Houston middle school teaches students how to use METRO Rail

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Plenty of kids ride a bus to school, but one school is making public transportation part of the lesson plan.

Three times a week 120 middle school students escape the classroom and explore the streets of Houston together from A+ Unlimited Potential charter school in southeast Houston. To do this, they board METROrail, and make stops at the medical center, the museum district, even Discovery Green.

"Getting into a museum and being to have a private tour by a docent and learn about the art and how it applies to their life, going into the medical center and meeting with physicians, it is absolutely a unique way to learn," Gabrielle Gunn, a teacher at A+ Unlimited Potential explained.

The kids learn core subjects, but also how to use public transportation. The students say it gives them a lot more independence.

"We have a choice... I think it's cool cause we don't just write out papers. We are going and seeing what we are learning," 8th grader Stephen Evans said.

Many of the classroom lessons prepare the students for the visits they will make around town.

"We did a project in class this week about Discovery Green," 6th Grader Brianna Ballard explains.

The students also learn the city by mapping their routes themselves.

"Getting the kids on the rail, having them learn a life skill, how do you get from point A to point B, how do you comport yourself on the rail, what happens when something unexpected happens," Superintendent Paul Castro said. "We are going to have a new generation of kids who expect to be able to get from point A to point B without being jammed up in traffic jams. They don't expect to have to jump in a car every time they have to ride a half mile to go to the grocery store."

The charter school is open to middle school students in Houston ISD and any of the bordering districts. Students must apply, and students only have to pay for the standard A+ Unlimited Potential uniform backpack. The school is still enrolling students this year.