At TNT Academy, It’s Full STEAM Ahead!
By Kim Hill Nancy Gordeuk is pleased to announce that TNT Academy is on track to receive its STEAM certification from the state. STEAM is a teaching approach that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics to develop student inquiry and critical thinking skills. Ms. Gordeuk, the founder and director of the small private school in Stone Mountain, says the school’s science teacher has already been STEM certified and the school will be adding the Arts component very soon. A couple of other teachers will be attending a professional conference in April to get the educational points, so the process should be completed in the next couple of months. Teachers go through a series of classes and write lesson plans involving across the board education incorporating STEAM into different subject areas. Ms. Gordeuk is especially excited about the STEAM summer camps that will be offered for ages eight through sixteen years. “It’s just something that’s needed in the area, so we took the leap of faith,” she says. “There are endless opportunities for projects, and kids just like to explore and tinker.” There will be teachers for each level and also high school camp counselors to help students with their projects. Ms. Gordeuk says the school has had a lot of things donated through non-profits, including twenty computers that students can use to access Minecraft block building adventure games and coding software. There will be an IT person on hand to assist. Among the other many types of projects to be offered are circuits, electrical light-up playdoh, robotics (Weebots), a forensic CSI, simple machines, and even atrash/renewable resources section where the kids can go and pick the supplies they want to make what they want. Many creative art projects will be included as well. Hoping to draw a large middle school crowd, the school will offer before and after care, which has not been done before, so working parents can leave their students all day. The day camps will run Monday through Friday. Two other programs offered in the summer are summer school and a five-week credit recovery program for high school students to recover credits, most often in math. New for the current school year is a study skills class that was started based on feedback from college professors who observed that many students don’t know how to take notes or do research. “So we have been incorporating a lot of research and writing skills into our curriculum,” says Ms. Gordeuk, “and writing papers galore!” The school will have around 40 graduates this year, and most are applying and going to college. Many students are dual enrollment, which means they take three classes at TNT and then take one or two at a local college. One student will have completed an associate’s degree by the time he graduates. The school tries to have some social events outside of school and encourages students to get involved with sports through home school teams. Ms. Gordeuk says the NCAA looks at these teams just like they do the public schools, and there are programs in track and field, swimming, football, basketball, cheerleading, and drill team. Other programs like chorus, band, orchestra,
and theatre are also available. Students can receive credit for these programs, and working students can get the work-study credit. The school participates in a corporate sponsorship program and is always looking for new partners who are willing to have the kids work in their environment. Students are especially interested in computer jobs, and electrical or heating and air are other areas the school would like to see added. Sponsored students may work weekends or a couple of hours daily after school. “We’re trying to get more into the community by putting ourselves into things we can help like the Lilburn Co-op, Toys for Tots, and collecting coats and shoes for the homeless,” says Ms. Gordeuk. “We’re wanting to teach the kids team effort and responsibility.” Additionally, an IT person will be teaching classes for adults so they can learn various types of software such as Microsoft or QuickBooks. Some groups such as veterans may be able to receive government assistance to participate in these. Classes will be offered at the school building in the evenings. After finishing a 12-week course, these adult students will get a certificate in their chosen software and will be qualified to get a job. “We are just wanting to help adults in the community who may have dropped out of school or are having trouble getting a job,” Ms. Gordeuk explains, “and just get them into something that could be a career.”One thing that hasn’t changed at TNT is tuition, which will remain the same for next school year. “We are keeping it reasonable and parents can work out a payment plan,” says Ms. Gordeuk. “Students get the same experience here in our three-day plan that others get in five days. Our teachers are really on it. We have high SAT and ACT scores – above the state average – so we know we’re doing it right.”More information at www.tntacademy.com