Hear what past Willis STEAM Academy students and parents have to say about our program.Student testimonials"Thanks for the challenging curriculum in science last year, it is already paying off in Biology class." - Alexis, former student
"It was an easy adjustment to high school; I never felt overwhelmed with homework or studying. I felt completely prepared and confident in my abilities! " - Hannah, former studentThe high-level analysis and depth of each assignment has truly helped to establish a standard for my work that makes it easy to succeed in the fast-paced, challenging high school environment. It is truly amazing to reflect on how advanced of thinking is expected in the STEAM Academy on a daily basis. Their instruction in the art of remaining organized and managing multiple assignments at a time has also been a vital part of my success in high school, as being able to stay on top of (at least) six classes at once proves challenging without these skills. Overall, between the thought-provoking, in-depth projects and learning of vital life skills, the STEAM Academy has truly been a great preparation for the rest of my academic career.
There are really two big takeaways that I learned from my time in junior high that I now recognize are so valuable to not only your time in junior high, but in high school, college, and beyond. The first is primarily academic, but it relates more to your work ethic than academic ability. Take your academics seriously. Work hard and establish good study habits now, so that you don't have to go through a rough transition as you move onto more advanced and more demanding classes. Succeeding in a high-level class is just as much about how hard you work as it is how much aptitude you may have in the subject. The second is a more broad-reaching life lesson that is so important to remember as you go through life. Surround yourself with good people who you care about and enjoy being around, but also who truly care about you in return and are invested in seeing you succeed. There will be a lot of obstacles throughout your life, and having a strong support system will be vital in overcoming them. Lastly, of course, enjoy your time in junior high! It only comes once, so make the most of it!- Chloe, former student"Attending the Cats program helped me a lot with preparing for the type of work that high school has. For example, many of the projects that we do in class, in addition to using knowledge that was learned at Willis, are very similar to the format and type of projects that were done in the CATS program. The Gifted Academy also allowed me to develop a very tight circle of friends whom, even two years later, I continue to spend time with and whose friendship I value very much." - Riley, former student"It taught me the base information for my classes in high school such as annotating, in-text citations, thesis statements, algebraic equations and shortcuts, and the basics of bio, chem, and physics. It taught me to use an agenda as well as how to use my time proficiently. The teachers help you every step of the way. If you listen to them, you'll be more than ready for high school." Michaela, former studentParent Testimonials
"Willis STEAM Academy is the best!! I love all the challenges in learning that they have provided my children with over the years. They delve into subjects and explore topics many kids aren't exposed to. They foster both independent and team learning. My kids have built and learned some pretty amazing things and are beyond well prepared when entering high school. The teachers are amazing and treat the students with respect."
My name is Rachel Willes and I have had two children in the Willis Steam Academy. I wish I had known about it when my oldest went through Willis Junior High! The experience my kids have had with Willis Steam Academy is amazing for two reasons: not only has it better prepared them for higher education but it has also has taught them important life skills. First, the education my kids received at Willis Steam Academy exceeds every expectation. The teachers truly love the students and think of amazing ways to teach that fully involves the students on all levels. My kids learn more and retain more through the teaching methods Willis Steam Academy uses. School is actually fun! Most of the time. Second, I appreciate and commend the teachers for also teaching my kids valuable skills for success: i.e. planning & organizing; working together; thinking outside of the box; and supporting each other’s successes. The second benefit of Willis Steam Academy is almost the most important as I see other students come out of school unable to handle their own futures. I completely recommend enrolling your student in the Willis Steam Academy. I will be sending my youngest child to it next year and I can’t wait for him to experience it!
The Willis STEAM Academy was a fantastic opportunity for both of our children. It provided them exposure to concepts in math, science, and engineering that aren't typically available until high school or college. It gave them a solid foundation to build their academic careers upon.
There were many opportunities for small team projects, which allowed them to collaborate and take advantage of each other's strengths. They learned how to work together, how to resolve conflicts, and how to squeeze the best performance out of a solution.
Our children were surrounded by other high-performers, both in-district and out-of-district. This created a bit of competition and rivalry, and inevitably forced them to reach higher than they thought they could, as a rising tide lifts all boats. When one student invented or discovered a new idea, it would spread like wildfire, with different variations and improvements appearing within hours, let alone days.
The Willis STEAM Academy fostered the atmosphere that learning is fun, that innovation is rewarded, and did a fantastic job of preparing both of our children for high school and beyond. We are very happy that we were a part of this experience.
Gene and Sarah
"Our family loves Willis Gifted Academy! They provide a wonderful, transitional environment in which my kiddos have learned and grown so much. Willis Gifted Academy teachers significantly increase the academic and organizational expectations, while also providing support and a “soft place to land” as our students struggle to achieve them. They expect students to accept responsibility and grow individually, while providing many opportunities to collaborate with their peers both in daily activities and in immersive projects. The depth of knowledge and mastery of skills my kiddos have achieved in their years at Willis prepared them to spread their wings and fly in high school. They arrived as fresh faced kiddos unsure what to expect from the junior high environment. They left Willis two years later, academically “toughened up”, emotionally bonded to friends new and old, and so very ready for the next step… high school."Heather Bradbeer
"I was incredibly impressed with the caliber of education my son received as part of the FLAME house at Willis Jr High. I saw so much amazing growth during those two years and have continually looked back and been thankful for those teachers who prepared him so well to enter high school. The cream-of-the-crop educators,(several with lengthy tenure at the same location) who are part of the FLAME house team, are a well hidden secret in the school district. They are patient and kind, yet firm with the teens who are learning the ropes of adolescence. They made such a difference in my son's understanding of the core subjects, he is now excelling in a fast paced high school STEM program. Although we don't live in the boundaries for Willis, the sacrifices of transportation and open enrollment were well worth it. I look forward to sending my other two gifted learners to be taught by the same team in the future and hope they are still there by the time my second grader makes it to junior high." - April Johnson