By: Brittany Rogers
Nestled in Houston’s historic Third Ward lies Yellowstone Academy, a nonprofit, faith-based school for students facing educational challenges.
The school is one of two schools within the Yellowstone Educational System and educates pre-kindergarten to fourth grade students. The other school in the system includes Yellowstone College Prep, a charter school that opened in fall 2018.
Yellowstone Academy began with just 64 students, operating out of a local church. When the school opened its doors to the community in 2002, the need for a school like Yellowstone was great, and the school grew by adding a grade level every year until eighth grade.
Soon, the school outgrew the church grounds. When the opportunity presented itself for the Yellowstone founders to purchase the historic Douglass Elementary School building, Yellowstone Academy settled into its new home with room to expand.
In 2013, Yellowstone Academy received its first educational grant from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™.
Since then, Yellowstone Academy has received funding from the Rodeo every year for the past six years, allowing the school’s mission of academic excellence and spiritual growth to flourish by offering a unique and holistic approach to caring for their students.
“Many of the kids who come to Yellowstone are several grade levels behind by the time they get to us,” said Thomas Parker, director of grants and communication at Yellowstone Academy. “Therefore, we have to work really hard to get them onto grade level and then push them even further, if possible.”
Currently serving 350 students, Yellowstone Academy is small but mighty.
More than 92 percent of Yellowstone Academy alumni move on to graduate from high school, with 80 percent pursuing a college education. Much of the school’s success can be attributed to the individualized attention given to students as they work toward the appropriate grade level academics.
Additionally, the school offers a faith-based curriculum with daily Bible study and instruction.
Perhaps the most unique way Yellowstone Academy impacts students’ lives is by providing resources to remove barriers that can affect student performance, including food assistance, bus transportation, health screenings and uniforms, which are all covered by the school if needed.
Parent engagement is another secret to Yellowstone Academy’s success. In addition to paying a portion of their child’s tuition, parents are required to be part of the interview process to gain admission for their child. They are also encouraged to be involved with various school events, including parent/child workshops, field trips, game nights and activities such as “Donuts with Dad,” Parker said.