Stepping out of their cars with new backpacks in hand, eager students greeted their teachers and friends as they returned to Albert Einstein STEAM Academy for the first day of school.
The charter school, serving students in kindergarten to sixth grade, is one of the last schools in the Santa Clarita Valley to welcome back its students in the fall.
On Wednesday, the STEAM Academy also welcomed its newest principal, Raffi Martinian, to the campus.
Martinian began the morning greeting students, speaking with parents, sharing morning announcements and offering words of encouragement to the school’s fifth and sixth grade students.
“As fifth and sixth grade students you guys are the leaders of this school,” he said to the crowd of students. “The other students are looking up to you and, because of that, you have to be on your best behavior every day.”
Although the first day of school was in September, Martinian said he and his staff have been preparing for the students for nearly two months.
“We’ve been here since I started about six or seven weeks ago,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of collaborative work in our school so we can have that extra time to implement a lot of great programs.”
This includes after-school enrichment courses like martial arts, instrumental music and crafts, and intramural sports during afterschool hours. The school is also working to develop more partnerships with the community and with parents to work with students on campus.
“Overall our goals are to put the students first, to make sure that they have everything that they need to be successful,” Martinian said. “We’re trying unique things, we’re trying different things, and that’s our ability as a charter school.”
As the school’s newest principal, Martinian hopes to create a program that is challenging, motivating and fulfilling while elevating the rigor and recognition of the STEAM Academy.
“I think the biggest thing is to elevate the rigor and elevate the program as a whole where ultimately rigor and recognition are our foundation and understanding that kids are going to do better when they’re safe and cared for,” Martinian said.
He also hopes to continue the charter school’s individualized programs and project-based learning structure.
“Our STEAM program is a phenomenal platform because we can have a lot of the standards-based learning and apply that learning to meaningful, authentic projects that connect with the community,” Martinian said. “The meaningful, authentic projects are something that other schools that other schools don’t have so that’s our identity.”
Martinian said this allows the students to take ownership of their work, apply their thinking and create something new.
“The kids get to be creative, they get to be themselves, they get to be collaborative and they get to ultimately use their critical thinking skills,” he said.
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