Brownsville Area School District
Back in 2017, the Brownsville Area School District administration decided that they were going to do anything and everything in their power to erase the negative stigma that often accompanies the name “Brownsville.” They soon came to realize, for that to happen… for there to be any real change in the way that the city of Brownsville is perceived, that it would have to start with the children who walk the halls of their school. From that point on, the Falcons have “soared” above and beyond all expectations thanks to the implementation of several unique initiatives and projects. Their STEAM program is a prime example.
After three years of reassessing courses and procedures, partnering with other school districts and universities, plus the gift of grant and federal ESSER money, STEAM programs were finally available to all students, K-12 – something they knew they drastically needed to aid in professional development and career readiness. Coding, robotics, manufacturing, and cryptography are just some of the highly educational but extraordinarily fun parts of the STEAM curriculum. Most impressive of all, is an ongoing project where students are studying historical structures in Brownsville and using 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry to digitally reconstruct them. This brings these buildings back to life by use of Virtual Reality, and in doing so, can educate others on the stories of their past.
Students in Action, or SIA, is one of the other proud elements of BASD. This group of leaders work to bridge the gap between their school and the community by organizing projects with the goal in mind of restoring the town of Brownsville to economic and social prosperity and fostering pride in its people. The Teen Space in the Brownsville Public Library and the park and amphitheater in downtown Brownsville are just a few of their many successes. The Cast Iron Amphitheater Project energized and motivated the residents of Brownsville to become active in cleaning up and planting throughout the downtown area, leading to the opening of several new businesses in the vicinity.
Another topic that they confronted head-on was that of their student’s mental health. Because of the pandemic, they have been working tirelessly to meet the students wherever they are regarding any educational delays. They have partnered with Chestnut Ridge Counseling Services and now, with the help of school counselors, social workers, and therapists, have a completely revised system in place to better address a student with a barrier to learning.
The last several years have been all about reconstruction. From the way that they approach a student who might be experiencing a setback, to a state-of-the-art lesson on appreciating the rich history behind the city in which they go to school… not to mention, the high school cafeteria that is currently getting a makeover in hopes of providing a more inclusive and inviting atmosphere, the Brownsville Area School District has been receiving recognition for all the positive strides they are making. SchoolDigger.com recognized them as one of the top 15 most improved school districts in the state of Pennsylvania, while the School Superintendents Association recognized them nationally as a “District to Watch.”
The sole reason for all the progress and advancements to BASD has always been to instill in the students an appreciation for where they live and provide them with creative outlets to help rejuvenate their city and improve its overall reputation. Do yourself a favor and take a ride around downtown Brownsville. You’ll surely see that the students have not taken this task lightly.
*Special thanks to Brownsville Area School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Hartbauer for the tour of the school, and for allowing IU1 to showcase the school district.