these subjects in a way that allows our students to become better problem-solvers and innovators, while building their knowledge and use of technology and increasing their logical thinking skills.

Nearly 100% of StL students are college bound. Dean Vollan, how is integrating the STEM approach to education into StL’s curriculum helping to prepare students for their future?

StL STEM is teaching kids to be 21st-century learners.  The old style is teachers lecturing and students memorizing and putting it back on paper for a test.  STEM is about creating a student-centered classroom where they’re working in groups, teaching each other and being interactive and collaborative. We are tailoring our teaching style to mirror the needs in the marketplace. We want to ensure our students will be ready for college and have a leg-up when it comes to starting their careers.

It’s also about technology. Tomorrow’s jobs opportunities are going to be in the areas of math, science and technology. Computers are already second nature to our students.  They can find the answer to anything they need to on the I nternet. It’s not about memorizing information anymore. It’s about the student learning to apply the information to solve real problems.

How do you both see the StL STEM program continuing to evolve over the next five years?

We want to continue to integrate the StL STEM approach into our day-to-day teaching methods, be innovative and incorporate more technology into the classrooms. In fact, we just won a $100,000 grant from State Farm Insurance that is going to help us implement more technology, like additional tablet computers and white boards, into our classrooms to help students experience the concepts they’re learning.

We think using innovative teaching methods and incorporating the latest technology automatically makes learning more relevant, interesting and engaging.  And, we’re already seeing positive results. With the steps we’ve taken thus far to integrate StL STEM, ACT scores are up one full point and we’re just getting started.