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Education Matters

CFT's Educate Texas reimagines learning environments

North Star Values: Education and Equity

In the United States, 65% of future jobs will require higher education, but only 39% of Texans have earned a college degree or workforce credential. To help prepare students for college and career pathways, Educate Texas’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs bring together state agencies and school districts to strengthen instruction and academics in K-12 schools and build relationships with industry experts.

As part of this work, Educate Texas selected Cedar Hill ISDDesoto ISD, and Lancaster ISD in March 2021 to participate in a renewed partnership to expand STEM educational programs and opportunities in southern Dallas County. This partnership, funded by Texas Instruments Foundation, builds on successes and learnings from the initial investment and partnership with Lancaster ISD in 2012 and Richardson ISD in 2018.

Educate Texas’ work to help transform Cedar Hill into a STEM district includes identifying new opportunities to embed STEM teaching, thinking, and problem-solving skills across the entire school district. As part of communitywide service events across North Texas for CFT4B’s Freedom Day in September, Educate Texas participated in Cedar Hill High School’s greenhouse restoration project. With the help of industry experts from TechScape, the once-vacant greenhouse was made into a community space to enrich student learning.

STEM-influenced interdisciplinary programming is not only positively impacting student outcomes and academic achievement, but also compelling students to think beyond their classrooms and extracurricular activities. “The main thing I like about the greenhouse is that we as students are empowered to take ownership of the work,” said Nathan Theppharaj, Cedar Hill High School 12th-grade student. “We get students who come in and plant what they want to plant. It feels less like a job and more like a fun activity for the school.”

Cedar Hill ISD middle school scholars also had a career exploration day where they learned more about STEM-focused jobs. “We envision the greenhouse becoming a place where we can provide food for those in need, and create opportunities where scholars can apply learning from STEM-related courses,” Cedar Hill High School advanced placement environmental science teacher Holly Brookman said.

Ultimately, this work contributes to Educate Texas’ goal to reshape the teaching and learning of STEM subjects across all grade levels, to better prepare students from pre-K through 12th grade for higher education and workforce success.

This story was originally featured in our 2021 annual report. For additional details and content, click here.

John Fitzpatrick
John Fitzpatrick
Executive Director, Educate Texas

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