It’s easy to feel nervous for the next generation. All of our jobs are changing so fast with advanced technologies while, at the same time, our economy has become one of ideas and specialized skills.
But after my son, Ryan, entered Canyon Ridge in 7th grade in 2005, I learned how Canyon Ridge Middle School has adapted its curriculum to prepare our children in the Steiner Ranch area for the future. Their innovative programs and accelerated courses challenged Ryan and put him on the path for success in high school and college. Now, I feel anything but nervous about the next generation in our community. I feel inspired and hopeful.
In fact, Canyon Ridge was our primary reason for relocating to Steiner Ranch a decade ago. Our tour of the school and discussions with its teachers showed how well in-tune they were with modern technology, school culture and advanced education.
Canyon Ridge Middle School Principal Susan Sullivan said that the school has a high percentage of students who are ambitious, have tremendous support from their parents and rapidly advancing skills.
The 7th and 8th graders in Canyon Ridge’s unique pre-engineering program, for example, use computer design programs to create things such as robotic cars and airplanes and playgrounds for elementary students. Last year, they used 3D printers to create pound-a-peg toys for all of the teachers who were expecting to have a baby or recently had one.
“It gives children an opportunity to explore engineering, work on computer-assisted designs and they get to build what they’ve designed and try out their creations to see if they work,” Principal Sullivan said. “And then they can go back to the drawing board and improve them. So, they’re learning a lot about collaborating with each other. And they’re learning a lot about perseverance and persistence. They know that everything is OK, if you get back up and try again.”
I don’t know about you, but I find that exceptional. Our children here in Steiner Ranch are already using the types of cutting-edge technologies that we read about in Popular Science and Wired. And, with the high salary potential for engineers and the strong demand, I think it will help put our children a step or three ahead of their peers.
Likewise, Canyon Ridge’s 1,200-plus students are getting the life skills and determination they need to succeed wherever their paths lead.
The high-level education stretches far beyond engineering.
All of Canyon Ridge’s students in 6th grade are equipped with laptops this year as part of a pilot project available to selected schools. Next fall, all students grades 6-8 will be issued laptops, which means no more lobbying for computer lab time.
The school has a club or activity for almost every interest imaginable — National Junior Honor Society, student council, anime club, computer coding club, drama, dance, sports, you name it. (See them all here.)
Canyon Ridge also has a world-class music program. Its band was recently one of four selected to go to the Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference in December. And its choir and other assembles are popular, productive and frequently win awards.
Principal Sullivan said that providing such an array of opportunities helps keep kids busy, which helps keep them tied to school and more engaged. I couldn’t agree more. And I see the evidence in my son, Ryan, on a regular basis as he advances at the University of Texas.
“We’re very serious about what we do here academically, and we’re serious about having a great time with the kids,” Principal Sullivan said. “When you have such wonderful students and great parents, it’s a blueprint for success.”