Valdosta Middle School’s STEM Academy just completed their review period with the Cognia accreditation team on Friday, December 11. The review period was from Wednesday, December 9, through Thursday, December 10, and included interviews with over 40 stakeholders including students, teachers, school and district leaders as well as community members.
At the conclusion of the review, we are thrilled to announce that our VMS STEM Academy has been recommended to receive National STEM Accreditation by Cognia. The accreditation team leader will officially release the full report in 10 days following the conclusion of the review period.
“As the superintendent of Valdosta City Schools (VCS), it makes me incredibly proud to see the hard work and dedication of our Valdosta Middle School STEM family receive such high praise and recognition,” said Dr. William “Todd” Cason. “Additionally, I would like to offer a thank you to our Board of Education and the community at large for their efforts and support with the construction of the VMS STEM building. The facility provides a teaching and learning space that serves as the catalyst of infinite possibilities for the future for our students.”
According to the Cognia website, the process is “based on a set of rigorous research-based standards and evidence-based criteria. The accreditation process examines the whole institution – its policies, programs, practices, learning conditions, and cultural context – to determine how well the parts work together to carry out the institution’s vision and meet the needs of every learner. Accreditation isn’t about passing a one-time inspection. Rather, accreditation recognizes education providers that demonstrate and sustain their commitments to continuous improvement and better learner outcomes.”
The hope of bringing a STEM program to Valdosta City Schools began over 6 years ago with the inception of a STEM connection class. “Soon after I accepted the leadership position at VMS, it was my vision to create a unique learning opportunity for Valdosta Middle School,” said former principal and current assistant superintendent, Mrs. Beth DeLoach.
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead this amazing team through work that has now resulted in national STEM certification.” she concluded.
The accreditation team leader, Dr. M. Warren-Lewis said, “It is evident your program has strong stakeholder support. That was echoed through all groups who participated in our interviews. Your students are very well spoken and made it clear that they are learning to solve problems and are making connections with real world experiences.”
“Additionally, your parents were thrilled to see the self-confidence their children are gaining through their participation in your STEM Academy,” said Dr. Warren-Lewis.
“Congratulations to our STEM students, teachers, directors, Valdosta community business partners and parents,” said Mr. Mike Samaras, principal of Valdosta Middle School. You are all now recognized as part of a nationally accredited STEM program. Your hard work and dedication needed to achieve this honor is a testament to your commitment of Valdosta Middle School and the continuous growth of our community.”
“We look forward to building upon our current instructional efforts, community partnerships, and opportunities for our students, teachers and community,” said Dr. Alex Alvarez, director of STEM and curriculum with Valdosta City Schools.
“We are so proud of our students and the commitment, optimism, energy and inquisitiveness they bring to school each day,” said Dr. Matt Cribbs, VMS STEM academic coach. “They are why we do this work each and every day!”
For more information about the VMS STEM Academy, contact Valdosta Middle School at (229) 333-8555 or visit their website at www.valdostamiddle.gocats.org.