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Teaching & Learning Overview

Sandi Calvin
Sandi Calvin
Senior Executive Director of Teaching and Learning / Biography



District Focus

In order to fulfill our mission of graduating 100 percent of our students college and career ready, Union focuses on four main areas: Early Childhood Education, Community Schools, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and the Union Collegiate Academy Experience.

Early Childhood Education

Union Public Schools believes in the importance of early childhood education.  Its mission is simple: to enhance the development of very young children and promote healthy family functioning.

Union’s Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center, a unique partnership with CAP Tulsa, provides educational services from certified teachers in a beautiful and exciting learning environment for three-year-olds and their families who meet federal poverty guidelines.

The number of Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center’s
three- and four-year-olds was 270, and 730 four-year-olds were
enrolled in Pre-K classes districtwide, for the 2015-2016.  All-day kindergarten is offered at every site, and as space is available, Union also offers a free full-day pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds.

Community Schools

With the Community Service Council and the Tulsa Metropolitan Human Services Commission, Union has expanded its Community Schools numbers and philosophy through partnerships with area businesses, foundations, colleges & universities, churches, and a vast array of community organizations, groups, and agencies.

Union’s community schools concept continues to serve as a model to other districts nationwide.

Increased academic success has been achieved through community partnerships created to provide extra supports such as early care, health and social services, out-of-school activities, family/community engagement, neighborhood development, and lifelong learning. 

The school-based health clinics at Clark and Rosa Parks elementaries provide services for Briarglen, Boevers, Grove, Jefferson, and McAuliffe elementary schools.

The Carrera Program, which began at Union in 2011 with 240 sixth graders, has expanded into the high school level. Parents have shown strong support for the pregnancy prevention initiative, which effectively helps adolescents make good choices while providing financial literacy, lifetime sports classes, art and music programs, and a full array of services--from tutors and mental health counselors, to dental and health care. The initiative was funded by a federal grant, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and Tulsa’s George Kaiser Family Foundation.

McAuliffe has been named as a Leader in Me Lighthouse School by Franklin Covey Co. for their outstanding student outcomes by implementing The Leader in Me process and because of the extraordinary impact the school is having on staff, students, parents, and the greater community. A Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation grant has helped provide McAuliffe students with those leadership opportunities, special academic programs, enrichment opportunities, hands-on experiences in the community, mentoring for families, and community events for families to connect with their school and each other.

Other program offerings include programs such as running clubs, cooking demonstrations, chess tournaments, Baby Book clubs designed to help young parents encourage reading to infants, reading initiatives and more.

STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. From science labs at every elementary and middle school, to state-of-the-art Biotech and Alternative Energy labs at the High School’s Union Collegiate Academy, the district offers a wide range of STEM opportunities. 

Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 100 top school leaders from across America to participate in the first-ever National Connected Superintendents Summit at the White House in 2014-2015.  The event built on the momentum of the ConnectED Initiative, a plan President Obama announced in 2013, to connect 99 percent of students to high speed Internet and empower teachers with the technology they need to transform teaching and learning.  Dr. Hartzler was among exemplary local school chiefs recognized for their leadership in helping transition their districts to digital learning. 

Science, Technology, Engineer & Stem - Union Public SchoolsEducators from all over Oklahoma continue to visit Union to learn how it has implemented the Project Lead The Way curriculum. Darnaby Elementary is nationally recognized for its PLTW curriculum and how it incorporates STEM. In 2016, Moore Elementary was one of 20 Oklahoma schools receiving a $40,000 grant from the Oklahoma Educational Technology Trust (OETT) to purchase new technology equipment, along with $25,000 for professional teacher development.

Selected from more than 1,200 entries, Union’s seventh grade Go Girl Engineering Team placed first and won “Best in State” in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge for their concept of an app called “Community” in 2016. Following public voting, the team earned fourth place nationally and was invited to present during STEM day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. In 2017, the club repeated that success with a different app.

The High School’s robotics team, Ubotics, continues to be a powerhouse in competition as students across the district enjoy robotics classes as early as elementary age. In 2016, Boevers Elementary’s robotics team, XBOTS, took first place in regional FLL (FIRST Lego League) competition for their creative solution for recycling plastic bags.

Several Union and Tulsa Tech Pre-Engineering students returned from the 2016 Technology Student Association national competition in Nashville, Tennessee, with several awards. Those included first place Engineering Design, first place 3D CAD, first place Music Production, first place Architectural Renovation, second place Video Game Design, third place 3D CAD, third place Photographic Technology, and third place Systems Control Technology.

In 2017. about 20 seventh and eighth grade girls explored math among some 400 middle and high school students during Sonia Kovalevsky Day, the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance’s all-day, all-girls, all-math event for middle and high school girls. The event is intended to inspire girls to pursue math education and empower the next generation of female mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and innovators. In addition, several girls participated in science activities related to math and the “Hidden Figures” movie sponsored by Flight Night and the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance.

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation granted $500,000 to Project Lead The Way (PLTW) to support PLTW at Union.  In addition to the $500,000 gift, the foundation committed up to $250,000 in matching funds.  The grant allows the district to quadruple the number of K-12 students enrolled in STEM programs from approximately 4,000 students in 2014-15 to nearly all of its 16,000 students in 2017-18.

College & Career Readiness

Remarkable strides continue toward achieving Union’s ambitious mission of graduating 100 percent of its students.  Among the 3,480 Union High students represented by the classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016, all but 11 met the high-stakes testing requirements for graduation!  

College classes offered at the Union Collegiate Academy (UCA) for only $12.75 through the EXCELerate partnership with TCC bring to 10,965 the total hours of college credit students earned, with an estimated savings to Union families of more than $6,000,000 since the program began in 2010.

In 2014-2015, 22 Advanced Placement (AP) Courses were provided; 573 students took 1,090 AP exams; and 55 percent earned college credit by passing them.

In 2016-2017, seven students were recognized as National Merit and another students as a Commended Scholar.

In May 2017, ten seniors earned Valedictorian status by ranking in the top 1% of the class as determined by their weighted grade point average, and 10 were named Salutatorians – the top 2%.

In January 2017, Union earned the Class 6A Championship for graduating the most Oklahoma’s Promise participants for the fifth consecutive year; 129 were eligible to receive scholarships.

More than 600 seniors qualified to receive Tulsa Achieves scholarships through TCC. 

Three seventh graders in 2016 won Duke TIP Grand Recognition for exceptional scores in Duke University’s Talent Identification Program - the largest program of its kind in the nation.

Union Career Connect was designed to align to the district’s goal of “100% graduation, college and career ready.”  The “learn to earn” model placed students in industry-based experiences that could evolve into paid internships and full-time employment.  The program has grown from 27 since it started in the fall of 2014 to 74 in May 2017.