December 4, 2020 — Neighborhood elementary schools are vibrant threads sewn into the educational tapestry of our community. Each of these 21 campuses has its own unique culture, but all share the district's mission: All students will graduate prepared and ready for college or career.
Families with elementary-age students — which spans from early education and pre-kindergarten up through sixth grade — have many choices for how their child will be educated, but most send their student to a neighborhood elementary. In total, 78% of all elementary-age students attend one of MISD's 21 neighborhood elementary schools.
"Neighborhood schools serve families," said Dr. Lisa Goodnow, Chief Academic Officer. "Choosing a neighborhood school means choosing a unique community that nurtures student success so they can pursue their passions."
The top performing campuses are Bush and Gen. Tommy Franks elementary schools; each received a B accountability rating as part of the Texas Education Agency's School Report Card.
"Three key components have led to our team's success: Student Will to Learn, Teacher's Drive to Collaborate and Parent Support of Learning." said Franks Principal Andra Lancaster Jones. "We have staff that are not only experienced, but strive to learn together to improve teaching for all students. Our teams work closely together to problem-solve and share resources to enhance and accelerate learning for all of our cadets."
Franks is one of several neighborhood elementary schools that has a "signature program" that supports the unique culture of the school and helps prepare students for secondary education. For Franks, the Midland ISD Values Program has helped students succeed by teaching and implementing 12 core values such as integrity, courage and purpose.
"To achieve successful student outcomes, we first need to focus on adult behaviors. MVP has allowed us to create a common ground for how we support each other on our staff. In turn this support system allows us to support each student," Jones said.
Other campuses with signature programs include Lamar Elementary, which has implemented Capturing Kids' Hearts, and Burnet Elementary, which is a No Excuses University (NEU) school.
"We have had total buy-in from our students, teachers and families," said Burnet Principal Maribel Hernandez. NEU is a program whose mission is to make a college education a real option for students no matter their socioeconomic status.
"Much of the work to imbue college-ready culture happens behind the scenes," Hernandez said, "But what most people notice immediately is that we add an enthusiasm for higher education visually everywhere, such as through signage that tells students and parents from where teachers graduated college and through our dozens of pennants that line both sides of our main hallway. We even have parents who make their own NEU T-shirts because they love the program so much."
At Lamar, students demonstrate leadership skills and service through a pair of signature programs: Capturing Kids' Hearts (CHK) and Excel Leadership Academy.
Principal Amy Clark implemented CHK about 15 years ago when she was a principal in Bryan and saw success. She did the same at Lamar four years ago and made it Lamar's signature program. The results have been tremendous. "Over the past three years, our disciplinary referrals are down 80%," she said. "This has enabled us to focus far less on behavioral discipline and get back to what we love most: education."
This year, Lamar launched the Lamar Excel Leadership Academy — an in-house leadership development program for students. The academy focuses each month on a single important leadership attribute such as empathy, integrity, organization and teamwork.
MISD offers arts education at its elementary schools, a rarity across Texas.
"We're fortunate to be able to offer students classes such as music and art," Goodnow said. "Other districts, unfortunately, have had to either pick one of these or cut both altogether. To have music and art available to students is just one more reason why our neighborhood elementary schools are so special, and we're committed to continue offering these fun and valuable classes."
For more information about Midland ISD's neighborhood elementary schools, visit midlandisd.net.