Trinity Environmental Academy opened last week at Paul Quinn College with 150 students. Photos courtesy of TEA.
Aug. 11, 2015
Parents wanting an environmentally-friendly education for their children can now enroll them in a new green charter school in Dallas. Trinity Environmental Academy, a tuition-free, open enrollment charter school for pre-K through 12th grade, opened last week at Paul Quinn College in Dallas in the W.R. White Science Building.
“Our vision is to develop the 21st century ‘green collar’ worker, that is knowledgeable about the role that the environment plays in all of our lives and the way that it impacts both natural and social systems,” said Jennifer Hoag, founder and chief academic officer for Trinity Environmental Academy.
Above, Trinity Environmental Academy Leadership: Robert McElroy (former board director), Sutainable Education Solutions Board vice president and director Dhriti Stocks, TriEA chief academic officer Jennifer Hoag, SES Board president and director Lisa Tatum, Paul Quinn College president Michael Sorrell, SES Board treasurer and director Carolynne Smith, SES Board secretary and director Korey Mack and TriEA CEO and Superintendent Michael Hooten.
The primary geographic boundaries of the school are Dallas ISD, Desoto ISD and Lancaster ISD. Secondary geographic boundaries includes the following districts: Garland, Cedar Hill, Seagoville, Desoto, Duncanville, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Irving and Red Oak.
So far about 150 students are enrolled this fall with enrollment capped at 228. The school is still accepting students this semester. For this first year, the school will offer kindergarten, first and sixth grades.
“We will grow each year by adding two grade levels as scholars age up until we are a full pre-K through 12th grade,” she said.
Hoag says students can use their environmental education in their chosen field, “whether that is journalism, biotech, law, information technology or any other area,’ she adds. “Our ideal graduates will be critical thinkers, problem solvers and outward focused inquirers that will become tomorrow's global change agents.”
First day of classes Aug. 6.
As for the curriculum, as a charter school in the state of Texas, the school is obligated to offer the same state-mandated courses for pre-K-12th grade as any other public school.
“We will still have English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies/History, Science courses as well as electives, but the way in which we teach those classes will be very different from what you would see inside the four walls of a traditional classroom,” she explains. “With the support of Dr. Gerald Lieberman's State Education and Environment Roundtable, TriEA teachers and leaders will develop a unique, community focused curriculum that utilizes the local environment as a context for learning.”
Hoag says specifically that in the early grades, students will experience an integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum that is aligned with state standards. As the students move into middle school, they will expand the application on the environmental foundation they learned in primary grades to engineering and technology classes that will ultimately prepare them for Career and Technology Education courses in high school strands that will earn them college dual credit and/or a certificate in a specific field.
“In primary, specific ‘environment’ courses won't be offered, better yet, teachers will be teaching through the lens of the environment using interdisciplinary themes such as patterns, systems and structures, among others,” she explains. “Our sixth graders will be using EcoRise's curriculum, an Austin-based nonprofit, for supplemental environmental and sustainability project-based challenges throughout the year. As we grow our high school grades, scholars will have the option to take CTE courses in biotechnology, information technology and agriculture, food and natural resources in addition to advanced placement courses in environmental science.”
Planning for Trinity Environmental Academy began when a group of committed founders formed the nonprofit Sustainable Education Solutions in 2012 with a vision for a school that utilized one of Dallas' most underutilized resources, the Great Trinity Forest.
“The area that we are opening in, Highland Hills, in far southeast Oak Cliff is also an under-served area that could benefit from an open enrollment, STEM-focused school,” Hoag explains. “Our big five-year goal is to be recognized as one of the United States Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools. To date, no schools in Texas have been nominated and we would like to be the first awarded.”
She said they also want to engage in 50 new community partnerships a year.
“That may consist of classroom speakers, field trip destinations or volunteer groups to support our academic or enrichment program among many others. Our vision to serve as a community resource to meet the needs of the families we serve.”
If you are interested in learning more, there are still spots available in each grade and parents can register online at TriEA.org or by phone at 972-920-6558.