University Academy at Palestine will begin school in August with a new director, Ummi Bodede, and visible upgrades. Structural improvements include a new brick facade and outdoor sports court. The University of Texas at Tyler K-12 charter school has an enrollment of 250 and is part of a district with campuses in Tyler and Longview.
Bodede has 14 years experience in education at Dallas and Crandall, Texas, school districts. She replaces Ben Moran, the 2020-2021 campus director, who is leaving to teach at Palestine High School. Bodede is the third director to lead the UA campus since its opening in 2013.
Bodede came to the US in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria. She later earned a teaching certificate then a master’s degree in educational leadership at the University of North Texas in Denton.
At Crandall schools, Bodede served as teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal and Director of Interventions and Equity. She decided to join UA as its new director to give her youngest child, a first grader, the opportunity to attend a smaller school. Her other reason for accepting the position is to work more directly with students.
“Having the kids in a smaller school is of course everybody’s dream,” Bodede said.
She said her goal this school year is to offer a safe, productive and happy learning environment for students.
“Hopefully we can have some normalcy,” she said. “Which would be a big difference from what we had last year.”
Superintendent Jo Ann Simmons introduced Bodede to parents via email in June.
“Mrs. Bodede's values align directly with the UA charter and instructional model,” the email stated. “I am confident she will bring a positive, diverse approach to leadership to the Palestine Campus.”
Construction at the Palestine UA campus was approved at the May 6 board meeting and begins this month. Simmons discussed summer renovations at the Palestine campus in a video of the meeting posted on the district’s website. Simmons said a new outdoor sports court and a new brick facade will be complete before the beginning of the new school year.
“I want to note that the new brick facade and sports court are not funded by University Academy,” she said in the video. “They are funded by donations through the development board in Palestine.”
Simmons also discussed construction of a new science lab at the Palestine campus, which is currently in the planning stages. Dual credit students will attend four-hour classes at the UT Tyler campus in the 2021-2022 school year during construction.
UA was recently named a Project Lead The Way Distinguished District for the second year. UA is the only school district in Texas and one of only 19 districts nationwide to receive the distinction for the 2020-2021 school year.
The PLTW curriculum encourages problem solving, critical thinking, communication and collaboration among students as they learn technical, problem-solving and other skills according to the program’s website.
For information about University Academy call (903) 727-2326 or visit online at www.uttua.org.