Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School math teacher Thom Ziems is pumped up.
The 27-year-old still teaches calculus, but he is now also coordinator of the school’s new STEMM curriculum for science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine. He is teaching a new pre-engineering course, and he is working on his master’s from the University of Dayton.
STEMM jobs are growing at a rate of 3:1 compared to other sectors of the job market.
To handle the STEMM engineering component, classloads have been tweaked and new faculty have been hired. A sparkling new engineering room features 20 computer stations with the newest CAD software, moving away from traditional drafting tables.
Stritch Catholic showed off its’ new STEMM corridor at an open house hosted by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce two weeks ago, attracting parents and former Stritch students, like Mr. Emblem business owner Pat Slygh.
Stritch became the first PLTW (national non-profit organization Project Lead The Way) Catholic high school in Northwest Ohio to introduce the STEMM program.
School officials say the school community is abuzz. The program benefits from partnerships with BP Husky, Toledo Refining Company, the University of Toledo, Mercy College, and others.
Some of the potential new classes include biomedical interventions, robotics, medical innovations, pre-medicine, molecular chemistry, and engineering design and development.
“Engineering really is a combination of practically every subject offered at a typical school,” Ziems said. “Science and math are obvious, but presentation and communication skills are vital in our project-driven curriculum and the engineering work environment.”
He believes STEMM will impact the entire school.
“I think we are going to be challenging every teacher to begin working in new and innovative ways, including project-based learning, to increase the rigor of all of our current college prep courses,” he said.
Ziems enjoys challenges. He was reared in Midland, Michigan. His Meridian High School graduating class numbered 82. Paying for his own college, he enrolled first at Delta Community College before advancing to Saginaw Valley State University. He understands busy. As a full-time student Monday through Thursday, he spent weekends on a cable construction crew in Detroit. His dedication paid off with a bachelor’s in secondary Math education.
“Our STEMM program has already increased freshman enrollment this year by 30 percent,” Ziems said. “We currently have the largest freshman class at Cardinal Stritch Catholic in the last five years.”
Each freshmen student this year received an iPad. By implementing a one-to-one iPad program, school officials say students can stay up to date with the latest trends in technology.
The iPad is also expected to reduce the number of textbooks, novels and paper. School officials expect students to explore everything from sheet music to the solar system on the iPad. The iPads will be used in all classes, not just those associated with STEMM.
(This article and photo of Thom Ziems is taken from the Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School 2011-12 annual report and Press file reports. Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School has the copyright for the photos and text.)