La Joya ISD approves STEM and Fine Arts Designated Schools

Finding new ways to promote accelerated education and learning in students, La Joya Independent School District is making waves in the Rio Grande Valley.

At the March 28th school board meeting, it was announced that starting in the 2018-2019 school year, La Joya ISD will give elementary students the opportunity to attend a school geared more toward their interests.

LJISD LogoDr. Gisela Saenz presented on the topic and spoke about the district’s decision to move forward on this.

“We will be giving our elementary parents and students school choice by offering STEM elementary schools, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics,” Saenz said. “We will also have Fine Arts designated schools and STEAM designated schools, which will be a combination of Fine Arts and STEM.”

Saenz went into detail about the goals of each campus, and what the students will be doing differently from other elementary schools in the Valley.

“The focus of our STEM schools will be to foster an early interest in STEM careers in elementary students,” Saenz said. “Some of the ways we are going to be doing this will include having hands-on learning modules in STEM fields that also integrate the text.”

Students attending one of the STEM elementary schools will also have trips to the learning center and the new LJISD planetarium.

“There will be visiting STEM professionals at the campuses,” Saenz said. “And students will participate in STEM study trips.”

Evangelina Garza Elementary and William J. Clinton Elementary will be the STEM designated schools starting next school year. Saenz also went into detail about the Fine Arts elementary option.

“The focus of the Fine Arts schools will be to enhance students’ artistic potential,” Saenz said. “They will be having performances, performance-based groups, we will have talent showcases and exhibits for the students, we will have fine arts enrichment trips, there will be guest artist visitors at the campuses, and the students will also go on fine arts trips.”

The artistic mediums that will be focused on in the Fine Arts elementary are theatre arts, music, and digital arts. STEAM schools will have a combination of activities from both the STEM schools and the Fine Arts Schools.
Emiliano Zapata Elementary will be a Fine Arts designated school. John F. Kennedy Elementary and Enrique Camarena Elementary will be STEAM designated schools.

Earlier in the meeting, several recognitions were given to students and faculty alike, particularly the Girls Engaged in Mathematics (GEM) Project. The GEM summer camp is led by Lucy Muñoz, the Elementary Math Coordinator.

“Our main goal was to create a math-minded camp culture designed to build the girls confidence, attitude, and skill in mathematics,” Muñoz said. “Collaboration was key, and so we thank everyone involved in making our GEM a wonderful experience for our La Joya ISD girls.”

A video was shown detailing the first week of the GEM Project. 70 girls participated in this camp last summer, and were honored at the meeting in front of their parents and family. Students who were district champions in UIL elementary academics were also recognized in front of the board.

At the board meeting the district also spoke about a student services campaign, the Super Mind, Super Body, Super Star Campaign, which will take place on Mon., April 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. As April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Library Month, National Parent Volunteer Month, and Dia de los Niños, the district wants to emphasize on each area during the campaign.

The purpose of the event is to celebrate students and the community, and entrance is free. Games offered at the event will also be free. It is also the kick-off for Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

During the campaign event there will also be a parade of schools, game and food booths, and student-led entertainment. It is a district-wide collaboration of various departments that La Joya is very excited to present for the third time.

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