(TNS) -- Principal Eric Gilpin is looking forward to adding “STEM-certified school” to the list of accolades earned by Batchelor Middle School.

The state Department of Education announced this week that Batchelor is among nine new schools to earn STEM certification in Indiana. Only 32 schools in the state have attained the certification.

Batchelor’s certification brings the number of STEM schools in the Monroe County Community School Corp. up to two. Grandview Elementary School earned its certification in June 2016, and that program is now in full swing. Recently, Grandview was awarded its first 3-D printer for its new STEM room.

Gilpin is thrilled with Batchelor’s certification, but as he sees it, it’s a formal recognition of what the school has been doing all along.

In order to earn the state’s STEM certification, schools must exhibit a commitment to providing high-quality science, technology, engineering and math programs, as well as developing project-based learning, community engagement and out-of-school STEM opportunities.

When Gilpin first read the requirements, he thought, “This looks like Batchelor.”

He said Batchelor has put emphasis on project-based learning for quite some time, particularly through its eighth-grade humanities classes and its video production program, an incredibly popular enrichment course. Batchelor already had a STEM-based curriculum program, Project Lead the Way, in place to help students think about future career interests. Some of the school’s science classrooms were already completely paperless, completing all classwork and experiments through available technology.

Gilpin and a team of teachers worked on growing community relationships with organizations such as Ivy Tech Community College, and on completing the necessary application materials. Even though the certification has been secured, Gilpin said Batchelor is still working to strengthen its STEM offerings. This year, the STEM team created a co-lab where students can collaborate on projects in small groups. The school is now working to create a Maker Space, where students can use tools such as Grandview’s 3-D printer to put their newly learned technology and engineering skills to work.

“We’re just looking at what we’re doing and trying to build on it,” Gilpin said.

Batchelor’s STEM program will receive a banner declaring its certification status. STEM certification lasts for a five-year period, with an opportunity to renew the certification at the end of that time.

©2017 the Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.