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Home | Tag Archives: episd new tech

Tag Archives: episd new tech

Educators visit EPISD to Learn New Tech Implementation

Superintendents, principals and other administrators from throughout the country traveled to El Paso last week to learn from EPISD educators more about the New Tech Network and see in action two of EPISD’s eight successful programs.

The 30 educators attending the Leadership Residency Training are planning to implement the New Tech Network model in their school districts this fall. The training, which had for years been in Fort Wayne, Indiana, moved to El Paso to give the educators a chance to talk to the principals, teachers and students at both Rocket New Tech and Cobra Tech about outcomes and their experience with the project based learning model.

“This is their very first introduction to the model that they are about to undertake,” said Anna Kinsella, New Tech Network’s senior director of school coaching. “They’re learning about the core pillars of the New Tech design and what that means for them as leaders. We love to use schools like Cobra Tech and Rocket Tech where we can walk into classrooms to really show off what the model does for students and for teachers and how it flips learning.”

The training gave the group a better understanding of how the implementation of New Tech will change their campus, what their role is as instructional leaders and how to implement the model with staff.

“They also will be learning about the design pillars for New Tech, so they will have a deep understanding of what the four pillars looks like, which is why we want to show off Cobra New Tech and Rocket New Tech classrooms because they really helped showcase what the four pillars look like,” said Kinsella. “Lastly, we really want them to leave with clear next steps. They sort of have the rest of the semester to continue planning with their team and we want to make sure that they have a clear action plan going forward.”

Superintendent Juan Cabrera sat in on one of the sessions offering advice and fielded questions about the implementation and success of the New Tech Model in EPISD. Cabrera candidly responded, explaining how the New Tech Network evolved in EPISD and how the model intrigued him prior to becoming superintendent.

“I really wanted to break the test prep culture and I believed this was the future of education,” Cabrera told them. “All the other skills that we teach in the New Tech framework are just as important as the academic standards. I felt it just as important to give kids a chance to develop those skills while we’re meeting the academic standards. That was sort of the impetus of the work for me.”

Cabrera also talked about the benefits of integrating the New Tech into existing traditional campuses instead of having stand-alone buildings.

“They are completely integrated in terms of extra-curricular activities and athletics. Our New
Tech students will be able to flow in and out of the traditional campuses and our teachers in those campuses can see what it’s like to approach education differently.

EPISD’s New Tech campuses are housed in Bowie, Austin and Franklin high schools and Brown and Guillen middle schools. The Young Women’s STEAM Prep, which opened this school year, also is a New Tech academy. The District’s foray into elementary New Tech will begin next year with Hart Elementary School, which will provide a pipeline of students from elementary to middle and high school in the Bowie feeder pattern.

“Honestly, our venture into New Tech has exceeded my expectations,” Cabrera told the group.

Participant Stephanie Ehler, coordinator of academic programs at Comal ISD, enjoyed her visit to El Paso and looks forward to implementing New Tech in their district this fall.

“The culture of student to student and student to teacher impressed me,” she said. “We got to sit in on a PLC with the teachers. The way they interact with each other and have protocols, timing protocols and the feedback they gave each other really showed that they lived the New Tech mission of respect and responsibility.”

The training reassured Ehler and her team that New Tech would be beneficial for their students and district.

“For us it’s been a very eye-opening experience, affirming that this is the way we need to go.”

Story by Reneé De Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy / EPISD

Video+Story: Hart Elementary is First Dual-Language New Tech in the U.S.

EPISD’s next venture into New Tech will pioneer the project-based learning approach for which the program is known and combine it with the District’s nationally recognized dual-language curriculum.

Hart New Tech will be EPISD’s first elementary school with the collaborative learning program in the city, and just second in Texas. It also will be the first-ever dual-language New Tech school in the country.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to see what will happen when we introduce this type of learning at the elementary school and then see the student progress through high school,” said Scott Gray, New Tech Network coordinator.

The program will begin next year with third through fifth grade, and the following year kinder through second grades will be added.

Eventually, Hart students will be able to go from kinder to 12th grade in New Tech, which is offered at feeder campuses Guillen Middle and Bowie High School.

The addition of New Tech at Hart is funded by a $1.3 million grant EPISD received from the Texas Education Agency. The money will help train teachers and staff, and also will pay for the physical transformation of classrooms into active-learning spaces.

The New Tech approach has its advantages for dual language students when learning a second language. Students with varying abilities in English and Spanish work collaboratively to learn and build their language capacities.

“They tend to succeed because they’re building context,” Gray said. “They are taking ownership of their learning and tying what they’re learning to real world problems and solutions.”

Gray works closely with EPISD’s eight existing New Tech campuses and has been tracking data that shows New Tech students tend to out perform their traditional classroom peers nationally and within EPISD. He also said attendance rates are dramatically higher for students in New Tech programs.

“Students are engaged,” he said. “They want to learn and they want to learn this way. We have data support this.”

The grant, which is meant to transform teaching and learning at Hart, required EPISD to install a principal who had fewer than two years experience at the campus. 

Angelica Negrete, who until last week had been principal at Alta Vista Elementary, is now the leader at Hart. Hart’s previous principal, Elizabeth Pragner, is now the principal at Alta Vista.

“I want to thank the Alta Vista community for being part of my journey as principal and teaching me so much. I know Ms. Pragner is going to excel there because of the dedicated teachers and wonderful students,” Negrete said.

“I am excited to take on this role at Hart and to have the opportunity to develop what I know will be an innovative and impactful program,” she added. “Students here at Hart will become very critical thinkers, which will provide them with more opportunities to be more ready for high school and even beyond high school.”

Story by Reneé de Santos / Photos by Alicia Chumley – EPISD

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