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Hawthorne Elementary Becoming a STEM Magnet School

Students at Waukesha elementary school have already been receiving science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based education approaches for two years.

Parents who want to see their children receive a higher emphasis in science, engineering, technology and mathematics will have an option beyond Waukesha STEM Academy.

Hawthorne Elementary School, which is already teaching STEM applications in its school, was given a formal magnet school status for its emphasis in personalized STEM education.

The magnet status allows “for a full program (STEM Academy) adoption, open flexibility for open enrollment and school choice, and provide avenues for future grants and programming supports.”

Because Hawthorne already is implementing the STEM approaches, the change allows Hawthorne to operate as “a neighborhood school that is open to school choice,” Superintendent Todd Gray said.

If there are more applicants than there are available seats at the school, the school will move to a lottery enrollment for school choice seats instead of offering the seats on a first-come, first-served basis, Gray said.

Hawthorne has roomed to accommodate up to 150 more students, said School Board member Ellen Langill.

“I think we are really optimistic that this will attract to Hawthorne people who are interested in a STEM-type (learning approach),” Langill said.

Hawthorne adopted STEM student engagement strategies about two years ago. The school’s approach is on par with Waukesha STEM Academy-Randall Campus, which lead to the discussions about a formal partnership, said Ryan Krohn, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and educational accountability.

“I don’t think the students at Hawthorne are going to see any dramatic change in what they are doing,” Krohn said.

School Board member Barb Brzenk said described the change as a “novel initiative” and as a move that should make the school board “proud.”

“It is just a wonderful opportunity to expand the concepts at Randall and Saratoga,” Brzenk said. “It seems the parents wanted us to do this.”

Waukesha School Board President Dan Warren said he’s a “firm believer in STEM” and opening Hawthorne to STEM approaches will create a STEM school in different side of Waukesha than Waukesha STEM Academy campuses.

“There is a lot more going on than just (STEM),” Warren said. “For me, what is really core to me is the delivery system; how we are delivering our education is a little different in that environment.”

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