Cornerstone Academy (CSA) is a Title I charter school serving grades 6-8 in Spring Branch ISD. CSA was first imagined in 1997 during a meeting of the SBISD Board of Trustees, who then approved a steering committee to create a school that “embodied choice, commitment, community, and collaboration” while relieving overcrowding. It is ranked in the top 0.5% of Texas middle schools. It has received exemplary ratings each year, and in 2008, it received the award “National Charter School of the Year.”
As a charter school within Spring Branch ISD, Cornerstone Academy has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student's record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
Location and Facilities
Cornerstone Academy is located in Spring Branch. Its original campus on Westview is currently undergoing renovation. The original auditorium and library will remain, but the classroom wings and cafeteria are being completely rebuilt.
While the new facilities are under construction, the school is being housed temporarily on Emnora Lane near Cedar Brook Elementary School. This temporary location is shared with Academy of Choice High School, with which Cornerstone also shares its permanent campus.
In order to apply to Cornerstone Academy, students must be eligible to enroll in SBISD schools, and they must have earned at least a “C” average during the previous school year; additionally, their parents must be willing to volunteer 10 hours each school year. Applicants must submit a signed application form, a signed enrollment policy form, and the student’s most current report card. If there are more applicants than available spots, eligible students will be enrolled through a lottery system. Siblings of currently enrolled 6th and 7th grade students are given preferential placement, provided that they submit their applications on time and meet the eligibility requirements.
Academic Tracks and Curriculum
Cornerstone Academy has a unique middle school curriculum that incorporates six-week courses called CESITs (Career Exploration, Specialized Interests & Talents) which are taught by teachers, business professionals, and community volunteers. Each six-week period, students are able to explore different careers by choosing between courses such as Architecture, Art, Medicine, Hotel/Restaurant Management, and Engineering. “Active CESITs,” such as Ultimate Frisbee or Mind/Body Fitness, count toward 7th and 8th grade PE requirements.
CSA integrates language arts/social studies and math/science through a team teaching approach. Teachers must meet the requirements for gifted and talented teaching. All courses are taught at a pre-AP level. To remain enrolled at CSA, students are expected to maintain at least a C average with an allowance of one D.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an SBISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
Cornerstone Academy offers both French (1A/1B) and Spanish (1A/1B). In French 1A, 7th grade students focus on learning basic French words, expressions, and grammar. French 1B (8th grade) reviews and expands upon concepts learned in 1A. The Spanish program follows the same format. The school uses a speech recognition language program to reinforce language learning.
Students can explore the fine arts through art, band, dance, and theater. Through art class (a CESIT offering), students gain experience with media like drawing, sculpture, painting, and mixed media. Highly interested students can elect to take art again, as projects are not repeated. For band, students are expected to practice at least 30 minutes every day. If they do so, they will be eligible to perform in the school's Dateline Rock and Roll event. Dance is offered daily. Dance students can perform in the holiday show, the drill team showcase, and the spring show. Two theater production classes are offered: one for the cast of the current show and one for the tech crew. Each year, there is a musical in the fall and a non-musical production in the spring.
In 6th grade, students learn basic computer literacy skills. Technology remains a part of the core curriculum as they move forward. CESIT course options allow students to broaden their skills in areas such as web development, Microsoft Office, and video broadcasting.
Mondays are Club Days at Cornerstone, also referred to as “Marvelous Monday Madness (3M).” After school on Mondays, children can participate in various clubs, such as cooking, biking, running, robotics, band, soccer, etc. Any parent who is cleared as an SBISD volunteer may sponsor a club. Additionally, students may join groups such as the National Junior Honor Society (if qualified) or the Student Council.
In the past, students have also undertaken service projects, such as Locks of Love, the SPCA Pet Drive, and the Stuffed Animal Drive for Local Hospitals.
As a relatively small charter school, CSA does not have interscholastic sports teams. The school does offer intramural sports - flag football, basketball, and dodgeball - with tournaments supported by parents, staff, and students. Students also have the option to play in outside clubs.
CSA’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) offers regular meetings and plenty of volunteer opportunities for parents who want to become more involved. Volunteers might organize events, publish monthly newsletters, or help with fundraisers. CSA also organizes workshops for parents to help their children navigate middle school successfully.
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8655 Emnora Ln. Houston, TX 77080
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