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At the August 21st Special Presentations, Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough announced that Somerset Academy South Homestead and Somerset Academy Oaks were recently designated as STEM schools —institutions which focus on science, technology, engineering, and math.
Councilwoman Fairclough, who also serves as chair of the Homestead Education Committee, said, “One of the initiatives I have been focusing on is working with schools to help them achieve a STEM designation to ensure that our kids are career ready and are able to compete and secure high-wage jobs. I am excited tonight that we have two top-tier principals whom I have the utmost respect for — I see the great work they are doing in their schools.”
Councilwoman Fairclough introduced Idalia Suarez principal of Somerset City Arts and Somerset Oaks (a 6-12 public charter school), and Layda Morales, principal of Somerset Academy South Homestead (known as Somerset Academy SOHO), which is a K-5 public charter school.
Councilwoman Fairclough explained, “These two principals not only received their STEM designation for these schools, they received their STEM designation as an advanced education certification, which is a higher level compared to the local designation.
Idalia Suarez said, “On behalf of all of us at Somerset, we want to thank all of you for this recognition. Our ‘Why’ for doing this is that we talk about having our students be career ready and yet as a school system, we’re not focusing on the skills that they need.” By engaging in this STEM certification program, Suarez explained how they set out to change that.
She explained that through AdvancED program and a wonderful, reflective process with Miami Dade County, Somerset Academy “was able to embed 21st century soft skills in our classrooms and look at STEM not through standards or through a microscope, but as a global concept to really develop the whole child. Through AdvancED, we were able to reflect [on this process together]. All of our stakeholders were involved, from our leadership to our community members, including students and parents. We all earned this together. This process encouraged us to innovate and bring something different to our schools.”
Somerset Academy South Homestead and Somerset Academy Oaks are the first two public schools in Miami Dade County to earn the AdvancED STEM certificate. There are only four private high schools in the county that have received the same designation.
To conclude the presentation, Councilwoman Fairclough presented Suarez and Morales with certificates of recognition for their achievement, along with STEM-designated lab coats, which brought smiles to their faces and which they quickly put on.