To help prepare students for the future, two Judson ISD schools opted to participate in the School Action Fund grant provided by the Texas Education Agency.

Spring Meadows Elementary School and Woodlake Hills Middle School are in the midst of the planning year for the grant, which encourages bold campus innovation through creating a new school model.

While two other campuses picked a STEM model, these two schools decided on a college prep model. Once the planning year is complete, and if the continuation grant is awarded, the schools will go into a two-year implementation process.

Why college prep?

The college prep model was chosen for a multitude of reasons, but mainly for students to feel prepared once they hit freshman year of high school.

“The college prep model is a great choice for students because this pathway prepares our students for the rigor and challenges of not only high school but post secondary experiences through non-traditional school models,” said Denise Jones, JISD Accountability and Innovation Director.

The overall theme is giving students the opportunity to live a choice-filled life once they graduate, whether that be college or trade school.

“I serve a bilingual campus, so a lot of my families wanted a choice-filled life, and they wanted their students to have that opportunity. I don't know if my kindergarten students now are going to end up in college, but what I do know is we will provide them with that choice-filled life if they choose to do that,” Spring Meadows Principal Sharon Balderas said. “Choosing the college prep model really came out of what our community and our stakeholders were wanting for their students and their kids in the neighborhood.”

How it works

The model will focus on two outcomes: academic and graduate.

Academic outcomes for elementary school are based on high quality instructional material for math and reading curriculum vetted by TEA. Graduate outcomes focus on soft skills such as teaching kids to be problem solvers, critical thinkers, advocates and resilient leaders.

For middle school, the outcomes look similar except students will be preparing to take advanced level high school credits. The goal is for 100% of students to take a high school level math and science course before they finish middle school. The graduate outcome prioritizes students being leaders, advocates, critical thinkers and collaborators.

Both campuses are working together to ensure these leadership and interpersonal skills are ingrained in students as they pass through each campus. By combining these outcomes, both campuses hope these skills will carry students through the rest of their schooling until graduation.

“We feel that if you can collaborate with others, you're well on a road for success,” Woodlake Hills Principal John Griffin said.

What’s next?

Part of the college prep model includes parent buy-in and participation, especially for first generation students. To help parents feel included, the campuses plan on hosting college workshops and field trips to local college campuses. This will help the younger students start to get excited about the future, and help parents of older students feel prepared once the application process opens up.

“Ultimately, we want 100% of our kids to be prepared to go to college if they have a desire to,” Griffin said. “We know that not everyone wants to go, but we want to put them in a position where they are prepared to go.”

To learn more about JISD’s programs, visit the website.

The above story was produced by Community Impact's Senior Multi Platform Journalist Sierra Rozen with information solely provided by the local business as part of its "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.