While some young men lose interest in school early on, the San Antonio Independent School District brings together boys as young as 4.e note for a new experience to hopefully keep them engaged before the urge to give up sets in. And on Monday, the only all-male public school in Bexar County opened for the first time.
280 boys are enrolled in the new Young Men’s Leadership Academy in the San Antonio Independent School District. On opening day, each boy wore a white shirt and purple tie and was greeted in a procession down the main hall by teachers and parents.
This school breaks the traditional school-level model by taking boys from grade 4e note up to 8e before sending them to high school. The district reports that this period is a crucial bridge for young men.
âIf you look at a lot of learning charts, a lot of boys don’t graduate, girls graduate at a higher rate. We really want to capture our boys at a younger age, âsaid YMLA director Derek Brown.
The district already has a successful girls’ school, known as the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, which covers grades 6 to 12. SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez explained that boys and girls learn differently as they get older.
âA lot of our young men, the reason they give up early is because they pull out. They cannot see the relevance of what they are studying. said Martinez. âOften they are not sure what their aspirations should be. A lot of our kids who come from downtown have never been to a collage campus, so they don’t aspire to college.
That being said, the style of teaching here is designed to be more practical.
âWhen you all have boys, things have to be a lot more project-based. Boys tend to respond very well to just doing things and not just sitting around and having a conference. “
This can already be seen in the classes. For example, science teacher Victor Young, wearing a long lab coat, leads his class in movement exercises mid-lesson.
The most visual of this different learning style is the lectern. Rather than a stationary chair with an attached flat surface, these brightly colored chairs rotate 360 ââdegrees and can be moved freely around the classroom.
âThese desks are designed to move so that you can start the class in a situation where the students are separated from each other and listen and the second part of the class can work collaboratively,â Brown said.
Each student also receives an iPad that they can use to continue their lessons at home.
“We’re also bringing in people like a master gardener who will have students use their iPads to craft a design, so you’re using math and science skills without it being in a math and science class,” Brown added. âYou’re going to have the real world building app, harvesting fruit, and then hopefully even using it in the dining room. “
Although a boys-only school is not uncommon in a private educational setting, it is free and district-operated as a charter school. Brown thinks makeup is the best of both worlds.
âWe have the flexibility to change our schedule to meet the specific learning needs of our students,â he said. âAs a faculty, we can look at the end of this week at what we did on opening day and say, ‘Did that work to meet our needs the best? And if not, we can make adjustments.
The district first announced the school last year and began receiving applications in January. It is open to all Bexar County students, but gives preference to SAISD students. Parents Denise and Chris Morales bring their son from Catholic school.
âWe thought it would definitely be a good start for him to venture out a bit,â said Denise Morales. âAcademically, we wanted to make a difference and see how successful he can be. Things were happening and we just decided to change things for the better, âher husband added.
For 11-year-old Xion Lagrant, learning leadership is his biggest interest here.
âAt home, sometimes I have to work with my sister, help my mother, help my grandmother and, to the best of my ability, be a man,â he said. âWith male teachers and stuff like that, they help us out and show us the way of leadership as a male role model in the household. “
The school also has female teachers.
School starts with 4e, 5e, and 6e notes and will add 7e and 8e over the next two years.