Choosing Monroe Advanced Technical Academy: Inside perspectives

Louis Volker and Mercy Soly

 Junior Jane Bodamer is in her second year at Monroe Advanced Technical Academy (MATA). She applied to the program because her older brother enjoyed his experience at the Career and Technical Education aligned school. 

For students of Loudoun County Public Schools who have interests in STEM, applying to the Academies of Loudoun is an option. One sector, the Monroe Advanced Technical Academy (MATA), gives students the opportunity to personalize their education and learn about the career paths they want to pursue. 

Bodamer applied for and joined MATA’s radiology program. She’d like to pursue the medical field as her career path and says MATA helps her do that. 

“They [MATA] have so many different options to choose from and it is a great way to meet new people and a great thing to put on your college resume to stand out,” Bodamer said.

For her, a typical pre-pandemic day at school is different from one at Loudoun Valley. 

“We would do some book learning in the morning, take a break and then do some hands-on learning like taking blood pressure or dissecting a lung,” Bodamer said. We’d have lunch around an hour and then separate into groups and do projects or go to the auditorium and listen to a guest speaker.”

At MATA, students can choose what subjects they would like to learn about from the program’s variety of Pathway Options. Students pick from an array of different routes, from Administration of Justice to Biotechnology and Welding Technology.  

“They [MATA] have so many different options to choose from and it is a great way to meet new people and a great thing to put on your college resume to stand out,” Bodamer said.

Sophomore Jacob Morroni decided to participate in a one-year engineering program offered at the Academy of Engineering and Technology (AET), a sister school of MATA encompassed under the Academies of Loudoun.

“I wanted to learn the specific career traits that come with being an engineer, the process of becoming an engineer, and the topics in math and science that are important in the career path,” Morroni said.  

Apart from being able to pursue their personal interests and learn about different careers, students also attain many soft skills that benefit them beyond the classroom. 

“Some skills that I have picked up on from my first year and a half at the academies include better working skills, such as time management, teamwork, and communication,” Morroni said.“Some values include grit, not being afraid of failure, and accountability.”

MATA also offers numerous single-year courses, allowing students to choose from a wider range of specialized subjects. Also, students in any grade may apply to MATA. 

The application process consists of a resume and career statement that must be submitted along with PSAT scores. Additionally, MATA views students’ grades and GPA in order to arrive at an admissions decision. The Winter Admissions portal to apply is now open and closes Feb. 17, 2021, at 12 p.m. Resumes, career statements and a $35 application fee must be submitted by that time. 

Maddy Wade, an alumna of both LVHS and AOL, agrees that the MATA program gives students a chance to explore potential careers, setting them up for a successful future.

“I think it’s neat how students can have the opportunity to try and pursue their interest and passions in a more specific and focused way, which is a great concept,” Wade says. 

However, MATA may not be the best choice for everyone. When applying, it’s important to consider the “why?”  

“I do recommend this course to people who enjoy learning and want to learn something new,”  senior Victoria Frank said. 

Frank is a current student at both Loudoun Valley and the MedLab course at AOL. “I do not recommend it to people who just don’t want to take the eight classes at their homeschool, Frank said.“If they just want to take it to not take the eight classes, they will get behind.”

The difficulty in the switch between schools may vary for each individual student. Nonetheless, Frank notes that the challenge isn’t necessarily discouraging.

“If you pay attention in class, stay up to date with the work and study, you should be fine,” Frank said.