Curtis Elementary holds ribbon-cutting celebration for new Cardinal NEST

Lamar University and the Beaumont Independent School District held a ribbon-cutting celebration to mark the opening of the 11th Cardinal NEST (Navigating Excellence, Success and Triumph) on May 4 at Curtis Elementary School.

With a $15,000 sponsorship from Susan Conn McCurry and Roger McCurry, the Curtis Elementary School Cardinal NEST learning lab is an innovative and high-tech learning spaces for students of underserved elementary campuses to engage with STEAM-related software.  

“My team has many great goals and an amazing vision for the Cardinal NEST,” said Cheryl Tripplet, Curtis Elementary School principal.

The vision for the labs began with former LU First Fady Nancy Evans, Norman Bellard, LU interim vice president for the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations, and Dr. Anita Frank, BISD assistant superintendent for elementary education, according to Dr. Teresa Simpson, Lamar University community relations executive director.

“The designated reading space for supporting BISD elementary students has evolved into what is now known as the Cardinal NEST, the innovative learning space that sparks and enhances the love of learning for our students,” said Simpson. Curtis Elementary School NEST

The goal for the Cardinal NEST is to create a safe and unique space for students in the community. The lab has been designed to spark the interest of learning in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and reading.

According to Simpson, it includes technology such as a STEM green screen, Lux Blox, 3-D printer and an interactive multi-touch Triumph Board, complete with more than 150,000 lesson plans and activities.

“The Cardinal NEST is set to take students beyond their imagination fueled by their curiosity, passion and creativity for learning,” she said. “It supports career exploration and cultivates an early college-going culture, which was a passionate goal of our former first lady, Nancy Evans. In return, NESTs also provide service leadership and career readiness skills for our Lamar University Cardinals.”

Lamar University service-oriented student scholars and student leaders will be paired with small groups of students from a partnered campus as “SOAR (Students Occupationally and Academically Ready).” This collaboration allows for the pathway model from early college awareness to dual credit supporting first-generation, low socio-economic college students, Simpson added.

Cardinal NEST at CurtisIn partnership with the LU Office of Community Relations, Economic Development and Student AccessBeaumont Independent School District previously established Cardinal NEST learning labs at 10 other district elementary schools — Pietzsch-MacArthur, Blanchette, Charlton-Pollard, Amelia, Martin, Fletcher, Dishman, Regina-Howell, Homer Drive and Guess. Curtis Elementary School is the 11th school in BISD to receive a NEST. The final Cardinal NEST ribbon-cutting celebration will be held in May at Caldwood Elementary School.

 “We are almost at the end of this project where every single elementary school will have a Cardinal NEST. Thank you to Lamar University for executing the vision of this. Our vision in Beaumont ISD is to work in collaboration with the entire community to create an inclusive environment and academic excellence that supports the diverse needs of all learners,” said Dr. Shannon Allen, BISD superintendent. “I’m so thankful for partnerships and the community that cares about the education of their students.”

For more information about Cardinal NESTs, visit