Ohio lieutenant governor sees STEM school potential

May 8, 2019

SOUTH POINT, Ohio — When Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was Ohio’s speaker of the house a dozen years ago, he helped pass legislation that allows for schools that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

On Tuesday, he got a firsthand look at the Tri-State Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine public high school in South Point as part of his In-Demand Jobs Week tour. He also visited career technical schools in Gallia and Scioto counties.

“I want to see STEM schools succeed,” Husted told about 100 students, teachers and community members at the STEM+M school. “The three big components to education are life skills, academic skills and career skills. We need specialization. Employers need to be clear about what they need” from schools, and educators need to be able to respond, he said.

“Eighty percent of people live within 80 miles of where they grew up or where they went to college,” Husted said.

He also stressed keeping Ohio college graduates in the Buckeye State.

“Innovation is coming,” Husted said. “What this school represents is your ability to compete.

“I am passionate about STEM schools,” he said. “The more important resource is knowledge. Knowledge is portable. Skills are portable. We need to create an environment for these students to thrive.”

Husted toured the public school, which has about 70 students from Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. One of those students already has earned 60 college credit hours, he said.

“There are more people turning 65 than 18,” Husted said. “The governor and I will do what we can to make the school successful. I wish you continued success.”

Husted also presented Alicia Spears, a chemistry, physics and engineering teacher, the 2019 Torch Honoree, an award given to

Ohio’s top teachers.

Mike Dyer, a Proctorville, Ohio, area veterinarian, helped talk Husted into visiting the STEM+M school. Dyer is a member of the school’s board of directors.

“The speed of learning has been enhanced in our lifetime,” Dyer said.

The high school is working with St. Mary’s Medical Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital, both in Huntington, to bring the medical component to the school, he said.

“Sixty percent of our local careers are in the medical field,” Dyer said.

The public high school already has been rated one of the best STEM schools in the Buckeye State, according to Gary E. Robinson, director of the school.

“Ten percent of our enrollment is from out of state,” he said. “A lot of our school parents teach at Marshall University.

“We don’t use books. We don’t have desks or lockers,” Robinson said. “There are no intercom systems, no bells. We use laptops. It’s an environment that encourages learning. Here the curriculum conforms to the students. Our absenteeism rate is almost nothing.”

While most of the students are freshmen and sophomores, the STEM+M school has two seniors slated to graduate this year and go to Marshall, Robinson said. Marshall has been supportive of the high school, he said.

While Ohio students pay no extra tuition, students from West Virginia and Kentucky pay $7,000 to attend, Robinson said.