Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy
Austin Independent School District
In 2011, Blackshear Elementary School (Austin, TX) was labeled in need of improvement. Today, under the inspired leadership of Principal Betty Jenkins, who arrived in 2012, Blackshear is a jewel of the Austin Independent School District, the state’s first elementary level fine arts academy and a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School.
Jenkins was hired to turn around Blackshear after her success in raising student achievement at another struggling Austin school. At Blackshear she wanted to go farther, to create an “amazing” school that children would want to attend. Reaching out to the community, she engaged artists such as Toni Bravo of Ballet Austin and Patrick Slevin of Austin Soundwaves Another resource was Austin’s Creative Learning Initiative.
But first Jenkins had to address low student engagement and achievement. Key to her previous turnaround was a set of “stop-gap” academic tools created by Blaine Helwig, principal of Austin’s Graham Elementary School (NBRS 2011). Helwig, a former civil engineer, developed easy-to-use basic math and ELA programs to bring all students up to grade level (and above). Jenkins used Helwig’s programs successfully at Blackshear and within two years began enacting her dream.
Listen to a podcast by Helwig on how the tools work or download the transcript of Academic Stop-Gap Measures.
Download a set of 22 arts-related Creative Learning Strategy Cards from the Creative Learning Initiative.
Download Blackshear’s 2014 application
Download the transcript of Books and Ballet.
Principal: Betty Jenkins
1712 East 11th Street
Austin, TX 78702-2796
512 414 2760
Student Demographics 2014
|Number of students Pre-K – 5||271|
|Students eligible for subsidized meals||95%|
|Limited English Proficient students||31%|
|Students receiving special ed services||10%|
|Student mobility rate||31%|
|Hispanic or Latino students||65%|
|African American students||29%|
|Native American students||1%|
|Students of 2 or more races||1%|
|Average student daily attendance||97%|