Salt River High School (SRHS) has completed its second year of implementing the STREAM: Salt River Excelling At Math program, which resulted in 15 students completing the applied-math classes to earn a college credit from Arizona State University (ASU). The program, STREAM ASU, is in its second year at Salt River High School and includes faculty oversight by SRHS teachers Richelle Etsitty and Eric Barton, Sr. School Inst. Aide. Last year, ASU faculty came out to SRHS, and this year the students were able to go once a week to the ASU campus for classes.
Every Wednesday, at the end of the regular class day at SRHS, the students traveled to the ASU campus to attend classes led by ASU faculty. Etsitty shared, “This program is a nine-week program that began January 7 and ended on March 11. A lot of the math problems they worked on were problem based, where they had to work with each other to communicate in the language of math.”
Etsitty added, “With our emerging standards in our school curriculum, there is a strong focus on working together [and] being able to communicate, [because] there are a lot of jobs out there that depend on being able to work and collaborate with other people. This program not only improves [the students’] math skills with challenging problems, but [it provides opportunities for them to] be able to get through tasks with the help of others.”
The students had to apply to ASU to be accepted into the program. All students had to obtain an ASU ID, which included verifying all requirements, such as state residency, tribal membership and others. The students in the STREAM ASU program have access to all areas of the university, such as the library, and many more benefits as an ASU student. The belief is that it is never too early to prepare for college.
“Each of the students in the program was nominated by their math teachers, and then [a select] group of math teachers came together to talk about the nominations,” said Etsitty. “The teachers encouraged students to apply who they thought would best benefit from attending the classes; [those] who showed the motivation, not just achievement in class, but students who have that aspiration and desire to do more.”
The program is designed to help accelerate math skills of high school students by utilizing real-life problems that provide a new way for students to learn mathematics. The classes can be applied to fit just about every high school grade level of learning.
Prairie Snow Ramirez, a sophomore at SRHS, expressed, “It was fun! I had never been on the ASU campus. I never thought about going to ASU. But, given the opportunity to go take math classes at ASU, I got to interact with students that I did not really know. I learned things that made it easier for me to understand math and gave me an idea of what I want to do [with my math skills]. Being on campus, it felt like I was one of the college students; we got to walk around [among] all the students. I thought, ‘I am going to be here like this one day and take college classes,’ because I do want to go to a university.”
The STREAM program is a partnership between the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) Education Division, ASU’s Center for Indian Education and the ASU Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program. Administrator at ASU Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computation and Modeling Sciences Center, Margaret Murphy said, “Two years ago, we only had eight kids that started the program, and five completed the program. This year we had 15 kids [begin the program] and those 15 stayed in the program all the way through. … [To] find out they attend regular high school and then had to get on a bus to come to ASU, it speaks leaps and bounds [to their commitment].”
Kamuela Yong, Ph.D., mathematics instructor at ASU stated, “It was very inspiring … watching them thrive in a college environment.”
Joseph Loring, a senior at SRHS, was eager to share his thoughts on the STREAM program. “I thought the experience was cool. They teach you better ways to do math, and they push you to do better,” Loring said. “I learned more advanced pre-calculus, [which will help me]. My family is happy I went to these classes …. I would tell younger kids [who may be thinking about going to college that] in the beginning it is hard, but in the end it pays off!”
Some of this year’s students are waiting to see if they are accepted into the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program for the 2015 summer session.