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Inspiring Our Children to Live Their Dreams

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When President Obama says that “science holds the key to our survival as a planet
and prosperity as a nation,” it became our call, as educators, to rise to the challenge
of developing future innovators. Today, more than ever, we need innovators that will
shape our world with their creativity, critical thinking, and commitment to improving the
lives of humankind. We need innovators who will use their imagination to see what
has yet to be seen, create what has yet to be created, and dream what has yet to be dreamt. And that is exactly what we are doing each day at Chicago Public Schools’
Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy.

This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to cultivate an educational community focused on innovation through science, technology, engineering and mathematics as the founding principal of Goode STEM Academy. I left the corporate world to become an educator because I wanted to spark the imagination of young innovators and inspire young students to use education as the gateway to a better future. At Goode STEM Academy, I’ve made it our mission to strive each day to spark innovation and technological advancement, as well as to better prepare our student innovators with the skills necessary to succeed in higher education and the workplace.

Similarly to New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), Goode STEM Academy is the result of a collaboration among the Chicago Public Schools, the City Colleges of Chicago and the business world. Goode STEM Academy is redefining secondary education by integrating high school, college and career. The idea is for educators and employers to work together to tailor school curricula to develop necessary skill sets and create a rigorous academic and workplace skills program.

To ensure that our innovators have the best chance to succeed in this dynamic and ever-changing global economy, we established a partnership between our school, IBM and City Colleges of Chicago, so that our student innovators are prepared to succeed in tomorrow’s business world. Mentors from IBM help to develop the necessary skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking in our student innovators. In addition, our mentors help our student innovators learn to embrace failure – as failure is a natural
process of learning. Through our collaboration with City Colleges of Chicago, our goal
is for our students to graduate not only with a high school diploma but also with an Associate’s Degree.

President Obama praised New York City’s P-TECH and the grades 9 through 14 model
for connecting education to jobs in his 2013 State of the Union address, and his administration has set aside $300 million in the current federal budget to support the redesign of secondary education. Here in Chicago, Goode STEM Academy is one of five new P-TECH-model schools – each with a different corporate partner – inaugurated under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership. We are finishing up our first year and are extremely proud of the results:

  • 98.3 percent of our ninth graders are on track for promotion to the 10th grade
  • Half of our current ninth graders will have the opportunity to take college level courses as 10th graders
  • 95 percent attendance rate

We know that a high school education is not enough for today’s (or tomorrow’s) economy. High schools, colleges, and businesses must work together to build a learning culture that nurtures creativity and sparks imagination. We need our young innovators to shape the world by “changing the game” not only for themselves, but for everyone with whom they interact. It is up to all of us – educators and business leaders – to help our innovators live their dreams and go out into the world as successful, productive adults.

Matsuo Marti is the founding principal of Chicago’s Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy.
Mr. Marti grew up on Chicago’s Southside and is a product of the Chicago Public Schools’ system. Before becoming an educator, Mr. Marti worked as a research and design engineer for Motorola, where he was granted a patent for cellular telephone circuitry design.

Related Resources:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Building a Smarter Chicago

Crossing the “Great Divides” to Save Our Children

U.S. Competitiveness: Addressing the Skills Crisis

Exploring Public-Private Partnerships in STEM Education

STEM Pathways to College and Careers Schools: A Development Guide

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