This will be the Fourth year that eighth graders at St. Mary’s will participate in Ec3 Academy, a privately funded non-profit program that boosts each student’s education in – and comfort level with – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects.
“Ec3 stands for education through the development of courage, character and confidence,” explained Dan Alberts, founder of the program.
A civil engineer and life coach, Alberts developed Ec3 about 18 months ago because he is concerned that not enough high school graduates are truly prepared for college.
“Only about 30% of Lincoln high school graduates are ‘college ready’ as defined by ACT (American College Testing, Inc.),” he said. “We must get better.”
The core idea, Alberts stated, is to, “elevate the learning rate of students in the STEM subjects, using one-on-one coaching techniques to teach students character traits such as courage, tenacity, resilience as they learn.”
During the 2013-14 school year, Alberts was looking for a class of eighth graders to serve as a pilot group. Dr. Nina Beck, St. Mary School’s principal, was the first to volunteer.
Unlike their regular classroom studies, students get one-on-one coaching to help them perform effectively during tests. Also, they are encouraged to solve problems in their heads, without benefit of paper, pencils or calculators.
Scott Bendler, an eighth-grade teacher at St. Mary School, was very pleased with how Ec3 impacted his students.
“I saw test scores rise in social studies,” he said. Even better, there was a definite increase in confidence.
Alberts recalled how one of the Saint Mary students was asked to demonstrate what he had learned to a potential donor – a successful electrical engineer. The donor was so impressed with the student’s ability to calculate a response on the spot, Alberts said, “He told the young man to look him up when he graduates from college.”