School Choice Night happening Feb. 15
Burleson ISD is making a name for itself by being ahead of the curve with choice schools.
The district offers four elementary schools of choice, one choice middle school, one choice middle school program and one choice high school among other various, unique options for traditional high school students.
“The new and innovative education choices offered in Burleson ISD are important as they help children discover their passion while receiving a rigorous education,” said Superintendent Bret Jimerson, Ph.D. of education in educational leadership. “When students and parents are invested in the curriculum decision and topics are relevant, we find it easier to increase the level of rigor. In doing so, we see an increase in student achievement and engagement.”
Parents and students are surveyed to see which choice schools should be added to the district.
“The responses helped us increase the choices we offer at elementary and middle schools, in addition to CTE, dual credit and other advanced course offerings at our high schools.”
To Jimerson’s knowledge, there is no other school in Texas that currently offers a program like REALM. Dean of the REALM Cheryl Essex said having schools of choice is important because it gives an opportunity for innovation.
“In the REALM, we are finding that students take ownership in their school,” Essex said. “Through surveys, parents and students communicate investment and support. Multiple parents have reported that their children now like attending school.”
Jimerson said that when the district opened STEAM Middle School three years ago, they were one of the first districts in the area to infuse graphic arts with STEM.
“Everything educators in Burleson are doing is focused on boosting students’ academic achievement, and the best way to inspire learning is through relevance,” Jimerson said.
STEAM Middle School student Matthew Swaringen said he chose to go to a school of choice for more of a challenge and more freedom.
“I love it,” Swaringen said. “It is amazing. I feel I really get to know my teachers more than I would at my zone campus.”
Fellow STEAM Middle School student Maggie Prewitt chose a school of choice for similar reasons, including the student population size, opportunities to work in collaboration areas and better connections with the teachers.
“I get to collaborate with the office, and I am connected with everyone that attends this school,” Prewitt said. “I love the freedom.”
Burleson Collegiate High School Principal Rexanne Higgins said that schools of choice are important to offer students the opportunity to pursue their interests earlier and customize their school experience. Students are able to earn their associate degree alongside their high school diploma.
“My students enjoy the academic rigor of our campus and the small learning community that feels like a family,” Higgins said.
One of these students is 10th grader Brian Kennerson, who wants to be a vet.
“This requires a lot of college, and BCHS gives me the opportunity to get ahead on this schooling,” Kennerson said. “I like the teachers, meeting new people and the chances I wouldn’t have been able to get at a traditional school.”
Academy of Leadership and Technology at Mound Elementary Principal Marla Bennett said that schools of choice are important for students in the district, because children are born with unique talents, personal drive and gifts.
“Schools of choice allow students an opportunity to learn in an environment that meets these unique personal characteristics and interests,” Bennett said. “This opportunity gives parents and students the power to choose what is best for their child educationally.”
Fourth grader Acelyn Heldt said she chose to go to a school of choice to learn about technology more, which will help her be a sales manager when she grows up.
“I have learned about technology here,” Heldt said. “It has also helped me be a leader in my own family with my younger brother. We are more able to come up with a solution if we have a disagreement.”
To explore schools of choice, the second annual School Choice Night is 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 15 at Centennial High School. For more information, visit www.burlesonisd.net.