The oldest Dallas ISD facility to be continuously used as a school celebrated its 21st-century outlook with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Sam Houston Public School opened in 1909 and most recently was a traditional elementary school. This year, it has changed to Personalized Learning Preparatory at Sam Houston, continuing to serve elementary grades. The learning is personalized because students are empowered within the curriculum’s parameters to explore and direct their own studies.
Students delivered the welcome, led the Pledge of Allegiance and Texas Pledge, and shared what Personalized Learning means to them. Principal Raymie Venable thanked special guests and the Personalized Learning Department for their support of the reimagined school.
“The eyes of the nation are on this school, because you are on to something unique,” said District 8 Trustee Miguel Solis. “Gone are the days when it was OK to just teach a traditional four-by-four curriculum. … Now, we believe – especially at this school – that every single child deserves the opportunity to get the specific education that is best-tuned and best-fit for them in order to ensure that their American Dream can be unlocked.”
He told students that – “no pressure” – but everyone wants to see the amazing things they will accomplish at the school. “So today, as we cut the ribbon, we are basically saying to all of you: it’s a new beginning, and you all will be leading us moving forward.”
Brian Lusk, Chief of Strategic Initiatives, said walking into a school can provide clues to what kind of place it is. Students he talked with were engaging and confident. He said the type of community being created inside the school will permeate to the outside.
“As I walked the building today, I saw classrooms where you had students working one-on-one with technology, and then some students with the teacher,” Lusk said. “That’s exactly what a PL model ought to be – allow students to have some autonomy to figure out their learning.”
He noted that the initial plan for the school was to implement Personalized Learning in kindergarten through second grade, but the model is being used through the fifth grade. “I appreciate that as well,” he said.
Angie Gaylord, Deputy Chief of Transformation and Innovation, shared what she learned from three Sam Houston students on their experience with Personalized Learning.
All three talked about focusing on their own needs, their own pace and desires when it came to choosing what to study.
“Changing a model, changing a school is not easy sometimes,” Gaylord said. “But what we’re going to do for these kids so they own their learning; they have student voice, they have student choice, it’s going to be amazing.”