When Bossier Schools begins the 2016-17 academic year, it will be all systems go as the district launches Project SOAR (Supporting Opportunities for Achievement and Resilience), a five-year academic and mental health initiative that will benefit more than 6,700 students attending 11 schools across the district.
Project SOAR is aimed at expanding the arts while, at the same time, providing an additional tier of social and emotional support to military-connected children and their peers. It is being made possible thanks to a $1.5 million Department of Defense Education Activity grant.
Though Bossier Schools already places a strong emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Project SOAR will enable the district to further prepare children for the 21st century global workforce by integrating arts into the curriculum and exploring STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).
Project SOAR will expose students to cross-curricular, problem-based learning activities developed for the classroom by Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, as well as STEAM days. Studies have shown the STEAM framework teaches students how to think critically, problem solve and use creativity, poising them to be highly skilled, knowledge-based workers in the future.
Each school included in the grant will also receive $40,000 to use toward technology and additional resources for art supplies and materials for their counselor. Those schools are: Apollo, Bellaire, Curtis, Kingston, Legacy, R.V. Kerr, Stockwell Place, Sun City, Waller and W.T. Lewis Elementary Schools and Cope Middle School.
“The arts go hand in hand with STEM-based education, helping children develop critical thinking skills and the ability to look at problems in various ways to find solutions,” said Scott Smith, Superintendent of Bossier Schools. “Project SOAR is another way we can inspire children to imagine the possibilities, unleash their creativity and be innovative, and having Cyber Innovation Center on board with us makes it even more exciting.”
In addition, Bossier Schools will be working with Special Education/Educational Psychology Professor Kimberly J. Vannest, PhD at Texas A&M University, to develop in-class supports tailored to meet the specific needs of the military-connected students at Bossier Schools. Dr. Vannest will also coordinate online support for social and emotional issues and make it available to students, parents and educators.
“The transition process often affects a military child’s education, sometimes having a negative impact,” said Georgette Price, Military Student Coordinator for Bossier Schools. “Project SOAR is another example of our school district’s commitment to the high achievement of ALL students and one I cannot wait to share with our new military families.”