Michele Dawson, Senior Director of Instructional Tech and Innovation at Compton Unified School District is a dynamo when it comes to providing opportunity for her students. In a district that has 23,000 students, 96 percent who are on free or reduced lunch, Dawson makes apologies to no one.
“We're part of the League of Innovative Schools,” says Dawson. “We have nine of the top public schools in LA, we have two National Blue Ribbon Schools, and we've won the CSBA Rise Award. We have two Apple Distinguished Schools and two Apple teachers of the year. We have our Compton Early College and that is ranked number 32 in the state of California and 280th in the whole United States. So, we are rocking and rolling in Compton!
“We really built a vision around STEAM education and Equity around technology for our schools and our district,” said Dawson. “Many of you may be aware that there's a new STEAM initiative federally launched in December of 2022 that is focused on providing high quality STEAM and STEM education throughout the country, especially for those students who come from a background of low social economics. So, when we think about leadership priorities, we really have to think and focus on equity and access investment and resources and infrastructure ongoing professional development and promoting business Partnerships.”
Compton has built a school district that can compete with any district in the country through strong leadership and a strong belief in the capabilities of their students.
“Our kids are using technology to solve real world problems and that is very important to us,” said Dawson. “In every one of our schools, we use technology in conjunction with problem based-learning. We work with Boeing, we have a STEM Academy and we even have robotics starting in pre-K in our K5 program. We offer coding for every student K-5, and we have the coolest Compton Unified Esports league so they are starting gaming and competition when they're in elementary school; we also have our best Robotics and our girls who code after school.”
Dawson could go on and on, because she and the staff are just so proud of their students. It’s obvious in what she says, and it is obvious in what Compton USD has been able to accomplish. If you’d like to be completely inspired, tune into this video. It is chock full of ideas that you can use for your students to be high achievers, just like the students at Compton USD.