Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SKY Partnership Presents at Grand Prairie Symposium

If you were school-aged prior to the 21st century, you can attest to the fact that school choices were extremely limited.  Standard in most households, was that you either went to your neighborhood school or to the private school that your parents insisted that you attend.   

How exciting to know that those times have changed!  The new standard in education now is Choice.

Grand Prairie ISD recently held a one-day symposium at the University of Texas in Arlington to bring awareness to the growing need and desire for choice in education. 

The UT-Arlington event titled, “Choice: Its Role in Public Education Today, “ attracted state leaders, school superintendents, principals and national experts in education reform.  Speakers at the symposium included SBISD SKY Partnership’s MandelĂ© Davis, Project Manager, Mike Feinberg, Ed.D, founder of KIPP Houston Public Schools and Grand Prairie Superintendent, Susan Hull, Ed.D

“Folks want to make choices, they want to be responsible for their student’s education.  Meeting the needs of our parents is what we have to do,” Dr. Hull said.

Susan Hull, Ed.D, Superintendent of Grand Prairie ISD and
Mandele Davis, Project Manager, SKY Partnership

Grand Prairie ISD currently has 39 district schools. Thirteen of the 39 are Schools of Choice that include Garner Fine Arts Academy and Dubisky Career High School, both of which are highly sought after programs. 

In addition to Dr. Hull’s keynote talk, the SKY Partnership team presented insights and a first-hand look into the benefits of a public school district partnering with charter organizations. "Simply put, adding charters increases choice.

Charter schools alone are not the answer, but a great opportunity," Dr. Feinberg said.

SBISD through its SKY Partnership now offers middle school charter programs at two campuses. KIPP Courage College Prep is housed at Landrum Middle School; YES Prep at Northbrook is based at Northbrook Middle School. Over time, these programs will offer a high school charter program at Northbrook High School.

In other compelling speeches, speakers noted that we are no longer living in the days of yesteryear, but we must live in the now and hardwire our students to be successful in whatever career path they choose.

Other symposium presenters included Texas State Senators Royce West of Dallas and Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills; J. Puckett, senior partner and managing director of Boston Consulting Group; Todd Williams, executive director of Commit!, a Dallas-based, nonprofit educational group; and David Anthony, CEO of the Austin-based nonprofit, Raise Your Hand Texas.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Knights Gear up for the Fall Athletic Season

7th grade Knights football team en route to their 2nd touch-
down of the game.  Knights win with a final score of 34-6.

On Monday, cheers came from the stands and bleachers as proud parents, teachers and fans came out to kick off the Northbrook Knights Fall athletic season.  With talented athletes from both Northbrook Middle and YES Prep at Northbrook, the Knights football and volleyball teams have created the perfect formula for a  winning season!  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

SKY Partnership Welcomes Students to Year Two!

Some walked, some came in cars and others arrived in big yellow buses. That’s right! It’s back to school for Spring Branch ISD’s Landrum and Northbrook Middle Schools, KIPP Courage College Prep at Landrum and YES Prep Northbrook, better known as the SKY Partnership.  

YES Prep Northbrook opened its doors to students on Aug. 8th and KIPP Courage opened Aug. 19th.  Landrum and Northbrook Middle Schools both welcomed students on Aug. 26th.

Eric M. Schmidt, KIPP Courage School Leader, welcomes
 students on the first day of class
Each new or returning student at KIPP Courage was welcomed with a handshake and a smile on the first day of school. “I was nervous, at first but now I’m fine.  I’m excited to learn what I’m going to do!,” exclaimed Mayra Martinez, a new 5th grade KIPPster. 

Students, teachers and administrators at all four schools have high expectations about the upcoming school year.  All are interested in building a culture of community.

KIPP schools have developed a culture of community, family, character and success.  “We want our kids to have that culture,’’ states Eric Schmidt, School Leader at KIPP Courage.   Inside and out of the classroom, students are consistently reminded of the high expectations that are built around character strengths.  

Positive quotes line the hallways of both Landrum and Northbrook.  All students are expected to model and live character strengths such as grit, self-control, curiosity and optimism to name a few.   Inspirational quotes are scripted on the walls and hanging from the ceilings to motivate and remind each student that they have what it takes to succeed and accomplish their dreams.

KIPP Courage and YES Prep have both doubled in size. “We’re excited,” YES Prep Director Cendie Stanford said.  “Doubling in size both in adults and students in just one year is rewarding.  It means that we must be doing something right.  The word is out and we are on our way.  We’re twice as big and this year will be twice as good in all kinds of ways,” she also said.

With several days of professional development and intensive training around team building, KIPP Courage, Landrum, YES Prep and Northbrook teachers are better equipped to build a culture that will help students have a successful year. Teachers are just as motivated and eager to embark on this new school year as the students.  

 A student in Hannah Swanson's class
gets work done while seated on an
exercise ball
Hannah Swanson’s 6th grade Humanities students walked in to find that they had exercise balls in place of chairs.   Earlier this summer Hannah, their KIPP Courage teacher, spent time researching ways of keeping the brain active and pliable during learning.  Studies have shown that exercise or stability balls help students focus.  With permission from her school leader, Hannah decided to validate her findings by utilizing this alternative seating in her classroom. 

If the first few days and weeks of school are an indication of how the school year will end, then it’s clear that this year will be a great one!

See the link below to read about other SKY Partner first day preparations and activities.
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