Carter In The Classroom

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North Texas

Fort Worth's IM Terrell Academy Specializes in STEM, Arts

The school dates to the 1800s, when it was the only school for children of color in Tarrant County

If you've driven near Downtown Fort Worth, off Interstate 35W, you've probably seen the Visual and Performing Arts Center at I.M. Terrell Academy.

It's the creative new wing to a school with a deep past.

The school dates back to the 1800s -- it was the only school in all of Tarrant County for children of color.

"It was shuttered for years," Principal Ricky Brown said. "Our alumni stepped in and said, 'There is too much history for us not to do something with it.'"

Brown was selected as principal in 2017, when Fort Worth ISD gave I.M. Terrell new life as a school for students talented in both STEM and the Visual and Performing Arts.

There are no bells here, they change class to the sound of classical music.

"I didn't want this school to be someplace where kids are just running through the halls to get through the day and get to the next class," Brown said. "By putting music in, it creates a calmer feeling where students are not being rushed, but they're moving with purpose, they're moving with a rhythm."

Speaking of the hallways, they are galleries filled with art from current students and history donated by alums.

"Not only our staff, but our students, know the history, appreciate the legacy but have the opportunity to write their own," Brown said.

An old gym was turned into a dance studio with teachers whose grandparents graduated from the school and an old maintenance facility is now an engineering building where some of North Texas' local tech leaders come and mentor.

"It's very different than what I would get at another school and I really appreciate it because I get to focus on what I would enjoy, rather than do something I'm not as passionate about," student Kaelen House said.

It's clearly working. The school earned an "A" rating from the state.

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