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Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy

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Robert F Smith STEAM Academy

Welcome to the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy

This school was created by the community. A community dedicated to providing the highest quality, culturally responsive education to students. Founded upon the principles of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and with a comprehensive STEAM approach to learning, our high school experience honors students’ history, individuality, cultural experiences, and future potential while providing a rigorous and high-quality academic experience.

Our Vision

Create a community of excellence where students are equipped to shape their futures as 21st-century transformative change agents, innovators, and thought leaders.

Our Mission

Provide students with a culturally responsive high school experience that leverages the tenets of HBCUs and uses a comprehensive S.T.E.A.M. approach to learning. We seek to elevate cultural connectedness in order to build the critical and creative thinking necessary to navigate the diverse 21st-century career and life pathways.

Taking the PACT:

All who join the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy community take the PACT, which highlights our core values. Our core values are the driving agent for continuous improvement and reflection in all that we do as a school community. These values are exercised daily by our administrators, teachers, staff, students, and community partners.

  • Perform-Like a Leader: I will not accept mediocrity for myself or from my peers. I will model fairness and integrity at all times. I will believe and support my team whether in the classroom or on the field, to motivate them to aspire towards greatness. I model the WPACA way of inspiring academic and social excellence in myself, my community and our global society.
  • Act-Like a Global Citizen: I will embrace life outside my personal space, be open to differences and encourage the diverse multicultural energy and global ambition of my beliefs. No matter how foreign the concept or daunting the challenge I face in learning and performing, I will take action with a global mindset and share my passionate spirit to like-minded individuals everywhere.
  • Create-Like a Visionary: I will be the change agent that accepts defeat as a lesson learned towards becoming a winner. I understand that risks and failures are necessary steps towards one day becoming successful. I will do what’s necessary to create a path towards my goal and be courageous enough to walk the path and obtain my goal.
  • Think-Like a CEO: I will own my brand of learning and performance. I will cultivate my talents and strengths into unique assets that will power my ability to achieve whatever I aspire to do. I will relentlessly strive to be better and do better and will never rest in temporary successes.

We offer a culturally responsive high school that leverages the tenets of HBCUs and using a comprehensive S.T.E.A.M. approach to learning. This approach is defined through our Pillars of Excellence:

  • College & Career Experience
  • Social Justice
  • Pride
  • Academics
  • Civic Responsibility

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are a source of great accomplishment and pride for the Black community as well as the entire nation. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, defines an HBCU as: “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”

HBCUs offer all students, regardless of race, an opportunity to develop their skills and talents. We have known for years that students of color feel more at home and perform better in schools where they feel supported and safe.

For more than 150 years, HBCUs have been providing diverse learning environments — from students to faculty to administration — ensuring that every student has a chance to succeed. HBCUs exude strength in educating minorities, giving them economic opportunities and instilling great values. Not only have they consistently produced leaders in their communities and across the nation, but HBCUs today are consistently and affordably producing the leaders of the future.

S.T.E.A.M. is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. Although thought to be a curriculum type, we embrace S.T.E.A.M. as an approach to teaching and learning that involves the use of integrated, hands-on lessons that allow students to make connections to real-life experiences and contexts.

The infamous “Why am I learning this?” becomes moot in a S.T.E.A.M. environment. Students are actively engaging in lessons and activities that require them to learn requisite skills and then apply them through projects and problem-based activities that require recall, application, extension, and enhancement of the taught skills.

The S.T.E.A.M. approach to education not only provides standards-aligned instruction but also authentic learning moments that build creative and critical thinking skills that are easily transferred to high demand 21st-century S.T.E.A.M. jobs and everyday life.

We believe that students learn best when academics are connected to real-life, authentic learning experiences. Studies have shown that by engaging in projects that draw subject knowledge to solve real-world problems, students learn at deeper levels and perform better on complex tasks.

Students will have dedicated time built into their school schedules for project-based learning and S.T.E.A.M. project planning.

Join the Founding Class

We are preparing our graduates to be 21st-century transformative change agents, innovators and thought leaders. Learn more about joining the founding class:

Enroll During SchoolChoice!

Current eighth-graders will be able to submit an application to enroll during SchoolChoice Round 2, which begins on April 6, 2021. Our founding ninth-grade class will start in August 2021 for the 2021-22 school year.

Complete Your SchoolChoice Application


If you would like one-on-one support completing the SchoolChoice Application, please send an email to, or click here to schedule a phone or Zoom appointment.

Headlines & Resources

Q & A with the Principal

We sat down with new principal, Shakira Abney-Wisdom to learn more about her background, her perspective and details on the new school model.


Black Excellence Resolution

Read the Board of Education resolution that is helping inform DPS’ work to accelerate academic achievement for Black and African American students.


10for10 HBCU Colorado Panel

Watch current college students and recent graduates discuss the benefits of going to an HBCU.

Watch Now »

Meet the School Leadership Team

Words to Live By:

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.

Shakira Abney-Wisdom, Principal

Shakira uses her 10 years of experience as an instructor, coach and leader in K-12 and higher education settings and public servant through local and state government agencies to illuminate the need for equity and advocacy. Her passion for innovative collaboration is grounded in the belief that we can accomplish more, go further together.

Shakira is a Doctor of Philosophy Candidate in the Educational Leadership Program at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. She holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Urban Education through the Denver Teacher Residency Program. Through the Richie Program for School Leaders, she has a Certificate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Shakira also holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Minor in Africana Studies from St. John’s University. She was inducted into Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, served as a City of Tallahassee Mayoral Fellow in the Office of the Mayor, Florida Gubernatorial Fellow at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, and has presented her research at the International Education Development Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.