Frequently Asked Questions 1. What is the Signature Academy concept all about? As part of Washoe County School District's Strategic Plan, “Envison 2015: Investing In Our Future,” Signature Academies are an innovative approach to ensuring college and career readiness for all students. This initiative creates career- and industry-based programs at each comprehensive high school over the next four years. The Signature Academies will focus on specific programs, topics and distinguishing themes to prepare all students for the workforce of tomorrow. 2. Who is eligible to apply to the Galena STEM Academy? Students who will be entering high school as 9th-graders in the fall may apply for acceptance to the STEM Academy. 9th-grade students who are accepted into the program but are not zoned for Galena will receive a variance to attend the high school. All applications will be reviewed and screened for potential acceptance to the program. 3. What is the STEM Academy Course of Study? Students are enrolled in a 4-year course sequence that follows a nationally-recognized curriculum offered by Project Lead The Way (PLTW). The "HS Engineering" component defines a sequence that begins with foundation courses to be taken during the first two years, a specialization course in the 3rd year, and finalizes with a capstone course to be taken in the 4th year. For all other subjects, the Academy Course of Study closely follows an Honors Diploma track. 4. Which 3rd-year specialization courses will be offered? PLTW offers a variety of 3rd-year specialization courses in the curriculum sequence, however, based on student and parent polling, we plan to offer Aerospace Engineering and Biological Engineering as the specialized sequence paths at Galena High School. These two paths offer an engineering diversity so that each student may follow their particular interest. It will also allow us to make the best use our strong physics, environmental, and biological science departments. 5. My student is currently in the GATE program as an 8th grader, and I wanted to find out more about the STEM Academy. If they are currently in GATE, is it recommended that they stay in GATE – or does the STEM Academy allow the student to continue his/her AP classes? There is plenty of room in a student’s schedule for AP classes in the STEM Academy curriculum. Students still have to take all of the English and Social Studies classes so all of the AP classes in those content areas are available. In addition, we have AP Math and Science classes that students would be encouraged to take in the STEM curriculum. In fact, the fourth year class for math is AP Calculus. So being in the GATE program does not help or hurt your son’s curriculum choices if he elects to be in the STEM Academy. 6. I noticed that PLTW focuses on engineering. How will science, math, and technology be incorporated? As a nationally-recognized curriculum in STEM education, you can be assured that PLTW incorporates the necessary components of science and math. The Course of Study has been designed so that it assures collaboration between all subject areas. Also, as required by the PLTW curriculum agreement, students will have access to the most current technology including computers and software. 7. I am enthusiastic about the future of STEM education and would like to partner with the Academy. We welcome all interested parties as potential partners. We have support needs in the form of funding and job shadowing/ internships. If you have a business that can help, please contact Galena High School Principal Tom Brown with any ideas or questions.
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