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Banneker High Receives International STEM Certification

AdvancED STEM Certified AdvancEd, an organization that accredits primary and secondary schools throughout the United States and internationally, recently certified Banneker High School’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program.  Scott Davidson, Director of STEM Services,  AdvancEd said, “The fact that you’re immediately engaging students in problem-solving with real world businesses is really unparalleled.”

In order to receive certification, Banneker’s program was examined for its readiness to provide high quality, integrated, project-based instruction related to STEM. “They do it in comparison to other schools globally,” said Dr. Ava Debro, director of Banneker’s STEM and 3DE Magnet programs.

The 3DE by Junior Achievement Magnet Program is designed to be a school-within-a-school, creating a rigorous standards-based learning environment that integrates real-world connectivity through case study methodology, project-based learning and real-world experiences. Banneker’s STEM program consistently challenges students through interdisciplinary projects with real-world application; and students discover the interconnected nature of STEM disciplines.

Dr. Debro decided to attach STEM to the 3DE program. “We make sure all 3DE students have a STEM experience,” she said.

When noting comments of AdvancEd’s certification group, Dr. Donna Barrett-Williams, Fulton County Schools (FCS) STEM Director, said “the 3DE program is one of the most complete programs they’ve ever visited and has some of the strongest alignment they’ve seen anywhere.”

Banneker Principal Dr. Duke Bradley underscored Dr. Debro and her team’s commitment. “I could not be prouder of Banneker’s STEM team lead by Drs. Ava Debro and Valencia Bradshaw,” Bradley said. “Their tireless efforts have helped make a vision for comprehensive school transformation come to life.”

Area Superintendent Dr. Gyimah Whitaker said, “This is so exciting! Banneker is definitely transforming outcomes for students.”

In recognizing Banneker’s program, AdvancEd highlighted the confidence of the students in the program. “They’re able to walk into a room and own that space in a respectful professional way,” Davidson said. “We’ve seen that in all the students we’ve had the opportunity to interact with.”

That confidence positions Banneker students for the future. “Banneker’s 3DE Magnet Program is helping to shape the future workforce possibilities and talent of tomorrow,” said FCS STEM Program Specialist Nicole Ford.

The relationship of the faculty and staff with the students is a key area of recognition of which the STEM team is proud. “Our instructors are facilitators of learning in a student-centered classroom,” Dr. Debro said.

The international STEM recognition from AdvancEd, the first for a public school in Fulton County, serves as a model. “It’s validation that we’re doing the right work,” Dr. Debro said.

Dr. Donna Barrett-Williams agrees. “A big shout out to Ava Debro and Valencia Bradshaw,” she said. “I know that a tremendous number of hours went into preparing for the visit. Their work leading this initiative has led to a model program for the district and beyond.”