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Press Releases - County Council

Montgomery Council Calls for New MCPS High School STEM Academies

For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 21, 2019

New model would site high schools at Montgomery College campuses, build and diversify talent pipelines 

ROCKVILLE, Md., Nov. 21, 2019—The Montgomery County Council joined together today to ask Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College, and the Universities at Shady Grove to launch new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) high school academies on the County’s college campuses.

Councilmember Hans Riemer spearheaded the effort, working closely with Councilmembers Rice and Albornoz, and the County’s educational institutions. The letter was addressed to MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith, Montgomery College President Dr. DeRionne Pollard and Universities at Shady Grove Executive Director Dr. Stewart Edelstein.

The letter is attached and the text of the letter follows.

Thank you for your efforts over the past year to collaborate on establishing an MCPS high school STEM academy, in partnership with Montgomery College and the KID Museum. We have identified a very exciting concept that would create a learning continuum from early ages all the way through high school and early college enrollment, including internship and apprenticeship experiences in the workplace. Our collaboration is gaining momentum.

Although a combined space has proven elusive, we are exploring a number of promising locations for a possible KID Museum facility. We are writing to ask you to develop a plan that could house an MCPS high school STEM academy at the Takoma Park Silver Spring (TPSS) campus of Montgomery College and a similar model at the Germantown campus.

The TPSS Montgomery College campus features a marvelous performing arts space, a health sciences program, a nursing program, a college of art and design, a math lab, and coming in 2022, a brand new 130,000 square foot STEM lab building. We are hoping that there may be room to integrate a high school academy into existing space on both campuses.

The P-TECH model is a relevant framework to consider for this potential school. P-TECH, as you know, collaborates closely with an employer or employers to bring an employment model to the experience. An exciting theme for this school should be the opportunity for students to gain exposure to career pathways. Downtown Silver Spring’s diverse array of employers represent the strengths of our regional economy and the career opportunities of our community.

There is a large government agency (NOAA), a premier biotech company, numerous large public health and research contractors, media companies, nonprofits, and more. With all of these employers in the immediate area, it will be much easier for students to benefit from guest lectures, internship programs, and other special learning opportunities; continuing through to internships and apprenticeships. Partnerships with federal labs such as NIH, FDA, and NASA also should be explored. We need to engage employers in the process from early stages; an employer advisory council would help.

The TPSS campus also enjoys excellent transit access, sitting in close proximity to the Silver Spring Transit Center, one of the largest transit hubs in the Washington region. The ability to rely on existing transit (combined with Kids Ride Free) could reduce operational costs and open up access to the widest audience.

The goal for this new educational hub should be to help fill an opportunity gap. In contrast to highly selective STEM-focused schools that target students who are already identified as gifted and talented in STEM, an MCPS STEM Academy could aim to develop new sources of STEM talent, particularly among underrepresented students.

Finally, the new high school presents an opportunity to add flexible new classroom space to our system and ease crowding. Several high schools that serve the downtown Silver Spring area are very crowded, and this facility could help ease the pressure in those clusters.

In addition, the model for the Germantown Montgomery College campus should build on its unique advantages, including proximity to many health and bio institutions along the I-270 corridor.

Finally, we also ask you to explore whether it might be possible to host an academy at the USG campus or if there is another supportive role that USG can play to build on our strengths together.

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Release ID: 19-366
Media Contact: Ken Silverman 240-777-7964