August 2021: West Dallas STEM School Opens

In 2018, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, the Dallas Independent School District, and the Toyota USA Foundation announced a partnership to develop a STEM-focused school in West Dallas. This initiative is unique because it will create an educational model that brings together school districts, corporate grants, and nonprofits. It is also unique because the Simmons School of Education will provide a STEM curriculum, professional development, and continuous research and evaluation to inform its practices. Additionally, students and families will have services that extend beyond students’ educational needs (SMU, 2018).

Historically, West Dallas and its children have not had the same opportunities that other residents in Dallas have been afforded. Children in this community have also endured environmental injustices and unfair housing policies and are now living in a rapidly changing area of Dallas. However, the West Dallas STEM School will be an opportunity to shift from a deficit view of the community and instead build on the Community Cultural Wealth that exists in the community.

“The Community Cultural Wealth model (Yosso, 2005) recognizes the strengths of underserved populations and encourages them to identify experiences, skills, and knowledge as positive contributions” (Caldera, 2020, para. 1). Image provided by San Francisco State University (n.d.).

While the school opened its doors in August 2021 as a neighborhood school for 7th and 8th graders, in 2022, the school will host Pre-K to 1st grade and eventually add on one grade level each year until Pre-K through 8th grade is offered. Fifty percent of enrollment will be available for West Dallas students, and the other half will be available to schools in surrounding areas. This unique school model also incorporates the community’s voice by involving them in planning and continuous improvement (White, 2021).

Watch the video below to learn more about the West Dallas STEM School.


Caldera, L. (2020, October 27). “Some people are so poor, all they have is money:” Identifying your student’s community cultural wealth. ScholarShare529 College Countdown.

San Francisco State University. (n.d). “Giving back in science” (BIOL 699: Independent study).

SMU. (2018, September 7). SMU Simmons Model School [Video]. YouTube.

White, S. (2021, November 5). Now open: West Dallas STEM school. Dallas Free Press.