Elementary magnet programs

Academies for Excellence program

Our elementary academies are located at Hillside, Kimberlin, and Walnut Glen. Students who meet the minimum academic requirements (below) and/or are identified as musically and/or artistically talented may apply for this magnet program.

Academic program

Academically qualified students in grades K-5 are provided accelerated instruction in math and an enriched English language arts, science and social studies curriculum. Qualified students are grouped and taught at appropriate levels in all core areas.


To qualify for the academic program, the requirements are:

  • Combined test score of 250 (Reading, Math, Ability)
  • No less than 75th percentile in any area
  • Pass all subjects on report card
  • Pass STAAR

Art and music program

Musically and artistically talented students in grades 2-5 are provided enrichment in their identified areas. Qualified talented students receive additional music and/or art enrichment instruction in “pull-out” classes each week.


To qualify for the art and music program, students must attend a performance assessment. Art and Music Magnet seats are filled with the highest scoring students.

View the following documents for information about visual art portfolios as well as music performance and classroom assessments.

How to apply

Complete the magnet application in Skyward. Parents will be contacted to schedule an on-site performance assessment.

See the Application Process page for details and other application dates.

Classical Center

Enriched curriculum with an emphasis on Piano and the Arts

For students with an interest in classical studies, Garland ISD offers magnet programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The Classical Center at Vial Elementary offers traditional elementary curriculum that has been “enriched” with writing/publishing opportunities, piano, art, drama, leadership development, and citizenship/patriotism. The school is also one of the GISD elementary schools with a “standardized” dress code policy to enhance student pride.


  • 50 percentile+ on reading and math achievement tests
  • Pass STAAR
  • Pass all subjects on report card
  • No serious discipline issues

Qualifying students are entered into a lottery, and openings are filled in the order in which they are drawn. Students who wish to continue their “classical” education after completing the fifth grade are accepted to the Classical Center at Brandenburg Middle School provided all qualifications continue to be met.

Contact us

Ask a magnet question

For more information, contact:
Magnet programs

or contact the participating school:

Classical Center at Vial Magnet program

How to apply?

See the Application Process page for details and other application dates.

Dual Language

“The magnet program where students learn to read, write, listen, and speak fluently in two languages!”

Research shows that the ideal time to learn a new language is during the primary years. The Dual language program allow students to develop proficiency in two languages by receiving 50% of their academic instruction in English and 50% in Spanish.

This 50:50 ratio split will be employed for all core content subject areas. Students learn to read, write, listen, and speak in both languages through research-based instruction and an advanced and rigorous curriculum. Students also gain a rich appreciation of other cultures.


Children who study a second language during the primary grade levels:

  • learn and excel in a second language at a faster pace (Krashen, 1982).
  • show greater cognitive development (Kauta, 1990).
  • have increased listening skills, memory, and a greater understanding of their native language (Lapkin, 1990).
  • have an improved self concept and sense of achievement in school (Caine & Caine, 1997).


  • Entering Kindergarten and 1st grade applicants only
  • 50 percentile+ on reading and math achievement tests
  • Pass all subjects on report card
  • No serious discipline issues

Parents who wish for their students to participate should commit to the program for the primary grades (K-5).

Dual Language magnet frequently asked questions

Will my child have a strong academic foundation in their home language?

Yes, in fact research has shown learning a second language enhances child’s home language ability and cognitive development.

My child has already been accepted into an academy/magnet program, will I lose my place if I apply for the dual language magnet program?

No, you will not lose your position if you apply for this program. If accepted, you will be able to choose the program you most desire.

Is this program only for Kindergarten students?

For the 2010-2011 school year the program will begin with Kindergarten; however, each year it will progress to the next grade level through grade 5.

My child is academically gifted or bright, will there be a different curriculum used?

Students in the 50th percentile and higher will qualify for the program. An enriched curriculum is provided.

Will my child be fluent after 5th grade in the second language?

The expectation is that students who stay in the program will be fluent in both languages after the 5th grade, if not before.

Contact us

Ask a magnet question

For more information, contact:
Magnet programs

or contact the participating school:

Classical Center at Vial Dual Language Magnet program

How to apply?

See the Application Process page for details and other application dates.

Mandarin Chinese Language & Leadership


  • Rigorous dual language immersion program designed to develop linguistic and academic proficiency in English and Mandarin Chinese
  • Management skills fostered through service learning and leadership development projects


  • Entering 1st grade applicants only
  • 60th percentile on reading and math achievement tests
  • Pass all subjects on report card
  • No serious discipline issues

Contact us

How to apply?

See the Application Process page for details and other application dates.

Math, Science, Technology (MST)

Technology-enhanced learning with a special emphasis on Math and Science

For students with a high interest in math, science and technology, Garland ISD offers the MST magnet program at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Beaver and Watson Technology Centers for Math & Science are schools designed to attract students with a high interest in math, science, and technology. All subjects are taught with a heavy emphasis on classroom use of technology and hands-on problem solving. Students enjoy enriched learning opportunities such as planting in the greenhouse, forecasting the weather via the weather station, and studying the stars in the portable planetarium.


  • 75th percentile on reading and math achievement tests
  • Report card grades of 80+ in math and science
  • Pass all other subjects on report card
  • Pass STAAR
  • No serious discipline problems

Qualifying students are entered into a lottery, and openings are filled by applicants in the order in which they are drawn. Students who wish to continue their MST experience after completing fifth grade are accepted into Jackson Technology Center for Math & Science provided all qualifications continue to be met.

Contact us

How to apply?

See the Application Process page for details and other application dates.


Typically, students have to attend costly private schools to take advantage of Montessori's individual discovery style learning. GISD's Choice of School process will make it possible for students to participate in this specialized curriculum at a local public school.

See the Frequently Asked Questions and other information below to learn more about this exciting new magnet opportunity.


Students in Montessori classrooms learn:

  • with and from other students of different ages
  • at their own pace
  • with hands-on activities

The Montessori Method helps students develop:

  • responsibility
  • independence
  • initiative
  • self-discipline
  • leadership
  • strong academics
  • community and environmental awareness
  • love of learning


  • Students who are 3 or 4 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2018 and students entering kindergarten, first-grade, second-grade or third-grade may apply
  • 50th percentile on reading and math achievement test
  • On-site observation

Montessori in Garland ISD

Watch the video below to see what a day in Montessori looks like for our students.


How to apply?

See the Application Process page for details and other application dates.

Montessori Frequently Asked Questions

Why Montessori?

Garland ISD strives to provide all students with a well-rounded education that includes school choice. Currently, the district boasts 10 varied programs at 16 campuses. Montessori gives families another option to customize their child’s learning. Additionally, the locations of Herfurth and Luna elementary schools extend GISD’s programs into the Rowlett and Sachse areas.

What is Montessori?

Founded by Italy’s first female physician, Dr. Maria Montessori, this educational approach—based on scientific observation—allows children to drive their own learning. Teachers act as facilitators, providing an environment where students can choose to participate in a number of developmental activities. In Montessori, education is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline and a love of learning. It also provides practical life experiences, such as cooking and gardening.

How does Montessori differ from traditional education?

Montessori offers individualized, integrated instruction. The classroom environment contains multisensory materials rather than textbooks, and children move around the room at their own pace, studying art, geography, history, language, math, music, science, etc. at the same time.

For example, students may explore the art, history and inventions of several African nations while studying a map of the continent. They may then feel led to examine ancient Egypt and how hieroglyphs influenced modern-day language and writing. A study of the pyramids could later spark an interest in mathematics. This approach to curriculum shows the connectivity of all things and encourages total immersion in education, giving curiosity full rein.

Montessori classes also group grade levels together, forming communities in which older children spontaneously share their knowledge with younger peers. The primary level includes three-five-year-olds, while lower elementary includes first-third grades and upper elementary fourth-fifth.

Does Montessori use the same assessments as other GISD schools?

While Montessori ensures all students learn the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), teachers may not give standard grades or tests.

Progress can alternatively be determined through observation, self-evaluation, demonstration of mastery, oral exams, portfolios of work and student/parent/teacher conferences.

State-mandated assessments, such as STAAR, will continue to be administered at Montessori schools.

What about students with learning disabilities or those who are gifted?

Montessori is designed to help all children reach their fullest potential. The varying abilities created by grade-level grouping eliminate feelings of being ahead or behind in relation to peers.

Will district teachers receive Montessori training?

Effective Montessori education requires specially trained teachers—ones who not only know the unique learning materials and activities, but also how to prepare each day’s classroom environment. Montessori teachers observe all students’ skill levels and interests, providing opportunities to build on knowledge already gained and guiding each toward advancement. Staff at Herfurth and Luna elementaries will receive training from an American Montessori Society-accredited training center.

What is the implementation plan for Montessori at Herfurth and Luna?
YearImplementation of Montessori programming
2016-17Schools will each launch six primary classrooms with three and four-year-olds, as well as kindergartners.
2017-18Schools will each add six lower elementary classrooms for first and second-graders only.
2018-19Schools will add additional lower elementary classrooms and expand the age grouping to include third-graders.
2019-20Schools will each add three upper elementary classrooms for fourth-graders only.
2020-2021Schools will add additional upper elementary classrooms and expand the age grouping to fifth-graders.
Who can enroll in GISD’s Montessori program?

Montessori will follow the district’s Choice of School process. Any interested student can elect to apply. Since primary classes contain five spots each for three-year-olds—an age not traditionally serviced by GISD schools—the district will allow employees and community members to enroll their children for $475 a month. At four years old, those who qualify for prekindergarten will be offered a discounted rate, and others can still enroll at $475.  Like any GISD school, once a child has attended a Montessori campus for one year, they have the right to remain throughout fifth grade.

What criteria will determine acceptance?

Interested students must submit an online eligibility form and magnet application. Those who are not currently attending GISD schools must also pre-enroll at the Student Services Center. Acceptance will be determined by an observation and assessment. To view the completion deadlines and documents, visit www.garlandisd.net/magnets.

Will transportation be provided?

To receive bus transportation, students must attend a school within their designated eligibility area and reside two or more miles from that campus. Special circumstances may apply for magnet programs. GISD does not provide transportation for three and four-year-olds.

What are the school hours for Montessori?

8:10 a.m.-3:20 p.m.

An extended day program will be offered for 3 and 4 year old students on campus for an additional fee.

Is parental involvement an expectation in GISD’s Montessori program?

The district hopes all parents engage in their children’s education. Montessori invites involvement through observations, conferences, parent evenings and other special events. Families are also encouraged to continue learning at home. Can students participate in meal preparation, cleaning, gardening, or caring for clothes, shoes and toys?  This reiteration of skills gained in the classroom provides a real-world application for their education.

Will Montessori schools accept new students throughout the school year?

Students are only accepted through the Montessori Magnet application process.

How will Montessori students transition to traditional middle schools?

Studies show Montessori children rank above average in their ability to adapt to new situations, turn their work in on time, listen attentively and ask probing questions. They have also been encouraged to exchange ideas and discuss their work freely with others, developing good communication skills which will ease their transition.