UALR and eStem officials announced today that a unique partnership has been formed to strengthen STEM Education in Arkansas. Beginning in July 2017, eStem will move its high school from the current downtown campus to two sites on the UALR campus. Grades 9 and 10 will be located on 28th Street in a newly constructed, 60,000 square foot facility and grades 11 and 12 will occupy a substantially renovated Larson Hall.
John Bacon, CEO for eStem, said the collaboration is the “most exciting and promising proposal” he has seen for students and the Little Rock community in his 20 years in education. “For us, the concept of partnering with UALR is just incredible,” Bacon said. “The outcome is limitless. What we’re creating, frankly, is something that doesn’t exist.”
This collaboration will function as a type of learning laboratory model that could boost STEM education in ways that will benefit other high school systems in the state, said UALR Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dr. Zulma Toro.
Toro said this project is part of a larger effort to improve STEM education in Arkansas, equipping students with the skills they’ll need to succeed after graduation and providing Arkansas companies the workforce they require to thrive in the state.
UALR students and faculty will also be involved with the high school in a number of ways, ranging from volunteering to student teaching. Dr. Zulma Toro, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, said, “The partnership will afford the eSTEM students many benefits such as decreased time to college degree completion, and it will also contribute to UALR’s goal of producing career–ready graduates by providing experiential learning opportunities for UALR’s students not only in the STEM disciplines and education, but also in social work, counseling, health sciences, nursing, psychology, audiology and speech pathology, and many more,” Toro said.
eStem students and employees will have the benefit of utilizing UALR facilities. In addition, students will have the option to graduate with an associate degree along with their high school diploma. The partnership between eStem and UALR will help strengthen STEM education from Kindergarten through graduate school. “Universities across the country talk about ‘seamless K-12 through college’ education, but almost nobody really succeeds at it, ” said UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson. “Having a strong high school with a STEM emphasis on campus will make it easier to collaborate in planning, coordinating, and offering a seamless curriculum in each discipline.”
The partnership and sale of land to eStem was approved today by the Building and Grounds Committee of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees. The final level of approval necessary to proceed must be given by the Arkansas State Board of Education.