Students at Jones Middle School participate in STEMformation activities.
Students at Jones Middle School participate in STEM activities. Credit: Bekah McNeel / San Antonio Report

Northside Independent School District announced on Wednesday that Jones Middle School will become the hub of STEMvest, a comprehensive STEM and financial literacy program aimed at the entire city.

The program will include camps, seminars, professional development and online resources. It is the collaborative work of Discovery Education, USAA, and the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (Texas ASCD).

“This initiative will engage the campus community in 21st century teaching and learning and will set students on a course for incredible STEM opportunities in the future,” Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods said.

USAA has committed $1.9 million over the next three years to create a hub at Jones, and ensuring that resources then disseminate to middle schools across the city.

The additional resources provided “will only augment the incredible work that our teachers have already been doing,” USAA Senior Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs Harriet Dominique said. “We will make San Antonio students competitive in the workplace market.”

Jones was chosen because school leadership had a particular interest in the initiative and the capacity to engage the community, Dominique said. USAA’s philanthropic work in the area of STEM education and financial literacy is “laser-focused” and Dominique expects STEMvest to produce great results in both.

The professional development component of the program comes from Discovery Education’s three-year STEMformation training model. STEMformation’s goal is to give teachers the tools they need to implement “inquiry-based” teaching methods. Such methods are based on problem-solving and curiosity, which allows learners to incorporate not only science and math, but other subjects to create a relevant body of knowledge and skills suited to today’s job market. The program is based on the “4 C’s” (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication), of not just STEM, but all of the interconnected fields students are likely to encounter beyond high school.

Over the course of three years, the teachers who participate in the STEM training will acquire Discovery Education STEM Certification. They can achieve administrator, STEM teacher, and STEM Master Teacher certifications.

Discovery Education is a digital curriculum producer. It provides electronic textbooks and streaming content in several subjects, and professional development to help teachers integrate new technology into the classroom, and to keep STEM from being contained within the walls of the lab. With STEMvest, Discovery Education materials will be available to all middle schools in the community, including administrators and parents.

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog,, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.