“Leap of Faith” Produces a Model School
Manor New Tech High enjoyed an auspicious beginning in 2007 with a ribbon cutting attended by Gov. Rick Perry. One of the first schools funded by the T-STEM (Texas Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Initiative, Manor New Tech has more than lived up to expectations. The innovative institution has earned recognition from the U.S. Department of Education as a model for reaching underserved students. Principal Steven Zipkes said this success was built on a new pedagogical approach that he called a “leap of faith.”
That leap of faith was creating a school that would use project-based learning 100 percent of the time.
“Project-based learning is a pedagogical shift in delivery of instruction,” said Principal Zipkes. “No longer is the teacher in the front of the classroom pushing out information to students. What happens now is that teachers design projects using the state standards.”
The result is an engaging and motivating atmosphere where learning is student-driven, fostering both creativity and analytical thinking. Through Manor ISD’s ThinkForward Institute, teachers at every grade level are learning to implement project-based learning.
Students Chosen by Lottery – Zero Dropouts
What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that the student population is made up of applicants accepted through a blind lottery. As a result, the enrollment is diverse in all aspects. Students who had been underperforming in other district schools came to class, stayed in school, graduated and are college bound.
“I believe that once teachers see that this is a way to go about teaching,” said Superintendent Kim, “it’ll be hard for them to turn back.”
Funding for Manor New Tech High came from the T-STEM (Texas Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Initiative.
Additional funding for the district is provided by corporate donations to the Manor Education Foundation.