Innovative Educational Programs Give Rowlett Students Solid Foundation
Schools excel in choice, career training and mentorship opportunities
Rowlett’s schools set themselves apart starting with choice — any student is entitled to select the school that best fits their strengths, skills and aspirations, regardless of what district they live in. Part of the city is located in Dallas County, home to Garland Independent School District, which serves 58,000 students and is one of the largest school districts in the state of Texas. The other part of Rowlett has Rockwall Independent School District (in Rockwall County), which serves the students in the eastern part of town.
In Garland ISD, the Gilbreath-Reed Career & Technical Center offers students the opportunity to take advanced-level Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, regardless of what their home high school is. The academy offers unique programs, certifications and advanced-level coursework, taught by industry experts in a state-of-the-art facility.
Among the more than 90 advanced-level courses available for juniors and seniors are dentistry, firefighting, veterinary medicine, architecture, logistics, pharmacology and cyber security. The Center is a magnet for a variety of programs from gaming to law, while still allowing high school students to participate in extracurricular activities at their home schools. The Center has also developed relationships with companies like Microsoft and Harley-Davidson to help students explore future career options. “These partnerships give our students real-world opportunities and experiences,” says Dr. Mida Milligan, executive director of communications and public relations.
Rockwall ISD is home to the Dr. Gene Burton College & Career Academy.
“Students can earn professional certifications that can prepare them and help them enter the workforce,” says Renae Murphy, chief communications officer.
“They can work while getting their diploma, they can either work at a better job and make good money right out of high school or use it as a jumping-off point while pursuing a college degree.” The Academy also has dual-credit courses that allow students to earn up to 24 college credits while they’re getting their high school diploma. Their award-winning (they’ve won national competitions three years in a row and counting) culinary arts program gives students real-world experience by running an on-site bistro.
The Academy’s robotics program is also award-winning. Thousands of students pass through the halls each day, able to take advantage of the school’s unique programming because of their world-class facility. The programs were previously run in renovated high school classrooms, but a 2015 bond released funds to build a new space to accommodate the Academy’s needs. They also have an externship program, where the program’s teachers shadow local businesses and professionals to prepare students for what they’ll need to know in real time. There are post-graduate opportunities for students to take CTE classes and adult-education opportunities, too, really allowing everyone in the Rowlett community to take advantage of everything that’s offered there.
Even Rowlett’s Chamber of Commerce has gotten in on the programming at area schools by partnering with local member businesses to feature successful professionals as speakers. The professionals share what their career entails, while students learn about what types of jobs exist in the workforce that may interest them in the future.
“We’re also designing a full-day training for the students,” says Michael Gallops, the Chamber’s president and CEO.
“It will teach them soft skills like how to interview successfully, dress for success, write a resume and network.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in the case of Rowlett, Texas, the community has rallied around their students in a unique way not seen elsewhere to offer them opportunities to streamline their path to career readiness.