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Team Denton Independent School District, Texas

Jamie Wilson, Superintendent of Schools

Marcus Bourland, Principal, LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex  

Tonya Tivis, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Instructor, LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex

The Denton Independent School District in Texas, has something unique: a food truck that was once a school bus. The truck will be a state-of-the-art kitchen on wheels. It will bake. It will barbecue, but more importantly, it will bring a community together.

“We can take this truck to any school in our area, and show students and parents and anyone else all the different opportunities for students,” said Tonya Tivis, a culinary arts and hospitality instructor for LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex, which is part of the Denton district. “This is not just a class or a truck. It is a chance to change an educational route for children.”

Every department of the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex is involved in the truck’s creation. Students studying pre-law, accounting, marketing, graphic design and video production have a say in how the Wi-Fi-ready truck will operate.

“We were not one of the first districts to jump on the technology bandwagon just for the sake of technology,” said Jamie Wilson, the district’s superintendent. “We want to do it in a measured and strategic way. It’s all about innovation and learning. I mean, who would have thought to repurpose a bus like this?”

“We could have built more classrooms,” said Tivis. “But this product and this process are so much more impactful on our students.”

For Marcus Bourland, the principal at LaGrone, all of the tangible benefits are appreciated, but the real magic of the converted bus may be in the camaraderie it promotes. “The stories that these kids will have will probably be better than the product itself. Imagine learning in this way and what they will be able to share because of it,” he said.

The high-tech truck will make its debut in time for Christmas.

Meanwhile, the district will be using innovation and technology to help students in other ways. Using technology to multitask and creating a robust data warehouse are other examples of how the district is going digital to make a difference.

“We had all kinds of information in a lot of different locations,” Wilson said. “We had information about students and the tests they took, transportation, attendance and behavior. But the silos didn’t talk to each other. Now we are creating connections where all data is in one place. We can begin to see how all data points are impacting student learning.”

And student learning is the bottom line for the Denton Independent School District. Wilson makes the ultimate mission very clear: “We’re just focused on our kids. We just do what we think is best for them.” —Tim Douglas