Students at Arturo Salazar Elementary were welcomed back to school by the Dallas Independent School District's superintendent on Monday.
Dr. Michael Hinojosa dropped in on a few classrooms to say hi and wish student and teachers good luck as the district starts a new school year with some new programs aimed at improving education in the city.
Dallas ISD has made progress improving accountability rankings, going from 37 schools needing improvement to just 14, but Hinojosa said there is more work to be done.
“Four of those schools face significant sanctions from the commissioner of education if they do not improve,” said Hinojosa. “So even though we are doing great, there is pressure to do better.”
CITY LAB HIGH SCHOOL
The first day of school is also the first day ever for the new City Lab High School concept for 100 high school freshman. Part of the Public School Choice Program, the students will be based at the Pegasus Complex downtown but their classroom will essentially be all of downtown Dallas.
The curriculum will focus on urban development, architecture and planning issues facing cities. DISD calls it “project based learning” and allows parents and students to tailor their education to best suit a child’s interest and strengths.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING
DISD is sharing a four-year grant with the nonprofit Big Thought to examine the mental health and emotions which go along with school life. The grant for Social and Emotional Learning will aid students in developing positive attitudes and controlling emotions and stresses they might face in school or any other areas of their lives.
Teachers will take part in training this year and begin implementing SEL strategies with students next year.
Students displaced by Harvey from the Texas coast may find temporary education in DISD classrooms. Dr. Michael Hinojosa said they already have identified some students staying in area shelters and are prepared to help during their stay.
“We want to make sure they are safe, comfortable, and have an education while they are here in town,” he said.
The district also helped evacuated students during Hurricane Katrina, and Hinojosa said they would follow a similar blueprint for Harvey evacuees.