New principal, program ready Spruce students for success after high school

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Danielle Petters, who is going into her first year as principal at H. Grady Spruce School, is no stranger to providing stability at a Dallas ISD school with a historically high principal turnover rate.

Petters spent the past seven years as principal at J.L. Long Middle School where, before her, there were 12 principals in 24 years. After meeting with teachers, staff and community members involved with Spruce, which is located in Pleasant Grove, Petters is optimistic about the upcoming school year.

“There is a tremendous team in place here that is willing to go above and beyond to help the students,” she said. “Also, there is a lot of pride in Pleasant Grove, and we will look to leverage that pride in students to help them succeed.”

Petters said she was drawn to the principal position at Spruce because of the important role the school plays in the Pleasant Grove community. In addition to providing stability and involving the community with the school, Petters said Spruce will increase the rigor in the classroom so students are better prepared for life after high school.

“We have the potential to really impact the entire Pleasant Grove community by what we do at Spruce,” she said. “That’s a great responsibility that we take very seriously.”

Spruce has a new program this school year aimed at preparing more students for the workforce. The school’s Early College High School program is one of only four in the state that focuses on Career and Technical Education. The program focuses on four pathways—Computer-Aided Graphic Design, HVAC, Digital Media, and Mechatronics— that the Texas Workforce Commission says are among the highest demand fields.

The students that go through the free program will graduate high school with an Associate Degree of Applied Science and a career certificate. The program begins this year with a class of 68 freshmen.

Meanwhile, Spruce offers an Academy of Engineering and Academy of Finance that provide additional options for specialized education.

“We are opening up more choices and opportunities for our kids to succeed,” Petters said. “Getting more students to become productive members of society after high school will do great things for Pleasant Grove. This is going to be a great school year at Spruce.”

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