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Is the UMW Lab School a Good Fit for your Student?

Feb 01, 2024 10:28AM ● By Rebecca Towery

The Fredericksburg area has a wide range of options that parents can consider when their students go to high school.  Students going into ninth grade next year can choose from diverse programming options in surrounding school divisions, from cybersecurity programs such as Cyber4+ in Stafford and the cybersecurity pathway in Spotsylvania, to the AP focused curriculum of the Commonwealth Governor’s School (CGS) in Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford, there are a multitude of options spanning career and technical education to accelerated college options.   


Next year, one additional option will be available to Fredericksburg area students.  The Academy of Technology and Innovation at the University of Mary Washington (ATI-UMW) will open its doors to its first cohort of 100 area 9th graders during the 2024-2025 school year.  This college partnership laboratory school is a collaborative effort between the University of Mary Washington and local school divisions to develop a new regional high school program that will support current high school students and serve as a center for innovation to benefit educational practice throughout the region.  Caroline, Fredericksburg, King George, and Stafford school systems have fully committed to participate in the first year.  


The school focuses on the intersection of computer and data science as applied across content areas.  Interdisciplinary learning approaches, collaborative work on real world scenarios, and opportunities for customized learning pathways will augment learning experiences as students focus on learning skills in coding and data science.  Pathways will be available for students who plan to enter the workforce immediately after graduation as well as those who want to complete significant amounts of college-level work ahead of high school graduation.  All three colleges at the University of Mary Washington will partner with ATI-UMW, creating mutually beneficial relationships to enhance educational experiences.  The partnership with the College of Education with ATI-UMW will also serve an important role in supporting the development of the next generation of educators.   


Current area eighth-grade students (regardless of whether they currently attend public school) can enter through a lottery application that opens November 15th.  Eighth grade students living in participating counties, or the city will be eligible to enter the lottery, if they plan to pursue a standard or advanced diploma.  


Sidebar: Is your student a good fit?


·       Does your student enjoy having opportunities to move at their own pace?   

ATI-UMW will have a combination of traditional classes and independent study options for students, providing opportunities to work on durable skills in groups, while also including opportunities to move at one’s own pace. 


·       Does your student thrive in a smaller learning environment? 

Students who attend ATI-UMW will attend classes on a daily basis at the Stafford Campus of the University of Mary Washington.  Each cohort will have approximately 100 students, with the entire program ultimately building to 400 students.   


·       Would your student enjoy learning how to learn computer programming and/or data science skills that would support their area of passion, whether it’s art, political science, mathematics, or marketing? 

ATI-UMW will focus on ensuring students develop the computer and data science skills needed to augment their area of passion, whether that’s directly in a STEM field, the liberal arts and sciences, or business.  Staff will support students in building out customized pathways to support students in exploring different aspects of computer and data science applied across content areas and developing robust skill sets to amplify and augment students’ abilities for their future endeavors.   


We are excited to be able to serve the community as we prepare to open our doors next year.  If you are interested in learning more, please consider following our Facebook and Instagram pages, or reach out and schedule a visit.  


Dr. Rebecca Towery is the Executive Director of the Academy of Technology and Innovation at the University of Mary Washington. She received her doctorate from Vanderbilt University. You can reach her at [email protected] or [email protected]


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