Wesley Academy Invests in Young Minds
In 1995, Rev. William Hinson, First UMC, Houston helped launch Houston’s only Methodist School in hopes of attracting students of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. Today, the school celebrates a student body from 40 zip codes reflecting the rich diversity of Houston. “With 135 students, Wesley Academy is an unapologetically Christian school with an age-appropriate chapel each week for three age groups,” says Head of School Elaine Pendergrass. “Our morning announcements include the Pledge to the Christian Flag, Pledge to the Bible, a devotion and the Lord's Prayer and our teachers do devotions within their classrooms.”
Investing in Youth Technology Training
“Wesley Academy has embraced technology in new ways recently and the results have been amazing,” adds Elaine. Technology instructor Tabitha Waguespack has designed and implemented a technology curriculum that aligns with rigorous international standards set forth by the International Society for Technology in Education (iste.org).
“While Tabitha observed that her students were efficient with various technology tools such as hardware, software, and vocabulary,” adds Elaine, “she recognized they needed the technology push to challenge their growing desire to implement these skills.”
Finding such curriculum proved challenging. “I wanted something that was going to benefit their overall education, not something subject specific, but something that they could take with them to high school and on to college,“ says Tabitha. She wanted curriculum that could adapt to the current trends yet be progressive enough to push students to learn things that they didn’t think were possible with the technology that they are exposed to at home. “I wanted our students and school to lead the pack when it comes to technology, not just follow the latest trends. That is when I came across Code.org.”
Code.org is a movement started by entrepreneur Hadi Partovi, designed to notify the public that computer programming (coding) is necessary and learnable.
According to Code.org:
· 9 out of 10 schools do not teach any form of computer programming.
· Fewer than 2.4% of college students earn degrees in computer science.
· Only 2% of college students major in computer science, but 60% of the jobs available for math and science graduates are in computer science.
Tabitha is excited to position Wesley Academy as a leader in this area. During the 2012-2013 year, Wesley Academy students became the first 6th to 8th graders to learn computer programming. And, during the 2013-2014 school year, the Wesley Academy technology program will continue to expand the programming model into the elementary grades. Adds Tabitha, “This instruction will be in addition to digital citizenship and cyber safety, search and presentation techniques, educational technology, and even simple robotics.”
Wesley Academy is the only school in the Houston Area that teaches programing at both the elementary and middle school levels. To learn more about the technology program and the other great programs at Wesley Academy, visit: www.wesleyacademy.net.