Throughout the past several months as our students have first worked in a virtual classroom, then enjoyed summer vacation, and are returning to a new way of learning, Desert Sands Unified School District has been introducing our schools to the community. We first featured our high schools and followed with our middle schools. We are now providing an opportunity for readers to learn more about the elementary schools in Desert Sands. As a district of choice school descriptions are provided for families wanting to know more about individual schools. Two schools are being featured each week.

♦ ♦ ♦

The Carter Culture

By Principal Michael Williams


Carter, Earhart Elementary Schools in Spotlight

Carter kindergarten

James Earl Carter Elementary School, located in Palm Desert, is home to over 500 students in grades TK (transitional kindergarten) through 5th.  Our mission statement is “To unleash the genius and goodness of our students” which captures our school belief that educational excellence for students can best be achieved when there is total involvement of teachers, students, parents, administrators, and community members. Our philosophy of student-centered decision making, continual improvement in student achievement, and community involvement has been evident since day one and now defines “Carter Culture”.

Our goal at Carter is, of course, student achievement. We also understand that we need to teach more than just the core academic subjects. We strive to create a strong foundation with our students to meet the demands of middle school, high school, and beyond. Our site expectations are to: Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful, and Be Resilient. In explicitly teaching these attributes we believe that we are teaching them a few of the skills needed for a successful future.

Carter Elementary, through partnerships with our community, and a strong PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), provides enrichment opportunities as well. This includes our partnership with the YMCA for before and after school care that also incorporates sports and holiday or summer camp activities.  We also offer after school programs such as robotics, violin, choir, sports, and our annual Cabaret music production. We believe that doing so gives our school opportunities to truly teach the “Whole Child”.


Earhart Explorers

By Principal Ann Morales

Carter, Earhart Elementary Schools in Spotlight

Earhart Mural by artist Keith Blum

Amelia Earhart Elementary School of international Studies is an International Baccalaureate school (IB). Through the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), teachers use themes to organize curriculum, making certain to educate the whole child. In addition, Earhart has many other ways to educate the whole child including a partnership with the McCallum Theater that brings artists into the classroom and includes a field trip to see a performance. Technology is often used in the classroom though programs like Nearpod, Flipgrid, and WeVideo. Students use WeVideo to make weekly announcements posted to the school’s website.

An enrichment experience that Earhart has developed is makerspace activities. Students explore using technology while learning coding and other STEM-based curriculum. Enrichment is also seen through the multitude of afterschool opportunities like robotics, choir, multimedia, photography, and other clubs and sports. PTO actively organizes fundraisers and events to bring the community together and help support the school.

Carter, Earhart Elementary Schools in Spotlight

Amelia Earhart Elementary School of international Studies

Other areas of educating the whole child come from the school’s Multi-Tiered Support System (MTSS). EXCEL or school wide agreements have been made and displayed to help students know and understand expectations for behavior around the campus.

At the end of the fifth grade year, Earhart students research a global issue of interest and present thoughts on how they would like to solve it. Students write an informational essay and design an art form to represent the solution. All of the projects are displayed in a culminating event for PYP called an IB Exhibition. Earhart educates the whole child and makes sure that they excel.

For more information on Desert Sands Unified School District, James Carter Elementary School, or Amelia Earhart Elementary School click here. 

Image Sources

  • Carter kindergarten: DSUSD
  • Earhart Mural: DSUSD
  • Earhart: DSUSD
  • Flying High at Carter: DSUSD