UH elementary school
marks fifth anniversary
By Wendy Williamson
Daily Cougar Staff
In 1997, a group of parents, as well as
people from this University's College of Technology and citizens of the
surrounding community, had the
idea of opening an elementary school at
Mauro Alvarez/The Daily
Students at the UH Charter
School learn through interacting with each other. The kindergarten through
fifth-grade school will celebrate its fifth
The group went before the State Board
of Education and proposed a five-year charter for a state-funded public
school, said Carolyn Black,
principal and one of the founders of the
UH Charter School.
"We started in one room that we borrowed
from the (UH) Human Development lab, with only a kindergarten/first-grade
class," Black said. "We
quickly grew and had to borrow trailers
and rooms from the School of Technology."
In August 2001, the UHCS moved into Melcher
Gymnasium, on the first floor in the former women's athletics locker room.
Sunday will mark the fifth anniversary
of the ever-blossoming school, which now consists of a total of six classes
of kindergarten through fifth
grade, the targeted size, Black said.
"The whole University and community helped
us get into our new facility," Black said.
In February 2001 the school re-chartered
to the Board and received another 10 years as a charter school, Black said.
The school focuses on constructivist education,
which Black said centers on helping children construct their own knowledge
as active learners
and to take part in authentic learning
through interacting with one another.
The motto of the school says it all: "UHCS,
where children are challenged to construct knowledge and community."
"Each classroom consists of two grade levels,"
Black said. "It gives children more time, in a learning community and teaching
team they know, to
focus on learning."
UHCS has 129 students with between 20 and
23 pupils in each classroom, as well as a lead and assistant teacher for
each of the six classes,
"A grant from the Texas Education Agency
allowed us to have a reading teacher," she said, "so we have reading recovery
half a day and literacy
group the other half."
The constructivist approach to the education
has the literacy groups divided among the interests of the students, for
example animals or sports,
which allows them to choose in which group
they would like to participate, Black said.
Other additions to the school include music
classes at the Moores School of Music and speech therapy provided by the
Speech, Hearing and
Language Clinic at UH, Black said. Also,
Anadarko Petroleum donated over 40 computers to the school, allowing computers
in each room and a
future computer lab.
"We are also in preparations for science,
art and cooking centers," Black said.
For now, each child brings a lunch and
the students eat together with the teachers in their classroom, but, Black
said, the school is looking into
having lunch catered in the future.
UHCS also has a very active parent organization
called Alliance For Constructivist Education, Black said.
"The parents' organization built and furnished
our playground outside and has activities and parent education programs,"
Each classroom has a nickname, according
to Black, from the kindergarten/first-grade class, the Trailblazers, to
the fourth/fifth-grade class, the
"We graduated our first fifth-graders last
year," Black said. "There were 11 students and they went on to other public