Grand Prairie ISD is committed to school choice and is eager to offer options that meet the evolving academic interests and desires of parents and students. To that end, GPISD opened the Young Men’s Leadership Academy (YMLA) and Young Women’s Leadership Academy this year in response to local desire for and research supporting single-gender middle school options.
This past Friday, Commit! team member Ashley Bryan had the opportunity to visit the Young Men’s Leadership Academy, home to 1,000 6th-8th graders who are thriving in their new educational environment. Once the young men overcame the shock of a school without female peers, they were able to buckle-down and take full advantage of the school’s perks – including double-blocked Math and English Language Arts courses, an extended school day that runs from 9-4:30 and a class structure that reflects their developmental needs.
Led by dynamic school leader Sterlin McGruder, YMLA is still a neighborhood school largely populated by students that fall within the stipulated attendance zone, but parents can send their students to another district school if the single-gender option is not the right fit. The school is structured so that students are a part of smaller communities – called ‘houses,’ in the vein of Harry Potter – that focus on leadership, social development and critical thinking.
GPISD has plans to open two additional schools of choice in 2013-14.