ESUMS Opens its Doors to Students

February 14, 2017

Six middle and high school teachers looked around at their new lounge on the fifth floor of their new school.
“This refrigerator is NOT for science projects!” Heather Toothaker, a sixth grade science teacher said.
The new Engineering and Science University Magnet School (ESUMS) sits on the northwest corner of the University of New Haven campus, but is not a university-owned building. This a brand-new middle and high school focusing in the areas of engineering and the sciences, while still providing classes in other liberal arts subjects. The school puts emphasis on STEM subjects and preparing students to enter the field upon graduation.
“Those of us who have been here since the beginning have been waiting nine years for this,” Toothaker said.
The new high school is state-of-the-art, according to the professionals and the teachers who work there and helped with the planning. It includes five floors of classrooms, each one equipped with access stations that teachers can hook up a computer to or any other pieces of technology they may need, including backup access stations around the room.
None of the science classrooms have traditional desks, but rather use workstations for students to have their own laptops and computers. Each classroom also has a voice-enhancement system that allows teachers to broadcast their voice across large classrooms with a microphone, possibly over the sound of students working or equipment being used.
Each classroom has what is called an “interactive projector,” according to a representative from Epson, the manufacturer of these projectors. These act as projectors, but double as smart boards, and can control any piece of technology hooked up to them.
A special feature is the two “fishbowl” classrooms, in which the hallway-side of the classroom is actually a wall of windows that open and connect the classroom with the hallway – something that would be used for sixth grade “morning meetings” where students and teachers discuss daily objectives and goals.
Similarly, classrooms throughout the building are coated by floor-to-ceiling windows, with a wide view of Boston Post Road or the University of New Haven.
Outside of the classroom, the building includes a gymnasium, where students take physical education, but do not play extra-curricular sports, a music room with practice rooms, a cafetorium – a cafeteria and auditorium combined – and other amenities of a typical high school.
The teachers who work at this school described it as “non-traditional” and added that experiential learning was a major part of the curriculum, similar to the university next door.
The main reason for building this high school on U.N.H.’s campus is to create a working relationship between the two schools.
“We want to work really closely together,” said Bob Pinsker, an engineering teacher at ESUMS. “We want it to feed into U.N.H.”
Students in this school are taking four years of engineering courses and related electives. The programs are fit around making students literate in all types of technology. One of the most important abilities a student could have is being skilled in all platforms that could be out there in the marketplace, according to Pinsker, who makes sure students are exposed to Mac, PC, Google, and other computer systems.
“Hands-on is what this school is about,” he said.
According to a guidance counselor for the school, students will receive a 50 percent discount on tuition if they choose to attend U.N.H. The partnership with the University has already seen increases in students from ESUMS who attend after graduation.
The building is set to open for the approximately 625 enrolled students on January 28, with teachers starting the day before, after coming back from their winter break.

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