Lake Dallas Elementary Wins the 2017 Rather Prize
by Susan Neuhalfen
Lake Dallas Elementary School won the 2017 Rather Prize at the SXSWedu in Austin, Texas, this month. Created by journalist and Texas native Dan Rather this is the second annual Rather Prize awarded to the school with the best idea to improve education in Texas. The winning idea came from teacher Katie Landaverde.
This concept is to create morning workshops for Lake Dallas Elementary students that are taught by Lake Dallas High School students, community members, and teachers. Students will attend morning seminars on the topics that interest them. The goal of this program is to provide many opportunities for students at an early age to explore their different passions and future careers. This will introduce the students to a wide variety of subjects, therefore expanding their interests and jumpstarting their day with an energizing topic that they want to learn.
“This will let our kids explore the interests of their choice,” said Landaverde. “They could choose anything from crocheting to acting and even computer programming, just a really wide range of fields they might be interested in.”
In addition it gives the older students the opportunity to teach and better master their subjects. It also gives community members the chance to teach the younger generation based on their experiences. In addition to bonding with the younger kids, this is an opportunity for both groups to serve as role models.
“I think Katie’s idea is fantastic,” said Principal Jennifer Perry. “It allows us to focus on several of the core values that we as a campus feel are critical for student success. It involves the community, student engagement, student leadership and most of all, access for every student.”
Community leaders agree that a program like this will make a huge difference. Lake Dallas is an elementary school that is diverse in both makeup and income levels and this will help the students to prepare for 21st century careers. The program will also foster collaborative relationships between the younger and older generations as well as the school and the community.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity to take that time before class starts and pique their interests,” said Gayle Stinson LDISD Superintendent. “It gives the kids an opportunity to learn and grow in their own interests.”
It also brings hands-on learning to subjects that the students love, changing up their day from a one-teacher classroom to something different and fun.
Lake Dallas Elementary will receive a $10,000 cash award from the Rather Prize to implement the idea and another ten thousand dollars in support from Rice University. The award was presented by Rather and Rice University student Martin Rather.
“In an age where we spend a lot of time focusing on accountability and testing I think this is a really important opportunity for us to focus and get back to the root of education and helping kids learn what they want to learn,” said Landaverde.
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