Tell us your name, title, and where we are today.
My name is Renee Smith-Faulkner and I have been with Castleberry Independent School District for 28 years, currently serving as the Associate Superintendent of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation. Castleberry ISD is located West of Fort Worth and is only 5.5 square miles in total area. This gives us a unique close proximity to our campuses and allows us to provide amenities to district families, such as free Wi-Fi access at home.
How many students, teachers, and campuses make up Castleberry ISD?
The district has approximately 3,700 students and employs about 250 teachers. This community is distributed among seven campuses, including three elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, and two alternative campuses.
What does it mean to be a District of Innovation?
We were recognized as a District of Innovation by the Texas Education Agency for the three unique programs we offer to our students, including Digital Equity 4 All, our strong 21st century libraries that all students have access to, and our K-12 Computer Science Program, which offers college credit to our High School students.
Does Castleberry provide electronic devices to students?
We provide our students with computers beginning in 3rd Grade. From 3rd Grade to 7th Grade, all students will have a Chromebook. From 8th Grade to 12th Grade, students are provided a Windows laptop.
Can the students take their devices home?
Devices are available to students for use both in the classroom and at home, since so much information and educational resources are only available online. Because we are relying on online resources for continued learning at home, our goal was to level the playing field by providing reliable internet access to students at home.
What is the Digital Equity 4 All program?
Our Digital Equity 4 All initiative is a program we’ve been working on for three years, which includes the construction of three Wi-Fi towers. These towers will expand our district’s internet services to Castleberry students in their homes. We have two Wi-Fi towers completed and we are currently working on constructing our third tower, which will be ready by Spring 2020.
What portion of the district will be provided with Wi-Fi service upon completion?
The third Wi-Fi tower will service our students who live in The River District and, once completed, will bring our coverage to 95% of district households. This will make us the first in the state of Texas to provide safe and filtered internet access to our students off-campus. Once we have finished all three towers, we will provide additional access points to cover 100% of our students.
What is the level of involvement with devices throughout the school day?
Our students are constantly engaged with technology in the classroom, from Pre-K all the way to 12th Grade. Our Pre-K students actually have iPads and utilize many educational and productivity applications throughout the day.
Tell us about the Castleberry Computer Science Program.
In Fall 2017, Castleberry ISD was selected as the only school district in Region 11 to partner with University of Texas Dallas and Code.org in their Computer Science Collaborative. Our Director of Innovation and I attended the Computer Science 4 All Kick-Off event in California. There were only seven school districts that were invited across the nation.
Each year, every student will complete twelve weeks of Computer Science and Coding curriculum, beginning in Kindergarten. We have after-school programs such as The Tech Ninjas and Girls Who Code to reinforce this curriculum and encourage students to further develop their skills outside the standard learning time.
Why are you excited about the growth here in The River District?
The River District resides within the boundaries of the Castleberry ISD, so we are very excited about all of the new growth coming into the area and look forward to growing our partnership with The River District. Just as The River District is an evolving community with new living spaces, retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues, Castleberry is also improving the education for our students.