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At Blackshear Elementary, Students' Choices Help Build Their Future Portfolios

Courtesy of Blackshear Elementary
Students at Blackshear Elementary will choose which artistic elective they can study in the second half of their school day.

This fall, Blackshear Elementary will become Austin Independent School District’s first fine arts elementary school. The school offers students a choice in their daily lesson plans, with one half of the day focusing on academics and the other half focusing on arts education.

Tonight, the district will host an open house for parents interested in enrolling their students at the traditionally under-enrolled school.

While students will choose some electives, others will be based on the student’s grade level. Students will be taking everything from ballet and orchestra to digital art and photography. Betty Jenkins is the principal at Blackshear Elementary.

“So, pretty much our students are engaged in creative learning strategies throughout the day,” she says.

Jenkins also says introducing the arts as early as possible allows students to build a portfolio from an early age. 

Right now, Blackshear is one of the highest performing elementary schools in the district, based on standardized test scores.  But it’s also one of the schools with the lowest enrollment. In 2012-2013, less than 230 students attended Blackshear. Jenkins hopes the new academy will attract new students, while providing more enriching content to current ones.

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