It was a busy week for Dallas ISD’s Sudie L. Williams Talented & Gifted Academy.
After having an open house to showcase the school’s programs to prospective families on Wednesday, Nov. 7, the campus hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially dedicate the school’s new direction on Friday, Nov. 9. That evening, the school had its Fall Carnival – complete with a haunted house. But that level of activity appears to be par for the course at a place where there’s always much to do, see and learn.
Opened in 1952, Sudie Williams was a traditional elementary school and became a TAG academy this year, at first accommodating grades 4-6, and adding a grade each school year up to 8th grade starting in 2020. Students must apply to attend, and there is an academic requirement to be considered.
Principal Michael Jackson welcomed guests and thanked them for their support of the school’s new direction. He shared a quote with a message that underpins the school’s new focus.
“Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success,” Jackson said. “Together we hope we will have an amazing, amazing first chapter of Sudie TAG, and a great day to start.”
Student leaders led the Pledge of Allegiance, Texas Pledge and the school’s Lion’s Creed, as well has introduced guest speakers, talked about the school’s vision from their perspective and about the life of Sudie L. Williams (1870-1940) – a Dallas music educator who notably fought to save the Dallas Symphony. Students in orchestra and modern band played musical pieces, and the school’s cheer team also performed.
“It’s a great day for a celebration of a new school offering fresh learning opportunities for gifted students,” said District 2 Trustee Dustin Marshall, adding that the school’s goal is to produce the next generation of leaders. “You can see from the students who’ve already been up here that we’re off to a great start.”
Marshall congratulated Jackson and his staff for their hard work in launching the school. “You’ve already begun making a difference in the lives of these students and their parents,” he said.
For students, he said parents and teachers believe in them 100 percent. Now it’s up to them to meet those high expectations. “You need to work hard, learn all you can, read and study, help each other, and most of all, believe in yourselves,” he said. “It’s up to you to apply your talents and skills in a way that will make all of us proud of you.”
Angie Gaylord, Deputy Chief of Transformation and Innovation, thanked parents for partnering with the district in educating their children. The school provides high academic expectations, many extracurricular opportunities and will help students become future leaders.
“It’s a super day at Sudie Williams, can you tell?” Gaylor asked. “It’s so nice to walk in this building, you all feel it. There’s an energy in this school. Parents, it starts with you. Teachers, it starts with you. Students, all of you are gifted students with high academic expectations.”
A leap of faith
Parent Stephanie Rosuck serves on the school’s site-based decision-making committee and has a daughter in the fifth grade at Sudie Williams.
She said she was blown away by the students and especially the musical performances.
“This is an incredible example of what happens when you get talented and gifted kids together in an environment where they are nurtured, and learning together, and are incentivized by their teachers to grow,” Rosuck said. “That’s 57 days (of school so far), is that how many days? What? I’m floored by that.”
She thanked Gaylord, Marshall and trustees for seeing the need for a TAG academy at Sudie Williams.
“There were parents like my family that were going into private schools because our gifted and talented kids weren’t getting the kind of education they needed in the public school,” she said, adding that it takes a special program with special teachers to be successful. She pointed to Jackson and what she called his extraordinary ideas as the driving forces for the school.
When she attended the school’s first open house, before the school year began, no teachers had been hired and Jackson was not officially the principal.
“It was truly a leap of faith,” Rosuck said. “But after having met him, and after seeing the vision he had for this school, there was no doubt in my mind that this school was going to truly be exceptional. And I had no hesitation about sending my daughter here.”
She said her daughter used to come home frustrated after school, but while attending Sudie Williams she comes home excited, and is excited the next morning to return. She asked students to raise their hands if they love going to school there – and all their arms shot up in the air.
“I am really so excited about this school and so excited about where it’s going,” Rosuck said. “It takes a truly exceptional educator to meet children where they are, even when there’s a wide range of abilities.” She said she expects that more neighborhood families will be drawn to the school and stay in Dallas ISD because of the quality of the education there.
Applications are being accepted to attend Dallas ISD specialty schools for the 2019-2020 school year now until Jan. 31, 2019. Learn more at www.dallasisd.org/yourchoices.