Grantee Corner  |  Texarkana Arkansas School District

A student wearing goggles uses a magnifying glass to look at the contents of a test tube
Kilpatrick Elementary Magnet School student studies rock formation in a test tube

Four students stand around a dodecahedron painted with butterflies
Kilpatrick Elementary Magnet School students study monarch butterfly migration

A student sits at a desk with a book while talking to a teacher
North Heights Magnet Junior High School student engages in learning with a teacher

A female students plays with magnets while sitting at a desk
Kilpatrick Elementary Magnet School student uses magnets to learn about energy

Two students use a tube to siphon water into a plastic cup
Kilpatrick Elementary Magnet School students use the siphon method to draw water for use to power a water wheel

A female student holds up a woven piece of artwork
Kilpatrick Elementary Magnet School student shows artwork after learning to weave patterns

Gwen Adams, TASD Project Director

Centrally located between Little Rock, Hot Springs, Shreveport, and Dallas, Texarkana is on the border between Texas and Arkansas. The two cities share a name: Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas. Because of the states’ different tax structures, families tend to live on the Arkansas side to enjoy the lower property taxes while sending their children to the more affluent schools on the Texas side. Local employers draw their workers from a population of nearly 130,000 people within a 30-mile radius of Texarkana.

The Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant funds the Leadership & Entrepreneurship through the Arts and Design (LEAD) project, and it serves six of the nine Texarkana Arkansas School District (TASD) campuses. LEAD has a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through the arts focus and provides traditionally underrepresented groups (i.e., minorities and women) with opportunities to study STEM at advanced levels. All students at the magnet schools have access to advanced curricula and have the opportunity to participate in STEM activities.

The magnet program benefits teachers by providing professional development in the areas of STEM, the arts, and financial literacy and on practices that have been proven effective with diverse student populations.

Trice Elementary Magnet School and Union Elementary Magnet School have similar STEM through the arts programs. Each brings STEM and the arts together into a coherent academic program that excites students. Studying DaVinci’s drawings of a human-powered glider, students incorporate the math skills needed to calculate the ratio of measurements as they build small prototypes from DaVinci’s drawing, and then construct a life-size replica of the glider. This significantly revised magnet program engages students in academics as they apply math, science, and engineering concepts.

Kilpatrick Elementary Magnet School revised its science and math theme to Biomedical Engineering because of the strong presence of the medical professions in the Texarkana area. This revised theme connects the school to many area medical facilities and to personnel at the Red River Army Depot, who mentor students and faculty members.

Fairview Elementary Magnet School significantly revised its magnet focus to become an Aerospace and Pre-engineering Discovery School. The applied math and science aspects of engineering builds on  students’ excitement and interest around space and flight to create a highly-charged center of learning.

To be college and career ready, students need to be nurtured and supported as part of a community while also learning to collaborate and step out as young entrepreneurs. Faculty members at College Hill Magnet Middle School and North Heights Magnet Junior High School significantly revised their STEM themes by adding the arts. The literacy faculty members will remain with their students from grades 5-8 as they transition between the two schools. This dynamic innovation aims to ease students’ transition from elementary to high school and shows a deep commitment to student success. Each student is part of a community of learners with an adult advocate in all four grades These schools infuse creativity, innovation, and sound science math, engineering, and financial literacy into their design.

Gwen Adams, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, serves as the MSAP Project Director. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University and master’s degrees in Science Education and Secondary School Counseling from the University of Central Arkansas. She has worked with students from diverse backgrounds, including monolingual Spanish speakers, at both the elementary and secondary levels. Before being named to this position, Ms. Adams was the principal at North Heights Magnet Junior High School.

See MSAP Grantees Page