New buildings on campuses across the network set students up for success

Uplift Heights scholars take pride in their new building.
Uplift Heights scholars take pride in their new building.

At Uplift, we value constant innovation. We want our teachers thinking about better ways to instruct scholars.  We ask our leaders to employ new strategies to develop their teams, and when we renovate or build new school buildings, we think deeply about the entire facility from classroom layout to common spaces and colors in order to foster a high-performing scholar community.

Peter Hays, principle from Project Management Services Inc., has been working with Uplift since the first challenge of turning a horse stable into what is now one of the top-performing charter schools in the nation, Uplift North Hills Preparatory.

“The nature of charters is that they are always changing in positive ways and looking for new ways to innovate from teaching, to what kind of spaces they need.  If you ask us what we had in our schools eight years ago, it’s different from now,” Mr. Hayes said.

After the decision for a new school or school remodel and expansion is made, Uplift and the facilities committee have to be creative with the choice of buildings since charter schools in Texas don’t receive funding for facilities.  Mr. Hayes said his team went through an exercise last year to find the best combination of materials for the outside of the buildings that is cost effective while still keeping the look, “attractive, professional and collegiate.”

It’s this look on the outside paired with bright colors, natural lighting and bold signage on the inside that  can be found in some of the newer buildings at Uplift SummitUplift Peak and Uplift Heights and give Uplift a signature feel.   But, it’s the impact that the look and feel of the buildings has on scholars that has the most meaning.

Daniel Polk, Dean of Instruction for Uplift Heights Secondary, was a founding teacher the year the school opened in 2010.  This year he said the new facilities have positively impacted the scholars and school culture.

“It’s been really great watching the excitement in our scholars as they walked into a new and bigger building.  They’ve really learned what it means to have pride in their school,” Mr. Polk said.

Last year, the primary and secondary scholars were split between the old building and portables.  Mr. Polk explained that having all the scholars in one building established a more cohesive family feel where scholars can see their brothers and sisters in the hallways.

“Every two weeks we hold a town hall where we all gather in the gym and celebrate our core values and our scholars in front of a large audience.  We weren’t able to have anything like that before,” he said.

In addition to the new building Uplift Heights has a full-size gym and field for P.E. and other athletics.  Mr. Polk said it creates a lot of pride in their athletics to be able to host games at Uplift Height instead of always having away games.

Gifts like the $12.5 million Hamon Charitable Foundation matching grant create the opportunity for you to be a part of adding five more schools to our growing network as well as building out and improving our current schools.

“It really is a big contrast from previous years when people would drive by and see the building and not really know what it was, to this year, when they see the gate, beautiful building, large windows and the Uplift Heights crest on the side.  It says, ‘Here’s a great school that we’re willing to put time and money into because we believe enough in the success of this place on the corner of West Dallas,” Mr. Polk said.

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