A colorful red, yellow and blue wallpaper of photographs showcases Fort Concho Elementary students dressed imaginatively as their future selves: one child sports a white lab coat and a microscope, another clutches a microphone confidently standing before a performing arts center to rival Carnegie Hall, while another proudly wears a shiny police badge while holding the keys to a patrol car in the background. This special wall tells a story both of the school and individual students, each photograph complete with bold white letters stating the students’ chosen future aspirations, which range from “Future Chef” to “Future Geologist” to “Future Computer Programmer” to “Future Military Officer” to “Future Actor” and everything in between. In this week’s San Angelo ISD Campus Spotlight, we invite you to learn more about the superpowers of our Fort Concho Superheroes, and how Principal Lori Barton and team support growing the hopes and dreams of their students with customizable enrichment opportunities while fostering a family community.
In her 15 years of leading Fort Concho, Principal Barton has worked with her team to build a campus culture that celebrates each child’s unique gifts while meeting needs to be loved and supported in the future success they envision for themselves- like those captured in the photographs on the wall. One way they do this is by offering a wide range of enrichment opportunities to expose students to learning experiences for exploring their passions while empowering them with choice. Opportunities students choose from include a Flight Technology Team, Drama Club, Robotics, Embroidery, Chess Club, Forensic Science, Baking, Rock Band, Cosmetology and more.
“Our goal is to empower students to become the best they can be by exposing them to as many opportunities as possible and by emphasizing and celebrating their unique strengths and passions. I couldn’t ask for a more amazing team of teachers and staff,” said Principal Barton. “They bring their ‘A’ game to school every day and truly LOVE their kids. Faith, Family, Friends. That’s who we are.”
This school year, the Fort Concho Elementary team also worked to continue expansion of their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programs, and currently boasts 7 Career and Technology programs. These include providing students opportunities to create and explore with video and audio production, 3-D printers, drones, Cricuts and a Glowforge, another 3-D printer-like technology that uses a beam of light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and shape designs from a variety of materials.
In addition to the student enrichment and STEAM opportunities, on a journey of discovery at Fort Concho you also notice the family culture integrated throughout the campus where “Faith, Family, Friends, Fort Concho” is a common mantra. In fact, as part of a focus on relationship-building, Principal Barton created a family time aspect to connect older students with younger students as a sort of family unit. She says during family time they participate in activities, but the real benefit is bridging the gap between grades with a resulting improved comfort among older and younger students and older students rising to be peer role models. Every student is also celebrated in a family-like way with a birthday-in-a-box gift on their birthday, complete with a cupcake for every superhero’s special day. The boxes are a project put together by Fort Concho 5th graders as an added way to build student responsibility.
Students at Fort Concho are also encouraged to “Give 100 percent every day, in every way” by Principal Barton and her team. Superheroes are challenged to focus on giving back to the community, set goals, pursue academic growth and be kind. Putting this into practice, this year the campus celebrated Boxing Day on December 26th with a boxed food and canned goods drive for Rust Street Ministries, ultimately donating over 400 boxes of food. Rust Street Ministries is among several community organizations the school has worked to develop partnerships with for the benefit of both the campus and the community. Other partners include the San Angelo Area Foundation, Fort Concho Historic Museum, San Angelo Fine Arts Museum and several Senior Citizen facilities.
Additional highlights at Fort Concho include a student-produced morning show, a second grade multicultural unit that culminates in a special Dia de Los Muertos processional event as well as a school spirit squad and a dance group (known as Las Damitas y Los Charritos de Fort Concho) that perform in parades, sporting events and more. Thoughtful design touches at the campus add to the superhero experience like a Comic relief Corner to encourage comfortable reading and vibrant flex seating in hall spaces. This neighborhood school is also one of the District’s Gifted and Talented magnet campuses for GT-identified students and staff works to provide supplemental enrichment activities that nurture the needs of gifted students. The Fort Concho team also works to create unique experiences for all superhero students with annual events like a HoeDown, Sock Hop, Thanksgiving family event and a March Reading Palooza. One final interesting note about our Fort Concho campus is that it is located on a National Historic Landmark, Fort Concho, and may be the only operating school in the country with that unique designation. This also provides superheroes special opportunities to visit the Fort and participate in events held there.
We hope you enjoyed this SAISD Campus Spotlight on Fort Concho Elementary. We wish our Fort Concho superheroes, Ms. Barton, and her Fort Concho team and a wonderful 2021-2022 school year, and the fulfillment of, and progress toward, growing hopes and dreams! To stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD, please visit the SAISD website at www.saisd.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.