UT to open elementary school

By Robert Alexander
Daily Texan
August 12, 2003, Tuesday

Class facilities are still being completed, but all of the Lincoln Logs are in place as the University of Texas Elementary School prepares to open its doors next Tuesday. The charter school will be run by the university in an effort to create a model school that embraces research done at the university.

Because of its ties to the university, the school is the first of its kind in Texas, said Principal Ramona Trevino.

"What we're creating here is a school that gets to apply all of the best research from the university. So in a big way it's more than a charter school. It's a research-based demonstration school," Trevino said.

The school, which is on Sixth Street east of Interstate Highway-35, enrolls students from the surrounding areas of East Austin, Texas.

"There was a conscious decision to try to address the needs of East Austin and really try to support that area of town," Trevino said.

At first only pre-kindergarten through first grade will be offered, but a new grade will be added every year until students can progress through the fifth grade.

Kindergarten teacher Beth Karasch said she was drawn to the new school because of Trevino's leadership ability, and saw the school as an opportunity to improve education for economically disadvantaged children.

"It takes more to bring a child from poverty into the normal school culture," Karasch said. "This is an opportunity to maybe once and for all find out what it might take so that all children can learn."

The school's status as a charter school allows teachers greater flexibility than if they taught at a district-controlled school, Karasch said.

Decisions, she said, will be made as a school community.

"The idea of sitting around a table with the teachers that I've hired and planning what this school is going to be without it being dictated, really, was very exciting to me," Trevino said.

Trevino's goals for the school include creating a community with students, parents and teachers, as well as ensuring the success of her students.

The school's teachers are taking inventory and finishing their lesson plans in preparation for their first classes.

"We've already started doing some home visits," said first-grade teacher Ana Rojas. "The community is wonderful. They've been very supportive."