Up until a little over a year ago, 1995 Waxahachie High School graduate April Moon had what many would consider a dream job with Accenture, a consulting company.
A magnum cum laude graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in civil engineering, she could work from home four days a week, was involved with telecommunications and project management and even traveled the world from time to time.
But despite the prime working conditions, she didn’t see herself making a difference.
“At the end of the day, I was not fulfilled,” she said.
But then Moon said she heard “rumblings” of a new option — to join and help plan the new Waxahachie Global High from the ground up as the engineering instructor.
“I’ve always wanted to teach,” she said. “When this opportunity came along, it was perfect.”
Moon moved to Waxahachie with her family in the second grade, and grew up through the Waxahachie ISD. Her husband, Trey, is a firefighter with the Waxahachie Fire Department, and April said she’s always wanted to find a way to serve others.
“This community invested in me a great deal to get me where I am,” she said.
The new position is a perfect fit, she said, as it allows her to incorporate her engineering expertise, her passion for teaching and her project management background.
“I’m very, very blessed and excited,” she said.
Moon taught geometry at Waxahachie High School during the past year and will be the engineering teacher for the inaugural class at Global High.
Hands-on, project-based learning is the major theme of the Global High curriculum and Moon said her goal is to teach students how to brainstorm, manage and accomplish tasks, no matter what discipline.
“The most important thing is to teach the kids how to problem-solve,” she said, noting this is one of the most sought-after skills of engineers.
Students will also learn about the design process and work with a 3-D software program called Inventor that develops digital prototypes for testing — and that’s just the first year.
Moon’s class will be required as one of the four STEMs in the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative the school is part of.
All freshmen will be required to take introductory courses in each of the four segments but will choose the branches they wish to pursue as they progress.
“We’re not locking them into a pathway,” Moon said.
She will likely teach students in the second year of engineering as well, though beyond that is still in the works and could include courses such as digital electronics and civil engineering. There are also plans to implement senior design capstone courses and possibly aerospace design for students in their fourth year.
The school is also pursuing the development of collaborative, cross-discipline projects for students to complete during the year.
For example, simply “building a castle” becomes learning about the history, culture and geography of a location and designing and constructing an appropriate structure, all drawing from social studies, language arts, engineering, computers and art. Moon would especially like to see collaborative projects that not only teach students but also benefit the community.
“They see that it all really comes together,” she said. “I think that’s one of the most unique things.”
Teaching geometry last year was a good experience, Moon said, and a good introduction to her new career.
“It was a crazy and wonderful year. I love my kids,” she said. “It was definitely an eye-opener.”
Starting with “Quest Fest” orientation later this week for the incoming students in the fall and then classes on Aug. 27, Moon said she’s both nervous and excited about getting to know her new students and putting faces with the names that have been selected through the application process.
Moon said she will rely on her network of supporters through the school’s programs as well as the team at Global High to get through the rough spots.
“It’s going to be good — we’ve got a lot of resources and our team is good,” she said.
Moon has twin sons who will enter first grade in WISD in the fall, Brady and Braxton. It’s too soon to tell whether they want to attend Waxahachie Global High, Moon said, though she hopes they do.
“It would have to really be a personal choice,” she said.
Because of its small size of only 100 students per class, Moon said there are both benefits and sacrifices to attend the new campus. On the one hand, students have built-in tutoring, collaboration, seminars and unique projects and opportunities. On the other, the school can’t currently offer as many electives or extracurricular activities as Waxahachie High School, such as theater arts, band and traditional sports, though the Global High Web site says the school plans to transition into UIL athletics by its third year.
“We hope to grow and one day have all these programs,” she said.
And that dream job? Moon said she’s found hers right here.
“I was sold on this early on,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere — this is it.”
E-mail Kelsie at firstname.lastname@example.org