The Dallas Arboretum; Daniel P. King, superintendent of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District in South Texas; and America’s Promise Alliance received 2013 Luminary Awards during ceremonies at the University.
The educational programs at the Dallas Arboretum introduce more effective instruction to more than 100,000 children in life and earth science each year.
Under Superintendent Daniel P. King’s leadership, several Texas school districts have been transformed from among the poorest performing to national models of success.
America’s Promise Alliance brings together more than 400 organizations dedicated to stemming the nation’s high dropout rate.
“The 2013 Luminary recipients are driven by the same level of dedication to do whatever it takes to impact students and get them engaged in learning,” said David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean in the Simmons School. “America’s Promise Alliance, The Dallas Arboretum and Superintendent King deeply understand their mission, and with data have designed innovative approaches that work. Once students can understand that their community, region and nation are behind them, their aspirations become real.”
The Arboretum plans to begin construction in early 2010 on the new $43 million. seven acre Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. The area will be the largest science education garden in the country, filled with concepts that correspond to state and national standards in earth science and life science for kindergarten through sixth grade, says Arboretum President and CEO Mary Brinegar (’69), who holds an elementary education degree from SMU.
“One of the best days we ever had was when we had an opportunity to talk with Dean David Chard about having a working relationship with SMU. We are very interested in making sure that we have the latest in evaluation techniques and are up to date with the latest ways of teaching,” she said.
The school and its students will rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of the garden’s teaching activities to make sure the lessons are retained. she explained.
Chard put Brinegar in touch with Peter Raad, executive director of the Guildhall at SMU, the premier graduate video game education program in the United States. Guildhall students, education students and Arboretum educators will work together to design technology-based activities that will reinforce the outdoor lessons and be located in a new teaching building within the garden, she said.
The Arboretum’s staff of degreed teachers currently presents formal lessons to more than 70,000 students a year. Brinegar hopes the partnership with SMU will help the garden become a national tourist destination like the famous Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco.