SCHOOLS THAT ARE MAKING IT HAPPEN
A “High Performance” Pre K - 5 School in Pharr, Texas
“What do we want to be?”
The site visitor to this dual language school commends leadership, teachers, and the entire community of parents, students, and friends of the school for creating a learning environment that ensures that every student at the school is engaged, nurtured, and loved each day. This has been achieved despite formidable challenges and is reflected not only in test scores, but also in student behavior, teachers’ professionalism, and parent involvement. Three specific features of Garcia School make the school distinctive:
The first distinctive element is the incorporation of holistic teaching in a manner compatible with Educating the Whole Child, along with a respect for teacher professionalism and autonomy. Garcia School’s ability to score well on state tests, while nurturing truly warm and engaging learning environment, is perhaps the most impressive accomplishment in an extraordinarily accomplished public school. International Baccalaureate principles and educational constructs are interwoven deeply into Garcia’s core educational values, but how teachers arrive at the essential constructs that define Garcia is less important than ensuring that they are done with integrity and purpose. Teachers are encouraged to freely utilize their favored effective teaching modalities.
A second distinctive element central to teaching and learning at Garcia School is the consistent incorporation of both performance and visual arts into the school’s integrated curriculum. Every unit of interdisciplinary study ends in an integrated project, and each project has a requirement to represent learning through creative artwork. The hallways are filled with student work that is attractive and demonstrates creativity and precision at a developmentally appropriate level. Much of the learning at the school is situated in nature and in the community.
The third distinctive element is the presence of collaborative components of project-based learning, allowing students with a wide array of skills and talents to be able to shine. Meaningful learning, engaging multiple intelligences, was evident at all grade levels during the site visit in these very student-centered classrooms.
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An atmosphere of respect and professionalism where teachers are actively encouraged to utilize their favored effective teaching modalities
This is a dual language school, which means every student at the school can become bi-lingual and bi-cultural.
Strong parent engagement with daily volunteers performing meaningful tasks, freeing instructional time for teachers
Balance between achieving high test scores to satisfy mandates and the nurturing of a warm and engaging learning environment
Learning using multifaceted projects and integration with the arts, with much learning situated in nature and in the community.