DESOTO –Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy (KJTMA), part of the DeSoto Independent School District, has recently achieved significant recognition, securing its position among the best schools in Texas, according to a report by U.S. News. The DeSoto ISD legislative brief from December 13, 2023, highlighted that KJTMA is now ranked in the top 40% of Texas elementary schools.
U.S. News’ comprehensive evaluation placed KJTMA at #923 among Texas Elementary Schools and #446 among Texas Middle Schools. This dual recognition positions the academy as both a U.S. News Best Elementary School and a Best Middle School, a feat achieved by only around 1,100 schools out of the 68,000 U.S. public elementary and middle schools evaluated.
Principal Michelle Neely attributed this accomplishment to the intentional practices implemented by the district, stating, “We are intentional in articulating our board goals and ensuring a focus on preparing our students for the present and future. Our emphasis on literacy, individualized growth, and data-driven practices for each child has played a pivotal role in this success.”
KJTMA, with a total enrollment of 498 students and 58% economically disadvantaged students, successfully sustained its approach over two years. Neely explained, “We retrieved the data needed for success in the first year and continued our approach using the district’s strategy. It seems they recognized us in the second year.”
The academy’s mission revolves around instilling resilience, integrity, scholarship, and empowerment in its scholars through rigorous STEAM instruction, project-based learning, and exposure to real-world opportunities in aeronautics, aviation, and advanced manufacturing industries.
Highlighting the success stories within the school, Neely emphasized the district’s focus on community-building from the ground up. “Our parents are invested and involved, and we feel like an extension of family and community here. We are doing everything we can to ensure our community’s greatness is articulated through academic learning, growth, and collaboration.”
With a 14:1 student-teacher ratio and a student population comprising 48% female and 52% male students, KJTMA places a strong emphasis on providing scholars with the experience to become future leaders in the STEAM industries. Neely expressed, “The educators and staff believe so deeply in our students.”
Acknowledging the intentional focus of the DeSoto ISD trustees, Neely credited them for playing a significant role in the school’s success. “We have had a very intentional focus using our goals, which has helped us achieve them. In addition, we go above and beyond to ensure every student enjoys learning.”
Dr. Usamah Rodgers, Superintendent of Schools for DeSoto ISD, reflected on the school’s ranking, stating, “This is a reminder of what’s possible when we lean into supporting scholars and students and what we aspire to ensure takes place at every campus in DeSoto ISD.”