After two cancellations due to inclement weather, the elementary East Austin College Prep campus finally had its open house last Thursday, Feb. 13. Do512 Family editor, Jamie Jett, is an East Austin resident and her curiosity was piqued. So she went to the open house and took some notes to share.
Grades 2 – 6 attend the campus located at 6002 Jain Ln., which is a couple of miles east of Airport and Bolm St. The building is part campus, part Southwest Key headquarters. Southwest Key is the nonprofit organization that operates the school, as well as several justice programs, safe shelters and other innovative youth programs. The headquarters is upstairs, and the campus is downstairs, with a few surrounding buildings for grades 3 – 6. These buildings center around an outdoor stage and lawn where students and their families watch performances like Ballet Folklorico and other student groups.
The open house started in the cafeteria, with commentary from the principal, Kevin Garcia, and Parent Liaison, Michelle Holubetz, who translated everything for Spanish-speaking families. Gonzales opened up the floor to the kids so they could show their parents what they have been working on.
Kids in the Austin Soundwaves program performed a song on their violins and did an excellent job! Austin Soundwaves is part of the curriculum at East Austin College Prep, not just an after school class. You can read more about the program here, and see a live performance this Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the MLK Campus Auditorium at 7 pm.
The Step Team performed next. The kids lined up and stomped out a beat, complete with rhythmic claps that led into a song the whole group sang together. They sang loud and proud with their teacher leading them as she danced around, singing along with them. Her dedication to her kids was obvious, and pretty beautiful. Not gonna lie, it was difficult for me not to cry. Something about kids singing together with zero inhibitions really tugs on my heart strings.
After the performances, Gonzales brought all of the teachers up and let them introduce themselves. THE KIDS STOOD UP AND CHEERED FOR EACH ONE. It was amazing to see the bonds they so clearly had with their teachers.
I took a short tour after the opening remarks, but didn’t have time to see everything. Out of the classrooms that I did see, the one that stood out was the Globaloria room.
The Globaloria curriculum teaches kids to code their own video games from scratch. Kids choose a social issue that interests them and then build a game about it using math, research, problem solving, critical thinking and other career-building schools. East Austin College Prep is the only school that offers this program to its kids every day. Students begin programming in 6th grade and take the class through highschool. Kids learn how to code, which is a skill that is normally overlooked until the college level. While I was visiting, I saw a game that a 6th grader had made that was based on The Lorax, the children’s book that supports environmental protection. Players had to look at slides with a Dr. Seuss-style pictures (that she had drawn with the computer) and click on images that didn’t belong in order to make them disappear. It was pretty impressive. You can read more about the program here.
This video explains the program and why it is important:
The school offers a ton of various programs, in everything from photography, to chess, to athletics, debate, gardening and more. Click here to see a list. They even host Parent Reading Workshops and hold free Zumba and Yoga classes at night!
East Austin College Prep is a free, public school with open enrollment for kids in Travis County. Their mission is to have 100 percent of their students go to college. Pretty bold, but with their exciting programs and dedication to academics, it seems pretty feasible. Teachers are available by phone until 9 pm everyday so that kids can call if they need help. Each classroom is equipped with 2 – 3 teachers so that additional help is ALWAYS available. Tutoring is also available after school, on weekends and in the morning before class.
If you are interested in learning more about East Austin College Prep, check out their website. There is a ton of information!
Once you look it over, schedule a tour of either campus:
- Grades 2 – 6, Southwest Key Campus -> 512-287-5000
- Grades 7 – 10, MLK Campus -> 512-287-5050
The experience was enlightening and inspiring, to say the least. If you are not satisfied with the public school in your district, definitely check out East Austin College Prep!
— J Jett