Newsweek Recognizes Greenhills as Top STEM School
Written by Bob Ause ‘81, Science Department Teacher and faculty founder of the STEM Society.
In August, Newsweek magazine released its list of the “Top STEM High Schools 2020.” We were thrilled to see Greenhills ranked third in Michigan and 171st in the country, but not surprised. Science, technology, engineering, and math are important parts of our Greenhills curriculum, and we have been integrating them with each other since the founding of the school more than 50 years ago.
It is no surprise that we offer an excellent breadth of courses in the STEM disciplines, but what distinguishes Greenhills as a top STEM school is how we integrate these disciplines with each other. For example, more than a decade ago, our English, social studies, and science departments developed a common language around teaching our students to write persuasive explanations using claim, evidence, and reasoning. More recently, an English teacher and a science teacher held joint classes in which they explored nature writing, a math teacher and a science teacher developed a lab exploration of the mathematical relationship between voltage and current produced by our campus’s wind turbine.
As public awareness of the impact of quality STEM education has risen across the nation in recent years, Greenhills’ Math and Science departments didn’t have to jump on a bandwagon—our school had embraced an integrated STEM focus for years. As area schools adopted “STEM cohorts,” “STEM curricula” and even transformed into “STEM schools,” Greenhills has been able to point to the STEM innovation and leadership that has long been a hallmark of our program.
We crafted the “STEM Education at Greenhills” statement to highlight for families the outstanding STEM education Greenhills delivers. In addition, the Math and Science departments launched the STEM Society, which recognizes students who choose to demonstrate a significant level of commitment and study in the STEM fields during their years at Greenhills. Students at Greenhills experience rich and varied course offerings in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These courses provide hands-on activities and problem-based learning that deal with real-world challenges, and which encourage our students to develop skills and attitudes consistent with those who work in STEM careers.
When you look at the criteria that Newsweek used to rank the top STEM high schools, you can see that Greenhills’s high ranking doesn’t simply reflect the quality of our Science and Math departments, but rather it honors our entire school curriculum and culture..
- It values how the school reinforces and teaches “21st Century Skills,” such as “media proficiency, creativity, environmental literacy, and social/cross-cultural awareness.” These characteristics are found in all courses at Greenhills and are the focus and theme of many extracurricular activities and clubs.
- The study values diversity in the school. This diversity is racial, cultural, social, and pedagogical in character. Greenhills’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion, as well as the support for all of our students through the Learning Center, elevates our school in the national ranking.
At Greenhills, our goal is to create “a student-centered community that helps young people realize their full intellectual, ethical, artistic, and athletic potential … as curious, creative, and responsible citizens who respect all individuals and their differences, and whose meaningful and balanced lives will better the world.” This national recognition is powerful evidence that we are living up to that mission, and that we don’t have to put ourselves into a “STEM school” box in order for our students to receive an excellent STEM education—one of the very best available in the U.S.