STEAM Academy to Open at Kennemer

Hannah Ismail is preparing to graduate from Duncanville High School, and she’s already planning to pursue an undergraduate degree in engineering in college.

Hannah says she discovered her passion for electrical engineering by taking classes at Duncanville High School beginning with Introduction to Engineering as a freshman. Each year, Hannah got further focused on the program and, eventually, ready to make a decision about college.

“Now I’m confident in choosing my major,” Ismail said.

Duncanville ISD is launching a program that will make it easier for students to develop those interests at an earlier age.

The district will open the STEAM Academy at Kennemer in the fall 2018-19 as an opportunity to offer sixth grade students the chance to experience specialized science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) programs.

“They’re not advanced academic programs,” said Director of Innovation Crystal Rentz. “They’re designed to ensure all learners, not just our highest ability learners, are challenged to meet their potential and that learning opportunities are in line with their unique needs, interests and abilities.”

The STEAM Academy at Kennemer will start with a class of 135 students in sixth grade, chosen through a lottery process, as its inaugural class.

Those students can explore a specific pathway while still learning required state curriculum. They will  also receive specialized programs not available in traditional neighborhood public schools.

The STEAM Academy at Kennemer will be housed in a brand new wing that features 18 classrooms including two science labs and a computer lab. Students will share common areas like the library and cafeteria with other Kennemer students.  STEAM Academy students will have an opportunity to earn high school credits and will be prepared to develop a four-year plan prior to arriving at the high school.

Hannah Ismail was a junior at Duncanville High School when she worked with a team of engineering students to build an underwater robot. She would have loved to have had a class like that in middle school.

“I would always be jealous when I heard about other schools that had robotics,” Ismail said.

She is excited for the future students who will be afforded that early opportunity.

“I think it’s great,” Ismail said. “They need people who will tell them, 'Hey, science is cool, too.'”