ParishSTEM Offers an Opportunity for Summer Sharing
(written in June, 2015)
Though classes at Parish Episcopal ended over a week ago, the campus buzzes with activity.
The hum of 3 D printers, the whir of band saws,
and the excited voices of solution-seeking students echo through the Design Den, our 4,000 square foot maker space.
Our ParishSTEM Academy, sponsored by Texas Industries, began its second year on June 8 welcoming over 30 students from KIPP Truth Middle School and Dallas Independent School District’s Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy. These students will spend two weeks designing and programming robots; learning Autodesk and printing a 3D box; and constructing wooden candle holders using power tools.
Parish Episcopal has leading signature programs in global education, leadership, and blended instruction which have been developed over the last five years. ParishSTEM, however, represents the signature program that to date has had the biggest impact on the largest number of our students. Our vision to create a comprehensive, PreK-12 STEM program which every Parish student would experience was driven by three values at the foundation of our instructional philosophy:
- To engage students in authentic, meaningful work
- To create learning conditions which developed enduring habits of mind as creative thinkers, collaborators, and communicators of ideas and solutions
- To experience the interconnectedness of concepts across disciplines
Every student at Parish, from age 3 to 18, experiences STEM programming through regularly scheduled learning experiences in specially designed STEM spaces,
in their “traditional” math and science curriculum,
and through electives in middle and upper school which allow students with a passion for STEM learning to “go deeper.” We have repurposed over 14,000 Sq. feet of campus space into designated Maker and STEM facilities, gaining national attention along the way.
The ParishSTEM Academy, though, points to one of the most rewarding opportunities afforded us by the growth of ParishSTEM: to connect meaningfully with the broader community. As Head of School and a board member of KIPP DFW, I treasure community partnerships. When three different schools – one independent, one charter, and one public – pool their passions, people, and resources, good things like the ParishSTEM Academy happen for young people.
Our ParishSTEM programming and leading facilities have opened our campus’ gates and allowed for powerful learning and sharing with community members both near and far. At our 1,500 sq. ft. Beasley STEM Center on our Lower Campus, our youngest students have explored STEM concepts with friends from our partner school, Holy Family.
Together, our young friends have learned measurement in the Fleeger Family Kitchen, designed protective habitats for imaginary bugs, and charted the growth of vegetables in the Nauslar Family Garden.
At our Midway campus, we have served for the last five years as host for the FIRST Lego League regional qualifier, welcoming competitors for over 30 schools across North Texas and southern Oklahomafor fun and competition.
This past year, we served not only as a regional qualifier site, but also as the host for the First Lego League championship.
In the last 24 months, educators from close to two dozen schools and colleges, from schools across the Metroplex to as far away as North Carolina, Kansas, and New Mexico have come to see our spaces and exchange ideas on build rich, meaningful STEM-based programming.
Indeed, Parish’s five year journey creating a leading STEM program has been a rewarding one, but we know we still have much yet to learn, accomplish, and share.
Dave Monaco became Parish Episcopal School’s third Head of School in July, 2009 as the school prepared to conclude its first decade as a Pre-K-12 college preparatory school following 30 years as a leading Episcopal day school serving students through grade 6. As Parish Episcopal School’s Allen Meyer Head of School, Dave Monaco has helped the North Dallas private school establish a more national profile with innovative programs in leadership, STEM programming, and global education. Parish Episcopal School presently serves 1,100 students in grades PreK-12 on two campuses and has an operating budget of 25 million dollars.
Parish’s signature programs, implemented during Dave’s tenure, demonstrate the school’s commitment to be at the forefront of adapting to the rapidly changing educational landscape. The ParishProfile articulates ten core skill competencies the school intends for its graduates to possess; student artifacts demonstrating progressive mastery of these skills are captured in the MyPanther e.portfolio, a comprehensive narrative of a student’s journey through Parish. ParishSTEM, the school’s commitment to embed STEM programming across each division, features the Beasley STEM Center, a dedicated STEM space for students aged 4-8, and a 4,000 square foot maker space called The Design Den. ParishLEADS has created a framework of language and grade-specific programming around Parish’s tenets of wisdom, honor, and service with the intent of forging young people of impact on the local and global community. ParishVirtual offers Parish Upper School students blended, for-credit courses primarily during the summer.
Excitement over Parish’s continued emergence as one of the area’s leading independent schools has been palpable, most notably exemplified in the school’s success raising 20 million dollars for endowment in just twelve months, including a 10 million dollar gift – one of the largest of its kind to be received by an independent school.
Previous to coming to Dallas, Dave spent 16 years at Ravenscroft School, a Pre-K-12 independent school of 1250 students in Raleigh, North Carolina where he served as the Founding Director of Wake Summerbridge, Middle School Head, and Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs.
A graduate of Hamilton College (BA, History) and Teachers College, Columbia University (MAT), Dave has taught classes in History, English, and Study Skills at the middle school level and presently teaches the “Leadership for 21st Century” elective in the Upper School at Parish Episcopal. He also coached throughout his time in North Carolina.
The father of three boys, all of whom are students at Parish, Dave and his wife Mollie, a French teacher at Hockaday School, are fully engrossed as members of the Parish community. Dave proudly serves locally on the board of KIPP DFW, a charter school organization which prepares underserved students to proceed to and through college, and the SMU Simmons Education Policy and Leadership Advisory Board.