The dynamic and constantly evolving curriculum prepares students to explore an artistic career. A rigorous academic program offers all courses required for the State of Texas' graduation plans. In addition to a host of honors and advanced placement courses in both the academics and the arts, the O’Donnell Foundation provides teachers with training in the Advanced Placement Program. Several teachers have been awarded the Surdna Grant which provides for professional enrichment. The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts named BTWHSPVA as one of five Distinguished Schools in the Arts.
The students’ achievement comes as no surprise to those familiar with the instructional staff and the administration. With an approximate ratio of 1 faculty member to every 12 students in specialized areas, the efforts of 61 full-time teachers and 14 part-time/consultant teachers are augmented by master classes from visiting professionals in every discipline throughout the year. Approximately 88% of the faculty has more than ten years of teaching experience, and more than 83% have advanced degrees. The distinguished faculty includes Fulbright Scholars, a Christa McAuliffe Fellow, a National Tandy Technology Scholar, a TI STEM Grant teacher, National Board certified teachers and several Surdna Fellows.
The school’s dual emphasis on arts and academics consistently produces a stellar list of graduates. Among those are Grammy winners such as R&B vocalist Erykah Badu, jazz singer Norah Jones, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove, members of the gospel group God’s Property, and Brave Combo. Other notable alums include dancer Jay Franke, Philadelphia Orchestra cellist John Koen, visual artists Christian Schumann and Chris Arnold, drummer Aaron Comess, and Edie Brickell of the New Bohemians.
In 2008, a brand new $47 million state-of-the-art facility designed by nationally-recognized architect, Brad Cleopfil, was completed. The main building, incorporated as an historical landmark, has been preserved.