Named after former Texas governor Oran Milo Roberts, Roberts Elementary originally opened in 1936. It currently serves PreK-5th grade students living in the Southgate, Old Braeswood, and Morningside Place neighborhoods, as well as HISD-area magnet students. Roberts is a Fine Arts Magnet school with a Vanguard Neighborhood program. In 2005, Roberts became one of the first three elementary schools in Texas to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme. With more than 40 countries represented in the student body, Roberts “encourages responsible citizenship with an appreciation of cultural diversity.”
As a magnet school within HISD, Roberts Elementary has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student’s record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
Roberts Elementary is located in an affluent, historic neighborhood just south of Rice University and west of the Texas Medical Center. The school sits on the east side of Greenbriar between University and Holcombe. Outside, there are 6 basketball hoops, a large playground, soccer goals, and a small running trail.
Roberts’ admissions process is split into two different types: zoned and magnet.
Students zoned to Roberts are guaranteed admission to the school and to the Fine Arts Magnet program. Parents of students living outside Roberts’s zone (see map below) must apply through the HISD magnet process. This process requires a completed online application and the submission of supplementary materials to the school. For kindergarten applicants and applicants who are coming from non-HISD schools, the supplementary materials are as follows: proof of age 5 by September, a PreK progess report (if applicable), and proof of HISD residency. For applicants to grades 1-5, the supplementary materials are as follows: the previous year’s final report card, the first grading period of the current year’s report card, and proof of HISD residency.
Students are selected for the magnet program through a lottery process after applications have closed. During the 2012-2013 school year, magnet transfers comprised 23% of enrolled students.
To apply for the Vanguard Neighborhood Program, students (1st-5th) must submit a separate Vanguard Neighborhood G/T application and be tested for G/T status. At Roberts, students are universally evaluated for G/T status during March of their kindergarten year with the NNAT-2 and the Stanford Achievement Test. Kindergarten students at Roberts who qualify as G/T are automatically qualified to participate in the Vanguard Neighborhood program.
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All students participate in the Fine Arts Magnet program, which offers enrichment in music and the visual arts, and the IB Primary Years Programme, which “aims to develop internationally minded people who, in recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.” Students identified as Gifted and Talented can participate in the Vanguard Neighborhood program.
Students take daily courses in reading/language arts, math, science, and social studies. They also attend the following ancillary classes: art, Spanish, music, PE, and technology. Roberts uses three curricular enrichment programs to go beyond the normal state-mandated curriculum: Everyday Mathematics, the Science Enrichment Lab, and daily Writer’s Workshops.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
All students at Roberts study Spanish. Using Rosetta Stone software, students develop skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Students from over 40 countries attend Roberts, and for 15% of students, English is a second language. Roberts’ language-learning program provides support for English language acquisition and mother tongue support.
The Fine Arts Magnet Program is school-wide. Each week, students attend visual art classes where they learn about the art and artists of various cultures and times. Beginning in kindergarten, students learn the elements and principles of art through 2D and 3D projects. They have opportunities to enter their work into local and statewide competitions. Additionally, there are two after-school art clubs that create stage decorations and other works for school programs.
Students study singing and listening in their weekly music class. They are encouraged to try to learn how to read rhythm and notes, improvise, and play different instruments. Each year, there are several children’s musical productions. Interested students may also sign up for piano or violin lessons (for an additional fee) if they can commit to a full year of lessons and practice.
Technology is integrated into various core subjects through technology-based projects which are incorporated into the IB curriculum. Roberts’ mission statement on technology asserts that “students will utilize technology to increase knowledge base, access and gather information, organize and apply data, locate primary sources, understand global issues, [and] encourage creativity in a variety of formats.” In kindergarten, students begin learning basic computer and illustration skills. By 5th grade, students are able to organize and present information visually using a variety of electronic media. The program also stresses “digital citizenship.”
After school, students can attend the Extended Day program, which offers academic enrichment, fine arts, sports, and special classes (for an additional fee). Extended Day classes from recent years include Hip Hop Dance, Photography, Film Making, Robotics, Hamp’s Football Camp, Ballet and Tap, Art Club, and Name That Book – Book Club. Specialties vary by grade level and change each semester. In addition to Roberts’ after-school option, five different after-school care facilities send buses to Roberts to pick up children at 3:15.
Students in grades 2-5 can form an Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team with sponsorship from a parent. In 2011-2012, a Roberts OM team competed in the world finals.
Students also give back to the community and school by engaging in special performances and fund raising projects.
During PE, teachers encourage teamwork strategies and the development of social skills. Students also receive lessons on how to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Although offerings vary from semester to semester, the Extended Day Program typically also provides opportunities for athleticism. However, the school does not have any interscholastic sports programs.
Parents can join the PTO or run for a spot in the SDMC (Shared Decision Making Committee).