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El Paso ISD’s DREAMS Summer Program Reaches Capacity

EPISD received an overwhelming response to its expansion of the popular summer program Developing Research and Early Aspirations Medical Scholars, or DREAMS, this year.

DREAMS, which is now available to all fifth-graders in the district, filled all slots for the two-session program and even has a growing waiting list of more than 200.

The program had previously been available to only gifted and talented students at 16 EPISD elementary campuses. This year, the program opened to all fifth-grade students who attend an EPISD campus with a school-wide Title I designation or a Title I Targeted Assistance designation.

“It’s a great program and we wanted to offer it to more of our students,” said Karen Blaine, interim chief academic and innovation officer. “Previously, only a handful of schools participated because it was paid for through grant funding. The district now pays for DREAMS fully through Title I monies to make this opportunity available to so many more students.”

Blaine isn’t surprised by the response to the expansion of DREAMS.

“Historically, this has been a very high-demand program because it is such an engaging experience for kids,” Blaine said. “When the word got out, our office was inundated with calls and registration forms. We are happy to have doubled the enrollment this year.”

This program engages fifth-grade students in learning experiences to create curiosity and aspirations leading to enrollment in advanced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses as they transition to middle school.

Through the hard work of the dedicated coordinator, nurse, teachers and healthcare community partners, DREAMS participants will further discover their academic interests by taking a career inventory and by researching various medical professions.

Each week, students will rotate among one of three rigorous units:
-Forensics: Students will learn about DNA, fingerprinting and blood typing as they uncover clues in solving a simulated crime scene.

-Nutrition: Students will learn about diabetes prevention, healthy eating and participate in a Zumba party
.
-Robotics: Students will utilize programming as they build a robot with capabilities that mimic a human hand.

Students also will be introduced to compression-only CPR, empowering them to be first responders while instilling the importance of their position in the chain of response in emergency situations.

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