Thank you for visiting our new website. The Thelma Salinas STEM Early College High School community is proud of our students’ accomplishments. Our students are making significant progress towards accomplishing their goal of receiving an associate’s degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field. In addition, our students are excelling in many other activities as well including UIL Academics, Robotics, Community Service, and Intermural Sports at STC.
Thelma Salinas STEM is a fully designated early college high school, and also received Texas STEM Academy designation by the Texas Education Agency for the 2016-2017 school year.
T-STEM Academies at La Joya Independent School District will empower students to think critically, reflectively and apply their knowledge and skills to a greater context. T-STEM students will experience rigorous, relevant, and hands-on learning opportunities that will provide them with a unique education. Students will receive project-based instruction via a highly integrated curriculum. T-STEM students will develop relationships with the school community, higher education, technical, and business partners.
November 14, 2016
Our school received Texas STEM Academy Designation for the 2016-2017 school year. This designation requires that we as a school engage in a variety of activities that promote STEM education for the 408 students that call Thelma Salinas STEM ECHS their home school. You may be thinking that we have been operating as an early college high school for four years now and we’re doing great. 89% of our May 2016 graduates earned an associate’s degree from our higher education partner, South Texas College. Our 2016 graduates earned over 2.2 million dollars in scholarships to continue their education. STEM also received 5 distinctions on our Spring 2016 End of Course Exams. Author John Maxwell writes, “Of all the things a leader should fear, complacency should head the list.” What is complacency? Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines complacency as “a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better.” Author of From Good to Great, Jim Collins, also tells us that the enemy of achieving greatness is satisfaction with being good. We must not be satisfied with being a “good “school. There are many good schools. We should aspire to be a great school, an excellent school, and an exceptional school.
Our decision to seek T-STEM designation is one way we can fight complacency. Keeping our skills sharp and focused-doing the things we do well with quality, but also learning new strategies and techniques that will allow our students to explore more fully the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Jobs for the Future tells us that tomorrow’s high wage careers are in the STEM fields. Don’t our students deserve that proverbial “piece of the pie”? And how do we prepare our students’ for success in these careers?
Last week, I met with Alma Garcia from Educate Texas, an organization allied with the Texas Education Agency. She will serve as our school’s Technical Assistance TSTEM Coach as we take that journey from good to great to exceptional. We talked about our plans for implementing the TSTEM benchmarks and about her next visit on December 9th. I am looking forward to her accompanying me on classroom visits and would like for her to meet as many of our students as possible. I am confident that she will see the results of our hard work and validate what we have done so far.
November 7, 2016
Welcome to my weekly journal! I thought it would be a great idea to share information that I come across as I attend meetings, trainings, and events focused on getting students college ready. After spending 38 years in education working with students at the elementary, middle, and high school level, this journal will also serve as a tool for reflection as I attempt to internalize my learning using one of the tools (Writing to Learn) advocated by the Common Instructional Framework-the instructional delivery system for all early colleges in the United States.
In my fifth year here at Thelma Salinas STEM, I have had the opportunity to witness the transformation of regular high school students to mature dedicated college students preparing for a STEM-focused career. How does this happen? As 9th graders, many of these students couldn’t find their homework, didn’t understand the word deadline, and lacked basic study skills. Today, these same students are “acing “ Organic Chemistry, University Physics, and Calculus II.
In order to operate as an early college high school, we must apply to the state and get approved. The application process is long and complicated, and we must be able to articulate how we will provide our students with the academic, emotional, and social support systems our students need to succeed in a “college world”. In other words, we must be able to see each of our students as a whole. How can we only be concerned with what’s on our students’ mind when they also have things on their hearts? One of the concepts we learn to master, as we get older is the idea of balance. We study, learn, work, play, reflect, and care for those we love. Yes, we can do it all and so can our students.!
Last week, our students got a well-deserved break from their rigorous programs of study. Students attended our annual doubleheader-sporting event: Teachers vs. Students Volleyball and Seniors vs. Freshmen Basketball. Who won? Who cares? Our students had an opportunity to interact with each other, de-stress, and enjoy the games. I guess we can call this an exercise in practicing balance!