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Reviewed by Jane Allen Petrick for Readers' Favorite
Oh that every teenager in America could attend a school like that described in Awakening Your STEM School: Assuring a Job Ready Workforce by Dr. Aaron L. Smith. Dr. Smith is the director of the Aviation Academy, a charter school in the Newport News, Virginia public school system. Aviation Academy has a partnership with NASA and, thanks to that partnership, students get to assemble flyable RV-12 airplanes from kits. Dozens of area businesses, tech contractors with a nearby air base, offer internships to Aviation Academy students. Aviation Academy faculty boasts its own state-of-the-art wind tunnel. Air Force One routinely lands at the base near the school and can be seen towering over its cafeteria. Aviation Academy is clearly embracing and meeting the need for better STEM programming in American public schools.
On first impression, Awakening Your STEM School: Assuring a Job Ready Workforce may fill union badgered, bureaucracy bound, finance blocked public school professionals more with feelings of envy than of emulation. Dr. Smith's statement that, "Every school in America is embracing the need to dramatically improve STEM education. And every business in America needs STEM graduates" might come across as painful hyperbole to some. But the absolute magic of Awakening Your STEM School is that the processes and tools presented here, if embraced and implemented, could improve STEM education in every school in America. Take Chapter 22, for example. In "Envisioning STEM in public schools," Smith addresses head on the challenges of urban high school education. And he knows of what he speaks: Aviation Academy is an ethnically and socio-economically mixed school. The section "Ideas in Action #2 - Focus on the Dropout: The Silent Epidemic" alone is worth the price of the book.
In summary, Awakening Your STEM School: Assuring a Job Ready Workforce by Dr. Aaron L. Smith is an executive MBA for educators. With 44 specific action ideas and over 300 tips for success, I was presented with a complete map for planning, organizing, staffing and controlling a vibrant STEM program. Aviation Academy's success can be replicated. I urge you to read Awakening Your STEM School: Assuring a Job Ready Workforce if you want to do just that for your school.