The Wilemon STEAM Academy culture centers around a growth mindset with both the staff and the students. All members of the school community understand the importance of taking risks, trying new strategies, re-designing, and trying again! Through project-based learning and engineering design projects, students learn the importance of trial and error and problem-solving.
Also, teachers use classroom transformations to engage and connect with students’ imaginations. They also incorporate real-world experiences to allow students to delve deeper into the curriculum.
The Wilemon campus includes innovative learning spaces, such as an outdoor amphitheater ideal for reading and fine arts performances. Extracurricular activities offered at Wilemon include Destination Imagination, UIL, percussion, robotics, guitar, running, theater, and sewing clubs.
Students also get to challenge themselves in makerspaces throughout the building. The makerspaces are extensions to the classroom that provide students opportunities to create. Students can code robots in the DART Foundation Robotics Engineering and Coding (REC) Room, build in the DART Foundation Tinker Studio, create with raw materials in the DART Foundation Design Den, and utilize their artistic skills in Creation Station. Additional learning spaces include the LEGO Wall, Maze Mania, and the outdoor garden.
Wilemon STEAM Academy is only the third campus in the nation to have all classroom teachers, as well as the campus, certified by the National Institute for STEM Education. NISE is a nationally recognized program in which educators complete an online self-paced certification program. Educators at Wilemon completed 100 hours of professional development through NISE. The NISE program enabled teachers to flourish and grow due to its self-reflective process. A total of 29 employees earned the certification, which included all classroom teachers, specials teachers, administrators, and the librarian.
Wilemon has also received professional development from Texas A&M University Spark PK-12 Outreach for two years, and several teachers presented at the Texas A&M STEM 4 Innovation Conference during the 2018-19 school year.
Additionally, over half of the Wilemon teachers have visited and undergone training at the Ron Clark Academy. The Atlanta-based demonstration school has national and international recognition for its success in student education with academic rigor and passion, balanced with high student expectations.
Wilemon utilizes the house system, which is inspired by the Ron Clark Academy. All students and staff are a part of one of the four houses – Dreamers, Creators, Leaders, and Givers. Students also go to specials classes with their house peers. Students gather once a month for house meetings, which include student recognitions, team building, and leadership activities. Block parties at the end of each semester are large celebrations with bounce houses, special guests, and exciting activities.
Community partnerships are essential to Wilemon, as they are utilized to beautify the campus, expand the curriculum, and enhance a philanthropic mindset in students. To engage the community, Wilemon students participated in a public art project where they painted a mural for the Ellis County Miracle League last year. In addition, they have volunteered at Waxahachie CARE, and took up donations for a variety of local non-profit groups.
One of the many Wilemon business partnerships is with Jacobs Engineering Group, the largest engineering firm in the world. The firm is based in Dallas, and a Global High School graduate - Manuel Calderon - spearheaded the partnership with Wilemon. Employees of the company visit each grade level throughout the year and work with students on engineering design projects. In addition, fourth-grade students go on an annual field trip to the Dallas office. On the field trip, students engage with engineers from a variety of fields, experience a real-world project simulation, and interact with engineers during lunch and a tour of their downtown building.
Students receive an unforgettable education at Wilemon. Through innovative teaching strategies, community connections, and real-world experiences, teachers go above and beyond to engage and inspire students. Most of all, Wilemon staff hope that students feel loved each day, equipped with the mindset that they have the power to change the world.