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Valley STEM+ME2 has open house at MCCTC

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel called Thursday’s open house officially introducing the Valley STEM+ME2 Academy to the community.

Valley STEM+ME2 has open house at MCCTC

Originally posted on

By William K. Alcorn

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel called Thursday’s open house officially introducing the Valley STEM+ME2 Academy to the community and prospective students a transformative, pivotal day for the Mahoning Valley.

In the 20th century, this area industrialized the world. With STEM programs at YSU and now Valley STEM at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in the 21st century, this area will “technologize” the world, said Tressel, laughingly admitting he may have coined a word.

“This is the right thing for the time,” he said.

Tressel said Valley STEM will work with local businesses and manufacturers to determine the needs of the workforce and find the right track for each student.

The YSU president urged parents and students to get involved “if you want to be part of the transformative moment.”

Valley STEM is poised to open this fall and is enrolling ninth- and 10th-grade students now. There will be room for 100 students in each grade, and so far the response has been overwhelming, said Atty. David Engler, a long-time member of the MCCTC Board of Education.

Already, 85 students are enrolled, he noted.

Many of the parents and their children at the open house are hoping to land a Valley STEM slot this fall.

Michelle Wade of Canfield, who attended with her son, Michael, 13, said the program is definitely needed and that she and Michael have already been interviewed by Valley STEM Director Mara Banfield.

“I love mathematics and science and robotics,” said Michael, a student at Canfield Middle School, who said he is eager to get started.

Nicholas Paynter, an eighth-grader at Austintown Middle School, has an interview for Valley STEM scheduled in May.

His father, Stephen, said a group of friends from the middle school are planning to come to Valley STEM.

Jada Christian of Austintown said she and her daughter, Nevaeh, 14, are interested in Valley STEM and have also scheduled an interview for next month.

“This is a dream come true for us. It is truly a collaborative effort between business and industry,” said Ronald Iarussi, superintendent of MCCTC and the Mahoning County Educational Services Center.

Many of the students who have been interviewed already work with robotics, computer coding and can tear apart and rebuild computers, said Banfield, who is conducting the interviews.

“We are preparing our current students for evolving, high-tech careers, many of which do not yet exist,” Banfield said.

The new school will emphasize hands-on learning in a science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing, energy and entrepreneurship atmosphere – hence the name, Valley STEM+ME2.

The academy is the only state-authorized STEM school in the Mahoning Valley, said Vince Colaluca, Austintown schools superintendent and chairman of the Valley STEM+ME2 board.

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Valley STEM + ME2 Academy

The Valley STEM + ME2 Academy’s mission is to prepare students in 9-10 grade with skills necessary to compete in the global economy while nurturing the characteristics of discovery, invention, application, and entrepreneurship.

STEM Governing Board Members

  • Ashley Totin - STEM President
  • John Kuzma - Secretary
  • Dr. Stephen Rodabaugh - STEM Board Member
  • Dr. Karen Larwin - STEM Board Member
  • Craig Hockenberry - STEM Board Member
  • Dr. Mara Banfield - STEM Superintendent
  • Jacci Duda - STEM Secretary

Additional Board Information

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