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JVJ STEM Academy Selected as Microsoft Showcase School

EPS school one of 30 chosen throughout U.S.; only Microsoft Showcase School selected in N.J.

Elizabeth, N.J., September 18, 2023 – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson (JVJ) STEM Academy was one of 30 schools chosen from throughout the United States as a Microsoft Showcase School. The school was notified in an announcement from Microsoft Worldwide Education Director of Industry Strategy Christina Thoresen, Worldwide Education Director of Education Empowerment Programs Sonja Delafosse, and Worldwide Education Program Manager Clara Heppleston.

Microsoft Showcase Schools are a global community of schools engaged in innovative change to improve teaching and learning using Microsoft’s K-12 Education Transformation Framework. With the support and guidance of Microsoft, Showcase Schools create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulating development of essential life skills so students are empowered to achieve more.

JVJ STEM Academy was the only New Jersey school selected as a Microsoft Showcase School in 2023-2024, joining 377 other schools from throughout the world who are developing future innovative leaders. Among the characteristics exemplified by Microsoft Showcase Schools are leadership, modern teaching and learning, inclusivity, innovative thinking, and a professional learning community.

According to Microsoft, the criteria for becoming a Showcase School includes the school demonstrating thought leadership in building a schoolwide vision as the starting place for a holistic digital transformation using Microsoft’s Education Transformation Framework; fostering a culture of learning and growth mindset as evidenced by its commitment to creating sustainable change in teaching and learning practices through continuous and job-embedded professional development strategies; driving personalized learning to meet the individual student’s academic, emotional, and social needs and helping every student realize their full potential; demonstrating innovative use of technology, using Microsoft solutions, to drive positive impact and student success with future-ready skills; and providing data-based guidance for education improvements and visibility into the progress toward the digital transformation vision.

Over the past 10 years, Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer has led a technological evolution and transformation of the school district through a commitment to one-to-one education and innovative and personalized learning environments. The selection of JVJ STEM Academy as a Microsoft Showcase School, the district’s second Microsoft Showcase School, is the latest technology related recognition earned by a district school that represents Elizabeth Public Schools’ successful development of future ready students.

“JVJ STEM Academy’s work in becoming a Microsoft Showcase School shows the commitment of the school to produce future ready students and is emblematic of our district’s commitment to developing technological skills and knowledge within our learning communities,” said Hugelmeyer. “STEM Academy educators have dedicated themselves to expanding their expertise related to the Microsoft technology environment and are passing on their skills and knowledge to our students as they prepare for college and career opportunities that increasingly are requiring those skills.”

The dedication of the JVJ STEM Academy staff is reflected in the school’s six Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEE) and five Microsoft Certified Educators (MCE). Biology Teacher Pretti Jain has earned the MIEE designation while Principal Theodore Panagopoulos, Vice Principal Juan Metrio, Social Studies Teacher Vincent Caldarulo, Mathematics Teacher Neil Pascual, and English Teacher Raven Dozier have earned both MIEE and MCE designations.

The MIE designation is bestowed upon those who have demonstrated a deep commitment to integrating technology into their classrooms, fostering collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking among their students. This community of educators is redefining teaching and learning in the digital age. An MIE has completed the Microsoft Educator Academy, a minimum of 20 training hours, and has submitted an application that requires candidates to answer test questions, complete essays, and attach sample portfolio items and evidence.

The MCE designation is earned by completing the 21st Century Learning Design Learning Modules, a minimum of 10 training hours, along with taking an official online exam that candidates are given one hour to complete approximately 70 questions and must earn a minimum score of 700 points to pass.

Microsoft Showcase Schools require at least 60 percent of the faculty to be Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE), a minimum of two training hours, 10 percent of the staff to be Microsoft Advanced Educators (MAE), approximately 10 training hours, 3 percent of the faculty to be MIEE, and 2 percent to be MCE.  Prospective schools must complete a rubric and self-paced workshop along with submitting an application with requested evidence. 

All of those credentials add up to being one of the most innovative and future-ready schools that the world has to offer.

“Congratulations to the JVJ STEM Academy learning community for earning the wonderful distinction of Microsoft Showcase School after spending countless hours training and working towards this goal,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Iliana Chevres. “The JVJ STEM Academy was created to build an environment where technology and digital learning is emphasized on a daily basis. We are proud of our students and team members at JVJ STEM Academy and look forward to seeing the successes of the future leaders that are developed.”