HPISD Board President Joe Taylor (far left) and Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg (far right) join Francie Moody-Dahlberg (l), chairman and executive director of the Moody Foundation, Jamie Williams (c), director of regional grants of the Moody Foundation, and Jan Peterson (r), executive director of the HP Education Foundation

It all started in August 2016 when...

 

The Moody Foundation announced in a grant of nearly $5.8 million over the next five years to support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education in the Highland Park Independent School District. The grant, made through the Highland Park Education Foundation, is not only the largest ever given to Highland Park ISD but is believed to be the largest grant of its kind to a school education fund in Texas. 

The grant created the Moody Innovation Institute, which will be driven by teacher professional development combined with a cross-disciplinary approach and alignment of STEAM curricula throughout the district. It will allow students to engage in problem-solving and collaboration and allow the district to enhance the integration of technology into all STEAM subjects.

While content learning is a significant part of competency assessment at the state and national level, STEAM problem-solving techniques and abilities can be applied to all areas of study by creating a coherent and rigorous curriculum in which depth of study is a focus.  As a result, the focus becomes problem-based learning as a technique for determining solutions to issues in addition to simply learning content. The combination of these two strengths in their academic ability can better prepare students for further study and also for future employment.

 

Why is this critical now?

Simply put, STEAM is where the jobs are expected to be for the next generation of students. It is predicted that STEAM job creation will account for 60 percent of new jobs created in the U.S. in this century and that jobs requiring advanced STEAM education will grow by as much as 45 percent during that same time frame.  Additionally, STEAM-educated professionals command significantly higher salaries and are far less likely to suffer job loss.

 

Why Highland Park Independent School District?

Currently, HPISD students significantly outperform their peers nationally in standardized tests. As one of the top-rated school districts in the country, it is important for Highland Park ISD students to continue to lead the way in STEAM education. The future of education at HPISD must include enhanced opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics beginning in the early years of the education of each child.

The overall goal of STEAM education in Highland Park ISD is not to create a school district of scientists and engineers, although increasing the number of students pursuing those career tracks is certainly a positive.  Actually, the goal is to encourage an understanding of the interrelationships of academic disciplines and to create a STEAM-literate student body that will develop into a STEAM-literate workforce and electorate.