Carter In The Classroom

Focusing on unique things school districts are doing to help children succeed.
Wayne Carter

Brag About Your School: Watson Technology Center

Watson Technology Center for Math and Science first opened 63 years ago in the Garland Independent School District as Ferris Watson Elementary. In all those years, only nine principals have walked the halls.

Over the last six decades, the school, now a STEM campus, has seen plenty of changes.

They’re all digital, every student has a iPad, Chromebook or Macbook.

"It's funny because they then go home and teach their parents how to use a device," said Assistant Principal Candi Goodwin.

Students decide whether they learn best by reading, doing or standing at the blackboard. There’s also options of where to sit.

Students even share how they prefer to sit.

"Many learn on tables, billiard tables. In 5th grade you'll see a big sofa," said Goodwin.

The students get out of the classroom a lot, and not to just work in the greenhouse growing fruits and veggies to serve in the school cafeteria, every class goes on six field trips every year -- all paid for on-campus, mostly from the PTA.

"Fourth graders learned about caves and we just recently took a trip down to Austin, to see the caves," said incoming PTA President Stephanie Pasher.

They're 600 students strong and no matter they grade they get to choose an elective about something their passionate about.

One elective is called Music From Around the World. Students learn the history and geography behind different songs and instruments.

The students are from different grade levels. When it comes to working together they don't miss a beat. It's also rewarding for the teachers.

"I'm a big fan of music. I play the flute in a local orchestra and ring hand-bells in a hand-bell choir and I wanted to share my love of music with my love of children," said teacher Tammy Todd.

Students sell cookies and DVD's from their concerts and raise approximately $5,000 every year to buy instruments for schools that can't afford them.

"We wanted to find a way to teach our kids not just the academic skills but to teach kindness, compassion, and service to others," said Todd

Taking on projects is nothing new to these students. They proficient in something called Project Based Learning.

In Ms. Montoya's dual-language class the students are learning all about insects by working as a team and using technology, but that’s just step one.

"We're going to see how we can attract them to the garden," said Student Ximena Salinas.

This technology driven school is also home to a garden and greenhouse, and they’re researching ways bugs can help and hurt their crop.

After 15 years of teaching students here, Montoya said all the change is transforming their young minds in ways she never imagined.

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