Neighborhood schools foster student success from pre-K to future years

During the first week in March Dallas ISD and districts across the state are celebrating Texas Public Schools Week—bringing awareness to the impact that public schools have in our communities.

At the elementary level, there’s a variety of programs including pre-K, dual language, personalized learning, extracurricular activities, and much more offered at the district’s neighborhood schools.   

Each program has many benefits. For example, research shows that students who participate in pre-K are better prepared for kindergarten and more likely to graduate, according to Yesenia Cardoza Ramirez, director of the Early Learning Department. 

Research shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain development happens from the time they are born up to five-years-old, according to Cardoza Ramirez. “Not only is this age when high cognitive development begins, they are learning social and emotional skills that will prepare them beyond pre-K,” she said.

The district provides pre-K programs across 150 elementary schools, including half-day and full-day options. In addition to programs in neighborhood schools, the district also has a pre-K partnership with approximately 40 childcare facilities throughout the city. 

Pre-K registration opens on April 1. Families can register online here or they can visit their neighborhood schools, where team members on the campus will be able to assist them. They can also contact the pre-K hotline at 214-932-7735, or text PREK to 972-687-7735. Families can also send an email through Let’s Talk

Neighborhood schools are also home to Dual Language/English as a Second Language (ESL) programs that address the academic, linguistic, and social needs of English language learners. These programs include Dual Language, ESL/Sheltered, and the Newcomer Program. 

In the dual language classroom, students are grouped in bilingual pairs in order to foster accountability, collaboration, and empathy in students. Using technology and creativity, the hands-on and interactive lessons help keep students engaged.

Sheltered instruction targets language development with grade-level instruction for English learners, an intensive language instruction program for students in the first three years of enrollment in schools in this country. 

The Newcomer Program is part of the ESL program and is designed for recent immigrant English language learners in kindergarten through fifth grade. The program prepares students with the academic language necessary for success. For more information on any of these programs offered through the district’s Dual Language ESL Department, visit here

Neighborhood schools at the elementary level are no exception when it comes to student activities. You can find anything from elementary debate, academic pentathlon, Texas Math & Science Coaches Association (TMSCA), Destination Imagination, Lone Star Challenge, cheer, esports and many other activities. 

“We find that if kids are exposed to extracurricular activities beginning in elementary school, their interest grows. For example, when they get to high school–in activities like cheer–they have the skills necessary to participate in these activities,” said Leonidas Patterson, director of the Student Activities Department.

“We know if a kid is in an extracurricular activity, they tend to be more involved in their schools, and to have more ownership in their schools and communities,” he said. 

Patterson says that the district priority is that every child is involved in at least one extracurricular activity per year. He says that students are able to apply the skills they learn in the classroom and expand them with student activities, such as debate – where students need critical thinking skills, learn how to communicate effectively, and learn to work together as a team– things that Patterson says will help them in the future. 

“Student activities contribute to student success and the overall school experience,” Patterson said. For a list of all the activities, as well as the grade levels in which they are offered, visit the Student Activities Department website.

Save the date!

To learn more about what neighborhood schools offer, visit the More Choice Expo on March 23. 

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