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STEAM High School Development Progresses, Thanks to Community Input

Central New York’s first Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) High School is progressing in its development, thanks to continuing curriculum planning that has been shaped by local community members and businesses. The school aims to become a local “employability incubator,” creating pathways for students to study areas of professional interest that will ultimately prepare them with the skills needed for employment upon graduation. The school will welcome students from the City of Syracuse, as well as from surrounding suburban districts.
In response to a recent community business and industry needs assessment – conducted in partnership with workforce development agencies in Syracuse including CenterState CEO, MACNY and others – areas of local employment need were identified. STEAM school pathways for students will be centered around these needs, training students in the fields of entrepreneurship, construction management, robotics and animation, and data analytics – each area will provide students with several pathway choices.
“We looked at what Syracuse is lacking… what the need is here in Syracuse in terms of the workforce,” SCSD Director of Career and Technical Education Bruno Primerano explained. “This community assessment showed certain areas that we really wanted to focus on in our STEAM school programming.”
To start the 2021-22 school year, the SCSD Department of Career and Technical Education hosted six curriculum planning meetings to help shape the instruction that will take place in the new school. Each planning meeting focused on one area of local employment need and offered local business leaders the opportunity to share their input on what skills and knowledge base would be critical to students’ employment in those related fields.
“We brought this huge group of people together to share information,” Mr. Primerano said. “It was a brain dump! We took all the information about what they see potential employees needing to know and we’re building our curriculum out from that.”  
“What do students need to know and what do students need to be able to do?” Career and Technical Education Programs Coordinator Nick Lisi added. “There’s no one better than the professionals in these industries to tell us that! Then, we synthesize that and figure out how we can best work it into a 9th-12th grade curriculum.”
Learn more about each of the pathways that will be offered in the STEAM school – and how they will benefit students as they seek employment – below!  

Visual Arts & Performing Arts

2D & 3D Art, Media
Theater/ Technology, Dance, Music/ Recording
Special thanks to business partners American Society of Theatre Consultants, CNY Film Professionals, CNY Jazz, Everson Museum of Art, Onondaga Community College, Onondaga County, and Centerstate’s Syracuse Film division for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!
“Students are already watching movies, watching TV shows, documentaries, listening to music, playing video games, drawing, painting, cooking, sewing, building... and the list goes on and on. Our industry allows them to do all of this and more, in their own communities, with their friends and colleagues and even families. This allows them to provide, to create, to invest and achieve their dreams and goals right here in Syracuse. We are always looking to grow our workforce, to diversify, to provide opportunities and to lift others up, help them achieve their dreams and goals and do all of this here in Syracuse. Without these programs, people will not know that there are opportunities to get involved in their hometown, near their families and friends and in their community or neighborhood. It is our job to educate the youth (and adults) on what chances exist for them to thrive in their city and then give them the skill set to take advantage of those chances and be successful. And hopefully, folks who are given these chances, opportunities and skills will pay it forward to others.
“As a city school graduate, coming from a city school family and a mother who taught in the district, the SCSD holds a special place in my heart. I owe so very much to the experience I had at Levy and Nottingham. Some of my best memories and friends came from my time in the district. We would have LOVED to be involved in this industry, to be given the information on how to be involved and then to be taught the skills and be given the knowledge to be successful. I'm thrilled to see these students thrive, to change this city and grow these industries in CNY. I am so very fortunate to be involved in this process. I am proud of our city, our district, our upbringing, our challenges and I am proud of STEAM. I think the possibilities are endless and I can't wait to look back on this and see how far we have come together to give back, change some lives and bring more positivity to this world.  These kids deserve it.”
  • Eric Vinal, Vice President of Film, TV & Entertainment, Visit Syracuse
“Labor for the film industry is in high demand in Syracuse and Central New York. We need more workforce in order to facilitate more film and television productions. In this industry, there are positions suited to all different types of people. There are office positions and field positions. There are creative positions and logistical positions. There are positions where you are on your feet and moving a lot, and positions where you are mostly sitting. There are positions for people who are visually inclined, audio inclined, mechanically inclined, math inclined, socially inclined, analytically inclined. There are positions for people who enjoy make-up, hair, decorating, shopping, building, cooking, photography, music, sound, computers, and more. Each of these careers present quite prosperous opportunities for SCSD students. The wages and benefits are substantial, and the work is fulfilling.
“By helping SCSD students join the film workforce, STEAM can create a win-win-win: the students get great careers, the film industry does more work in CNY, and the region sees more economic prosperity as a result. In the film industry, there are three ‘soft skills’ that are universally required: show up, follow through, and be a good co-worker. Any student who develops those skills is a prime candidate for a career in the film industry. STEAM students will also get a solid foundation by learning skills like safety protocols, paperwork, personnel hierarchy, terminology, and other standard operating procedures. By helping students develop these skills, STEAM is preparing the students for success in the film industry. The fundamentals that the students can learn via the VPA pathway at STEAM will put them in the best possible position to develop a prosperous and fulfilling career.”
  • Elias Gwinn, President, CNY Film Professionals

Entertainment Engineering

Production Management., Sound and Lighting Design, Stage Craft, CAD, Costume Design
Special thanks to business partners Redhouse Arts Center, Symphoria, Syracuse Film, the City of Syracuse, Syracuse Stage, Onondaga County, and Centerstate’s Syracuse Film division for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!
“I am most excited by the internship and collaborative coaching opportunities – Redhouse is in close proximity to the STEAM School, making it a place where students can attend masterclasses, work with our resident professionals (local and from across the country), as well as be given obtainable field trip opportunities on a consistent basis. This kind of access to arts professionals and training is extremely unique and gives the students a chance to develop professionally with and for their local arts and cultural organizations. There is often the misconception that people need to leave Syracuse to develop as artists. That is simply not true. Syracuse has a large, supportive, budding arts and cultural scene and with this school, our students will now be given an opportunity to be a part of that. I am really looking forward to engaging students as part of the artistic revitalization of downtown Syracuse. They are certainly capable of being a part of that movement, and this school will ensure they are by giving them access to organizations like ours – being a part of our production teams as part of their learning process.”
  • Marguerite Mitchell, Director of Education, Redhouse Arts Center


Automation Controls Engineering, Programmable Logic Controls
Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), Engineering, Data Engineering
Special thanks to business partners Clinton’s Ditch Cooperative Company, Inc., JMA Wireless, MACNY, Microsoft, Monroe Valley Community College, Onondaga Community College, Syracuse University, United Radio, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Upstate Medical University for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!

Media Technology and Design

Graphic Design, Gaming, Web Design, Animation,
Film and Video Production, Digital Photography, Commercial Art/Advertising
Special thanks to business partners Syracuse University, USITT and WCNY for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!

Construction Management

Construction Engineering, Systems & Building Design, Civil Engineering, Green Technology, Fabrication Lab
Special thanks to business partners C&S Companies, ESF, Hueber Breuer, MACNY, SUNY Morrisville, Onondaga Community College, and Syracuse Builders Exchange for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!
“I appreciate and respect that the SCSD is reaching out to obtain industry input for the curricula that are being developed for the STEAM School. It was great to see many high-level construction business leaders come together in a working session to provide their insights regarding what they see as important components to a successful construction management educational program. Our discussions focused on core technical skills like cost estimating, scheduling, understanding of contracts, blueprint reading, and more; but also emphasized the need for basic employee and interpersonal skills to include dependability, good communication skills and passion for construction. We are excited to see the STEAM School and the construction management program lift off – which, after graduation, will provide students with the skills to go directly into the workforce or move on to more advanced construction management college programs.”
  • John Trimble, President & CEO of C&S Companies

Business Entrepreneurship

Finance, Venture Planning, Startup Challenges, Legal
Special thanks to business partners Bluewater Capital Management, LLC., Le Moyne College, MACNY, SUNY Morrisville, Onondaga Historical Association, M3 Innovation, Syracuse University and The Tech Garden for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!
“MACNY is working closely with the STEAM school team to help move the initiative forward. We represent about 300 businesses within the community right now… about 75% of them are industrial, and 25% are non-industrial – banks, hospitals, insurance companies, marketing firms. We are now able to be the business liaison for the STEAM school, to make sure that everyone in the community is aware of the opportunities to participate and is aware of the role they can play in helping to create pathways for the students in the STEAM school. From the existing P-TECH programs, we’ve learned about the importance of getting employers involved on Day 1 and building strong relationships between the school and businesses through mentoring, career coaching and business partnerships. As we build the STEAM school, we are seeing that in each curriculum discussion, curriculum is very important; but development of professional skills and building those professional relationships early on will only serve to strengthen the curriculums that have been built.
“The STEAM school is going to be a different kind of educational experience. It’s almost going to be an immersion where all of our traditional learning in reading, writing and arithmetic come together in real life experience. The relevancy of those core curriculums and academic skills are going to come to life in an environment like the STEAM school. The access to experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, drones, robotics, and beyond will bring a whole different nuance to the traditional classroom. This is a place where science, technology, engineering, arts, and math all come together as sort of a melting pot. Students are going to be exposed to all of those things and learn how they relate to one another and how there is a place for all of those skillsets and those interests within the field of technology.”
  • Martha Ponge, Director of Apprenticeship, MACNY; and COO, Partners for Education & Business

Data Analytics

Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), Engineering, Data Engineering
Special thanks to business partners MACNY, Onondaga Community College, Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University and United Radio for their input in this pathway’s curriculum development!
“We have to consider: data analytics is not a diverse profession. How do we diversify that workforce? We know that representation matters. We have to be mindful about who we’re putting in front of the students and find diverse individuals who are in that profession so students can see who they can be. They have to see that it’s attainable.
“We have to be creative in helping individuals understand the importance of data analytics as a career. Data analytics is a lot of analyzing math and statistics. When you hear ‘math,’ some people may exclude themselves. Half of the middle school students I speak with tell me they want to work in sports – they want to be a football or a basketball player. But they watch game tapes. They think about scores. They are already familiar with analytics – they are already familiar with statistics – we’re just putting a name on it: this is data analytics! When you bring in an element of something they’re interested in, they realize they do have skills in that capacity – it’s something they could do. You have to present it so the students can see themselves within the profession. We have to make it accessible for them to be successful. We are looking at making these programs all accessible for a student who doesn’t have that background or who learns those skills differently. It’s asset-building that we are incorporating. Kids tell us their dream job and we tell them the skills needed to help them get there.”
  • Nakeia Chambers, Director of Multicultural, Disability and Veteran’s Affairs, Upstate Medical University

What’s next for the STEAM school?

Once draft curriculum are complete, they will be brought to the New York State Education Department for approval; then, they will be regularly updated to reflect the latest industry standards and changes – ensuring they remain cutting-edge programs as students are welcomed to the school. In the meantime, staff are building additional local partnerships, recruiting effective staff and more. Stay tuned to for the latest developments!
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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