St. Gregory the Great School earns STEM certification

St. Gregory the Great’s fifth- and sixth-graders visit the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority on Oct. 31. (Facebook)

BLUFFTON—St. Gregory the Great School recently became the first non-public school in South Carolina and the first Catholic school in the Diocese of Charleston to receive national certification for its STEM education program.

 The school is also one of only 15 Catholic schools nationwide to be STEM-certified. 

Principal Christopher Trott said they received certification from Cognia (formerly known as AdvancED), a non-profit international accrediting organization. 

Trott said incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), across the curriculum has been a focus at St. Gregory the Great for the past five years, adding that they follow the STREAM model, which also incorporates religious education and the arts. 

The school serves 183 students in pre-kindergarten through the sixth grade. 

The goal of a STEM curriculum is not only to educate students in subjects they will need for future careers, but also to teach them how to adapt those skills in real life. The curriculum encourages creativity and problem-solving, Trott said. 

“It’s all about focusing your school on creating an environment that prepares students for college and the careers they will be entering in the very near future,” Trott said. “We’re working on building the potential of 21st-century learners so they can be prepared to take on positions and jobs that might not even exist right now.” 

To receive certification, educators at St. Gregory the Great had to show examples of how they apply the STREAM model around the school. 

One of the most notable programs is the St. Gregory the Great Garden project, which involves students in every grade. Over the past year, students have explored science through growing loofah gourds, and employed business and math skills as they worked on a project to make and market loofah products. 

The school has also introduced engineering classes for all students and a math lab in addition to regular math classes for fourth- through sixth-graders.