Trinity Environmental Academy, a green charter school, plans to open August 2015 at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, pending approval of its charter school application this month.
Aug. 6, 2014
Sustainable education has just taken a leap forward in the DFW area for parents wanting their children to grow up green.
A new charter school called Trinity Environmental Academy, tentatively located at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, has plans to open its doors next year, says Jennifer Hoag, executive director of Sustainable Education Solutions, the nonprofit organization proposing Trinity Environmental Academy.
The first year, kindergarten, first and sixth grades will be offered.
“Each subsequent year we will add the next grade level until we reach Pre-K4 through 12,” she says.
Hoag says the school is on track to launch in August 2015, pending the Commissioner of Education’s decision this month.
Right, kids check out an aquaponics system at a Trinity Environmental Academy information day at Paul Quinn College. Courtesy of TEA.
Hoag says she and her 11 colleagues have assembled a group of passionate founders and board members.
“Together, we have more than 65 years of successful charter school operating experience in North Texas.”
The group came together in order to open the environmental school on the Paul Quinn campus with access to the Great Trinity Forest and creeks contributing to the Trinity River.
Left, Jennifer Hoag, executive director of Sustainable Education Solutions, is overseeing the launch of Trinity Environmental Academy.
“A little more than two years ago, our founders came together with varying environmental backgrounds and experiences, but we all felt pretty strongly that the environment and the systems involved, both natural and built, should be a part of K-12 education,” Hoag explains.
She said as they began doing research, they discovered a “green schools" movement sweeping the U.S. – but not so much in Texas. She saw a niche that needed filling in North Texas.
“We have such great resources right here in south Dallas – the Great Trinity Forest and Trinity River – the perfect learning laboratory.”
The school’s curriculum will be based on the U.S. Department of Education's Green Pillars: reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students and staff and providing effective sustainability education.
Right, TEA is developing a partnership with the Trinity River Audubon Center. TRAC.
“Using this guidance, leaders and teachers will design the curriculum through an environmental lens using a project-based learning approach,” Hoag says. “By incorporating a community-based learning philosophy, scholars will access emergent curriculum in outdoor and off campus learning laboratories. We are also focusing on holistic learning, developing the whole child’s character, self-control and drive to excel.”
The instructors will be recruited beginning in the spring and Hoag says there is already a lot of interest.
According to Hoag, many parents they’ve talked to have been disappointed to learn they aren’t already open.
Left, students will have access to the organic farm at Paul Quinn College, located on the former football field. Courtesy of Paul Quinn College.
“We have had interested parents contact us through our webpage already as well as our community events like Earth Day and Fun at the Farm – on the Paul Quinn Campus.”
As soon as the final phase of the selection process with the State Board of Education and Texas Education Agency is complete, the school can open its doors to 258 students during the first year. Ultimately, the school can accept 1,080 students in their seven-year plan.
Hoag said they have something unique to offer DFW.
“Some charter schools may have environmental components like recycling on campus or maybe an after-school club, but to our knowledge we will be the only charter school in Texas teaching through environmental, community-based lenses.”
Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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