This week, as he visited them in their science and technology classes, students from Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy were eager to discuss their dreams with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Mayor was joined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and both dignitaries were impressed by the level of ambition on display.
“As they walked around each classroom, students were telling them ‘I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer,” said Goode principal Matsuo Marti. “I think both officials were pleased to see our students setting their sights so high.”
Located in Chicago’s Ashburn community, Goode opened its doors in 2012 and now serves 462 students in grades 9 and 10. It is one of Chicago’s Early College STEM Schools, which are designed to graduate students not only with a high school diploma, but with a bonafide Associate’s Degree.
“We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” said Principal Marti, “so we know that a high school education is not enough. For our students to be successful, we need to give them as many opportunities as possible while they are still in our schools.”
A collaboration between CPS and the City Colleges of Chicago, the Early College STEM Schools give students the opportunity to complete college courses while still in high school; however, successful completion of the program requires a major commitment on the part of the student. Last summer, 80 students who had just finished 9th grade at Goode took an intense geometry course so that their math curriculum would be accelerated at the start of their sophomore year. And later this week, the school will test nearly 100 sophomores to see if they are ready to begin taking college courses. If they test well, these students could begin doing college-level work as early as January.
“Part of our goal is to help students develop persistence and grit,” said Principal Marti. “These can be as important to their success as strong critical thinking and communication skills.”
Early College STEM Schools are open to students citywide, the goal being to provide as diverse a population as possible with early opportunities for higher education.
“We don’t talk about going to college, we talk about doing college here,” said Principal Marti. “We don’t want to just hand these students off to the next institution. We want to support them through the process.”