STEM Academy opens in Boyle Heights

Leo Stallworth Image
Friday, October 10, 2014
STEM Academy opens in Boyle Heights
A new pilot school focused on science, technology, engineering and math has opened up shop in Boyle Heights.

BOYLE HEIGHTS, Calif. (KABC) -- In a recent physics class in Boyle Heights, student Ashley Garcia looked into the motion and trajectory of a ball. In an engineering class, other students examined 3-D modeling.

The classes - focused on science, technology, engineering and math - are among several being offered at S.T.E.M. Academy of Boyle Heights, a new pilot school that opened last month.

"A school with a S.T.E.M. focus can exist in the inner city and give students an option to have quality exposure to the field of engineering without having to be bused out of the neighborhood," physics teacher Leo Magallon said.

Developed by six teachers, the school shares a campus with Hollenbeck Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Although the district approved the pilot program, the teachers and principal run the school as they see fit with no input from the district.

"It was always been my dream to come back to Boyle heights where I grew up and start a program such as this," said Israel Hernandez, an engineering teacher.

School officials say while they are starting with 62 students in 9th and 10th grade, they are confident the academy will expand with further community support.

"To me, it just feels really needed. It felt right and the fact that the parents actually wanted the school," student Oscar Sanchez said.

School officials say the school is open to any student no matter their background as long as they come with hope and determination.

"We're like a family. If a child is struggling, we'll step up and help them. We'll try to find the resources they need to be successful. That's what we are about," Principal Michelle Barker said.

A special public ceremony for the new school is scheduled for next Thursday at 4 p.m.