Spring ISD students seeking an alternative to the traditional middle school or high school experience – including smaller classes, personalized learning plans, accelerated credit recovery and career training opportunities – will have an exciting new option for the 2022-23 school year at the new Momentum High School.
“The development of Momentum High School has really been informed by everything that we’ve learned over the course of the pandemic about what makes our students successful,” said Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa. “We know that different students have unique learning needs and thrive in different learning environments, and we’re very excited as a district to bring this new school of choice offering to our Spring ISD community.”
In particular, Momentum High School will focus on providing a path to graduation for students who may have become disconnected or disengaged in their traditional high school environment, or who may just want to be in a smaller school to focus on their academics. Through a combination of flexible schedules and blended instruction – including both in-person and online components – accepted students will be able to leverage the school’s unique structure and resources to gain greater momentum in their own path toward earning their diploma.
“The vision for Momentum came from us asking the question: How do we as a district provide different learning environments that will allow all of our students to gain the knowledge and skills they need?” said Spring ISD Chief of Innovation Dr. Matt Pariseau. “And, how can we do that while also providing paths to industry certifications and college and career readiness, but in an environment that’s a little different?”
With targeted counseling and support services designed to meet students where they are, along with teachers and administrators who get to know students personally and act as instructors, learning facilitators and mentors, the launch of Momentum High School will help meet a need already present within the district, but one that Pariseau said had been heightened by the pandemic and its effects on academic achievement and students’ social and emotional growth.
The staff and resources of Momentum High School – which will ultimately serve students age 13-26 – will also be available to all Spring ISD high school students through the district’s Virtual Learning Program – providing opportunities for students across the district to recover credits as needed or to accelerate their path toward graduation by completing virtual coursework right from their home campus.
Building on the accomplishments of Spring ISD’s Achieving Success Alternative Program (ASAP) – a dropout recovery initiative originally launched in 2015 – and the district’s existing Virtual Academy, Momentum High School will add a blended-learning, full-day, in-person program where accepted students can fast-track their learning, completing as much as a year’s worth of credits in a single semester.
In addition to accelerated in-person instruction on the Momentum High School campus – where students will spend four days a week – one day each week will be set aside for Momentum students to participate off-campus in college-level coursework across a range of personalized options and pathways, from college readiness and dual-credit classes to industry certification programs allowing Momentum High School graduates to finish with their diploma as well as valuable job preparation for careers in business, industry and other areas.
Although the school will focus on serving students who are significantly behind their cohort and who may be at risk of not graduating, Pariseau emphasized that Momentum High School would function as a school of choice within the district. Students must apply and be accepted before attending Momentum High School.
“It ties in directly to Spring ISD’s Strategic Plan,” Pariseau said. “It’s all about giving our students and our families more opportunities and more options, in order to engage students and help them be successful in achieving their goals.”
The school expects to welcome approximately 150 new students this fall from across Spring ISD, with additional slots set aside for students enrolled in the partial-day ASAP program, with its more flexible schedule that includes evening classes to accommodate students with additional work or family responsibilities outside of school.
According to Momentum High School Principal Stacy Smith – who previously oversaw ASAP and the Virtual Academy – the new school will continue ASAP’s tradition of serving students who are looking for a non-traditional learning environment, and who want an increased sense of ownership over their own academic progress.
“Some students thrive on a large high school campus as one of thousands of students, but some students can feel really lost in that setting,” Smith said. “Here at Momentum, whether a student is celebrating a success – like completing a course credit – or going through a tough time, somebody’s going to notice. We make sure to celebrate the successes, and if something is off, or if a student is struggling, our faculty and staff will reach out to see what they can do to help.”
After its first full year operating out of the district’s Southridge campus, behind Westfield High School and the School for International Studies at Bammel, Momentum High School will move to a larger district facility, where the campus can grow to approximately 375 students in 2023-24.
That means an expanded staffing as well, and Smith is already on the lookout for teachers interested in the unique program.
“We’re looking for teachers that are looking to work with non-traditional students,” Smith said. “All of the students who come to school here have their own unique story, but the one thing they have in common is that, with strong relationships and the right kinds of support, they can accomplish anything. We’re here to help them make that journey, and it’s really rewarding being a part of that.”