For the past eight years, the Pneuma Academy (Pneuma) Founding Team has conducted research on preschools and elementary public schools in New Jersey to determine how Pneuma could best serve all of our New Jersey residents especially those who have school-age children. It was determined and confirmed by New Jersey case law that there is an over-representation of African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latino students who are placed in special education non-inclusive settings (United States Department of Education-Office of Special Education Data Report, 2013). And, it was also determined that these same two student populations (Black and Hispanic) are “under-represented in the sciences” (Burrelli, J. & National Science Foundation, 2010; National Academy of Sciences, 2011).
Based on a survey, there are several “Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)” public Middle Schools and/or High Schools in New Jersey however, there are No STEM preschools or elementary public schools in School Districts predominately serving Black and Hispanic student populations – those same student populations who continue to be under-represented in the sciences.
In using this research, Pneuma was conceived and initiated by educators, parents and community members, who believe that there is not only a need for a STEM preschool and elementary school to be offered in urban communities, but the school must provide “Role-Models” in the sciences as well as have parental empowerment so our urban children can learn how to become resilient and academically strong. Therefore, the Pneuma Founding Team represents local and national Scientists, Physicians, Nurses, Environmentalists, Health Specialists, faith-based organizations, academic institutions and businesses, who have formed a “partnership” to ensure that Pneuma Academy will provide a high quality alternative public educational program for preschool and elementary school students. All partners understand that inner city children should be given the opportunity to experience an inclusive learning environment that focuses on using the STEM disciplines and the rich history about the “unspoken” Pioneers in STEM to improve literacy skills.