New West Dallas STEM School Set to Open in August

Dallas ISD school receives expanded support from Toyota USA Foundation, education champion Carter Creech through SMU

May 2021 Press Release PhotoDALLAS (May 4, 2021) – In West Dallas a new Pre K-8 STEM school is set to open this August beginning with students in the 7th and 8th grades.  The West Dallas STEM School, a Dallas Independent School District Transformation and Innovation School, is the result of more than three years of collaboration between the District, the Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the West Dallas community.

“We strongly believe that all children should have equal access to opportunities and a pathway to great careers,” said Sean Suggs, director, Toyota USA Foundation and group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “Together with the community, we have worked on everything from building design, teacher development, curriculum and before and after school care.  This extends also to addressing broader community needs, including access to transportation.”

To support the school as it opens and its new Master Principal Marion Jackson, the Toyota USA Foundation approved an additional grant of $3 million to SMU, adding to the $2 million grant the foundation awarded in September 2018.  This is in addition to Toyota’s teacher and community grants, West Dallas scholarship and mentorship programs, and the recently launched transportation circulator in the area.

“We know that there many related issues - from access to healthy food to before and after school care - that all tie into academic success. This is something we need to collectively address, and we encourage additional partners to come alongside the effort,” added Suggs.

To further support the school, business leader Carter Creech, an SMU alumnus with a passion for education philanthropy, has pledged an additional $3.5 million, following his initial gift of $1.5 million to the project.  Creech’s contribution will go toward a new middle school career and college readiness pilot program at the school, as well as efforts to replicate the West Dallas STEM school.

“As we move from planning to implementation, we have deepened our commitment to the school, to the model, and to each other,” said Simmons School Dean Stephanie Knight. “SMU is grateful for this unique partnership, and thanks both the Toyota Foundation USA and Carter Creech for continued investment in our community’s children – the problem solvers of the future.”

The West Dallas STEM School Program at Pinkston

The West Dallas STEM School Program at Pinkston is a neighborhood school that will begin by serving the 7th and 8th grade.  PreK – 1st grade is scheduled to begin enrollment in 2023.

The school brings together four integral components to create an innovative PK - 8 school model:

  • A project-based, industry-informed STEM curriculum
  • Professional development for educators
  • “Wraparound” services delivered directly to the students by community nonprofit organizations to help with issues such as literacy, nutrition, transportation and after-school care
  • Evaluation and measurement to support a model of continuous improvement

This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the students and community of West Dallas,” principal Jackson said. “This partnership has afforded us the space to realize what’s possible when we focus our collective efforts on changing how we meet the needs of our students and families. We are committed to equipping our students to succeed in an evolving global society.”

SMU’s Simmons School is providing faculty expertise to develop project-based learning, which means that students will learn by working in groups to solve open-ended problems using design, engineering, math, science and technology. The approach prepares students to take on new challenges as they occur – and to understand how to build new knowledge on existing concepts.  The Simmons School will provide professional development for teachers, and Simmons researchers will monitor and evaluate the program as it evolves, developing a model to create other STEM-focused schools.

Partnering with the West Dallas Community

Since the onset, the West Dallas community has been engaged in the creation of the school, advising on everything from design to input on services offered at the school.

Parents, such as José Alas, who sits on the school’s advisory council, have been engaged from the beginning. “This school really will help bridge the gap in opportunities when it comes to education,” he says. “Every child has the potential to do great things if we can provide them what they need, and I think the school is going to do just that. We always juggle where to send our children and now we are going to have one of the best schools in our backyard.”

Organizations such as West Dallas One and the West Dallas Community Coalition also have been active in the partnership, participating in the school’s design teams and focus groups with residents. Additionally, six long-established West Dallas nonprofit groups have been working on plans to expand their services within the school to help students and their families gain quick access to resources they need.

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About Toyota USA Foundation
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our nearly 1,500 dealerships.

Toyota has created a tremendous value chain and directly employs more than 36,000 in the U.S. The company has contributed world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 30 million cars and trucks at our 9 manufacturing plants, 10 including our joint venture in Alabama that begins production in 2021.

To help inspire the next generation for a career in STEM-based fields, including mobility, Toyota launched its virtual education hub at with an immersive experience and chance to visit many of our U.S. manufacturing facilities. The hub also includes a series of free STEM-based lessons and curriculum through Toyota USA Foundation partners, virtual field trips and more. For more information about Toyota, visit

About Dallas Independent School District
The Dallas Independent School District is continually preparing its more than 145,000 students for college or a career. The district offers a competitive mix of innovative programs, choice programs and instructional initiatives that support the increased academic achievement and the social and emotional development of its students. To learn more, visit

About SMU
SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas.  SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.  

Carter Creech: Paying Forward His Passion for Education

Carter Creech arrived at SMU on a basketball scholarship, playing guard for the Mustangs over three seasons before graduating in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in social science.  He earned another scholarship that allowed him to keep studying, and graduated with an MBA from the Cox School of Business in 1963.

Decades later, still an SMU stalwart, Creech is bullish on the power of education to change lives and focused on equipping the soon-to-open West Dallas STEM School for success. In the space of a few short months, Creech has earmarked $1.5 million to the Simmons School of Education and Human Development to establish a Middle School College and Career Readiness Program within the STEM school, and another $3.5 million to promote the school’s sustainability and replicability.

Creech is a limited partner at Maverick Capital, a Dallas-based investment management firm.  He credits his scholarships and education at SMU with launching his successful business career, and he is passionate about providing opportunities for other students.     

“Carter Creech is as devoted to the SMU’s academic programs as he is to Mustang basketball,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His partnership with us in developing the West Dallas STEM School – a $5 million investment to date – is the best kind of support, as it helps SMU use its research-based education resources to help the community.”

Brad Cheves, vice president for Development and External Affairs, noted that Creech has been supporting education projects for years, including the Carter Creech Endowed MBA Scholarship at SMU.  “In addition, his work with the Communities Foundation of Texas has truly extended his reach through the Carter Creech Education Fund and Carter Creech Scholarship Fund. Both teachers and students in Dallas, and in Carter’s hometown of Troy, Missouri, are reaping the benefits of his generosity.”

Dallas ISD, Toyota and SMU Collaborate to Support Future STEM-Focused School in West Dallas

Partnership aims to prepare students for jobs of tomorrow

Students working on robotics projectDALLAS (Sept. 7, 2018) – Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD), Toyota USA Foundation and SMU have joined together to collaborate on the creation of a new and innovative STEM-focused school in West Dallas.

The aim is to inspire and prepare students for the next generation of STEM jobs through curricula that is project-based and business-aligned.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students and families of West Dallas as this unique public private partnership comes together,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa. “STEM jobs are the wave of the future, and Toyota and SMU’s contribution is a major investment in shaping the next generation. This is a significant shift in education, and we’re grateful to these incredible partners.”

Toyota USA Foundation is granting $2 million to SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, which will develop curricula, advise on state-of-the-art educational practices, provide professional development for teachers, coordinate nonprofits operating in the area, and monitor and evaluate the program. The future school will be operated and staffed by the Dallas ISD. The Office of Transformation and Innovation will co-facilitate the design of the school in collaboration with School Leadership.

The collaboration will also bring together nonprofits, including groups already working with Dallas ISD through the SMU Simmons School program, The School Zone, as well as Toyota Motor North America and Toyota Financial Services’ partners to address community issues like literacy, nutrition, transportation and after–school care – each vital to creating successful outcomes for the community.

“Collectively, our goal is to create a brighter future for students, help families become more resilient, and create a community and school model that can be replicated,” said Mike Goss, president of Toyota USA Foundation. “We want to help increase access to opportunity, connecting students to the millions of STEM jobs that exist today, and the many more that will be created as industry advances.”

This partnership developed as a result of numerous requests from the community for STEM offerings within the Pinkston High School feeder pattern.

“This partnership advances our efforts currently underway in West Dallas, with a holistic approach that lifts the community and provides opportunity for students,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Evidence-based education is the foundation for everything we do in the Simmons School, and we look forward to the opportunity to provide resources and research that underscore the success of the school.”

Following an inclusive planning phase, the next two academic years will focus on curriculum and professional development for faculty.

“Everything is still on the table, including decisions about curricula and which wrap-around services will be provided through the school by community partners,” said SMU Simmons School Dean Stephanie L. Knight. “This announcement is meant to let all the stakeholders, parents included, know that we want their input at every level as we move forward.”

The school will begin a phased opening fall 2021.


About Toyota USA Foundation
The Toyota USA Foundation is a charitable endowment created to support education programs serving kindergarten through 12th-grade students and their teachers in the United States, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). For more information, visit

About Dallas Independent School District

The Dallas Independent School District is continually preparing its more than 156,000 students for college or a career. The district offers a competitive mix of innovative programs, choice programs and instructional initiatives that support the increased academic achievement and the social and emotional development of its students. To learn more, visit

About SMU
SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in seven degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world. For more information visit