St. Mary School Chardon Pursuing Ohio STEM School Designation

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St. Mary School Chardon may appear to be a traditional Catholic Pre-K through 8th grade school from the outside. It is set in beautiful and historic Chardon, Ohio just down the street from the town square which is known for its antiques and historic buildings, as well as its maple syrup and lots of snow! The average person would not look at this long-established school to be one that is operating on the cutting edge of education and technology, but they would be wrong. With its small class environments, supportive and innovative teachers and administrators, St. Mary School has been named a Thomas Edison Award Winning School for the past 2 years running. This year the school is not stopping there; they are going above and beyond to now apply to become an Ohio Department of Education STEM designated school.

This December, the State of Ohio expanded its STEM designation offerings to include elementary students for the first time. The Department of Education states, “Designation of STEM schools is one of the reforms that puts our state at the forefront of education. Moreover, designation is how our state preserves certain core pieces of what we mean by “STEM.” These are requirements include real-world learning through partnerships with local businesses. While STEM designation has been open to middle and high school since 2008, the Ohio education community has spoken loud and clear on the need for STEM education to start earlier. The sooner students see STEM values like critical thinking and problem solving, the sooner they can build the skills tomorrow demands.”

St. Mary School has continually partnered with businesses and organizations to help bring STEM learning to the school. Through the STEM designation process, the school has also formed Curriculum and Governing Boards that are helping the school to achieve its goal and ensure that the STEM designation is lively and on-going for years to come. Currently, the Junior High students participate bi-weekly in distance learning sessions with The Cleveland Clinic, serve as Snow Observers for The National Weather Service, and have worked with Apollo Products Inc, an aerospace company that is leading the way in 3D printing of parts for Boeing, Rolls Royce, and GE. This year Apollo Products Inc. generously donated a 3D printer to the school’s Science Lab. They also challenge St. Mary students to solve authentic problems in their industry on a regular basis, and students have been eager to meet these challenges. Ryan Yeager with Apollo Products Inc. says, “We fully support Saint Mary School in their STEM initiative. With our ever evolving industry it is imperative that we ensure that today’s youth is prepared for tomorrow’s job industry.” Additional partnerships include: Mobil International, Lake Hospital Systems, CPP, Suszynski Construction, Holden Arboretum, CRM Studio,iSTEM school, Lake Catholic High School, and Lakeland Community College.

St. Mary continues to accept new partnerships for their programs. Science teacher, Amber Yeager says, “Partnerships within the community help to enhance the curriculum presented in school, allowing for real-world expertise and helping to prepare our students for the future.” Partnership roles could include: providing technical expertise on the design of project/problem based unit that students can work to solve, serving as an audience for student presentations (Science Fair, problem solving- units, etc), providing shadowing opportunities and externships to connect learning to real life, help in training teachers on new technology, in-kind donations for student research, and serving as mentors to students throughout their learning. If you are interested in more information about becoming a partner with St. Mary School Chardon, please contact principal, Mary Petelin: 440-286-3590 or [email protected].

Parent and Development Director Maureen Intihar said, “As a parent, I’m excited to see my children’s school keep a Catholic School identity, but also push the limits of learning to the next level. My children not only work on the most relevant STEM content, but also continue to learn about service and spirituality everyday”. Principal Mary Petelin says, “St. Mary School Chardon is well positioned to become among the first Catholic Schools in Ohio to be designated through the Ohio STEM Committee for STEM designation. This designation is not meant to be a goal, but rather to build upon the existing foundation of effective teaching and learning and amplify these strategies into a sustainable model.” Applications will be reviewed for approval this spring.

For information: St. Mary School Chardon or Contact: [email protected], Phone: 440-286-3590

Pictured In Right Photo:  Hannah Passow and Luke Vucetic work on planet models.
Pictured In Left Photo: A.J. Cerimele and Rachel Suszynski work on planet models.


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