Middleton High School in Tampa Leverages Business Partnerships to Streamline STEM Programs

Middleton High School is a pre-collegiate STEM Academy, and is one of nine schools in the
nation to be STEM certified by AdvancED, the “largest community of education professionals in the world.” Middleton was also conferred the “Prime School” distinction by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers for its “ability to be a leading educational institution in the areas of advanced manufacturing and STEM Education.” Most recently the school was one of two Hillsborough County Public Schools to receive the Magnet School of Excellence Award from the Magnet Schools of America. Indeed, Middleton has an array of accolades under its belt, the immediate impact and benefit can be reaped by its students.

Success, firstly of its student body, and secondly as an institution wasn’t an overnight phenomenon. Middleton prides its success on a multi-tiered strategy, one that has enabled the school to establish a revered reputation as a STEM academy in Florida. A core part of Middleton’s success also lies in its outreach and engagement with the community, more specifically business and educational leaders who have worked cohesively with the School to formulate programs and curriculum that is geared towards success of its students.

The STEM Professional Association is a prime example of how Middleton High School has

leveraged its business connections to streamline STEM programs. It is an annual event that brings Middleton’s business partners and stakeholders from across Tampa bay to share/discuss the breadth and scope of Middleton’s STEM programs, and how it can be modeled to match the current needs of its stakeholders. LeShea Serrano, Assistant Vice Principal for Magnet Curriculum at Middleton states the event is a “culmination and meeting of all our stakeholders with whom we’re reaching out and building crosswalks between industry, our programs and most importantly our students.” Indeed partnerships play a central role whereby many, like Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE are members of the School’s Advisory Board, who have helped spearhead potential opportunities for students, and helped Middleton’s programs remain cutting edge and relevant.

Organizations invited to the most recent STEM Professional Event included a diverse group of

businesses and associations involved in STEM, including FLATE and Hillsborough Community College’s Engineering Technology program. The Event which has been in its 6th year was attended by approximately 100 people this year, and according to Serrano has culminated in mentorship and internships for Middleton High School Students. “Administratively we couldn’t be more proud of our students and teachers” noted Serrano, who said the parents were equally in awe of what the students were doing and learning at school.

There were many takeaways for hosts and attendees alike from the event. For school administrators and STEM educators it provided a platform to showcase some of their hallmark

programs like the electrathon racing and the robotics program, what students are learning through these projects and/or in the classroom, and how they are acquiring hands-on engineering skills that they can use once they enter the workforce. Other takeaways from the event included the possibilities for new partnerships, or strengthening existing ties like the one Middleton shares with FLATE and Hillsborough Community College. In addition to FLATE facilitating student tours to the engineering technology lab, manufacturing day tours, guitar building workshops, “I would love to explore partnerships opportunities with FLATE and chart out a path to build a sustainable partnership whereby students can access FLATE resources to augment their STEM career and educational aspirations” said Serrano. On a bigger scale, the event validated the need for STEM careers and also reinforced “the importance of the curricula provided at Middleton as a pre-collegiate STEM Academy.”

For more information on Middleton’s STEM programs visit http://middleton.mysdhc.org/, or contact LeShea Serrano, Assistant Vice Principal at LeShea.Serrano@sdhc.k12.fl.us. For information on FLATE’s curriculum for middle and high school students visit www.madeinflorida.org.