STEM schools recognized by state Department of Education

By Deonta Larkins

 INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education has recognized 10 schools across the state that have exemplary programs to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

They are among 32 Indiana schools that have received STEM certifications, which means they have gone through a rigorous review process. Their programs demonstrate a non-traditional approach to education with student-centered classrooms, project-based learning and the integration of the humanities and the arts into the curriculum.

Jeremy Eltz, assistant director of College Career Readiness with IDOE, said that the certification program started in 2012. At the time, there were few STEM certification programs around the country.

“We created it more initially for guidance for schools,” Eltz said. “Over some time as we were visiting schools, there were actually quite a few schools calling themselves STEM schools.”

However, many of those weren’t doing anything that was much different from a traditional school, Eltz said, adding, “They were just putting the name STEM on the outside of their building.”

Schools receive a certification based on their commitment to teaching the STEM disciplines throughout the entire school.

Jeni Hirschy, principal of Riverside Intermediate, said they were not accepted for the STEM program last year because she believes they did not showcase what they do well. 

But they refocused their efforts this year and the school, located in the Plymouth Community School District, received the certification. Hirschy said they are proud of their teachers’ strengths in the STEM areas, which enable the school to showcase its strengths.

Howard Edwards, principal at Roosevelt STEAM Academy in Elkhart, is in his first year. He said his school has been modeling itself as a STEM program long before applying and gaining the certification as one. Roosevelt teaches science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

“It’s like taking a driver test. You can practice as long as you want for it, but you can’t pass unless you give it a shot,” said Edwards.

Roosevelt had been practicing and getting ready to be apart of the STEM program, but applied when Edwards arrived. After he analyzed what the school’s program had in place, the school applied for certification and was accepted.

Edwards would like to have more professionals within the fields that the school is focusing on for the students to learn and work with.

The other schools receiving STEM certifications are:

  • Brooklyn Elementary School – MSD of Martinsville 
  • Eagle Creek Elementary – MSD of Pike Township 
  • Barker Middle School – Michigan City Area Schools 
  • Batchelor Middle School – Monroe County Community School Corporation
  • Ben Davis 9th Grade Center – MSD of Wayne Township
  • Doe Creek Middle School – Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County
  • Helfrich Park STEM Academy – Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Prosser Career Education Center

Pike Township in Marion County has a STEM-certified program as part of the school within the school model at the Pike Career and STEM Center.

 Deonta Larkins is a reporter for, a website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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