Dallas ISD’s IDEA Tackles Students’ Emotional Well-being Along With Academics

The school, which has a startup vibe, was recently featured in a national publication for its restorative practices toward discipline.

students

The Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy is a unique Dallas public school that has a startup vibe and focuses not only academics, but the emotional well-being of its students.

Called IDEA for short, the school recently was featured in EdSurge, a publication that delivers resources to people who “choose, use, manage, implement, or build edtech.”

The school is designed to meet specific needs of each student.

“About a third of our students came from a school with a ton of trauma. Students being pepper sprayed at a middle school,” said Courtney Egelston, IDEA’s co-founder and assistant principal.

“About a third of our students came from a school with a ton of trauma. Students being pepper sprayed at a middle school.”
Courtney Egelston

She told EdSurge that another third of the pupils come from private and magnet schools. 

“Put them all together, and they have radically different experiences and levels of trust with educators,” she said.

The school has a vibe similar to the hip coworking spaces in Silicon Valley, with each classroom having its own individual character. In fact, teachers refer to the school as a startup.

It features flexible spaces that are equipped with whiteboard walls, swivel desks, and large screens in the open hallways. That’s very similar to how many tech startups plan their spaces.

But, beyond the physical appearance and setup of the school, IDEA is a place designed to meet the emotional needs of each student in addition to academics.

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The Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy in Dallas. [Screenshot via Dallas ISD video]

“About halfway through year one, a teacher said ‘we are working to personalize their academics, we need to personalize the rest of it too,’ so we looked into how we respond to student behavior and how we are coaching students,” Egelston told EdSurge. “That led us to focus on restorative practices, and last year was our first year as a campus working to use it.”

The school uses what is called “restorative practices” to respond to student behavior and in how they coach students.

Egelston is working with the International Institute of Restorative Practices to train her teachers and other staff members for the upcoming school year.

STUDENTS DISCIPLINED USING RESTORATIVE PRACTICES

EdSurge cited an example of how it works.

Last year, a group of IDEA’s students entered a hallway, took out a fire extinguisher and sprayed the area.

That’s an offense that by district code of conduct would have resulted in a three-day suspension. Egelston, instead sat down with the students and their parents about the harm that was done.

As a group, they concluded that a more appropriate resolution was to have the students come in on three Saturdays to help the custodian clean up, EdSurge said.

“As a result, I felt that their bond was stronger. They had to work together and repair the harm in a way that worked for both of them,” Egelston told EdSurge.

students

A student studies at The Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy in Dallas. [Screenshot via Dallas ISD video]


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