S.T.E.M.ulating young minds to learn and lead

Charter school

Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute and Kansas-based PITSCO Education have partnered to create the Youth Leadership Academy of South Carolina (YLA), a STEM-based middle school and Pickens County’s first charter school. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a widely promoted learning focus in classrooms nationwide.
Located at the institute’s headquarters in Pickens, the school utilizes PITSCO Education’s math and science curriculum modules as the foundation for the hands-on, standards-based learning programs. Even the English language arts, social sciences, arts, music and physical education courses include engaging, hands-on, team-based approaches.

“The YLA is producing leaders,” says YLA principal Patsy Wood Smith. “Our school is small, and offers individualized learning. It’s a safe, nurturing environment where every child feels empowered and valued for their differences.”

As an alternative to attending other public schools, the 48 sixth- and seventh-graders at the YLA get a unique educational experience that is enriched by the involvement of Clemson students.
“Each week, as part of our cultural immersion program, international students from Clemson have represented their native countries through lectures, music, dance and dress. Our students have literally been ‘around the world’ through these presentations. What’s more, they are inspired by Clemson student leaders and are aspiring to follow their examples,” says Smith.
Eighth grade will be added and the sixth grade class will double for the 2013-14 school year, pushing enrollment to 96. A waiting list of students is a sure sign that parents in Pickens County are excited about the kind of creative learning environment the YLA offers. For more information, contact Patsy Smith, at 864-878-1103 or patsys@clemson.edu.

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