Students at Joe Lee Johnson Elementary School will have the opportunity to experience learning focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math in the district’s new STEAM Academy.

Joe Lee Johnson, set to open in August, will give students an opportunity to learn in collaborative spaces and utilize technology. The STEAM concept for learning provides a framework to ensure students develop critical thinking, creativity and communication skills needed for future careers.

“My job is to ensure my students are prepared for the future career demands,” Joe Lee Johnson Principal Gabi Niño said. “I have to make sure my students have the opportunity to develop the skills to adjust, solve problems and be flexible thinkers in order to own their future.”

The STEAM academy is aligned with Goal 5 of the district’s Strategic Plan, which centers on creating flexible programs and learning environments.

The new school will also include elements from the “Library of the Future” partnership between Cedar Ridge High School students and Dell. The project gathered architecture, engineering, interior design, web design and business students to create a vision for an innovative school library.

“The ‘Library of the Future’ project was a chance to take our own mental and creative labor, and see it come into fruition,” Cedar Ridge student Devin DeAnda said. “Once I came to accept the fact that my ideas were going to be incorporated into a building devoted to the education and improvement of others, it only drove me further in my own education, strive for a career that would enable me to emulate this experience with others, and continue to send out my ideas into the world.”

The STEAM academy will integrate “Library of the Future” plans with natural lighting, flexible furniture, and easy access to the school’s outdoor learning area. The library will also house an international conference center and include color options from the students’ project.

“A STEAM academy requires collaborative learning happens seamlessly,” Niño said. “As we select the furniture for our campus, we’ll be influenced by what skills our kids need in order to be future workforce ready. Our furniture and building design can support those skills. The concept of STEAM Learning is inspiring and influencing changes in furniture, open classrooms and collaborative spaces. Our campus will look different than traditional in both the classroom areas and library.”