Young Women’s STEAM Academy team members prepare for ninth graders

Team members at Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Balch Springs Middle School are gearing up to receive the first freshman class next school year and are making all the preparations. 

Recently, the school had its first signing day where the future ninth graders, many of whom are already students there, committed to attending the district’s second secondary all-girls high school. Students received swag and were happy to be able to stay in the school where they have completed middle school, said principal Rubinna Sanchez.

“The community and the girls are excited about it,” Sanchez said. “So the dream that started when the school first opened in 2016 is now actually coming to fruition.” 

Not only is the surrounding Southeast Dallas community excited about the school adding the high school component, so are the team members, parents, and students. Sanchez said she and her team have been planning and working on a master schedule, and students have been eager to give their feedback.

“Since they are the first freshman class, it’s helping us go back and say maybe we should add or tweak or do something. It’s so exciting to be able to start the high school component of it and expand, and to just see the girls excited about it. Many are asking about it every day,” Sanchez said. 

Assistant principal Sasha Hampton describes the transformation as a whole rebranding and a cultural shift for the campus. 

“We are retraining [employees] and getting them in the mindset of what this vision is and what it means to be a six through 12 campus,” Hampton said. In the summer, when teachers return to campus, there will be a separate onboarding process to really help shift that mindset on what these scholars now will look like and how they will matriculate, she said.

Principal Sanchez described this as a great opportunity within the community because a lot of the students are expected to be first-generation college students. She added that she herself was a first-generation college student and her parents needed support with the college readiness process and things such as how to fill out financial aid applications and the FAFSA. 

The school partners with the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, which Sanchez said comes with a lot of resources that parents are eager to explore. The knowledge and resources will help close gaps for them. 

A parent recently stopped by the school to learn more about the expansion and asked for assistance with the application, Sanchez said.

One of the available resources is having a college success advisor who will not only guide the girls, but provide families with tools such as parent workshops so they’ll know what to do, instead of guessing. 

“It will really help build that first generation,” Sanchez said. 

This new opportunity also will help to prepare the sixth through eighth graders, so they can start to look in a different direction by offering some different courses, said assistant principal Lea Hempstead. 

Most students will be on the engineering track and will have the opportunity to take classes like introduction to engineering design. However, in addition to engineering, STEAM careers include anything in science, technology, arts, and mathematics and are open to those who want to pursue careers in any of those fields. 

“The resources that the Young Women’s Network brings and the dollars that this partnership brings are very important. The investment in our students will open new opportunities for them,” Hampton said.

Hampton added that sometimes students need a little guidance after they transition to high school, but having a program here and inspiring girls to actually dive into those areas is what she’s most excited about. 

The recruitment process for this first cohort of students began in January and seats are still available. To register, parents will have to complete the online registration process by visiting

“And so this is bringing it all together,” Sanchez said. “For the parents whose students have  been with us since sixth grade, and for the parents who are new to our campus, I’m asking them to trust us for the next four years to get their child where they want her to be.” 


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