It’s all in the name of the Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy, which principal Mr. Scott Tatum describes as “an accelerated academic program for students in grades six through eight trying to figure out what they want to do in their next career. – as a high school student.
“We give them the opportunity to try several things before leaving for a magnet school or a secondary school with a more specialized orientation,” he said. “Most of our kids go to one of the magnet high schools, so we prepare them to go there.”
Magnet College now offers five majors: Engineering; art; audiovisual production; criminal law and justice; and business, technology and entrepreneurship. A sixth track, in culinary arts, will be added when the school moves to a new building, planned for 2024-2025.
“We decided on the culinary arts program based on student demand,” the director said. “We looked at our longitudinal surveys of what students want, where they’re going, and what they want now. And more than home economics, they want to start seeing how they can run food businesses or be chefs. So we can bring that to them on the new campus.
“We’ve had design meetings with our community, students, staff and parents about building a pretty amazing campus, which we’re really excited about. It will be state of the art and unlike any other college in Dallas. »
The school has received the National Blue Ribbon School award three times in recent years: in 2007, 2014, and 2020, when it was cited for academic achievement and closing the opportunity gap for communities underserved. Longfellow was also named one of the top 10 colleges in Texas by US News and World Report, coming in at number 9 this year.
Longfellow is an “increasingly diverse campus, which seeks to reflect Dallas ISD as a whole,” Tatum said. “This year, we are 81% Latinos; however, our new sixth graders are 77% Hispanic, 16% White, and 6% African American.
As with all magnet schools, there are test and grade requirements. Prospective Longfellow students must meet these requirements and submit an essay, as well as pass an interview.
“We are looking for children who are academically advanced and ready to dive deep into one or more pathways,” the principal said. The school offers a multitude of activities for students, including an Asian pop culture club, sports such as football and volleyball during the day, Spanish, all the arts including music, dance, theater and visual arts, as well as a yearbook and other clubs.
There is also another advantage. “As a career exploration academy, our primary job is to get our students to understand the paths available to them,” Tatum said. “And so we have provided, in our academic and professional choices, opportunities for them to meet more than 96 different career representatives during their three years here. They can experiment with 96 different jobs, which is pretty exciting. We leverage our entire community, and now that everyone has a virtual option, we’re able to bring in career partners from across the country and around the world to talk with our students about what they’re doing.