Grand Prairie ISD rolls into the fall ‘18 semester following a summer of updating its schools and curriculums to meet the needs of today’s students.
Of the many improvements, the most significant were to GPISD Schools and Programs of Choice, a large Grand Prairie education program that offers students specialized academic pathways. Adams Middle School underwent a state-of-the-art transformation into the Digital Arts and Technology Academy. A Smart Hospital, lab simulation hospital, was added to the Grand Prairie High School Nursing Academy. A large classroom, garden, and teaching amenities were added to the Austin Environmental Learning Center.
“The district is very innovative in our choice offerings, all across from newborn through 12th grade,” said Beth Rustenhaven, special projects and event coordinator for GPISD. “We are looking at what the neighborhood wants and what our new and upcoming careers are, so that we can offer our students a variety of choices. We’re finding there are lots of different paths to success, and we’re helping students find the path that best fits them. You can find a school as unique as your child, and we have the options to fit your family’s priorities and interests and reflect what your child wants. It’s very intentional, because if we can tap into what a student is passionate about and get them excited about coming to school, their grades will show it.
“We have Moore Elementary, now Moore College and Career Preparatory, which is expanding into a middle school. Last year, they had sixth graders, this year they’ll have seventh graders, and next year they’ll have eighth graders. Adams Middle School is changing to the Digital Arts Technology Academy at Adams, which is adding another whole focus for middle school students to start some of those exciting career pathways. They are things [students] are really interested in, like gaming, app design, and game design.”
The Digital Arts Technology Academy at Adams was one of ten schools to receive a $1.5 million dollar grant from the Texas Education Agency. This grant will go toward a multimedia sound lab equipped for radio and television, as well as two digital technology labs fully stocked with computers, creative workstations, high-tech software, and more.
“What makes our student experience different from a traditional middle school is the fact students are in charge of their own learning,” said Darwert Johnson, principal of the Digital Arts and Technology Academy (DATA) at John Adams Middle School. “Students will explore all four pathways in their first year and choose what area of study they want to pursue over two years.”
Set to open sometime this year or 2019, DATA will offer four main areas of study: film and video production, animation and motion graphics, interactive media and game development, and web-based application development.
“Students will leave middle school with a high school credit in CTE and can begin their journey to career readiness one year earlier. Some may be eligible for certification after completing three years at Adams MS,” Johnson said. “I’m excited to be engaging the 21st century learner by appealing to their interests and the future of the entertainment and technology industry, preparing GPISD students for jobs that have not been created yet or providing them the opportunity to create the jobs of the future.”
Austin Environmental Science Academy’s second phase of construction provided a new learning garden and indoor hydroponic growing walls for students.
“The Austin Environmental Science Academy will provide an engaging, hands-on learning experience for kids that allows them to really explore career interests and possibilities that they otherwise might not be able to,” Austin Environmental Science Academy Principal Tanya Gilliam said. “We’re really excited about the garden because of all the possibilities it presents when it comes to botany. And almost even more so, we’re excited to get our chickens and coop… there will be six.”
Last year, Dubiski Career High School was named GPISD’s most recent recipient of the Dallas County Promise program.
“We are very excited about the Dallas Promise,” said Cornelia McCowan, GPISD college access coordinator. “Now, we will have the Dallas Promise at three of our schools: South Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie High, and Dubiski Career High School. This will give our students an opportunity to go onto community college, to complete a certification they maybe started in high school, and to really focus on what they’re going to do next.”