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Teaching & Learning Overview
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.
An early learning experience was offered to 90 expectant parents and parents of families with children ages birth to 36 months through CAP Tulsa’s Learning@Home program. Certified parent educators taught participants how to be their child’s first teachers and support their child’s development.
Union’s Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center, a unique partnership with CAP Tulsa, provided educational services from certified teachers in a beautiful and exciting learning environment for 240 three-year-olds and their families who met federal poverty guidelines. Supported by the Hilti Corporation, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra became one of the Early Childhood Center’s valued partners. Musicians serenaded the children during naptime, taught them about musical instruments, and provided violin lessons.
Ground was broken and Community Development Block Grant funds through CAP Tulsa and the Tulsa Children’s Coalition were used to begin construction on an eight-classroom expansion of Union’s Rosa Parks Early Childhood Education Center. The goal was to nearly double the number of students by the next year. All-day kindergarten was offered at every site, and as space was available, Union also offered a free full-day pre-kindergarten program for four-year-olds.
With the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI) and its umbrella organizations, the Community Service Council and the Tulsa Metropolitan Human Services Commission, Union expanded its community school numbers and philosophy through partnerships with area businesses, foundations, colleges & universities, churches, and a vast array of community organizations, groups, and agencies.
The school-based health clinics at Clark and Rosa Parks elementaries provided 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. The Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation awarded McAuliffe a grant of $160,500 a year for five years for enhancing the community schools philosophy. The grant provided students with 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.
Hundreds participated in a free community festival at Hicks Park Community Center as part of a partnership with the City of Tulsa to revitalize the community center for east Tulsa. Partnerships included Boy Scouts of America, Southwood Baptist Church, the Community Health Connection, Tulsa City-County Health Department, Clary Sage, the Oklahoma State University Extension Office, Tulsa City-County Library, and Northeastern State University.
Thanks to one of the district’s newest school partners, First Baptist Church Tulsa, the former PTA Klothes Kloset operation expanded and was housed - now called Clothes Closet - in the church’s CenterCross location just west of the 6/7th Grade Center.
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 offered a wide range of STEM opportunities. A feature of the new biotechnology class was to allow students to learn how to manipulate cells to test for DNA. Engineering was offered for the first time at the 7th grade level, while popularity grew for existing engineering programs in grades 8 through 12.
Union received a $1,000 grant for its robotics class from the Oklahoma State Board of Education. The 8th grade Pre-Engineering class designed VEX dragsters, while two teams from the 6th/7th Grade Center and three from the 9th Grade Center Pre-Engineering class participated in the OSU Tulsa Engineering Design Challenge. One 6th/7th grade team placed first and the other earned second place. One of the 9th grade teams placed second.
Darnaby was selected as one of only 44 elementary schools in the country to offer the nationally known Project Lead The Way STEM program. A grant from the Schusterman Family Foundation allowed for its implementation in the 2013-2014 school year.
Demonstrating amazing strides toward the district’s goal of 100% student graduation college career ready, all but one of the 1,010 seniors in the class of 2013 met the high-stakes testing requirements in order to obtain a high school diploma! Among the graduates were 100 from Union Alternative School, allowing it to continue its record of graduating the most students of any alternative school in Oklahoma.
More than $17 million dollars in scholarship offers were also awarded to the class of 2013. Of the district’s 2012-13 seniors, 39 percent planned to further their education at four-year colleges or universities, 41 percent at two-year schools, 4 percent planned on attending technical schools, 3 percent opted for the military, 4 percent said they would enter the work force, and 9 percent were undecided.
Opening in 2012, the Union Collegiate Academy wing at the High School — the first of its kind in the state — provided a college-like facility, including an expanded College & Career Center, for giving our students a leg up on graduating and succeeding beyond high school.
College classes, which also count toward graduation, were offered at the UCA for only $12.75 per credit hour through the Tulsa Community College (TCC) EXCElerate program. In the past three years of Union’s TCC partnership, high school students have earned a total of 4,857 hours of college credit, with an estimated savings to Union families of $2,893,558. Students amassed 1,469 Advanced Placement credits with 63 percent receiving high enough scores to qualify for college credit. The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education recognized Union as having the most students – 128 – to qualify for the Oklahoma’s Promise Scholarship. Seventy-nine percent of the seniors took the ACT, and their average score was 21.7. More than 800 online courses were taken through the Union Virtual Learning Academy with a 98 percent successful pass rate.
Credit recovery courses were available for students who had fallen behind or failed a class. Online courses were taken, even during school hours, eliminating barriers such as transportation that kept students from getting tutoring before or after school. As a result, the number of students needing credit recovery or remediation decreased by 25 percent.