Allan J. Mucerino
A SUCCESSFUL URBAN MODEL
Updated: Mar 22, 2018
The Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center (TMC) is an education complex in East Oak Cliff, in Dallas, Texas. It focuses on college and career readiness. Work-based learning and rigor stood out among the many characteristics that impressed me during my recent visit. The gap between curriculum delivery and society’s real life situations is negligible, unlike most comprehensive high schools. It is no wonder that all six schools are National Blue Ribbon Schools and can boast incredible SAT, ACT, and AP results. One of TMC’s six schools, The School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG), was recently described by Newsweek’s Contributing Editor and Washington Post reporter Jay Matthews as, “One of the greatest high schools in the country."
For the record, TMC belongs to the Dallas Independent School District, a major urban district serving a large percentage of economically disadvantaged students. The high school is a one-building campus housing six semi-independent magnet high schools. Its six principal leaders have created authentic and contextualized learning environments for their students. Teachers are committed to continuous improvement. Students are committed to building bright futures. The use of technology and creative pedagogical design highlight the commitment to blend formal and informal learning approaches.
I visited the specialty high school while in Dallas attending the EdLeader21 conference, where I joined educators from across the country to learn about how their districts are teaching and assessing 21st century skills. I heard about it at the conference. I observed it at TMC.
The six schools are as follows: The School for the Talented and Gifted, The School of Business and Management School of Health Professions; The School of Science and Engineering; The Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services; and The Judge Barefoot Sanders Magnet Center For Public Service: Government, Law and Law Enforcement. Recent graduates from TMC have matriculated to Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Caltech, MIT, Cal-Berkeley, Vassar, Amherst, Oberlin, Middlebury, Univ. of Chicago, Swarthmore, Rice, Bard, Reed, Morehouse, Emory, and Howard University are many other outstanding universities.
I visited TMC because, as I learned at the national 21st Century teaching and learning conference I attended, labor markets are driving education in the post-NCLB 21st Century. Our society is now competency oriented, demanding graduates at all levels to apply competencies across different subject domains to day-to-day problems. TMC is adept at providing students with access to resources and scenarios that are related to real-life problem solving, thus building and developing 21st century skill sets. It’s working, as evidenced by the wait list to attend any one of the six specialty high schools.
Dual enrollment with neighboring community colleges, partnerships with industry heavyweights and leading universities and research institutions, and local support all contribute to the success of TMC. Among their partners are the Baylor College of Dentistry, Dallas County Medical Society, Dallas County Veterinary Association, El Centro College, JBS Law Magnet, Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Perot Museum of Science and Nature, Parkland Health and Hospital System, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, and UT Southwestern School of Health Professions. The School of Health Professions annually earns the State’s top exemplary rating, is a National Blue Ribbon School, and a U.S. News & World Report Top High School. It’s demographic is typical of all six TMC schools: About 68% Hispanic, 25% African American, 3% White, and 4% not one of those three subgroups. The School of Health Professions provides students with practical experience through internships at various health-care facilities that coincide with the cluster they have chosen to study.
The curricular breadth of the program (and this is true of each of the six programs) compares favorably to most colleges. For example, 9th grade students explore over 400 health careers and interact with professionals in their core class.
They are introduced to basic anatomy and physiology and medical terminology. In addition, they take Pre-AP Biology and Health Education. They explore the careers in the fields of therapeutics, informatics, diagnostics, support services and biotechnology. As sophomores, students explore health science clinical & diagnostics, where they obtain the general knowledge and basic skills needed for entry into advanced clusters from a team of teachers representing a wide spectrum of expertise. They also take Pre-AP Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology. As juniors and seniors they can choose courses or pathways for Administrative Medical Assisting, Clinical Medical Assisting, Culinary Arts, Dental Assisting, Dental Laboratory Technology, Patient Care Technician, Pharmacy Technician, Therapy Careers, Medical Lab & Phlebotomy, Sports Medicine, Veterinary Careers, and many other elective offerings. If a traditional college pathway is not an option, for whatever reason, students have employable skills that will serve them well until such time that they are ready or in a position to pursue a post-secondary education.
More than just impressed. I was touched.