E.K. Key Citgo Innovation Academy

E.K. Key Citgo Innovation Academy

One woman’s vision could be coming to life in the Sulphur region after the Calcasieu Parish School Board curriculum committee recommended the opening of E.K. Key Citgo Innovation Academy, a STEM magnet school on the E.K. Key Elementary campus.

E.K. Key Principal Laura LeDoux — who approached the School Board about a year ago with an idea for a STEM-based magnet school in an eight-classroom pod under construction on campus — said the school has already been implementing Engineering is Elementary as part of their after-school program and the student’s excitement over the material has been tremendous.

“Using EIE as an after-school program we currently serve our third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at E.K. Key,” LeDoux said. “The first comment I heard from one of our very first student participants has stayed with me throughout this adventure: ‘I didn’t know what an engineer was; now I want to be one.’ ”

She said the STEM learning environment her school is creating allows students to engage in questioning, problem solving, collaboration and hands-on activities while addressing real-life issues.

The eight-classroom pod the academy would use would be made up of six classrooms — one for each grade — and one lab and a resource room for teachers.

STEM education represents more than the subjects in the acronym — science, technology, engineering and math. It encourages an interdisciplinary approach based on real-world application of technical subjects. STEM education has been encouraged at all levels in the U.S., from kindergarten to higher education.

In this part of Louisiana, a school such as this is sorely needed.

STEM-related career fields are rapidly growing in Southwest Louisiana, an area in the midst of an economic boom because of industrial expansion.

The success of our state will come from its people — hard-working and disciplined; innovative and driven. Louisiana will only grow stronger because of these new opportunities in our schools.

The full board will vote on the recommendation in February.

Should this pilot school show success, STEM schools may be considered in other areas of the parish.

It’s going to be extremely exciting to see this vision brought to reality.

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