Grantee Corner  |  East Baton Rouge Parish School System

Students stand in a row in front of a wall, wearing the school colors and some playing instruments or wearing lab outfits
Belaire High celebrate the creative arts and science theme

Two female students pose with a sculpture made out of a cup, pencils, and pipe cleaners
Villa del Rey Elementary students use art in a robotics class

Two students build structures with math blocks
Park Forest Elementary students use math in arts integration

A group of students sit in a circle on the floor with wires, a drill, and a hot glue gun
Villa del Rey Elementary students collaborate on a science project

Two male students study a model of the human body
Belaire High students participate in a science lab

A group of students stand around desks and cut construction paper
Villa del Rey Elementary students work together on STEM projects

A student sits on the floor with some CDs around her
Villa del Rey Elementary students complete a hands-on project for robotics

Two students work on a project made out of a cup and pipe cleaners
Villa del Rey Elementary students collaborate on a STEM project

A group of students stands outside on a giant map of the United States
Villa del Rey Elementary students launch their renewable energy project

Headshot of Theresa Porter
Theresa Porter, EBPRSS Project Director

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS) comprises 82 schools: 49 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, 15 high schools and 6 alternative support facilities. Although the parish population is about 46 percent African American, public school enrollment  is 79 percent African American. In addition, EBRPSS provides support services for students in over 60 languages.

The EBRPSS Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant serves four schools: Villa del Rey Elementary School, Park Forest Elementary School, Park Forest Middle School, and Belaire High School, which all have partial magnet programs with creative sciences and arts themes. The magnet programs emphasize science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), with a focus on renewable energy. These innovative and attractive magnet programs promote racial and economic diversity and improve student achievement. In addition, thematic instruction is part of a turnaround model that will help each school become a high-performing school with a strong school culture, high-quality curriculum, and highly qualified teachers.

Teachers engage students in applying knowledge, solving problems, and collaborating on innovative projects. In addition, magnet classes combine academic learning with real-world practice in a relevant, student-centered setting. Collaborations with postsecondary institutions, including Baton Rouge Community College, Southern University, and Louisiana State University, provide students with internships, mentoring, and job shadowing opportunities. Dual enrollment courses mean students can obtain college credit while attending high school.

The two elementary magnet programs provide themed instruction while cultivating an interactive, project-based learning community that actively engages students in discovering how to preserve our environment and emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation. Hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities help students become critical thinkers and problem solvers. The two schools integrate entertainment technology and film courses to encourage students to become creative, innovative learners who discover their talents and interests through technology immersion. For example, one project that integrates entertainment technology, film, and renewable energy, will transform the school into a movie theatre to watch students reenact scenes from the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; students will also design a “green energy” chocolate factory that uses biofuel as an energy source. Finally, students will learn the basic functions of robots, including construction, maintenance, and programmable behaviors. 

At Park Forest Middle School, students study and participate in STEAM activities such as learning the principles of coding in robotics classes. Virtual labs incorporated into science classes help students explore real-time, 3D simulations in physical, life, and earth sciences, and tie learning to the technology students use outside the classroom. 

Belaire High School’s magnet program offers courses in robotics, animation, coding, engineering, and entertainment technology. Classes incorporate cutting-edge technology that facilitates an innovative, hands-on approach to instruction. For example, in science class students use 3D animation to learn about the human body. 

Theresa Porter, EBRPSS Project Director, has worked in the district for 29 years. At the school level, she helped to implement one of the district’s first STEM-based middle school magnet programs in 1999. She began working at the district level as a magnet recruiter in 2004.