Teacher Spotlight: Marty Vaughan at STEAM Academy
From literature deep dives to impromptu drum lessons, Marty Vaughan aims to help students find their spark. The ninth-grade English teacher at STEAM Academy looks beyond traditional measures of content retention by encouraging his students to demonstrate their learning through modern, tech-based applications – including podcasts and video production.
Vaughan’s class frequents the studios at STEAM to use green screens, an audio engineering suite, multiple microphones and cameras, and state-of-the-art editing software. There, students can explore production and recording – skills critical to the success of their final projects.
“Early on in my career, we started doing some video and podcasting work, even some early web work,” Vaughan said. “I noticed that I was tapping into student interest and tapping into authentic products. That’s when I saw students start to really wake up – when they’re going to create something they can be proud of that might be shared beyond the classroom.”
STEAM Academy uses the principles of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to guide students through a project- and inquiry-based approach to learning. In addition, through dual credit learning and internship opportunities, students can explore deeply and develop the skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce. “At our core, we are an innovative, early-college high school with probably the best internship program in the country,” Vaughan said. “This is not a place that is preoccupied with a standardized test. We are preoccupied with preparing kids for the next chapter.”
For Vaughan, that means giving students a lot of choice in the classroom and providing an avenue to reflect on their learning.
“I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when the student is pushing themselves, expressing our various STEAM habits, collaborating with other students, being persistent in how they approach their learning, and owning their learning. It is not measured with a final exam,” he said. “What happens here is a very hands-on approach where we push students to consider soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.”
In addition, STEAM Academy could be ideal for students and families seeking a school environment with small classes.
“What’s special about this place, among many things, is our size. We’re a smaller high school. This is truly a family environment with a closer, tight-knit community. I know my kids by first and last name and favorite food,” Vaughan said. “For a student who feels like they might get lost in the sea of a comprehensive high school and doesn’t respond well to hour-long lectures, this is a spot for them.”
To learn more about STEAM Academy and myriad other magnet, gifted and talented, and school programs available through Fayette County Public Schools, view our School Choice Catalog. The application window for the 2024-25 school year closes on Jan. 22.