Group Of Teachers From Across Country Tour Tulsa's Magnet Schools
TULSA, Oklahoma - A national conference on magnet schools ended Wednesday in Tulsa. Eight hundred teachers from all over the country were here, in part, to see the what magnet schools Tulsa has to offer.
The Magnet Schools of America conference ended with tours of Tulsa's two kinds of magnet schools and programs, one based purely on academics and the other to help children learn specific jobs skills that might lead to a career.
Most of the teachers in the group were from Texas, with a special interest in language immersion, because of their Spanish speaking population.
They are touring what was really Tulsa's first magnet program: Eisenhower International. It started as a Spanish immersion school in 1981, and now includes French.
There's a waiting list for students to get in, and next year Tulsa Public Schools will expand it to double the current enrollment.
"Learning a second language helps them expand their brain and studies have been done that show learning a second language makes them smarter," said Eisenhower teacher Joni Green.
The popularity and success at Eisenhower prompted TPS to create other immersion programs in the district, which continue to expand.
But most of them, like the broadcast and media magnet program at Webster High, started just five years ago, when a federal grant pumped in $12 million for the district to try innovative ideas. One was to help children learn about journalism, digital media and broadcasting, though the journalism track has since been dropped.
Teachers from other states say their schools are teaching media skills to help children harness the new power of social media, along with traditional broadcasting.
"Everything is facilitated through the students. That's very inspiring, so that's one of the things I want to take back to my students, to tell them they can see an example, run a news station, they can emulate what's on the news with the right guidance," said Baltimore teacher LJ Foust.
Tulsa has 14 magnet schools and programs, even though the big federal grants have run out, for now. They continue to be sought after choices for parents.
Tulsa is expanding Eisenhower into a larger building next year and it expanded Mayo last year. Part of that came out of the consolidation of Project Schoolhouse, which changed many elementary schools, but not much at the high schools, yet.