IMPACT Volume 6 Issue 1 Summer 2019

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IMPACT A magazine for IDEA students, families, and supporters. VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1 | SUMMER 2019

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

This year, IDEA Public Schools celebrates 13 consecutive years of 100% college acceptance. A track record like this means so much because it represents years of hard work and dedication from both students and staff. We believe that a college education is transformative, impacting the lives of our students, their families, and communities.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE WORK ETHIC and perseverance required to make it to and through college, no one’s story resonates with me more than my mother’s. Born in San Juan, Texas, she attended PSJA schools her entire life (Go Bears!). Immediately after high school, she was told she didn’t have what it took to go to college. Deeply discouraged, she deferred her education for a year. But, a close friend finally convinced her to take a leap of faith and apply to the University of Texas at Austin, and she got in. Though UT was academically challenging, she enjoyed her time at college and became involved with organizations that helped support women of color. At the age of 20, she discovered she was pregnant. While some first-generation college students without a means of support would have given up on their education, my mother was resolved to become the first person in her family to graduate. She delivered my sister at the age of 21 and took the summer off before returning in the fall to continue her education as a young single mother living in the dorms for married couples. Imagining my mom studying and my sister crawling around in that dorm room always makes me smile­—what a superwoman! In 1980 she graduated from UT Austin and became a first-generation college graduate. Between 1980 and 1986 my mother worked as an accountant while now being the mother to two kiddos (I came around between then!) My mother once again defied the odds when, in 1987, she began attending the University of Houston Law Center at night while working full-time during the day in addition to raising two young daughters. In May of 1990, she received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree, and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in November of the same year. Since then, she has continued to inspire in her professional and personal life. In 1997, while working as a self-employed attorney, she had my brother, who completed our family. In 2002, she was elected as a Justice of the 13th Court of Appeals and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014 before becoming the Court’s first female Chief Justice in 2018. Living with a mother who made no excuses and embodies a strong work ethic made it impossible for us not to see the value that a college degree can bring to one’s life. Once my mother broke the mold, college wasn’t just an option for future generations of our family, it was an expectation. My sister followed suit, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as have I. And, my brother is currently enrolled in college. Her pursuit changed our family. This issue of IMPACT is dedicated to my mother and countless other first-generation college graduate success stories. These proof points who— in their quest to become the first in their families to obtain a college degree—have blazed new trails for themselves and those who come after. The road to and through college is not easy, however it is seldom traveled alone. Every one of these journeys includes countless educators, family members, friends, and others who provide essential support and inspiration along the way. I am so proud of this issue, as we hear the remarkable stories of tenacity and triumph from the very heart of our organization. Sincerely,

Above: Counterclockwise from center Vanessa’s mother, Chief Justice Dori Contreras, her sister Lisette, her daughter Caroline, and Vanessa Barry. Top: Dori Contreras graduates from University of Houston Law Center.

VANESSA BARRY Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Enrollment IDEA Public Schools


LETTER FROM CO-FOUNDER, PRESIDENT & SUPERINTENDENT

IDEA Public Schools believes that every student deserves a shot at success in college and in life, and to be successful, you need a great education.

LETTER FROM CO-FOUNDER, PRESIDENT & SUPERINTENDENT JOANN GAMA

SINCE ITS INCEPTION, IDEA has promised countless families that we will get their child to and through college. We have made good on this promise as the number of first-generation college students and graduates continues to grow each year. The Class of 2019 included 1,185 seniors, of which 752 were first-generation college students—our largest group ever. However, no proof point success story happens alone. In every student’s journey, there is a catalyst—an idea, a teacher, or even a community that inspires them to go on to college. Inspired by my mother, who served as a cafeteria worker before going back to school for her GED and becoming a co-teacher, I have dedicated my life to education and helping all students achieve their dream of college. Tom also knows the challenges that students face on the path to and through college. It was his parents, who always motivated him to challenge himself in every aspect of life. Which is why as a first-generation college student at Georgetown University, he was inspired to go into education with the goal of helping students find lifelong success. This issue of IMPACT is a personal one—as we hear from leaders, Team & Family members, parents, alumni, and current scholars who have led the way for others in their families by choosing to pursue a college education. Congratulations to all on your accomplishments in another banner year at IDEA, and to all proof points, both past and present, we commend you on your resolve and wish you the greatest success. Sincerely,

JoAnn Gama Co-Founder, President & Superintendent IDEA Public Schools

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JoAnn Gama’s college graduation photo from Boston University.

IMPACT SUMMER 2019


TABLE OF CONTENTS

IMPACT | CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Vanessa Barry EDITOR-AT-LARGE Irma Muñoz DEPUTY EDITOR Sharise Johnson COPYWRITER Marco Carbajal COPYEDITORS Marco Carbajal Tripti Thomas-Travers TRANSLATOR Karina Macotela CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jennifer Stevenson LEAD PHOTOGRAPHER Mitch Idol PHOTOGRAPHERS Johnny Quiroz Brittany Hibbert Aaron Mello Jorge Jayme Harris Huckabee COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS? Email marketing@ideapublicschools.org IMPACT is produced for IDEA students, families, employees, and supporters by the Marketing, Communications and Enrollment team at IDEA Public Schools. CONTENTS © 2019 BY IDEA PUBLIC SCHOOLS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Letter from the Editor

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Letter from Co-Founder, President & Superintendent

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Organizational Update

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College Signing Day 2019

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Proof Point

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I’m a Future Proof Point

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Cultivating College Culture: IDEA Field Lessons

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Meet Alyssa Saavedra Miranda

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Family Ties

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Meet Tianna Renteria

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Breaking the Mold at Brown University

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Back To School: Cynthia Alonso & Olga Prado Sanchez

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From IDEA To Ivy League

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Whatever It Takes: Amber Montiel

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A Prescription For Success: Veronica Treviño

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Give Me 5

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IDEA-U

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Nelda Garcia: An IDEA Original

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Masters of The Classroom

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Myrna Winer: Tenacity and Triumph

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Meet Gabbria Parker

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Meet Ana Martinez

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IDEA Spotlight: Al Lopez

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Summer Family Resources

E n E s pa ñ o l Para leer la edición de IMPACT en español, favor de revisar la contraportada de esta revista.

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ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATE

OUR TEAM & FAMILY SURE HAS BEEN BUSY THIS SEMESTER. TAKE A LOOK AT SOME RECENT ORGANIZATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS! IDEA LAUNCHES INAUGURAL FAMILY ADVISORY COUNCIL IDEA Public Schools launched the inaugural Family Advisory Council (FAC) in the fall of 2018 to facilitate an open dialogue between families and staff to enhance IDEA Public Schools. After receiving hundreds of applications, 80 council members were chosen to represent each of IDEA’s six regions. 13 IDEA MISSION COLLEGE PREP STUDENTS BECOME SPECIAL OLYMPICS STATE SOCCER CHAMPIONS IDEA Mission celebrated 13 students who became 2019 State Soccer Champions at the Special Olympics Games. Team members included Kenia Melo, Lazaro Solis, Eduardo Pena, Elíseo Fortuna, Samantha Vasquez, Ezequiel Olivarez, Alexandro Ortiz, Abelino Villarreal, Kenneth Hernandez, Mark Salinas, Ramon Verdin, Elizabeth Olivarez, and Vanderlei Herrera. 15 IDEA SENIORS NAMED DELL SCHOLAR FINALISTS Fifteen IDEA scholars from the Class of 2019 were named Dell Scholar finalists this spring. Student finalists receive the nationally renowned Dell Scholarship, which provides students with financial assistance, resources, and mentoring to ensure they have the support they need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. 23 IDEA TEACHERS REACH ‘GRAND MASTER’ STATUS IDEA celebrated a wonderful milestone this year when for the first time, 23 of our teachers were recognized for earning Grand Master Teacher status for staying in the classroom as a Master Teacher for three or more years. As a reward, Grand Master teachers received a $10,000 Grow-with-IDEA bonus. 100% COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE FOR 13 CONSECUTIVE YEARS For the 13th consecutive year, IDEA seniors celebrated 100% college acceptance. Acceptances ranged from local and state schools like Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, to Ivy League universities like Yale University, Brown University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MAYOR OF BATON ROUGE CELEBRATES NATIONAL BREAKFAST WEEK AT IDEA INNOVATION Baton Rouge Mayor, Sharon Broome, joined students at IDEA Innovation, which has made an effort to increase access to healthier foods at school. As part of the Healthy Kids Here initiative, IDEA Innovation has revamped cafeteria menus to include more whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and items that are less processed and locally sourced.

IDEA SET TO OPEN 9 NEW CAMPUSES IN 2019 This fall, IDEA will open nine new campus locations across the district including the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso, and for the first time, in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) and New Orleans. IDEA CELEBRATES ANOTHER RECORD-BREAKING YEAR OF ROYAL READERS IDEA Academy Pharr 5th grader Pedro Duran was the top Royal Reader in the entire district with 14,041,915 words, and IDEA College Preparatory Alamo 8th grader Victor Perez read 13,171,865 words this year. The goal of Royal Readers is to foster further reading development, growth, and a life-long love for reading at IDEA Public Schools. IDEA’S DINNER AND AUCTION RAISES $630,000 FOR SCHOLARSHIPS Donors and community supporters once again gathered for IDEA’s annual Dinner and Auction Gala to celebrate IDEA’s commitment to providing a high-quality Pre-K to 12 education. All funds raised at the event will support scholarships for IDEA seniors and alumni on their journey to and through college. IDEA QUEST NOMINATED FOR 2019 NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON HONORS IDEA Quest College Preparatory was named as one of 24 Texas schools nominated as a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Announcements of the National Blue Ribbon award winners will be made in September 2019. IDEA MCALLEN PRINCIPAL AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS RYAN AWARD IDEA College Preparatory McAllen Principal Joán Alvarez was honored with the Accelerate Institute’s 2019 Ryan Award for exceptional school leadership, a national award honoring transformational school principals who are closing the achievement gap. Alvarez is one of only two school leaders selected for the Ryan Award this year out of hundreds of school leaders nominated from across the nation. Read more on page 8. IDEA HIGH SCHOOLS RANK AMONG U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT’S 2019 BEST HIGH SCHOOLS For the 11th consecutive year, IDEA college preparatory schools in the Rio Grande Valley were ranked among the best performing high schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report including IDEA Frontier College Preparatory–15th in Texas, IDEA Quest College Preparatory–16th in Texas, IDEA College Preparatory San Juan–24th in Texas, IDEA College Preparatory Mission–54th in Texas, IDEA College Preparatory Donna–59th in Texas, IDEA College Preparatory San Benito–79th in Texas and IDEA College Preparatory Pharr–Top 25% of charter schools in the nation. IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATE

IDEA MCALLEN PRINCIPAL AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS $25,000 2019 RYAN AWARD FOR CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP

In a surprise ceremony in front of students, staff and family, IDEA College Preparatory McAllen Principal Joán Alvarez, was honored with the Accelerate Institute’s 2019 Ryan Award for exceptional school leadership, a national award honoring transformational school principals who are closing the achievement gap. Alvarez is one of only two school leaders selected for the Ryan Award this year out of hundreds of school leaders nominated from across the nation. PAT RYAN JR., FOUNDER OF THE ACCELERATE INSTITUTE,

said Alvarez was selected for the Ryan Award because he erases traditional barriers that may have stood in the way of student achievement. With his engaging, celebratory approach, Alvarez recognizes the strengths of each student, opening their minds to futures they may not have thought possible. “Joán Alvarez has built a school culture that embraces constant growth, for his teachers, himself and his students, so that every individual student is given the opportunity to succeed,” Ryan said. “With this award, we want to amplify the story of leaders like Joán so other principals learn how to build schools with healthy foundations that enable their students to compete with their peers no matter where they go.” IDEA College Preparatory McAllen students outperform state and district averages on Texas math and reading exams by double 8

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digits. The student performance also underscores the team’s commitment to growth: In 2014-15, 52 percent of students met or exceeded state standards. By 2017-18, 73 percent did so, at a time when state averages remained stagnant. IDEA College Preparatory McAllen students eliminate the achievement gap typically seen between white students and minority or low-income students in performance on state reading and math exams. IDEA College Preparatory McAllen has earned top state distinctions for closing the achievement gap, student growth, high achievement and college readiness. A first-generation college graduate himself, Alvarez started teaching in Corpus Christi, Texas, then earned a master’s degree in educational administration. He went on to become principal of his alma mater, Progreso High School. In 2011, he joined IDEA, serving as assistant principal of instruction at IDEA College Preparatory Mission. In 2012, he attended the Harvard Educational Leadership Program, and also founded the IDEA College Preparatory McAllen campus. “I am overwhelmed and truly honored to receive this award. It speaks highly of the hard work of our students, teachers, and families,” says Alvarez. “I am proud of each of our students and the hard-working staff here at IDEA McAllen who are committed to fulfilling our promise of getting 100% of our students to and through college.” Alvarez is committed to ensuring that every student makes it to and through college and has pledged his $25,000 award to go towards student scholarships for IDEA McAllen’s first graduating class this year. ♦


ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATE

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One of our most treasured traditions at IDEA Public Schools is College Signing Day. This May, we had the pleasure of witnessing 15 senior classes announce their college choices during five ceremonies, including inaugural events in Austin and San Antonio. IDEA’s class of 2019 shattered a record as the largest senior class in IDEA’s history, with 1,185 scholars earning 6,047 college acceptances from 362 universities, including 13 Ivy League schools, 258 Tier 1 college acceptances and 999 Tier 2 college acceptances. In addition, the Class of 2019 was awarded more than $25 million in grants and scholarships.

COLLEGE

SIGNING

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PROOF POINT •

/prüfˈpȯint/

Noun. The process of showing something is possible. First-generation students are pioneers in their families, often deciding to go to college at great personal and familial sacrifice. The number of first-generation college students at IDEA has grown considerably in recent years thanks to hard work and resiliency coupled with access to high quality resources and educational opportunities. Going on to careers in all spheres of professional life—from CEOs and executives to managers and teachers—each new class of graduates serves as proof points that we all have the power to decide what we will achieve in life. IDEA Public Schools is committed to supporting each student on the road to and through college. This issue is dedicated to every proof point—both present and future— whose example proves that anything is possible.

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IDEA PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS COMMITTED TO CREATING an educational continuum from Pre-K through college. IDEA places a strong emphasis on the whole child to ensure that scholars have the academic experience, character building, and extracurricular opportunities needed on the road to success in both college and in life. Our scholars learn the importance of obtaining a strong, college-bound education from their first-time sitting in an IDEA classroom all the way through programs such as college field lessons that take place on college campuses throughout the United States. Meet just a few of our scholars with big smiles and even bigger dreams who are on track to become the first in their families to go to college.

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UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

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UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

UNIVERSITY I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP:

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IDEA Judson College Preparatory 7th and 8th grade students tour Baylor University as part of IDEA’s college field lessons, which allow students to visit college campuses across the nation.

Cultivating College Culture IDEA FIELD LESSONS

One critical element in IDEA’s college-bound culture is College Field Lessons. IDEA students are given the opportunity to tour colleges and universities both locally and across the nation throughout their education. THE EXPERIENCE IS ONE THAT IS CONTINUALLY RECOGNIZED

by many IDEA students and alumni as a turning point in their path to college. Any student can gain theoretical information about a campus online, but visiting the campus and understanding the journey that it takes to become a student there is critical—and this is especially true for first-generation students. From tours and meet-and-greets with campus administration to leadership breakout sessions, every student at IDEA is set up for college success from a very early age. Recently, IDEA Judson College Preparatory had the opportunity to visit Rice University in Houston. Art teacher Kristine Cantu has been involved with the coordination of campus field visits for years and feels that it is an impactful experience for students each year. “IDEA prepares students for college through academics, instruction, and in other ways like citizenship and responsibility,” she says. “It only makes sense that we also prepare them by giving them a small taste of what it is like to be on a college campus—sometimes in cities that they would have never dreamed of visiting.”

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“I like Rice University and it has been added to the list of colleges that I would like to attend someday,” says 7th grader Dianna Rodgers. “Honestly, I had heard of Rice University, but it wasn’t until we got to tour the campus and speak with a student who was attending there and meet people that I realized that each college is different and some will be a good fit for you and some won’t,” says Vivianne Adams, an 8th grader. During the visit to Rice, students also had the opportunity to participate in leadership breakout sessions on the various ways they could get involved with clubs and student organizations on campus. “We had a Rice University representative explaining all of the opportunities on campus for potential leadership,” says Cantu. “He pointed out that campus involvement was a key factor in student success and encouraged students to join clubs and find their areas of interest so that they can bring these talents to Rice.” Eighth-grader Jace Barreda believes the experience is an important part of understanding the value of college and the importance of planning ahead. “College field visits at IDEA have helped me understand that college and academics are important because they help us become more successful in life,” he says. “IDEA is definitely challenging with its curriculum, but college field visits help you see that your studies and academics are not just for a letter grade, they are helping you to do well in college,” adds Adams. “Each time we visit another great school, it makes you think that the higher your grades are, the better your chances of getting into a great school.” ♦


HERE’S A GLIMPSE INTO THE STUDENTS’ COLLEGE FIELD VISIT TO RICE UNIVERSITY

am Depart for Rice University :

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Arrive at Rice University

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Leaders Breakout Session

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Tour of Rice University

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Dinner at Reckling Park

Baseball Game

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 Future proof point

Alyssa Saavedra Miranda listens to a lecture in class at IDEA Rundberg.

MEET

Alyssa Saavedra Miranda A FUTURE PROOF POINT

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 Miranda consults with

Pre-AP science teacher Annabel Schwochert over an upcoming assignment.

Alyssa Saavedra Miranda understands better than anyone that opportunity does not come without sacrifice. The 9th grader at IDEA Rundberg is on-track to become the first person in her family to go to college, and she is quick to recognize her parents’ sacrifice to get her there. MIRANDA WAS BORN AND RAISED IN AUSTIN and first joined

Rundberg in 2017 as an 8th grader. The eldest of four siblings, Miranda is now in her second year at IDEA and poised and confident beyond her years. Miranda says neither of her parents were able to complete a high school education because of familial responsibilities. “My mom didn’t really receive much of an education because she had to take care of her younger siblings,” she says. “My father didn’t either because he had to work to provide for his family.” Despite their circumstances, Miranda says her parents married and continued to work hard. Her mother worked mostly in retail while her father took on construction jobs to help provide for their growing family. Both have stressed the importance of opportunity to their children because opportunity equals options. The Mirandas chose IDEA for their children for this very reason, and the expansion of opportunity was evident from the very start. “IDEA is like a reality check for what our lives can be,” says Miranda. “As a Latina, I may not get as many opportunities to accomplish my goals. When I heard that IDEA gets every student through college, that was a big deal for me because I felt like it could help me do more with my life and also help my parents someday too.” Miranda enjoys biology, theatre, and physical education, but says she is too focused on excelling in school and helping her family to join any sports. “I have to keep myself focused on my grades and academic performance more than anything,” she says. “I love learning and it’s surprising how IDEA can make learning interesting and fun, even with subjects I thought I didn’t enjoy before I started here.”

She believes that this dedication to academics only helps solidify her resolve to become the first person in her family to receive a high school diploma and go to college, no matter what. In addition to academics, Miranda says IDEA’s college-bound culture and one-of-a-kind field lessons have helped her broaden her scope when it comes to thinking about where she will attend college. “This is all new to me, understanding how to get to college,” she says. “I feel like our college field lessons help us students realize that we can actually go to any of these places and make it as far as we want to go. This is one way in which IDEA is helping me prepare for success at college and beyond.” “The difference between IDEA and my old school is that here they are proactive,” Miranda continues. “If IDEA sees a challenge or something that isn’t right, they are going to do something about it. They go out of their way to help students be on the right track. “ When asked what she is most looking forward to as she completes her education at IDEA Rundberg in just three years, Miranda can’t help but imagine what College Signing Day will be like for her family when she gets to publicly announce her next chapter and the college of her choice. “I think it will be an important moment for my family, because they will be able to see how far I am choosing to go,” she says. “I know the dreams they have for us. They want us to succeed and have a life where we are happy and financially stable. I’ve seen every struggle they’ve had to go through just to make things happen for me. And I want to succeed so that if they ever need help, I will be there for them just like they were always there for me.” Thanks to her experience at IDEA, Miranda has her eye on several top college picks including Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, but is also exploring options closer to home like St. Edward’s University and The University of Texas at Austin. She hopes to study psychology and continue to serve others by helping them live their best life. Of her experience, Miranda says she can’t help but feel grateful for a world of opportunities that now lies at her fingertips and she says she knows exactly who to thank. “I am so thankful my parents have sacrificed so much to help give us all a shot at a better life and that includes choosing IDEA,” she says. ♦

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Family Ties:

A N I D E A F A M I LY ’ S S T O R Y OF STUDENT SUCCESS

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IDEA Donna student Mauricio Mejia enjoys a visit from parents Javier and Maria Mejia.


FAMILY TIES

Twenty-three years ago, when Javier and Maria Antonieta Mejia welcomed their fourth child, the doctor gave the couple some unexpected news. Their newborn son, Mauricio, had Down’s Syndrome. THE MEJIAS WERE LIVING IN MONTERREY, MEXICO at the time

with their three children, Maria, Javier Jr., and Jose when Mauricio was born. Originally from Mexico City, Javier had left college without completing his degree and found work with the Mexican petroleum company Pemex. Maria Antonieta attended a vocational school but chose to remain a homemaker after getting married. The Mejias resolved to learn more about raising a child with Down’s Syndrome and realized their son Mauricio needed structure, support, and every opportunity available to him if he was going to succeed. After relocating to the Rio Grande Valley, the family began searching for a school that would offer Mauricio what he needed as he prepared to begin kindergarten. “He had attended another school, but we didn’t think it was the best school for him,” says Maria Antonieta. “We wanted to educate our kids equally, and we didn’t like the schools in our area. We chose IDEA because there was structure and discipline, and they promised to prepare every student for success in college and in life. This is the reason why we loved IDEA, because it was exactly what we were looking for as a family.” Javier Sr. agrees and says that IDEA’s focus on combining rigorous academics with building character was just what Mauricio needed. “We wanted a school with rules and discipline, that helps students get into college while also becoming productive members of society,” says Javier Sr. Mauricio is funny and light-hearted with an ever-present smile on his face. He loves spending time with his brothers Javier Jr., Jose, and Juan, and his sister Maria. He is also a competitive swimmer and has won several meets in the Special Olympics. However, he doesn’t see himself as special. He believes he is just like everyone else. Perhaps it is this mindset that has helped fuel his success both in and out of the classroom. As the eldest sibling and only daughter, Maria Mejia says she spent much of her formative years caring for Mauricio and her younger brothers. “I think my relationship with him is more of a sister-mom,” says Maria, who is now the Assistant Principal of Instruction at IDEA Mission. “The thing that amazes me the most is that his disability never gets in the way of him doing anything. He has so much grit. If he cannot do something, he will try to learn it to the best of his ability.” Maria says she believes that it is this determination and commitment that fuels Mauricio’s personal success. “If he is struggling with his handwriting, he will copy sentences until he improves. He struggled a lot with reading, so he would get books and practice and practice, and with that, along with direct instruction in the classroom, he really learned how to read,” she says.


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FAMILY TIES

Javier Mejia, Jr. works as a biology teacher at IDEA College Preparatory Alamo and says despite some challenges, his brother Mauricio is just like anyone else, and that his parents fought hard to ensure that his education would be challenging. “I recently spoke with a teacher who used to be in charge of special education students at IDEA Donna, and she told me that when my parents came to campus, everyone needed to be on their A-game because they came in with questions and wanted to work with the school to be sure that Mauricio excelled.” Javier Jr. believes that his parents’ determination coupled with IDEA’s accountability and commitment to success has made Mauricio the student he is today. “Mauricio has goals and aspirations just like we all do,” he says. “Our parents raised each of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own careers, and he is no different. His upbringing and education at IDEA has given him dreams and the passion to pursue those dreams and do anything he can to make them happen.” As Mauricio prepares to graduate from IDEA Donna and begin the next chapter of his education, the Mejias say they are searching for the right program of study with proper accommodations for Mauricio.

“Mauricio wants to go to college. He says, ‘I’m going to graduate’,” says Javier Sr. with a smile. “It’s incredible that he wants to go college, and just like we did before when he was starting his education, we are going to expect nothing but the best education possible for him.” Mauricio says he is considering the culinary arts program at South Texas College, and to pursue a career as a chef. His love of cooking was first discovered while growing up spending time at his father’s former restaurant. It was here that Mauricio began to dream about opening his own restaurant someday. “I want to be a chef,” he says happily. “I want to open a restaurant in Monterrey and cook Mexican food. It’s my favorite thing to do.” With his family by his side, Mauricio believes he can truly accomplish anything. For now, Mauricio looks forward to going to college and spending time doing the things he loves like swimming, cooking, and painting pictures of his native Mexico. “I like painting Mexico and also hearts, because it comes from my heart and it’s about love,” he says with a smile. “Hearts make me think about my family.” ♦

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MEET

Tianna Renteria A FUTURE PROOF POINT

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#PROOFPOINT

IDEA Public Schools is committed to its promise of college for all. For 13 consecutive years, 100% of its student body has enjoyed college acceptance, but to accomplish this, IDEA has had to develop a rigorous academic model and carefully curate a college-bound culture with students willing to meet and exceed expectations. TO PARENTS, THIS MAY SOUND LIKE A DREAM SCHOOL, but for

Tianna Renteria, moving to IDEA Carver in San Antonio was the last thing she wanted. Luckily, what she initially saw as punishment soon turned into the opportunity of a lifetime. The bright, articulate senior from San Antonio’s eastside was attending another school when her family felt like she needed a change. “Tianna has so much potential and we worried about who she was hanging out with at school and wanted her to really apply herself and think of her future,” says Renteria’s mother, Jenara Towles. Despite her objections, the family decided to move her to IDEA Carver to help keep her focused on her future. “At first, it was a struggle,” Renteria admits. “I really didn’t want to go, and I didn’t like wearing the uniforms. I just felt like I wanted to be at my old school with my friends.” One of the first things that helped Renteria feel more secure were the teachers she began to spend time with each day. “My teachers made me feel so cared about,” says Renteria. “At my old school, teachers would give me a grade and I wouldn’t even do anything, I wasn’t even there for half of the class to be honest. At IDEA, the teachers knew about me and my life, and they helped me be my best.” Renteria remembers a former biology teacher who saw through her sullen demeanor and encouraged her to open up and embrace the community on campus that really wanted to see her succeed. “Sometimes when I felt like I was alone, she would tell me ‘You can’t just walk around being mad at the world,’” she says with a laugh. “She would tell me that everyone was rooting for me and wanted me to be happy, and that I just had to open up and show the world who I am and be proud of that.” Renteria says she warmed up a bit, but still expected to be moved back to her old school once she completed 9th grade. When she learned that IDEA was going to be her home for the next few years, she reluctantly began to make the best of it and began making friends and being open to new possibilities. “Our AP classes were preparing us for college. Our trips to colleges across the state and the country were preparing us for college. Everything at IDEA was slowly building us to be ready for our lives,” she says. “It has really opened my eyes,” she continues. “At first I wasn’t really thinking about college or anything in middle school. I just went to school. But at IDEA, I had a purpose and I’m thankful because it changed my mind and my life.”

Renteria proudly celebrates IDEA Carver’s inaugural College Signing Day in San Antonio with her family.

Renteria was also one of ten students recently selected for the prestigious David Robinson Fellowship, which provides financial support for college-bound seniors graduating from IDEA Carver. The fellowship consists of a mentor program with Robinson paired with six sessions of enriching co-curricular and leadership development classes and a college scholarship. The goal of the fellowship is to foster success and graduation from a Tier I or Tier II college or university within four years. Funds can be used for tuition, books, living expenses, or other costs related to the student’s educational journey. Renteria recalls the moment she learned she had been selected as a fellow and how she heard the news from the San Antonio Spurs legend himself. “I went through several interviews and on the last one, David Robinson was on FaceTime with the counselors and told me he wanted me to be one of his first fellows. Since then, the student fellows have had monthly meet-ups, and Mr. Robinson has been to a few. He’s really nice, and very tall!” she says with a laugh. In total, Renteria applied to eight universities and was overjoyed at the number of acceptances. She says one of her favorite moments of the year was San Antonio’s inaugural College Signing Day event this past April where she proudly announced the college of her choice in front of her family. “My dad didn’t get to graduate high school,” she says. “And he said me graduating is like him graduating.” A self-proclaimed fan of television shows like “Law and Order“ and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”, Renteria hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and eventually gain acceptance to Howard University School of Law to earn her Juris Doctor degree. “I am really grateful that my parents sent me to IDEA,” she says earnestly. “I really am. I don’t know where my head would be if I had stayed at my old school. I don’t even know if I would be going to college. But I know that if they hadn’t sent me to IDEA, I wouldn’t have all of the opportunities I have now.” ♦

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 Espiricueta, IDEA San Juan alumnus and proof point, enjoys a quick break between classes at Brown University.

MEET

Oscar Espiricueta B R E A K I N G T H E M O L D AT B R O W N U N I V E R S I T Y

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BREAKING THE MOLD AT BROWN UNIVERSITY

Oscar Espiricueta understands not every child gets an equal chance when it comes to having opportunities. In fact, the 20-year-old Brown University sophomore says understanding where he comes from and how he got there makes him feel incredibly grateful and even more resolved to give back to the Rio Grande Valley—a place he will always call home. ESPIRICUETA’S ENTRY INTO ONE OF THE NATION’S TOP IVY

League colleges began as a student in San Juan, Texas. Though his family lived approximately 30 minutes away in the town of La Joya, Espiricueta’s mother made the lengthy trip each day before heading into work as an assistant at Spectrum in McAllen. His mother had moved to the United States from Mexico when she was a child in search of greater opportunities and was an excellent student. Ranked at the top of her class at La Joya High School, she was offered a migrant scholarship to attend St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. However, she turned down the scholarship and her chance at a college education when she discovered she was pregnant during her senior year of high school. Sadly, her first born child, a daughter, passed away before Espiricueta was born. Determined to give Espiricueta and his younger brother the opportunities that she gave up as a young, single mother, she pulled him out of his elementary school after he was the victim of bullying and searched for a school that would give him a strong education and a safe place to grow up. “She wanted me to go to a school that would help me with my education and get into a great college and she heard about IDEA’s record,” he says. “So, she put my brother and me in the lottery and he got placed in kindergarten, and I was placed in the 6th grade of IDEA San Juan’s first year of operation in 2009.” Espiricueta admits that at his former school, he went to school just to go to school. However, at IDEA, he immediately recognized that education had a purpose and it was a path to a life he had never considered—including a college education. “I suddenly had a goal and a purpose. I was told that everyone at IDEA goes to college and that I would go to college and succeed there, too. However, I had to work for it,” says Espiricueta. “For the first time in my life I was doing something with my time in school and it changed everything for me.” Espiricueta says that a freshman world geography class with IDEA San Juan teacher Marco Martinez first made him consider a diverse world far beyond the Rio Grande Valley. Martinez, a Brown University alum himself, would often share stories about his experiences on the Rhode Island campus, and the stories sounded just like the kind of college experience Espiricueta was looking for. The same year, Espiricueta and his classmates took a tour of several East Coast college campuses as part of IDEA’s transformational college field lessons, including visits to NYU, Harvard, Columbia, MIT, and Brown. His love for Brown University was instant. He shares that he saw himself spending the next chapter of his academic career within the same hallowed hallways that have played host to an esteemed list of alumni since its founding in 1764.

It seems like where you come from dictates how your life is going to be, but I earned my place here and education evens the playing field.” “It was a more liberal East Coast university, it gave you the power to create your own course of study and learn the things you want to learn,” he says. “I felt that Brown was a place I could grow as my full self and not just academically.” After attending Summer@Brown before his senior year of high school, Espiricueta returned to the RGV more determined than ever to make his dream of attending Brown University a reality. After a lot of hard work, he was accepted to Brown University just a few months later, and happily accepted the offer and prepared for life as a first-generation college student more than 2,100 miles away from his family and friends in the Rio Grande Valley. Espiricueta began his freshman year at Brown in the fall of 2017 and says the reality of his personal and financial circumstances were glaringly obvious. “I think imposter syndrome is real for a lot of first-generation students,” he says thoughtfully. “A lot of students at Brown started life with more opportunities because of who they are or where they’re from. They had access to help and resources that I did not have where I was born. It seems like where you come from dictates how your life is going to be, but I earned my place here and education evens the playing field.”

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BREAKING THE MOLD AT BROWN UNIVERSITY

Hispanic students account for approximately 11.2% of the population at Brown University, and as one of only a handful of Mexican students on campus, Espiricueta immediately searched for a place to fit in. “I started going to the Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low-Income Student (U-FLi) Center on campus and that’s where I found this community of people who were there to support each other and challenge each other to take every opportunity and be the best they can be,” he says. According to Brown University’s website, the Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center (U-FLi Center), is “a communal, learning, and advocacy center for members of the community who identify with the undocumented, first-generation college and/or low-income student experience (U-FLi).” In addition, Espiricueta returned to his cheerleading roots from high school and earned a spot on the university’s cheer team. He says cheer offered a great way to make new friends while also giving him some reprieve from his rigorous academic schedule. “I had cheered for a year in high school and fell in love with it. It was a fun, athletic sport, and helped me with my body and relieved stress,” he says. “I knew Brown was going to be hard and the focus would be on academics, but during the stress of finals and assignments, cheer allowed me to separate myself from the pressure and provided an outlet for me to stay in top form both mentally and physically.” IDEA’s Alumni Affairs team has also been a constant reminder that back home, his alma mater is still committed to seeing him be successful throughout college.

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“IDEA’s alumni team has definitely kept me grounded and keeps tabs on me and reminds me of the parts of college that I don’t necessarily think about on a daily basis like applying for scholarships or FAFSA,” he says. “Before I had a job on campus, I didn’t have enough money to pay for my cheerleading dues, and contacted my college counselor, and IDEA helped me make the $200 payment.” As a Public Health major, Espiricueta aims to use his degree and experience away from the Valley to ultimately help him effect a positive change in public health along the border someday. “The borderland puts a completely different spin on public health because it straddles two national identities,” he says. “Many people don’t have access to health insurance or access to educational programs involving public health matters like the flu, vaccinations, and HIV.” Espiricueta says that making his family proud and making a positive impact in Texas border communities someday are what motivate him the most. Today, he is thankful for the lessons he has already learned thanks to his humble beginnings in the Rio Grande Valley. “I was born there. I grew up there, and I owe everything that I have right now to what’s down in the Valley,” he says. “That’s why I want to go back and make a difference. I’m here to do something good and help the people that I love and that includes the people of the Rio Grande Valley.” ♦


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& Cynthia Alonso BACK TO SCHOOL:

Olga Prado Sanchez FIRST CLASS AND F I R S T- G E N A T T H E F L A G S H I P

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From left: Sanchez and Alonso are first-generation college students who were both part of the first ever graduating class at IDEA Donna, where they now teach.


BACK TO SCHOOL

Since its very beginnings as an after-school program, IDEA has been transforming education for countless students. Two such students are Cynthia Alonso and Olga Prado Sanchez, who were part of IDEA Donna’s first graduating class in 2007 and now spend their days at their former campus as teachers, giving a new generation of scholars an opportunity at a college education. ON ANY GIVEN DAY, Alonso and Sanchez are hard at work leading

challenging, interactive lessons with their students. Alonso teaches mathematics at IDEA Academy Donna, while Sanchez is a Social Studies Pre-AP teacher at IDEA College Preparatory Donna. Though both teachers are inextricably bound together as classmates and educators, their individual journeys—from being among IDEA’s earliest alumni to becoming the first in their families to graduate from college—are quite different. Sanchez’s father did not attend college and would frequently work in the U.S. as a construction worker, while her mother left college to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. Like many immigrants, Sanchez says her parents wanted more opportunities for their growing family, so when she was seven, her parents relocated the family to the United States from Mexico. Alonso’s parents both left school in the 6th grade and settled in a location known as “Little Mex” on South Tower Road in Alamo, Texas. According to U.S. Census data, the area is the poorest community with a population over 1,000 in the country, with 66.2% of residents living below the poverty line and the median income for a family hovering at approximately $14,598 per year. Alonso still calls the area home as it’s where she grew up and where her parents own their landscaping business. Sanchez says she was nearing the end of her elementary school years when she first heard about a brand-new after-school program led by two very driven educators at Donna ISD. “Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama began talking to students and families about an after-school program that was officially forming a charter school called IDEA,” says Sanchez. “At first my mother was skeptical because they were both so young. But we decided to give it a try and I started as a 5th grader.” Sanchez says that college was at the periphery of her priorities growing up until she started at IDEA, where the curriculum was demanding and preparing for success in college and beyond was paramount. As she transitioned to middle school, she began to reconsider what her future would look like as the first person in her family to graduate from college. Meanwhile, Alonso was attending a local middle school when a chance conversation with a guidance counselor changed her academic trajectory. “I was attending another school and when my counselor found out I lived in a colonia in Little Mex, she basically told me that I likely wouldn’t do very much with my life because of where I lived,” she says.

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BACK TO SCHOOL She was so upset by the assertion that she told her mother and they decided it was time to find a new school. Alonso says her parents were determined to give her as many opportunities as possible and were hopeful after attending an info session where Torkelson and Gama spoke about what IDEA aimed to become. “My parents went to a meeting and learned about IDEA’s mission to challenge every student and prepare them for success,” says Alonso. “They said they would do anything they needed to do to get students where they needed to be academically, and do everything in their power to make it happen.” Alonso met Sanchez when she began IDEA in 8th grade and says the best news came at the end of the year when students were told that, for the first time, IDEA would be expanding past middle school. “We were in homeroom one day and they told us that IDEA would officially be expanding to high school and we would be the first class to attend grades 9 through 12,” says Alonso. “We were all excited because it meant we got to all stay together instead of moving on to different high schools at other districts.” In May 2007, Alonso and Sanchez became part of IDEA’s inaugural graduating class from IDEA Donna, with a grand total of 25 seniors. Sanchez chose to attend the University of Texas Pan-American, majoring in International Business and minoring in Spanish. After reaching her goal of graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she learned that IDEA Donna’s AVID program was looking for a tutor. She applied for the position and got the job, where she tutored AVID students in grades 9 through 12. Her work as a tutor caught the attention of the principal, who encouraged Sanchez to apply for a full-time position as a 6th grade math teacher. She has since taught several subjects including math, government, economics, and most recently, social studies and world cultures. Alonso attended Texas Lutheran University after graduating and threw herself into her studies. She chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in Psychology, and settled into her new life in Seguin, Texas with a definite sense of satisfaction. “After what that counselor told me when I was just a kid, I did feel a certain amount of pride for making it to college,” says Alonso. “Moving to IDEA just changed my life. I never imagined I would ever be in a different city and going to college. IDEA kept their word and gave me a shot at college and at experiencing more than I thought I ever would.” “My parents always wished they had the opportunity to go to college, so I feel proud that I was able to work hard, get a good education, and set a good example for my younger siblings that we can accomplish anything no matter where we come from,” she continues. Alonso had a strong desire to find a career that would impact children in a positive way and tried working for Child Protective Services before becoming a Pre-K teacher at a small school in Seguin. She found teaching inspiring and soon got her alternative certification. When she decided to relocate back to the Rio Grande Valley, her time at IDEA inspired her to apply for a teaching position. She was shocked to discover that she had been selected to interview at IDEA Donna.

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“The interview on campus made me feel nostalgic and like I was back home,” says Alonso. After accepting the position, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that her former classmate was also part of the staff. “It’s a really proud moment to have been able to move away and get a fantastic college education, and come back home to the same hallways where I grew up and make a difference in the lives of other future first-generation students,” says Alonso. Sanchez agrees and says that as an educator, she sees many students with stories like her own and she is quick to tell them she knows exactly how they feel navigating their transition to IDEA. “One of the things I tell my students is that I know what they’re going through because, my first month here, I struggled with the rigor and was constantly being held accountable for my actions, especially when failing to complete all of my homework. But I tell them that if I can do it, they can too.” Alonso and Sanchez both count their College Signing Day as one of their favorite memories from school, though they say that their own event was much smaller than the massive celebrations IDEA plans today. “As someone who has been in the same shoes as so many of these students, College Signing Day is always an emotional time for us,” says Sanchez. “It makes me think of when it was our turn and how proud we all were. It’s wonderful to see so many students make it to college with a world of opportunities waiting for them. This is why we do what we do.” “College Signing Day is definitely my favorite memory because all of the hard work we put into our education paid off, and also because IDEA had kept their promise to send every student to college, which they keep doing year after year,” says Alonso. ♦

Moving to IDEA just changed my life. I never imagined I would ever be in a different city and going to college. IDEA kept their word and gave me a shot at college and at experiencing more than I thought I ever would.”


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Christopher & Michael Chapa Born and raised along the Texas-Mexico border in the perennially sunny Rio Grande Valley, Christopher and Michael Chapa’s story took a dramatically different trajectory when their mother decided to choose a different school for them. It set both on a path that would see them break barriers, set standards, and wind up at one of the nation’s top Ivy League universities. UPON MEETING THE BROTHERS, their similarities seem obvious.

They have the same mannerisms and a similar gait when they walk; both are also within an inch of each other’s height. Christopher, who is five years older and goes by Chris, was born in McAllen and

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spent his formative years just across the border in Reynosa before the family moved to the U.S. for good when the boys were young. Both parents are self-employed and run a successful sales operation and wanted their young sons to have every opportunity available, especially when it came to their education. Their mother first began looking for alternatives for Chris as he transitioned into middle school. “My mom was very protective and didn’t want me to go to the local middle school,” says Chris with a laugh. “I was studious, overweight, and an easy target in school, so at that point my mother looked for a more challenging and welcoming setting for me.” Though the family initially tried enrolling Chris in a small, local school for a year, it too was not the right place for him. One of Chris’s friends had recently been introduced to a new public charter school called IDEA. After hearing what the school had to offer, the boy’s parents encouraged Chris and his family to apply.


At the time, the admissions process involved writing an essay to Tom Torkelson on why a student wanted to come to IDEA. The Chapa brothers successfully secured their spots, with Chris gaining acceptance into the 8th grade, and Michael into 4th. Both brothers agree that from the start IDEA was significantly different from their previous schools with its emphasis on rigor, accountability, citizenship, and the road to and through college. “My parents started talking to us about college even more when we got to IDEA,” says Chris. “Getting into college would break the barrier for my family. I had heard about Harvard, MIT, and other Ivy League schools but never really thought it was attainable.” During his senior year of high school, a counselor pulled Chris out of class and informed him that Cornell University had received his test scores and wanted him to fly to New York to tour the campus. The Chapa family was overjoyed, and both Chris and Michael realized for the first time that there was great opportunity in the world beyond the horizon.

From left: Brothers Chris and Michael Chapa both attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

“I never expected a school to come to me,” says Chris. “I always assumed I would be the one begging schools to give me a chance.” Unbeknownst to him, his college counselor and a representative from Cornell University met with his parents and informed them that they were willing to waive all application costs and extend testing deadlines for him if Chris fully committed to attending Cornell University in the fall. Chris agreed and effectively became the first in his family to attend college as well as the first IDEA student ever accepted to an Ivy League school. Chris finished his senior year at IDEA Donna as valedictorian and prepared to start a new chapter of education across the country, just as Michael was preparing to finish his last year of junior high and begin high school at the newly opened IDEA Mission. Michael says it was then that he started to think about his own college track as well. “When Chris first left for college, I was super excited because I didn’t have a neighbor at home anymore, and it was super quiet,”

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FROM IDEA TO IVY LEAGUE

says Michael, as both brothers laugh. “But it did give me a certain motivation where I thought ‘Oh now I must follow in his footsteps or do something better,’ because there’s always that feeling that the little brother must meet the expectations of the older brother. Him getting into Cornell was great motivation for me to step things up myself.” Michael says that he and Chris may have different approaches to things but are very much alike when it comes to meeting and completing any goal. “We share determination in accomplishing whatever we want no matter how much we have to sacrifice for it,” says Michael. “For example, we both wanted to go to Cornell, so we had to sacrifice a lot to make sure that we got everything in, like academics, extracurriculars, and community service. Whatever it takes, we’re going to get it done and prove that we deserve to be there.” By now, Chris was preparing to finish his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and begin his master’s degree at Cornell. After his junior year of high school, Michael participated in a 6-week program called the Cornell Summer College program. It was an experience that would solidify his resolve to follow in his big brother’s footsteps and attend Cornell University the following year. As part of the inaugural graduating class at IDEA Mission, Michael also felt a certain responsibility to set the gold standard for future classes.

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This page: Michael and the Chapa family head to Ithaca, NY to celebrate Chris’s graduation. Opposite page: Michael during his freshman year at Cornell and at his college graduation.

“I really wanted to set an example as part of the first graduating class at IDEA Mission,” says Michael. “I was valedictorian, got the Gates Millennium Scholarship, and was on track to get into an Ivy League university. So, I wanted to set the bar at an appropriate level, and I think I set a pretty good example, because a lot of IDEA Mission graduates have since gone to the Ivy League.” By the time Michael arrived at Cornell in the fall of 2013, Chris was in his last semester of graduate school. Like many first-generation college students, transitioning to life away from everyone and everything they knew was difficult at first. Ever the big brother, Chris took it upon himself to show Michael the ropes and help him adjust to life away from the Rio Grande Valley as he had learned to do years before. “It was very overwhelming at first and there were a lot of times that I felt really homesick,” admits Michael. “When things got hard, I would think about coming back or transferring somewhere closer to home. But ultimately there was this motivation to stick through, because the pain and sacrifice is temporary.” The brothers weren’t the only ones who were dealing with the distance and the transition. Their parents had gone from having a full house to two sons now living over 2,000 miles away in New York. Still, their mother has no regrets. “IDEA was definitely the best choice we could have made for our children,” says Maria Eugenia Chapa. “IDEA is the best public school there is. My husband and I believe IDEA opened our sons’


FROM IDEA TO IVY LEAGUE

We share determination in accomplishing whatever we want no matter how much we have to sacrifice for it.” vision of what their futures could be. At IDEA, there are no limits; you can go as far as you want. To me, this is one of our greatest accomplishments as parents.” As Michael found that he enjoyed computer science more than mechanical engineering and switched degree tracks, Chris graduated with his master’s and began to think about life after college. A job opportunity in 2014 took him to Minneapolis, Minnesota where he worked as a Senior Mechanical Test Engineer for Medtronic. He married his high school sweetheart and fellow IDEA alum, Erica, that same year, and the couple welcomed their first child, Amelia, in 2015. They’ve since welcomed their newest bundle of joy, Chris Jr. Though he enjoyed his life in Minneapolis, Chris and his wife had grown up with family as a central part of their lives and realized that their young daughter saw her cousins and extended family merely once a year. The two decided to move back to the Rio Grande Valley, and in August 2017, Chris began his current position at IDEA, just as Michael was finishing a summer internship with IDEA before his final year at Cornell. “IDEA always played a big part in our lives and one of the biggest motivations for me is to do something that would make a difference,” says Chris. “Here in the Valley, quality education is growing but there’s still a big gap. A lot of students stick with what they know and IDEA’s mission of exposing students to college through counseling and tours and field lessons make a difference and is a step in the right direction.”

Today, the Chapa brothers call IDEA home once again with Chris and Michael on the Operations team. As proof points themselves, the brothers have experienced the struggles of being first-generation college students and both say that the sacrifice is well worth the reward. “If you’re a new college student, reach out and make connections, because finding your tribe will help when it comes to overcoming homesickness,” says Michael. “I would also encourage you to try something new, whether it’s cultural or educational because your true calling may be something you never considered.” “To that point, I would add to not be afraid to fail,” affirms Chris. “It’s okay to fail. The biggest lessons always come from our failures. Learn from your mistakes and continue to improve. That is the key to success in college and in life.” ♦

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Amber Montiel W H AT E V E R I T TA K E S

Amber Montiel has been living her dream working as an engineer for Boeing. Her story begins in a small border town in South Texas. BORN IN DONNA, TEXAS, Montiel was raised by her grandparents.

Her grandfather worked as a truck driver and her grandmother was a homemaker. Even as a young girl, Montiel says she was encouraged to do everything she could to be independent and self-sufficient. “My grandparents always told me that I should be able to support myself and that I didn’t need to depend on anyone but myself,” recalls Montiel. “They believed that a good education was going to be my ticket to that kind of self-sufficiency.” Montiel recalls attending another public school locally and not feeling challenged when it came to her coursework, even as a member of the school’s gifted and talented (GT) program. This ultimately led her family to explore other options when it came to her education.

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“At my previous school, I felt like I was just going through the motions, and my grandmother felt the same way,” says Montiel. “We first heard about IDEA at our church. There was this flyer someone had posted talking about a school called IDEA in Donna and we applied, and I got in.” Like many students, Montiel said the transition to IDEA was an adjustment. “They really hold you accountable, so the transition to learning to be responsible for yourself and getting used to having that much homework and responsibility took time,” she says. “There were times when I would feel upset and want to cry because it wasn’t always easy, but that’s when my grandparents would encourage me and remind me that it was worth putting in the work.” Montiel says from a very early age she was determined to experience the world outside of the Rio Grande Valley and would often dream about the day she would finally be able to leave for college as an adult. It was this drive to become the first in her family to go to college and experience different places that kept her focused when it came to her schooling.


WHATEVER IT TAKES

“I am thankful that IDEA and my grandparents instilled a strong level of independence in me because this is what solidified my decision to go to college and keep pushing myself to succeed, even if that meant being out of my comfort zone.” Montiel recalls her high school math teacher Ms. King sparking her interest in a potential career in engineering. With King’s encouragement and her grandparents’ blessing, she flew on a plane for the first time at 16 and traveled to Michigan Technological University for a summer engineering program for girls and fell in love. Shortly before graduating from IDEA Donna in 2010, Montiel was named a recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship. Founded in 1999, the scholarship is funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and offers students of color the opportunity to attend any college or university. As she was able to choose any school regardless of cost, Montiel ultimately chose Boston University (BU) for its rigorous engineering program and vibrant urban location. “I wanted to choose a large city that was diverse and different from anything I was used to growing up in the Valley,” she says. “I had applied to a lot of out-of-state schools, and Boston just felt like the right city for me, and BU had a great engineering program.” As a mechanical engineering major at Boston University, Montiel was surprised how difficult it felt to try and keep up for the first time in her life. In fact, she says that after her first year in Boston, she was ready to look for a school closer to home. Montiel called her grandmother at the end of the year and told her she was considering moving back to Texas. However, both of her grandparents were adamant that she stick it out and finish what she started. She now says she is grateful for the encouragement as she learned to appreciate her time there. After graduating from Boston University in 2014 and earning a master’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University in 2015, Montiel was ready to focus on a long-term career. She applied to Boeing at a career fair and was hired as an engineer in Charleston, SC, in February 2016. Looking back, Montiel says that it was the people that made the biggest difference in her educational trajectory. “My grandparents ensured that I was focused on succeeding and being independent and IDEA ensured that I was responsible and prepared for life,” she says. “Through it all, I was given the freedom to really follow my gut and not be afraid to try something new.” Montiel says she is most proud of the fact that she was accepted to so many good schools, was able to graduate from college debtfree, and immediately began working at a great company. “I want every first-generation college student to know that they are meant to be there,” she says. “You are just as qualified as everybody else that’s sitting in that classroom, no matter what their background is. You have each earned the right to pursue the life that you want.” ♦ Top: Montiel celebrates her graduation from Boston University with IDEA Co-founder, President and Superintendent JoAnn Gama. Pics 2-4: Montiel touring a Boeing facility. She currently serves as an engineer at Boeing.


Treviño was part of UTRGV’s first cohort of medical students and is now in her 3rd year of medical school.

Veronica Treviño A PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS

As a medical student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Veronica Treviño is deep into her third-year medical school rotation and her schedule is a lesson in time management. THIS QUARTER INCLUDES AN OB/GYN ROTATION at The

Women’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg all while studying for one of many board exams. Still, Treviño says while time management isn’t always easy, loving what she does makes her days that much more worthwhile. Born and raised in McAllen, Texas, Treviño is an only child and says her parents were huge proponents of the power of education. “From the time that I was three years old, I would tell everyone that I wanted to become a pediatrician,” she recalls. “My parents were extremely supportive of me and stressed the importance of college and getting a good education.”

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As neither of her parents have finished college themselves, they encouraged her to always challenge herself academically. As a child, Treviño attended a local Catholic school. While she enjoyed the small classes and discipline the school offered, her parents began to hear about a local school called IDEA that challenged students academically and was sending all graduates to universities all over the country. “My family liked everything they heard about IDEA and decided it was a fuller academic experience than the one I was receiving at my parochial school,” she says. “So, I moved to IDEA Donna my 7th grade year.” From the start, Treviño says she could feel a real difference at IDEA. “I remember Tom Torkelson was super involved. We would see him all the time and everyone seemed like they truly wanted each of us to succeed,” she says. “All of our teachers were very personally involved in our success and my other school wasn’t like that.” As Treviño is a first-generation college student, her College Signing Day was particularly poignant for her family. Treviño says her parents were very proud and emotional knowing she had been accepted to several colleges.


A PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS “Deciding where you want to go to college and participating in College Signing Day at IDEA is very emotional,” she says. “It’s the beginning of the rest of your life, and everything you’ve worked so hard for, especially as a first-generation college student, is paying off because you made it.” Treviño says she chose to stay close to home because she was very close with her parents and because some family members were experiencing health issues. She enrolled at the University of Texas-Pan American, now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), in 2012 as a double major in biology and chemistry with a minor in medical Spanish with her sights set on eventually getting into the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston School of Medicine. However, in 2015 UTRGV announced its plans to open a medical school on campus, and Treviño knew this was the opportunity she had been waiting for—one that would allow her to pursue her passion while staying close to her family. Treviño was one of 55 students selected from among 2,784 applicants for admission to the medical school’s first cohort. Of those applicants, UTRGV School of Medicine interviewed just 226 applicants and ranked 182 for admission to the medical school. Of the 28 women and 27 men chosen for the inaugural cohort, just 20 were from the Rio Grande Valley. “It meant the world to me to be able to be part of the school’s very first cohort and pursue a medical career here in the Rio Grande Valley,” she says. “Aside from studying to become medical practitioners, we are also out in the colonias seeing patients and giving people who may not have the opportunity otherwise, access to free healthcare.” Treviño says the medical school also offers a chance to bring renowned doctors and surgeons down to the Rio Grande Valley, which boosts the quality of the education and helps residents also gain access to a highly trained medical community. “It’s a genuine honor to be part of the first class and know that we have been entrusted with the highest expectations to set the standard,” says Treviño. “Everyone worked so hard to make this medical school a reality and to be part of the original cohort isn’t something we take lightly.” As a third-year medical student, Treviño will participate in different medical rotations throughout the year while studying for and taking her board exams. Perhaps the most important of these examinations is a three-step test called the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), also known as the national board exam. Treviño took the Step 1 exam during her second year of medical school and will take Step 2 during her third year as a medical student. The exam will consist of multiple-choice questions on clinical sciences as well as hands-on diagnostic exams with actors posing as patients. The final Step 3 exam for licensing will take place one year after completing medical school during a residency. Treviño says the journey from IDEA to medical school has been one of growth and self-discovery and she is proud of the work she has accomplished on her academic journey. Her advice to other first-generation students is to tune out the naysayers and be true to yourself. “There is a certain joy in proving the impossible is possible,” she says. “There will always be people who think you can’t do something or underestimate you. They will try to tell you the failure rate is high or it’s too difficult to make it. But if you work hard and love what you do, it will absolutely happen for you. Dreams can come true.” ♦ IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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The cost of tuition can be discouraging for high school students considering college, especially if they are first-generation, or if their parents did not attend college in the U.S. However, through funding like Give Me 5, IDEA is working to support alumni throughout the four years of college. FOUNDED IN 2008 AS A MEANS TO SUPPORT STUDENTS even further on their quest

for a college degree, IDEA’s Give Me 5 is an all-staff giving campaign that awards scholarships and loans to students facing financial hardships related to college. With an annual goal of at least 90% of staff contributing to the campaign, the 2018-2019 academic year exceeded the goal with a record-breaking 92.3% participation rate. Give Me 5 funding supports students in five distinct areas including two $8,000 senior class scholarships per campus over four years of college, $4,000 median awards for college matriculation that close unmet financial gaps for alumni funding during years one through four of college, one-time emergency loans of approximately $1,850, $750 DREAMer fund loans, and a $500 College to Career (C2C) experience loan. Students often use the money for tuition, textbooks, living expenses, and for unexpected or emergency situations. HERE’S A LOOK AT JUST A FEW ALUMNI WHO HAVE BENEFITED FROM GIVE ME 5: 1. JAILEENE GARZA, IDEA San Benito Alumna, Baylor University 2. IVÁN DEL BOSQUE, IDEA Frontier Alumnus, UTRGV and

UT-Health Science Center San Antonio

3. VICTOR MEDELLIN, IDEA Toros Alumnus, West Virginia Wesleyan College

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GIVE ME 5

Jaileene Garza, IDEA San Benito Alumna, Baylor University A 2015 graduate of IDEA San Benito, Jaileene Garza was accepted to her dream school, Baylor University. As a college freshman, Garza joined clubs and threw herself into her studies. “MY FIRST YEAR AT BAYLOR WAS GREAT,” she says. “My classes

were good, I joined clubs, and found myself a decent-paying job and was doing a great job juggling my schedule and managing my time.” However, Garza’s sophomore year proved to be even more challenging. Garza was living off-campus and struggled to make ends meet. “My life began to go downhill. I had to work more hours than I had originally so that I could afford my rent, bills, and necessities like food and gas,” she says. “I stayed in Waco during the summer to work and make extra money to pay for my rent.” By the fall of 2017, Garza’s financial struggles and schedule led to her failing two rigorous science classes required for pre-med majors, and soon after, she was in a car wreck that totaled her car. Garza knew something had to change and soon. She started by changing her major to Public Health, which she found she loved. She also contacted her alumni liaison at IDEA and informed them of what had been happening. Garza knew something had to change and soon. She started by changing her major to Public Health, which she found she loved. She also contacted her alumni liaison at IDEA and informed them of what had been happening. Garza then applied for, and received, the Give Me 5 scholarship, and is grateful for the immense help that it has offered. “The Give Me 5 scholarship really helped me pay for books, access codes for school materials, food, rent, and even to go home and visit my family,” she says. “This really helps students like me who are trying to make a better life but they’re far away from home or anyone who can help. It means a lot to me to know that IDEA cares enough to check-in with you once you’ve graduated and is there to help you get your degree in any way possible.” ♦

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GIVE ME 5

Iván Del Bosque, IDEA Frontier Alumnus, UTRGV and UT-Health Science Center San Antonio Iván Del Bosque never really considered going to college growing up. Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, he attended a private school before moving to IDEA Frontier. He says it was there that he began to realize the importance of college. “ONCE I GOT INTO IDEA, I BEGAN LEARNING EVERYTHING about

college and all that it offers,” he says. “It made me think about school and what I wanted to do with my life in a way that I never had before.” After graduating from IDEA Frontier in 2012, Del Bosque was accepted to the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and majored in Exercise Science and Pre-Occupational Therapy. He completed his degree in 2016 and chose to continue his education at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and entered the pre-doctoral program in Occupational Therapy. It was here that he realized that the opportunity for a fun and innovative learning experience was just out of reach financially. “There was a study abroad opportunity through the program, and I remember Sari Wilson, IDEA’s Managing Director of Alumni Affairs always encouraged me to study abroad,” he says. “It was a week of studying and learning in Mexico over spring break and I wanted to experience this in the country where all of my family is from.” Without enough money to go on the program, Del Bosque messaged the IDEA Facebook page seeking help. He was put in touch with Jennifer Uranga from the Alumni Affairs team who told him the experience sounded like a wonderful opportunity and encouraged him to apply for a Give Me 5 scholarship. He won a scholarship with enough funding to secure his spot on the program. Del Bosque says the experience was both educational and rewarding. He also says the Give Me 5 scholarship does more than just help students pay for things. “The Give Me 5 scholarship is important because it allows students to have the opportunity to have life experiences that not many people can afford,” he says. ♦

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GIVE ME 5

Victor Medellin, IDEA Toros Alumnus, West Virginia Wesleyan College Victor Medellin knows a thing or two about responsibility and work ethic. “I’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF BEING ABLE TO PLAY SOCCER at the professional level while at the same time being the first in my family to get a college education.” After a stint in Houston, Medellin enrolled at IDEA Toros and his life became a daily routine of hard work and sacrifice. He lived in a small camper alone and needed rides to and from school and soccer practices. He would start his day with an early morning practice and attend school during the day, trying to maintain his 4.0 GPA. After school, he would stop at home to defrost some protein for dinner later that night, change, and head out for his second soccer practice of the day. On weekends, Medellin was either playing soccer or working as a referee to earn money for bills and college. “It was draining at times, but I knew that the sacrifice would be worth it if I just worked hard,” he says. “Every day my dream has slowly become a reality. I got accepted to West Virginia Wesleyan College and am currently majoring in Sports Management while also playing Division II soccer.” Like many college students, Medellin needed help when it came to paying for college and the Give Me 5 scholarship offered him some comfort while living across the country alone in Buckhannon, West Virginia. “Without the Give Me 5 scholarship, I would have been forced to wait around for two years to start college,” he says. “This scholarship makes all of my sacrifice worth it and helped me realize my dream of playing soccer while being the first in my family to go to college.” ♦

Help IDEA alumni on their quest to achieve a college degree by making a donation at ideapublicschools.org/support-idea

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IDEA-U student Christine De Los Rios Ysaguirre reviews her notes before class.


IDEA-U is an online, flexible, supportive, and affordable college option designed to support adult students whose full lives, challenging work schedules, and family obligations have prevented them from finishing college. The program is part of IDEA’s strategy to reinvest and recommit IDEA alumni on the road to and through college and help them attain their degree. LOCATED IN WESLACO, BROWNSVILLE, AND SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, IDEA-U utilizes

an online, project-based learning model in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, which allows students to accelerate the time to degree completion. In fact, most IDEA-U students complete their degree within eight to fourteen months. Students who complete the program will be able to utilize practical skills used in the classroom and apply them immediately in the workplace. In addition to its convenience and flexibility, IDEA-U is helping students of different ages and all walks of life realize their dream of earning a college degree. Meet three of these students: Cierra Griffin, Carlos De La Pena, and Christine De Los Rios Ysaguirre.

Being a first-generation college student means the world to me. I have prevailed through hardships and raised my children and now it’s time for me to pursue my own dreams.”

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Cierra Griffin 33, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Christine De Los Rios Ysaguirre 41, DONNA, TEXAS

Carlos De La Pena 58, BROWNSVILLE, TX

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IDEA-U

WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR AT IDEA-U? Associate of Arts in General Studies with a Concentration in Business Management CIERRA: CHRISTINE: Bachelor of Arts in Management with a Concentration in Logistics and Operations

CARLOS:

Bachelor of Arts in Management with a Concentration in Logistics and Operations

WHAT PREVENTED YOU FROM GOING TO COLLEGE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL? CIERRA:

I attended St. Phillip’s College and began studying business. However, when I became a mother my college education was put on hold.

CHRISTINE: I had my daughter when I was in high school and moved out. I had to choose between taking care of my daughter or going to school, and I chose my daughter.

CARLOS:

I was 16 years old, and in order to help support my family after graduating from Hanna High School in Brownsville, I chose to earn an income rather than attend college.

WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE IDEA-U? CIERRA:

I am a single mom of three children I was busy raising. I was a founding staff member at IDEA Eastside as the Business Clerk for four years, where all three of my children currently attend school.

CHRISTINE: I worked very long hours at McDonald’s before I got a job working as a customer service associate at H-E-B just before I turned 18 and became a manager in 2006.

CARLOS:

Before IDEA, I worked in the restaurant industry for several years before taking a job at a maquiladora, which is a type of manufacturer in Mexico.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT IDEA-U? CIERRA:

In my previous position with IDEA Eastside, I was looking for ways to advance within the organization, but it was difficult without a proper education. So, IDEA-U was recommended to me by my colleagues.

CHRISTINE: My daughter was a student at IDEA Donna and told me about all of the programs offered. In November 2008, I joined IDEA Brownsville working in the facilities department, and I CARLOS: heard about a new program coming to IDEA called IDEA-U.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT IDEA-U? CIERRA:

The best part is that you can take a convenient, self-paced class schedule online while still feeling like you are part of an engaged community of students.

CHRISTINE: I love that I could work my education around my life and schedule and I even managed to finish my associates degree in just four months.

CARLOS:

It’s flexible and convenient and I can study at my own pace.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE A FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENT? CIERRA:

It means everything to me. Having the ability to have a degree and advance and show my children that it doesn’t matter how long it takes: in the end, having an education is always worth it.

CHRISTINE: Being a first-generation college student means the world to me. I have prevailed through hardships and raised my children and now it’s time for me to pursue my own dreams.

CARLOS:

It was intimidating at first, but now it’s exciting. IDEA-U has helped me further my education and get my confidence back. When I finish my degree, it will be one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. ♦

For more information on degree programs and frequently asked questions, please visit idea-u.org.

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Nelda Garcia

AN IDEA ORIGINAL Nelda Garcia knows very well how much IDEA Public Schools has grown. Garcia has been with the organization from the very beginning and has witnessed its transformation from a small after-school program to the largest charter network in the United States. ARMED WITH HER TRADEMARK WIT AND A HEART OF GOLD, her passion for sharing

IDEA’s mission and working to help give every child a chance at a better life stems from her own experience growing up in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Garcia’s father had a 7th-grade education and worked his way up to foreman at a produce company in Donna, Texas. Her mother hails from Monterrey, Mexico, and stopped attending classes in elementary school. As a student at Donna High School, Garcia admits she spent more time focused on extracurricular activities and socializing than preparing for college. “I was class president and a social butterfly,” she says. “I really didn’t think about my grades until around junior year of high school when we all had to take a skills test for an exploratory gifted and talented program. I did well on the test and was placed in a class with other high-performing students.”

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Garcia, one of IDEA’s founding employees, is due to complete her bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from South Texas College this December.

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AN IDEA ORIGINAL She admits that while she was aware of her aptitude because of her above-average scores on standardized tests, she says she didn’t have anyone at home who could understand what her high achievement scores indicated. “Though I always scored well on exams, I couldn’t take this information to my parents because they weren’t educated, and no one would have known what to do with that information to begin with.” Though she initially intended to graduate high school and start working, an art teacher recognized her talent and sent her portfolio to the Art Institute of Houston without her knowledge. No one was more surprised than Garcia when she received an acceptance letter and scholarship offer to attend the Art Institute that fall. It was then that she realized that college was a real possibility and that she had a chance to make a real living out of something she loved to do. Garcia shared the good news with her family but was met with an unexpected reaction. “My parents did not know anything about how I could followup on this opportunity, and my brother who had been to college said it was going to be too great of a struggle,” she says. “He said I wouldn’t have money or food and it was going to be too hard. It was such a negative reaction to something that should have been very happy.” Her family members weren’t the only ones with a surprising reaction. Garcia’s own guidance counselor had some opinions on the matter as well. “She looked at my GPA and told me I was not college material,” says Garcia. “She told me I should decline the scholarship and give this opportunity to someone who was.” Though she was disappointed, she felt that since her counselor was an educated woman, she must know what was best when it came to college. If everyone she knew was telling her not to go, Garcia thought maybe it was for the best and dropped the idea. After graduating school in 1984, Garcia spent the next several years working in administration at a print shop before meeting her future husband, Ismael. After marrying Ismael, Garcia had a daughter in 1991, and sons in 1993 and 1996 and was busy raising her children. She soon found herself volunteering so much at their school that her husband encouraged her to find a position with a school. Garcia landed a full-time job as a co-teacher at Donna ISD, where she met a number of young Teach For America (TFA) corps members including Tom Torkelson. Torkelson and JoAnn Gama, another TFA alumna, had started an after-school program called IDEA—Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement. The program was looking to become an independent charter, and Torkelson asked Garcia if she wanted in. She eventually agreed and became one of IDEA’s first employees. Garca laughs when she recalls the early days. Garcia remembers recruitment being a truly grassroots operation as IDEA did everything they could to get the word out about their mission. All staff was tasked with student recruitment, and frequently posted simple flyers in churches and laundromats. Garcia says giving every student an opportunity to attend college has become a personal mission. She often shares the experience of rejecting her art scholarship with other families while recruiting.

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“I met parents all the time who were like my own,” she says. “They didn’t know the first thing about getting their kids through college. And it was personal to me. I wanted them to consider a different future for their child. No student should experience what I did. I want every student get the chance that I didn’t have.” “The one thing every one of those parents had in common was that they wanted options and they wanted their children to go as far as they possibly could,” she continues. Recruitment efforts also included having IDEA students share their own experiences with families in colonias, IDEA began fielding interest from families all over the Rio Grande Valley. “There was a time when if you wore an IDEA t-shirt, people would stop you in public to ask questions because parents were sharing their experiences with others and were our number one advocates,” says Garcia. As IDEA got larger, so did Garcia’s responsibilities. She saw her role grow from an administrative assistant, to Executive Assistant to Tom Torkelson. She now oversees all administrative processes as the Operations Assistant at IDEA Headquarters. Today, Garcia’s academic journey continues as she officially returned to college in the fall of 2013 and will graduate this December with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership from South Texas College. Garcia has come full circle and now counts many of the students she recruited as friends and colleagues. “It’s really funny because I remember them growing up,” she says. “I remember when they came to IDEA, when they got in trouble, when they got accepted to college; and now they’re working with me here trying to help make college a reality for all— including myself. Somehow, I ended up doing exactly what I was meant to be doing, and that’s making sure every child knows that they can go as far as they want in life.” ♦


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MASTERS OF THE CLASSROOM

Hugo Cepeda A N I D E A R E L AY R E S I D E N T

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MASTERS OF THE CLASSROOM

THOUGH HE DIDN’T KNOW IT AT THE TIME, enrolling at IDEA

Quest in Edinburg when he was 12 would further reinforce this belief while setting him on the path to self-discovery and success. “I began as a student at IDEA Quest in the 8th grade and immediately saw that there was a big college-bound culture at the school,” he says. “I had no idea how the college application process worked.” “The first time I thought about college was when I was visiting IDEA’s Headquarters in Weslaco to register for school and saw a colorful magazine with a bunch of colleges in it,” he continues. “My father told me those were some of the best universities and that I would go to one someday.” With dreams of attending a university fresh in his mind, Cepeda began junior high at Quest, and excelled in math, science, and social studies. However, he was not meeting standards when it came to his skills in reading, English, and language arts, as his first language was Spanish. “I started to worry that I was not going to be successful and maybe I wouldn’t be able to go to a good college,” he says. “But in high school I got some great mentors who pretty much taught me that it was up to me whether I wanted to make it or not.” Cepeda says it was just the encouragement he needed to push himself to become the best he could be in every way. In fact, Cepeda credits this mentorship that came at such a critical time in his education for getting him where he is today. Cepeda graduated from IDEA Quest in 2014 and chose to attend Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas thanks to a generous scholarship offer. Like many college students from the Rio Grande Valley, Cepeda experienced a certain amount of culture shock when he left deep South Texas, but soon found a warm, supportive environment at Southwestern. As his parents were first-generation college students themselves, Cepeda felt a responsibility to go to college and succeed academically. “It was important to them that I do well in life,” he says. “They said they would support me no matter what as long as I was studying and going to college, and I was grateful for their support. Not every student has the support of their parents when it comes to going to college.” Cepeda spent time as a tutor in college and found that he enjoyed teaching and encouraging students. After graduating with a double major in Biology and Spanish, he began to consider teaching as a profession. “When I started teaching, I felt like not only was I helping somebody else grow, but I was also helping myself grow as well,” he says. “It was something that was gratifying and rewarding and that’s when I decided to try teaching as a career.” Shortly after graduating, Cepeda received an email about the Relay Residency Program through IDEA Public Schools. The program is an opportunity for individuals with bachelor’s degrees

to gain entry to the education field. The residency takes place on an IDEA campus and prepares individuals to become lead teachers the following school year. In year one of the residency, individuals work full-time as coteachers while also attending regular classes with the Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay GSE) to gain a teaching certification and a Master of Arts in teaching. “The Relay Residency program is appealing to me because I do enjoy teaching, it offers a fully-paid master’s degree, and they even give you a job,” he says. “It sounded like a fantastic next step for me.” In addition to paid tuition, residents receive mentorship from IDEA’s most successful teachers, while gaining hands-on experience in the classroom. In year two, if all requirements are met, residents become lead teachers on an IDEA campus and continue evening classes with Relay GSE to complete the master’s degree. Cepeda says the program gave him his first real introduction into the art of teaching while offering practical classroom experience. “I was a tutor and thought ‘I’ve done this before. Teaching will be easy.’ and oh boy was I wrong!” he says with a laugh. “This program is preparing me to be a better teacher in order to give the best education to my students. From teaching strategies to classroom-based scenarios for improving classroom management, the Relay Residency Program is investing in new educators and preparing them for success.” Though Cepeda originally struggled with his language and communication skills, he now teaches 4th grade writing and language arts as an IDEA Relay Resident at IDEA Montopolis, while also offering students the same mentorship and encouragement he received himself at IDEA. Next year, he will be a lead teacher at the brand new Austin school, Health Professions. Cepeda is grateful for the opportunities IDEA has afforded him and thinks the Relay Residency program will continue to grow and prepare stronger, more successful educators for both IDEA and the community. To anyone considering the program, Cepeda highly encourages them to apply. “Ask yourself what kind of difference you want to make in a child’s life. Do you want to be a catalyst for their achievements and success?” he asks. “This program will give you the education, training, and experience to become an outstanding teacher and change some lives in the process. ♦

Hugo Cepeda believes that every student can go as far as they want to go regardless of where they come from, and he’s using his career as a teacher to drive the point home.

Cepeda, an IDEA alumnus and member of IDEA’s Relay Residency program, has an affinity for teaching and mentoring first-generation students at IDEA Montopolis. IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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Myrna Winer

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TENACITY AND TRIUMPH

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Winer, pictured here at IDEA South Flores, is a proud proof point and has dedicated her life to helping students achieve success.

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TENACITY AND TRIUMPH

For as long as she can remember, Myrna Winer has loved the idea of teaching. A first-generation proof point herself, Winer is currently a Principal-in-Residence at IDEA South Flores in San Antonio and has made education her life’s work. However, the lessons she imparts to many scholars and families extend far beyond campus. BORN AND RAISED IN BLOOMFIELD, NEW MEXICO, Winer is the

sixth of eight siblings born to parents who had been married in their early teens and left high school to start a family. Winer recalls loving school so much that she was the first in her family to go to kindergarten as her older siblings had chosen not to go. “Since I was little, I would play school with my brothers and sisters and I was always the teacher because I loved my teachers in school and loved learning,” says Winer. “English was my favorite subject because I had a very special teacher who always told me ‘You are going to become something.’” That motivation helped shape Winer’s determination to do anything she set her mind to. Once the young Winer had her heart set on something, there was nothing that could stand in her way, even if it meant taking a stand against the entire community. “I lived in a very small, conservative community and they did not believe that girls could play football. So, I went to the school board and I fought and was the first girl to be allowed to play football at Bloomfield High School, and then I joined the wrestling team as well,” she says with a proud laugh. “Don’t tell me I can’t do something, because I am going to do it.” Her strength and tenacity were tested once again when Winer became pregnant during her senior year of high school. Though the pregnancy was a surprise, she was determined to receive her diploma even after her school informed her that she would not be allowed to graduate due to the pregnancy. “My history teacher told me that I would never be anything because I was pregnant and was going to get married in high school,” recalls Winer. “He said I was going to be like everyone else in that little town and I thought, ‘I am going to show you.’” Winer once again stood in front of the school board and appealed the decision. Her determination paid off and she was granted permission to graduate high school in 1985 with the rest of her class, an honor that left her overjoyed. “I was 8 months pregnant at graduation and when they called my name, I did a cartwheel across the stage,” she laughs. “I was just so excited!” Winer’s new husband was in the military, so the newly married couple relocated to California following her high school graduation and became first-time parents. The couple welcomed two more children over the course of the next several years, and though she loved motherhood, her marriage was riddled with domestic abuse. Eventually, Winer found the strength to take her three children and leave her husband behind in California.

Too proud to accept any help from her family and determined to provide for her children, she asked her mother if she could live in an old truck bed camper shell that was sitting on her parents’ property in New Mexico. “I told my mother, ‘I don’t want to live in your house. I don’t want you to take care of me. This is my responsibility, these are my kids. I need to do this’,” says Winer. Her mother agreed and Winer and her three kids moved into the old truck camper shell, where they lived for the next year. These very modest accommodations included a camp stove and a lantern for light. To make ends meet, Winer worked as a pre-kindergarten teacher during the day and managed a Subway Sandwich shop at night. Winer soon re-married and relocated to San Antonio with her family where she soon heard of a new public charter in the region called IDEA Public Schools. She was hired as a recess monitor at IDEA South Flores in 2012, where she met then-Assistant Principal of Operations, Hailey McCarthy, who encouraged her to apply for a co-teacher position. “She very quickly became one of the best in our direct instruction program,” says McCarthy, now Principal at IDEA South Flores Academy. “Myrna stood out because she is the consummate professional. When she wants to learn something, she will learn it inside and out until she has mastered it.” “Her leadership skills are so strong that I made her a grade team leader, and she was the first co-teacher to become one at South Flores, which is still extremely rare,” McCarthy continues. McCarthy encouraged Winer to continue her education if she truly wanted a career in education. “Hailey McCarthy really encouraged me to go back to school,” says Winer. “I was a co-teacher and taught all day and then went to school at night. I took 12 credit hours a semester. Going back to college as a mother who worked full-time was intimidating, especially, as a first-generation college student with no real idea of what to expect.”

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TENACITY AND TRIUMPH Armed with her trademark resilience, Winer powered through and graduated a year and a half later with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education and Teaching with honors from Wayland Baptist University. After hearing that the South Flores campus’ assistant principal was leaving for another school, Winer told McCarthy that she was interested in applying for the position. McCarthy noted that it was unusual for a co-teacher to transition to an assistant principal role but encouraged her to apply, and Winer was ultimately awarded the position. “Hailey has believed in me, pushed me, and challenged me, which has made me a better teacher and leader. She has made me realize how important it is to show our teachers, our families, and our scholars, the importance of IDEA’s mission.” After two and a half years in the role, Winer set her sights on principalship and applied to IDEA’s rigorous Principal-in-Residence program. While the program typically lasts two years, Winer is fast-tracking the program to complete it in 18 months. Winer’s youngest son is currently a 7th grader at IDEA South Flores and has been there since the family moved to San Antonio six years ago. “When my youngest son was in 1st grade in New Mexico, we knew he had trouble with reading, so we would rehearse with him and work on his skills a lot at home,” she says. “He would skip words as he was reading and we would correct him over and over, but he told us at school they would tell him to skip words.” Winer met with her son’s teacher to see what they could do and was surprised to learn that her son was right. “When we met with his teacher to find out what was going on, his teacher told us that he was not a strong reader, but as long as he would skip the words that he didn’t know, he would be able to pass the test and move to second grade.” Winer says at that point she went into panic mode and started to look for a new school as the family was about to relocate to Texas. At the time, she had not heard about what a charter school was, but as she did her research, she discovered a new school in San Antonio called IDEA that promised “college for all”. “I was very excited. They didn’t just encourage kids to go to college, they expected them to go and be the best they could be in all areas of life. IDEA South Flores wasn’t far from where we lived at the time, so I attended a Welcome to IDEA event, and by the end I was sure this was where my son needed to be,” she says. When her son wasn’t immediately selected via the student lottery, Winer says she called the school every day for a week asking if a spot had opened until her son was finally able to attend. As someone who believes in the importance of a college education, Winer wholeheartedly believes that IDEA’s college-going culture and high expectations for students and staff are what make the organization so successful—and the right place for her son. “Just to put things in perspective, with direct instruction, they test you to measure where your skills are and going into the second grade, he was reading at a kindergarten level,” she says. “In second grade at IDEA, he finished the kinder program, the first-grade program and was able to enter the third grade on level for reading.”

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Winer says that since attending IDEA, she has seen a positive change in her son, especially when it comes to reading. In fact, last year he placed third in the region for reading ten million words. This year, he is on track to break that record, and Winer is confident it is because of his time at IDEA. As she reflects on her life, she realizes that her story is proof that anyone can accomplish their dreams no matter what. “It means a lot to me to be a proof point. When I have families tell me their struggles and they say, ‘Oh I can’t do this!’ I share my story,” she says. “I’ve walked in their shoes and I can say that I know it’s hard because I have been there. But I also can tell them that on the other side of struggle, it is amazing and rewarding to know you can do anything because you’ve pushed yourself to succeed.” ♦


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

MEET

Gabbria Parker has turned her passion for math and education into a career as a Pre-AP math teacher at IDEA Innovation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Gabbria Parker THE SUM OF US

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THE SUM OF US

Middle school students at IDEA Innovation are learning how to solve any problem head-on thanks to one inspiring teacher named Gabbria Parker. PARKER, A NATIVE OF BATON ROUGE, is a Mathematics Pre-AP

teacher at IDEA Innovation College Preparatory, one of IDEA’s schools in Baton Rouge. Though she was not a first-generation college student herself, Parker’s love of teaching and education has allowed her to foster a record of success for students who never dreamed they would be on track to attend college. While she always wanted to become a teacher growing up, her career initially took a very different path after she heard some discouraging words. “I was always told that there is not much money in education and that it would be best not to become a teacher,” she says with a laugh. “So, I started college and decided to study business instead.” Parker assumed she’d found her career path until she began to realize that work left her unfulfilled. In addition, she recalls working with many people who were unable to perform simple math or even handle basic monetary transactions. It was then that Parker began to seriously revisit her desire to teach and help others become successful. “I can remember hating math at one point. However, it took just one teacher in middle school to take the time to help me understand the concept of math and I have been in love with it ever since,” she says. “The patience of one caring teacher helped build my confidence and provided me the tools to pursue a career with a math focus.” Realizing business was not the place for her, Gabbria resolved to dedicate the next chapter of her career to teaching children to understand and like math. She quit her job and got her teacher certification over the summer. Parker began teaching at a behavioral school in Baton Rouge with youth who had been found guilty of delinquency. Many of the students were behind academically and lacked content knowledge. In fact, Parker says the school was part of a federal program and was in danger of losing funding due to student performance. “They were going to shut down the program until our scores came back from the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP),” she says. “The students did so well, they actually decided to continue funding. Most of these kids were sent out of class or school for their delinquency. To see them perform well was wonderful.” Parker says her co-worker at the school began talking about a Texas public charter network called IDEA Public Schools coming to Louisiana. She said the name stuck with her as he kept mentioning IDEA and how he had applied. Deciding to do some research of her own, Parker found herself impressed with IDEA’s track record and its emphasis on Team & Family and applied for a teaching position. Parker was hired as part of IDEA Innovation’s founding staff in 2018 and says that IDEA is exactly what a community like Baton Rouge needs. Parker’s son is a 1st grade student at IDEA Innovation and she says even he comes home and tells her how he cannot wait to go to college. “I’ve worked at traditional public schools and I see the difference,” she says. “IDEA truly cares about the whole child. We are in our first year here in Southern Louisiana and we don’t have high school students yet, but long before these students are in high school, they are being trained with a mindset to sustain them to and through college.”

In her Pre-AP math class, Parker says she is delighted each time a student tells her that their math assignment wasn’t as confusing as they expected. “I always try and relate any math problem to the real world with a story,” she says. “And they tell me, ‘That makes sense’ and I laugh and tell them that math always makes sense. My proudest moments as a teacher are when I see the looks of surprise on students’ faces after they have completed a problem correctly or understood the concept. That look of satisfaction and understanding and for them to say they now like math gives me pure joy.” With a college graduation rate at just 32% in Baton Rouge, Parker has many students who are on track to become the first in their families to graduate from college if they continue to be challenged academically. In fact, she says she has some future educators in some of her classes. “I talk to my students about how to solve any problem—in math and in life and when I see that spark of interest and understanding, it’s the best feeling,” says Parker. “Some of my students want to teach the class. Sometimes they show others how to solve problems and do their work and it reminds me of my own math teacher who inspired me to help others learn.” Now in her 8th year in education, Parker says she is blessed to have the opportunity to provide a transformational change to all students—especially those whose dream of college is now only a few years away. “At the end of the day, I can’t help but feel grateful to get to live my life’s passion while changing the lives of students who never thought college was a possibility,” she says. Long after they leave her classroom, Parker wants each of her students to remember one thing: “Life is just like math. You may not get it the first time, but that doesn’t mean you won’t succeed,” she says. “The trick is to work hard, not be afraid to ask for help, and always do your best.” ♦

Left: Parker with son D’Angelo Christmas. Above: Parker with 6th grade IDEA Innovation students Terrionna Thomas and Aaron Moses.

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MEET

Ana Martinez I D E A TA R R A N T C O U N T Y E X E C U T I V E D I R E C T O R

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MEET ANA MARTINEZ

On any given day at IDEA Tarrant County in Fort Worth, Ana Martinez is hard at work preparing for the opening of IDEA’s two newest campuses this fall, IDEA Rise in west Fort Worth and IDEA Achieve in Haltom City. SPEARHEADING IDEA’S FIRST REGION IN NORTH TEXAS, Tarrant

County is a wonderful new chapter in Martinez’s long list of professional accomplishments. However, her passion for giving students a strong choice when it comes to their education stems from her own experience as a student growing up on the east side of Los Angeles. Born in El Salvador, Martinez immigrated to California at the age of five with her family. Her mother was one of sixteen siblings, many of whom shared a single home in the San Fernando Valley, which Martinez refers to as “grandma’s house”. Though she associates this time in her life with developing a strong cultural identity steeped in family traditions, food, and culture, she also remembers how difficult her formative years were. “My childhood was full of alcoholism, abuse, and domestic violence at home, so school became a safe space for me,” she says. “I didn’t have a lot of words or opportunities to describe what was going on until a teacher created a safe space for me to do so.” Martinez recognizes that despite the trouble at home, she never felt unloved or unwanted by her family. But she is grateful that her fifth-grade teacher, Miss Silverman, created a safe space at school where she could be herself and feel supported. “In December of 1994 after years of not living with my mom due to the abuse, she ended up giving me the greatest gift, though I didn’t see it that way initially,” she says. “She asked me to go spend Christmas in El Salvador with my father, who had been absent for most of my life. So, I agreed and while I was in El Salvador, on January 1, 1995, my father and his family took me to the beach, and he told me that he and my mother had agreed that I would be living with him in El Salvador now.” Martinez’s parents both agreed that Los Angeles was not the right place for her to grow up, and both agreed she could have a chance at a better life in El Salvador. She was placed in an all-girls Catholic school in an affluent neighborhood and as her friends changed, so did her priorities. “People at my new school were asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up and what my hopes and dreams were, which was a drastically different discourse from the people I grew up with in Los Angeles,” she says. “My life literally changed overnight.” The paternal side of Martinez’s family were all college educated, while her mother was the only sibling to finish high school. Back in Los Angeles, her cousins were joining gangs and being incarcerated. The school year in El Salvador runs from February through October, and Martinez’s mother implored her to return to the U.S. on her summer break to celebrate her quinceañera in Los Angeles with her family. Martinez returned for the celebration, and decided not to return to El Salvador, entering North Hollywood High School instead. It was here that she had a chance encounter with another teacher who helped shape her future and set her on the course to becoming a college student.

 Top: Martinez

with her mother as an infant. Below: Martinez takes a family photo with her father and half-siblings in El Salvador.

“I went to a very large high school in the San Fernando Valley and Mr. Fitzgerald, my English teacher, and another teacher were starting a small school concept within a large high school,” she says. “The concept allowed me to have a closer relationship with my teacher who essentially moved me closer toward the path to college.” Fitzgerald guided Martinez on the ins and outs of the ACT and SAT and informed her that she could apply to three University of California campuses and three California State Universities for free. He had also lined up an internship for Martinez in downtown Los Angeles. “At the time I was working for a female engineer and making $10.50 an hour. Mr. Fitzgerald had to convince my mom that quitting this job that paid significantly higher than minimum wage and going back to school for four more years was the right thing to do,” she says with a laugh. Her mother agreed on the condition that she choose a college closer to home. Martinez entered UCLA that fall and found herself on a new and exciting path. “I was a commuter kid and drove from Section 8 housing in Reseda over through Beverly Hills and Bel Air every single day,” she says. “It was the first time I realized that I was poor and what the opportunity gap looks like. I asked this friend in one of my groups at school if she could get together on Saturday, and she said she couldn’t because she was taking the GRE for grad school. I had no understanding of what the GRE or grad school was, and I was a freshman at UCLA.” The experience opened her eyes to gaps in education and opportunity and fueled a passion to make a difference. Upon graduation, Martinez taught at a school in south central Los Angeles through Teach For America (TFA). Her work with TFA took her from Los Angeles to Miami, and she was eventually tapped to start a charter school in Chicago.

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MEET ANA MARTINEZ It was here that Martinez became involved with the Surge Institute’s Fellowship program. The program aims to bring together African-American or Latinx emerging leaders working in schools, public policy, education philanthropy, and advocacy organizations to close achievement gaps for students of color. “The Fellowship was the first time I saw leaders who looked like me, with shared experiences and trauma, and they still managed to be successful at work,” she says. The experience helped her gain a sense of pride in her truest self, and Martinez believes it prepared her for when IDEA came knocking with a new opportunity in North Texas. “JoAnn Gama and Tom Torkelson allowed me to show up to this organization as my authentic self from the moment I was recruited for the position,” she says. “I actually accepted the position as Executive Director in Tarrant County before I figured out how I was going to bring my daughters from Illinois to Texas.” In the end, Ana and her daughters relocated to Tarrant County from Chicago and now, as she assembles a top-notch regional team, she looks for the same authenticity and conviction in employees that time, love, and healing have given her—especially as IDEA Tarrant County seeks to change educational statistics in the region. Currently, approximately 7% of students in Tarrant County do not finish the 9th grade, and while 85% complete high school, only 30% of students go on to graduate from college. With its proven record of success when it comes to college for all, IDEA now has its sights set on Tarrant County, where Martinez is tasked with leading a stellar team who will make an impact for years to come. As Martinez begins the next phase of her professional trajectory, she is crystal clear on why she has the opportunities she does today, and this perspective makes her uniquely poised to make an impact on the lives of her students. “I was raised by a single mother and while I have raised my own kids as a single mother, my mother’s story is drastically different from mine,” she says. “I’m not smarter or better than my mother. The only difference is that I have a college degree and it has not only drastically changed my life path, but for my daughters’ as well. A college degree is truly transformative, and you cannot convince me otherwise because it’s a truth that I live each day.” ♦


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Top: Martinez with her students at 122nd Street School in Los Angeles. Middle: Martinez proudly poses on graduation day with her mother, Beatriz Guadron, and father, Tomás Martinez. Bottom-Left: Founding staff at IDEA Tarrant County with Executive Director Martinez. Bottom-Right: Counterclockwise from Ana Martinez:, Christopher Shropshire, Zinnia Anais Martinez-Dassow, Cataleya Beatriz Martinez-Dassow

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IDEA SPOTLIGHT

Al Lopez AUSTIN REGIONAL BOARD MEMBER

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IDEA SPOTLIGHT

AL LOPEZ RECALLS HIS HUMBLE BEGINNINGS as a boy growing

up in Barrio Hollywood with two brothers, a sister, and a pair of hard-working parents. His mother was a homemaker while his father worked for the railroad for 40 years after serving in World War II. “My mother is originally from a small town in Sonora, Mexico, that didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity until I was a teenager, where the town’s only school stopped at the elementary level, leaving her with a fifth-grade education,” says the Austin Regional Board Member. “My father was born in the United States but dropped out of school in 7th grade to help support his mother and siblings after his father passed away.” As a child, Lopez always enjoyed helping others whenever he could. As a student, Lopez helped his mother while she studied for her U.S. citizenship. He also tutored his father to help him obtain his GED after a supervisor position opened at work. In addition, he also helped classmates in many of his classes. “I think my father felt somewhat persecuted growing up for not speaking English well,” he says. “He was always shy about his language acumen, but he worked hard on it and got proficient over time. I was happy to be able to help my parents in any way I could. I even did their tax returns.” In school, Lopez admits that it didn’t take much for him to excel both on and off the field. “I was blessed with being a good student and also a pretty good athlete,” he says. “Academics came really easily to me, and I was playing football, baseball, and basketball. My high school football team won the state championship my junior and senior year, and our baseball team won the state championship my senior year. So, I felt like I was on track to go to college but didn’t know what the process was to get there.” In addition to becoming a state champion in sports, Lopez also ranked fifth in his graduating class of 500 students at Tucson High School, which further reinforced the idea that he was on-track to go to college and hopefully become a professional baseball player. However, Lopez did not know where to start. In fact, it wasn’t until the head baseball coach at the University of Arizona came to his home in the spring of his senior year with a letter of intent for an academic scholarship that Lopez realized he had a lot of catching up to do.

“I didn’t apply to a single school because I didn’t know that you had to do that. I didn’t have a single adult at my high school even ask if I was ready for the process,” he says. “The U of A baseball coach asked me if I had taken the ACT. I had never even heard of it. He told me there are tests that you needed to take to gain entry to college, and there was only one test date left in order to get my scores in on time.” Lopez took the ACT and was granted the scholarship to attend the University of Arizona in the fall of 1972. As someone who enjoyed math and science, Lopez entered college as an engineering major, and took courses in physics, calculus, and chemistry, but was surprised when his studies took more effort than they did in high school. “I was so unprepared for that first semester. It was really, really hard,” he says. “In high school, I had only ever gotten three Bs and here I was struggling. The academic advisor for the athletic program told me my GPA was really bad and that I was on the verge of losing my scholarship.”

Nestled between the Tucson and Santa Catalina Mountains just west of Interstate 10 in north Tucson, Arizona, lies a small neighborhood steeped in history and culture. Settled in the 1920s by Mexican immigrants, the area known as Barrio Hollywood features modest brick and adobe homes on dusty streets dotted with cactus and palm trees.

Lopez addresses IDEA board members at a quarterly retreat.

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IDEA SPOTLIGHT

Lopez still had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player and decided to switch his major to business with a degree in accounting. However, his plan to use college ball as a way into the professional leagues hit a snag when he realized he was now playing at a level where everyone on the team was just as good as him, if not better. He began to take stock of the opportunity that had been given to him and realized that if he did not make some important changes, he would not only lose his scholarship, but also his chance to become a first-generation college graduate. Lopez applied himself and graduated from the University of Arizona in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an NCAA championship ring in baseball. Shortly after, he began working in the sales department at IBM, where he would ultimately climb the ranks over the next twenty-one years from sales rep to senior manager, to high level executive positions that included two years living in France. While at IBM, Lopez also worked on receiving his master’s degree in business. After IBM, he joined Dell, Inc. in 1998 as Vice President of Finance for Global Services. Due to his own experience as a first-generation college student who had little guidance on the way to college, Lopez has a strong history of community outreach and service, especially when it comes to education. His faith compels him to be generous and serve those who have less resources and opportunity. “I was involved in some volunteer work at schools in East Austin and I started seeing the difference in education and academic performance in these schools compared to the schools that my three kids went to,” he says. Lopez’s own experience as a student who had no clear path to college further fueled his desire to give back. His work with the John H. Reagan Early College High School’s AVID program also led to him being named the AISD Latino Volunteer of the Year in 2012. The same year, Lopez heard about a new charter school called IDEA Public Schools making its home in Austin. As Lopez learned more about IDEA and its mission to prepare every student to graduate college regardless of their socio-economic background, he wondered why other districts weren’t challenging themselves to do the same. He was impressed with IDEA, its mission, and track record of success in the Valley and knew students and families in Austin needed an additional school option in the community. When IDEA asked him to join IDEA’s regional board it was a no-brainer. Lopez has since served as Chair of IDEA Austin’s Regional Board and is now the Treasurer of IDEA’s Governing Board. He was elated to see IDEA Montopolis become the Austin region’s first graduating class this year. He says each graduating class is a testament to IDEA’s focus on what matters most. “We really focus on the students,” he continues. “We focus on delivering high-performing, academically efficient students, and I’m proud that we continue to do that year after year. Our graduating classes are getting larger and these students are changing what it really means to be a first-generation college student.” ♦

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SUMMER

Family Resources

We want to ensure all of our IDEA families have what they need to have a safe, fun, healthy, and educational summer. We also want to make sure our Team & Family is ready for a successful first day of school in August. Read on to access our summer resources.

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// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019

IDEA’S DRESS CODE AND UNIFORM POLICY* Professional, color-coded school uniforms help students focus on what matters most at school - learning! IDEA Public Schools continuously strives to create a positive school culture so that our students can focus on learning. This means paying attention to every detail, big and small, to ensure that our students succeed academically and #BeyondTheClassroom. We believe that school uniforms have a beneficial impact on students’ self esteem, attendance, graduation rates, and discipline. Uniforms eliminate unnecessary distractions (such as who has the coolest tennis shoes), and ensure students’ focus remains on academic success. Uniforms are an important part of the IDEA culture.

1

POLO SHIRT

IDEA-No Excuses! polo - shirt color depends on grade level

2

BELT

3

PANTS

Plain black leather belt

Flat front khaki or black pants (Poly cotton twill material recommended)

4

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SHOES

Black shoes with black laces

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// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019

OVERALL APPEARANCE* MALE STUDENTS: Short, clean-cut hair (above the neck), natural hair color, no mohawks or shaved hair designs, and no facial hair FEMALE STUDENTS: Combed hair and natural-looking hair color, only light makeup for young women in grades 9-12

POLO SHIRT IDEA-No Excuses! embroidered polo shirt; color determined by grade level Polo shirt must be long enough to be tucked in SPIRIT SHIRT School spirit shirt (or college shirt) can be worn on Friday and during other principal-designated days OUTERWEAR IDEA embroidered jackets may be worn in the classroom and to/from school Jackets in IDEA blue w/ gold accent from approved vendor or same style jacket in IDEA-designated school colors. Non IDEA embroidered sweatshirts may only be worn to/from school and during extracurricular activities IDEA blue fleece lined jacket No hoods BELT Plain black belt No embellishment (studs, ornate buckles, cutouts, etc.)

BOTTOMS Monday-Thursday: khaki or black bottoms in approved styles and colors Friday: blue jeans with no holes, tears, studs, or designs No khaki or skinny jeans, cargo pants, cargo shorts, leggings or jeggings Skirts and shorts must be knee length HATS All hats or headbands can be worn to/from school but shall not be worn in classrooms or hallways. Exceptions may be made by the principal during cold-weather months. JEWELRY No body piercings (eyebrows, nose, face, tongue, etc.) No earrings of any kind for male students Earrings for female students must not be larger than 1 inch SHOES All black sneakers with black laces (if applicable) No boots, heels, sandals, wheels, lights, or open toe shoes. White socks

* Please confirm uniform policies with your campus due to varying requirements per region.Â

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// UNIFORM GUIDE 2018

// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019 // GUIDE 2018 // // UNIFORM UNIFORM UNIFORM // UNIFORM GUIDE GUIDE GUIDE 2018 2018 2018

POLO SHIRTS: Short Sleeve, Now Available! $9.95 - $13.00 + Tax Short Sleeve, Now Available POLO SHIRTS Sleeve, Now Available! $9.95 -- $13.00 + POLO SHIRTS: Short Short Sleeve, Sleeve, Now Now Available! Available! $9.95 $9.95 $13.00 - $13.00 + Tax Tax + Tax POLO SHIRTS: Short

GRADES: K-5, 8 GRADES: K-5, 8 GRADES: GRADES: K-5, K-5, 8 8

GRADES: PRE-K – 5, 8

GRADES: 6, 10 GRADES: 6, 10 GRADES: GRADES: 6, 6, 1010 GRADES: 6, 10

OUTERWEAR: OUTERWEAR: OUTERWEAR:

GRADES: 7, 11 GRADES: 7, 11 GRADES: GRADES: 7, 7, 11 11 GRADES: 7, 11

GRADE: 9 GRADE: 9 GRADE: GRADE: 9 9 GRADES: 9

GRADE: 12 GRADE: 12 GRADE: GRADE: 1212 GRADES: 12

LightOUTERWEAR Weight, Available Mid-June Mid-Weight, Available Mid-June Fleece, Available Mid-June (Available at Available all approved (Available at RGV ProDirect-McAllen (Available at selectMid-June locations Light Weight, Available Mid-June Mid-Weight, Available Mid-June Fleece, Available Light Light Weight, Weight, Available Mid-June Mid-June Mid-Weight, Mid-Weight, Available Available Mid-June Mid-June Fleece, Fleece, Available Available Mid-June Mid-June locations and www.ideashirts.net) and www.ideashirts.net) and www.ideashirts.net) (Available at all approved (Available at RGV ProDirect-McAllen (Available at select locations (Available (Available all at all approved approved (Available (Available at RGV atNow RGV ProDirect-McAllen ProDirect-McAllen (Available (Available atNow select at select locations locations Light Weight,atNow Available Mid-Weight, Available Fleece, Available locations and www.ideashirts.net) and www.ideashirts.net) and www.ideashirts.net) locations locations and and www.ideashirts.net) and and www.ideashirts.net) and and www.ideashirts.net) www.ideashirts.net) (Available atwww.ideashirts.net) select locations (Available atwww.ideashirts.net) ideashirts.net) (Available at select locations and- ideashirts.net) and ideashirts.net) $40 + Tax $25.00 - $27.00 + Tax $23.50 $25.50 + Tax $33.50 + Tax $40 + Tax Tax $25.00 $27.00 + Tax $23.50 -- $25.50 + $33.50 + $40 $40 + + Tax $25.00 $25.00 -- $27.00 - $27.00 + Tax + Tax $23.50 $23.50 $25.50 - $25.50 + Tax Tax + Tax $33.50 $33.50 + Tax Tax + Tax

ALL IDEA CAMPUSES ALL IDEA CAMPUSES ALL IDEA CAMPUSES ALL ALL IDEA IDEA CAMPUSES CAMPUSES Samples below ACCESSORIES: Sample images below. ACCESSORIES below ACCESSORIES: Samples Samples below below ACCESSORIES: Samples

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4 4 4


// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019

BOYS BOTTOMS

// UNIFORM GUIDE 2018 Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations.

BOYS BOTTOMS: Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. SHORTS SHORTS

PANTS PANTS

FLEX PANTS // UNIFORM GUIDE 2018 FLEX PANTS // UNIFORM GUIDE 2018

BOYS BOTTOMS: Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. BOYS BOTTOMS: Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. SHORTS SHORTS

PANTS PANTS

FLEX PANTS FLEX PANTS

GIRLS BOTTOMS: Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. SHORTS SKORTS CAPRIS Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. GIRLS BOTTOMS GIRLS BOTTOMS: Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. GIRLS BOTTOMS: Refer to the sample images below before purchasing at retail locations. SHORTS SKORTS CAPRIS SHORTS SKORTS CAPRIS SHORTS *must include shorts SKORTS CAPRIS for activities.

PANTS

FLEX PANTS

PANTS PANTS PANTS

FLEX PANTS FLEX PANTS FLEX PANTS

5

5 5

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// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019

APPROVED VENDORS

// UNIFORM GUIDE 2018

Uniform polos and select items are available for purchase at the approved stores below:

AUSTIN RIO GRANDE VALLEY UNIFORM POLOS AND SELECT ITEMS ARESTYLE AVAILABLE TODAY’S

FOR PURCHASE AT RGV PRODIRECT* STORES BELOW: (carriesTHE polos,APPROVED jackets, and bottoms) (carries polos, jackets, and bottoms) 1915 E. Riverside Dr. GRANDE VALLEY Austin,RIO TX 78741 512-447-0000 1. RGV PRODIRECT*

1913 Houston Ave. AUSTIN McAllen, TX 78501 956-627-6161 1. TODAY’S STYLE

1913Blvd., Houston Ave. 4631 Airport #104 McAllen, TX 78501 Austin, TX956-627-6161 78751 512-300-2772 2. RGV PRODIRECT — AUSTIN’S UNIFORM WELSACO*

1915 E. Riverside Dr. RGVAustin, PRODIRECT — TX 78741 WESLACO* 512-447-0000

(carries polos, jackets and bottoms)

polos, jackets and bottoms) SHOP + (carries MORE

417C Gray Ln. and bottoms) (carries polos, jackets, Weslaco, TX 78599 5717 S. Interstate 35, Ste. 140B 956-627-6161 Austin, TX 78744 3. RGV PRODIRECT – 512-785-0855 HARLINGEN* (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) BATON ROUGE 1233 N. 77 Sunshine Strip

Harlingen, TX 78550

YOUNG 956-487-0751 FASHIONS SCHOOL UNIFORMS

RGVjackets, PRODIRECT – (carries4.polos, and bottoms) BROWNSVILLE* 11111 Coursey Blvd. (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) Baton Rouge, 70816 814 N.LA Expressway 225-766-1010 Brownsville, TX 78521 956-627-6161

EL PASO

5. DICKIES FACTORY STORE

bottoms only) MEX-TEX(carries UNIFORMS

506 S. Nevada Weslaco, TX 78596 Hunter Dr # 105, 956-968-5341

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms)

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms) Austin, TX 78744 1233 512-785-0855 N. 77 Sunshine Strip Harlingen, TX 78550 SAN ANTONIO 956-627-6161 1. RGV PRO DIRECT* polos, jackets and RGV(carries PRODIRECT –bottoms) 10720 Perrin Beitel Rd. BROWNSVILLE*

San Antonio, TX 78217

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms) 210-647-6227 814 N. Expressway 83/77 Suite 30 2. BEACONS (carries polos, and bottoms) Brownsville, TXjackets 78521 321 N. New Braunfels 956-328-7798 San Antonio, TX 78202 210-223-3311

DICKIES FACTORY STORE

1155 N El Paso, TX 79907 6. FABY’S EMBROIDERY (915) 858-1465

1900 6900 N. Expressway 77/83 San Pedro Ave. #117 Brownsville, TX 78521 San Antonio, TX 78238 956-280-5209 210-979-8111

NEW ORLEANS 603 E. 2nd St.

(carries polos, jackets and bottoms)

Rio Grande City, TX 78582 YOUNG 956-487-0751 FASHIONS

SCHOOL UNIFORMS

IMPACT SUMMER 2019

2. AUSTIN UNIFORM RGV PRODIRECT – SHOP (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) HARLINGEN* 5717 S. Interstate 35, Ste. 140B

(carries bottoms only) 3. NATIONAL OUTDOORS 506 S. Nevada (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) 5600TX Bandera Rd. Weslaco, 78596 San Antonio, TX 78216 956-968-5341

& UNIFORMS

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(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms) 417C 4631 GrayAirport Ln. Blvd., #104 Austin, TX78599 78751 Weslaco, TX 512-300-2772 956-627-6161

1850 El Paso, TX 79915 (915) 590-1965 1900 N. Expressway 77/83 Brownsville, TX 78521 956-280-5209 Zaragoza Rd # B101,

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(carries polos, jackets and bottoms)

ROUGE (carriesBATON polos, jackets, and bottoms) 5700 Crowder Blvd. 1. YOUNG FASHIONS Suite E SCHOOL UNIFORMS (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) New Orleans, LA 70127 11111 Coursey Blvd. 504-841-0377 Baton Rouge, LA 70816 225-766-1010

210-680-3322

4. STREET GEAR FABY’S EMBROIDERY (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) & UNIFORMS 1717 SW. Military Dr.

(carries jackets, and bottoms) Sanpolos, Antonio, TX 78221 603 E. 2nd St. 210-932-4327 Rio Grande City, TX 78582 956-487-0751 EL PASO

1. MEX-TEX UNIFORMS

* RGV ProDirect is the preferred uniform (carries polos, jackets and bottoms) provider of1155 IDEA Schools. N. Public Zaragoza Rd. #B101 El Paso, TX 79907 915-858-1465


// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019

SAN ANTONIO

TARRANT COUNTY

RGV PRO DIRECT*

ACADEMIC OUTFITTERS

10720 Perrin Beitel Rd. San Antonio, TX 78217 210-647-6227

(<1 mile away from IDEA Achieve Campus) 5941 Posey Lane Haltom City, Texas 76117 (817) 637-4551

BEACONS

VR PROMOTIONS

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms)

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms)

321 N. New Braunfels San Antonio, TX 78202 210-223-3311

(<1 mile away from IDEA Rise Campus) 7920 Camp Bowie West Blvd. Fort Worth TX 76116 (817) 386-5460

NATIONAL OUTDOORS

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms)

5600 Bandera Rd. San Antonio, TX 78216 210-680-3322

6900 San Pedro Ave. #115 San Antonio, TX 78238 210-979-8111

STREET GEAR

(carries polos, jackets, and bottoms)

1717 SW. Military Dr. San Antonio, TX 78221 210-932-4327

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// UNIFORM GUIDE 2019

UNIFORM FAQ Q: Why are we enforcing uniform standards consistently across IDEA Public Schools? A: IDEA Public Schools believes that uniforms play an important role in maintaining a culture of focused learning and positive behavior, and in many respects, the image of IDEA Public Schools. Uniforms promote a sense of school identity and cohesion, helping to raise the standards of school academics and prepare students for success in college and citizenship. Q: Why do we have the same uniform standards Pre-K – 12? A: The only variation in uniforms by grade level is the color of the polo shirt. It is important to share uniform standards across the organization. In most instances, Academy and College Prep schools are located on one campus. Younger students learn and emulate older students. In turn, older students serve as role models. Unifying standards allows for consistency in and across all of our schools. Q: Why are male students required to have short clean-cut hair (above the neck)? A: Clean-cut hair eliminates unnecessary distractions (i.e. who has the coolest hair style or color?). Extreme, eccentric, trendy haircuts or hairstyles are not acceptable. If students use dyes, tints, or bleaches, they must choose those that result in a natural hair color. Colors that detract from a professional student appearance are prohibited. Q: Why can’t we have slight variation in the standards, our own shoes for example? A: Experts say that standard uniforms reduce peer pressure by removing attention from economic and social differences among students. They also find that standard uniforms save parents money, time, and energy. For these reasons, IDEA Public Schools is committed to making sure that IDEA students’ uniforms are the same across all schools. Q: Why do we have approved vendors? A: We have approved vendors for two reasons: IDEA Public Schools has approved vendors in order to ensure the most competitive pricing and consistency for all IDEA parents and students. Our vendors are dedicated to superior customer service and serving IDEA families. Q: What if people are not able to afford the uniform requirements? A: We understand that uniform costs can be expensive, particularly for our lowest-income families and those families with multiple children. We have worked with our approved vendors to provide the most cost effective and durable product possible. If the uniform expenses represent a hardship for families, we will work with them during and throughout the school year to ensure all students are in uniform. Q: How will schools enforce uniform standards? A: A Uniform Standards Committee comprised of representatives from throughout the district have been working during the last several months to develop enforcement guidelines. These guidelines are based on feedback from parents, administrators, teachers, students, and IDEA staff and are meant to provide our school administrators with guidance. This will to ensure even and consistent enforcement across all campuses and within the district.

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Back to School IDEA TEAM & FAMILY! ARE YOU READY FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL?

We’ve got you covered. Visit IDEAPUBLICSCHOOLS.ORG/BACKTOSCHOOL for back to school information, supply lists, and more resources.

BATON ROUGE AND NEW ORLEANS

MONDAY, AUGUST 5 RIO GRANDE VALLEY, AUSTIN, SAN ANTONIO, TARRANT COUNTY AND EL PASO

MONDAY, AUGUST 12 If you’re new to IDEA and still need to register for the 2019-20 school year, please visit IDEAPUBLICSCHOOLS.ORG/REGISTRATION. For questions or concerns, please email info@ideapublicschools.org.

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SUMMER RESOURCES

Transportation Information

At IDEA Public Schools, the journey to and from school each day is an extension of classroom learning. Here are the two ways to access your transportation routes: HERE COMES THE BUS® APPLICATION:

When scholars consistently use their bus pass, this application enables parents to see, in real time, where their child’s bus is and when and where their child got on or off. This easy-to-use technology is free. Simply download the Here Comes the Bus® application on your smartphone, create a secure account (IDEA’s school code is: 83127), add your children, and you’re all set! To sign up or to learn more about Here Comes the Bus® and Scholar Ridership, visit: herecomesthebus.com POWERSCHOOL:

Log into PowerSchool and click on the transportation tab to register for transportation services or verify your scholar’s bus stop information. Scholar routes should be available within two business days of submission.

CAMPUS TRANSPORTATION MANAGER CONTACT INFORMATION To ensure the safe transportation of your child to and from school, we ask that you contact your campus transportation manager if you have any questions regarding your bus assignment or bus stop.

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IDEA Alamo (956) 975-1403

IDEA Elsa (956) 272-3295

IDEA Mission (956) 607-9662

IDEA Pharr (956) 369-9239

IDEA San Benito (956) 647-7618

IDEA Bridge (225) 223-9543

IDEA Frontier (956) 371-9916

IDEA Montopolis (512) 993-7153

IDEA Quest (956) 369-7254

IDEA San Juan (956) 369-4738

IDEA Brownsville (956) 373-4033

IDEA Innovation (225) 241-0698

IDEA Rio Grande City IDEA Toros (956) 272-4291 (956) 256-0160

IDEA Donna (956) 373-6152

IDEA Los Encinos (956) 351-1089

IDEA North Mission (956) 332-9916

IDEA Edinburg (956) 647-7635

IDEA McAllen (956) 647-7382

IMPACT SUMMER 2019

IDEA Oscar Dunn (504) 460-4109 IDEA Owassa (956) 272-4291

IDEA Riverview (956) 678-6541

IDEA Tres Lagos (956) 309-1825

IDEA Robindale (956) 332-6671

IDEA Weslaco (956) 373-5570 IDEA Weslaco Pike (956) 332-4451


Student Health Services T E X A S S TAT E R E Q U I R E M E N T S

The Health Services Team provides basic first aid to students with minor injuries and illnesses. The clinic staff members tend to students’ medical needs, maintain student medical records, conduct state-mandated health screenings, and communicate regularly with parents and staff members.

IMPORTANT!

State law requires students attending school to be immunized against certain vaccine-preventable diseases. You are encouraged to get your child vaccinated early to avoid the end-of-summer vaccination rush. Any student who is not up-to-date on their immunization records on the first day of school will have 30 days to update their records. If health records are not updated within 30 days, the student will be withdrawn. If you choose not to vaccinate your child, you must have a notarized affidavit from the state of Texas indicating which vaccines your student is exempt from by the first day of school. Getting your child vaccinated protects your child’s health and that of the community. If necessary, please make an appointment to get your child vaccinated before the first day of school. Remember, students cannot attend school without the appropriate documentation. PRE-K (4-YEAR-OLDS) • 4 doses of DPT/DTaP/DT/TdaP/Td • 3 doses Polio • 1 dose MMR received on or after the 1st birthday • 3 doses Hib (one of which must be on or after 12 months) or 1 dose Hib after 15 months of age • 2 doses Hepatitis A received on or after 1st birthday • 3 doses Hepatitis B • Pneumococcal Conjugate (Prevnar, PCV7)—3 doses given with 1 dose given after the age of 12 months, or 2 doses if given between 12-24 months, or 1 dose if given after 24 months • 1 dose Varicella on or after the 1st birthday (if child has not had chickenpox) *

2019 - 2020 Texas Minimum State Vaccine Requirements for Students Grades K - 12

This chart summarizes the vaccine requirements incorporated in the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Title 25 Health Services, §§97.61-97.72. This document is not intended as a substitute for the TAC, which has other provisions and details. The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is granted authority to set immunization requirements by the Texas Education Code, Chapter 38.

IMMUNIZATION REQUIREMENTS

A student shall show acceptable evidence of vaccination prior to entry, attendance, or transfer to a public or private elementary or secondary school in Texas. Vaccine Required (Attention to notes and footnotes)

Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis1 (DTaP/DTP/DT/Td/Tdap)

Polio1 Measles, Mumps, and Rubella1, 2 (MMR)

Minimum Number of Doses Required by Grade Level Grades K - 6th Grade 7th Grades 8th - 12th K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

5 doses or 4 doses

3 dose primary series and 1 booster dose of Tdap / Td within the last 5 years

For K – 6th grade: 5 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine; 1 dose must have been received on or after the 4th birthday. However, 4 doses meet the requirement if the 4th dose was received on or after the 4th birthday. For students aged 7 years and older, 3 doses meet the requirement if 1 dose was received on or after the 4th birthday. For 7th grade: 1 dose of Tdap is required if at least 5 years have passed since the last dose of tetanus-containing vaccine.* For 8th – 12th grade: 1 dose of Tdap is required when 10 years have passed since the last dose of tetanus-containing vaccine.* *Td is acceptable in place of Tdap if a medical contraindication to pertussis exists.

4 doses or 3 doses

For K – 12th grade: 4 doses of polio; 1 dose must be received on or after the 4th birthday. However, 3 doses meet the requirement if the 3rd dose was received on or after the 4th birthday.

2 doses

For K – 12th grade: 2 doses are required, with the 1st dose received on or after the 1st birthday. Students vaccinated prior to 2009 with 2 doses of measles and one dose each of rubella and mumps satisfy this requirement.

2

Hepatitis B

3 doses

Varicella1, 2, 3

2 doses

Meningococcal1 (MCV4) Hepatitis A1, 2

3 dose primary series and 1 booster dose of Tdap / Td within the last 10 years

Notes

1 dose 2 doses

For students aged 11 – 15 years, 2 doses meet the requirement if adult hepatitis B vaccine (Recombivax®) was received. Dosage (10 mcg /1.0 mL) and type of vaccine (Recombivax®) must be clearly documented. If Recombivax® was not the vaccine received, a 3-dose series is required. For K – 12th grade: 2 doses are required with the 1st dose of received on or after the 1st birthday. For 7th – 12th grade, 1 dose of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine is required on or after the student’s 11th birthday. Note: If a student received the vaccine at 10 years of age, this will satisfy the requirement. For K – 10th grade: 2 doses are required, with the 1st dose received on or after the 1st birthday.

NOTE: Shaded area indicates that the vaccine is not required for the respective grade. ↓ Notes on the back page, please turn over.↓

Rev. 03/2019

IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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Student Health Services L O U I S I A N A S TAT E R E Q U I R E M E N T S

At 1 month of age, HepB (1-2 months), At 2 months of age, HepB (1-2 months), DTaP, PCV, Hib, Polio, and RV At 4 months of age, DTaP, PCV, Hib, Polio, and RV At 6 months of age, HepB (6-18 months), DTaP, PCV, Hib, Polio (6-18 months), RV, and Influenza (yearly, 6 months through 18 years)* At 12 months of age, MMR (12-15

2019 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old

Birth

HepB

2

1

month

4

months

6

months through 18 years)*

Is your family growing? To protect your new baby against whooping cough, get a Tdap vaccine. The recommended time is the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor for more details.

months

15

months

RV

RV

RV

DTaP

DTaP

DTaP

Hib

Hib

Hib

Hib

PCV13

PCV13

PCV13

PCV13

IPV

IPV

HepB

months), PCV (12-15 months) , Hib (12-15 months), Varicella (12-15 months), HepA (12-23 months)§, and Influenza (yearly, 6 months through 18 years)* At 4-6 years, DTaP, IPV, MMR, Varicella, and Influenza (yearly, 6

12

months

months

18

months

19–23 months

DTaP

DTaP

IPV

IPV Influenza (Yearly)* MMR

MMR

Varicella

Varicella HepA§

FOOTNOTES:

NOTE:

4–6

years

HepB

Shaded boxes indicate the vaccine can be given during shown age range.

If your child misses a shot, you don’t need to start over. Just go back to your child’s doctor for the next shot. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have questions about vaccines.

2–3

years

* Two doses given at least four weeks apart are recommended for children age 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting an influenza (flu) vaccine for the first time and for some other children in this age group. §

Two doses of HepA vaccine are needed for lasting protection. The first dose of HepA vaccine should be given between 12 months and 23 months of age. The second dose should be given 6 months after the last dose. HepA vaccination may be given to any child 12 months and older to protect against hepatitis A. Children and adolescents who did not receive the HepA vaccine and are at high risk should be vaccinated against hepatitis A. If your child has any medical conditions that put him at risk for infection or is traveling outside the United States, talk to your child’s doctor about additional vaccines that he or she may need.

See back page for more information on vaccine-preventable diseases and the vaccines that prevent them.

For more information, call toll-free 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents

2019 Recommended Immunizations for Children 7–18 Years Old

INFORMATION FOR PARENTS

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about the vaccines recommended for their age. Flu Influenza

Tdap Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year.

All 11- through 12year olds should get one shot of Tdap.

HPV Human papillomavirus

Meningococcal MenACWY

MenB

Pneumococcal

Hepatitis B

7-8 Years

9-10 Years

11-12 Years

13-15 Years

16-18 Years More information:

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All 11- through 12year olds should get a 2-shot series of HPV vaccine. A 3-shot series is needed for those with weakened immune systems and those who start the series at 15 years or older.

All 11- through 12year olds should get one shot of meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY). A booster shot is recommended at age 16.

Teens 16–18 years old may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine.

These shaded boxes indicate when the vaccine is recommended for all children unless your doctor tells you that your child cannot safely receive the vaccine.

These shaded boxes indicate the vaccine should be given if a child is catching up on missed vaccines.

These shaded boxes indicate the vaccine is recommended for children with certain health or lifestyle conditions that put them at an increased risk for serious diseases. See vaccine-specific recommendations at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/.

This shaded box indicates children not at increased risk may get the vaccine if they wish after speaking to a provider.

Hepatitis A

Polio

MMR Measles, mumps, rubella

Chickenpox Varicella


SUMMER RESOURCES

RECIPE FOR A

Healthy Kids Here Summer STEP 1: START EVERY DAY WITH BREAKFAST Even though we don’t have school over the summer, it’s still important to eat breakfast every day. A healthy breakfast kickstarts your brain and your metabolism and helps ensure you’re fueled for a great day. It’s important that your breakfast includes whole grains and protein. Try this yummy Healthy Kids Here recipe:

BREAKFAST: TOADS IN A HOLE DIRECTIONS: 1. Spread a thin layer of butter on both sides of each slice of bread. 2. Cut a small rectangle in the center of each slice of bread (a little smaller than the size of a credit card).

INGREDIENTS: • • • •

1 tablespoon butter 2 slices of whole wheat bread 2 eggs Salt and pepper to taste

3. Remove the middle piece. 4. Place both slices of bread in a pan on medium heat. 5. Crack one egg into the hole of each slice of bread. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the eggs. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes. 6. Flip the pieces of bread (with the eggs in them) to let the other side cook. 7. Once the bread is toasted to your liking and the eggs are cooked, remove from the pan and enjoy!

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SUMMER RESOURCES

STEP 2: MAKE SURE TO STAY HYDRATED THROUGHOUT THE DAY Children should be drinking 5-10 glasses of water per day, depending on their age. Most kids in America do not drink even half of the recommended daily amount. Hydration is important for brain function, as well as digestion and muscle and bone health. It also helps keep your body temperature regulated. Tired of drinking plain water? Try this yummy agua fresca recipe instead:

DRINKS: STRAWBERRY CUCUMBER AGUA FRESCA DIRECTIONS: 1. Place strawberries and cucumber slices into a 2-quart pitcher.

INGREDIENTS: • 10 strawberries, washed and destemmed • 1/2 cucumber, washed, peeled, and thinly sliced • 2 quarts water

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2. Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently muddle them so that some of the juices start to come out. 3. Add water and gently stir. 4. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. 5. Consume within one week.


SUMMER RESOURCES

STEP 3: KEEP THE HABIT OF BEDTIME Students need 7-9 hours of sleep every night, even over the summer. Try establishing an evening routine to keep your child’s sleep schedule on track. For example: eat dinner, clean up the kitchen, go on a family walk, wash up, have a bedtime snack, read for 15 minutes, go to sleep. This will help your body get into a rhythm and improve sleep. Looking for bedtime snack ideas? Try to make sure it’s something light and nutritious:

SNACKS: PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA ROLL-UP DIRECTIONS: 1. Slightly warm tortilla in the microwave or oven.

INGREDIENTS: • • • •

1 whole grain tortilla 2 tablespoons peanut butter 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional) 1 medium banana, peeled

2. Spread peanut butter on the tortilla, with most of it in the middle. 3. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the peanut butter. 4. Lay the banana at the edge of the tortilla and roll it up. 5. Cut the roll up in half and serve.

IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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Camp RIO 280 Fish Hatchery Rd. Brownsville, TX 78520

IMPACT SUMMER 2019


Located at the historic Camp Lula Sams in Brownsville, Texas, Camp RIO is a summer program aimed at providing students in Texas with a quality nature and ecology education and camp experience that will enhance classroom learning. In addition to boosting their social and outdoor skills, students can also participate in a range of fun activities including:

• Archery • Paddling • Canoeing • Slingshot Shooting • Geo-Caching

• Plant and Animal Identification • Yoga • Fishing • Arts and Crafts • Sports • And much more!

Open to any child between the ages of 5 and 14, Camp RIO now includes both one-week day camps and a new overnight camp program that’s the first of its kind in South Texas. For added convenience, students are bussed from a variety of bus stops across the Rio Grande Valley. VISIT CAMPRIO.ORG TO LEARN MORE AND APPLY FOR NEXT SUMMER!

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IMPACT SUMMER 2019

@CampRIOtx | 956-204-0036


SUMMER RESOURCES

PREVENTING SUMMER SLIDE WITH

Personalized Learning Enjoy summer but keep reading and learning! Read 30 Minutes Daily | Practice Math 30 Minutes Daily

Use the login information to access the appropriate software through the summer until July 31 (Math Software). Be sure to check out our blog at IDEAPUBLICSCHOOLS.ORG/SUMMER-READING for our picks to read over the summer!

CHOOSE THE RIGHT BOOKS.

ENCOURAGE INTERESTS.

VISIT THE LOCAL LIBRARY.

The “Goldilocks Effect”— not too easy, not too hard. Series books are especially good for struggling readers.

Encourage your child to explore interesting topics they want to read about. Let them try different genres and formats—fiction, non-fiction, e-books, magazines, or whatever gets them going.

Endless book options, special summer programs…and it’s free! Check out audiobooks for road trips. Set a summer reading goal.

HOW MANY BOOKS CAN YOUR CHILD READ THIS SUMMER? Post and chart progress toward the goal. Have a friendly family competition with a special reward to show your kids that reading is also a priority for you.

SOFTWARE AND LOGINS Reasoning Mind 2nd grade - 5th grade: clever.com/in/ideapublicschools Username: school ID# Password: date of birth (MMDDYYYY) ST Math 6th grade - 7th grade: clever.com/in/ideapublicschools Username: school ID# Password: date of birth (MMDDYYYY) myON (eBook platform) 1st - 8th grade: clever.com/in/ideapublicschools Username: school ID# password: date of birth (MMDDYYYY)

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SUMMER RESOURCES

English Language Arts Note: The Module title in orange is the topic of study for the first quarter of each grade level. The additional books to read over the summer are connected to the topic, so these books will provide students a preview of the topic they will study during the first twelve weeks of school.

ND GRADE

MODULE: A SEASON OF CHANGE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

How Do You Know It’s Fall?, Lisa M. Herrington The Little Yellow Leaf, Carin Berger A Color of His Own, Leo Lionni Why Do Leaves Change Color?, Betsy Maestro Sky Tree, Thomas Locker

Additional books to read over the summer: Any picture books about fall or other seasons, including: • The House of Four Seasons, Roger Duvoisin • Frog and Toad All Year, Arnold Lobel • Poppleton in Winter, Cynthia Rylant • Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days, Cynthia Rylant • The Little Island, Margaret Wise Brown • Over and Under the Pond, Kate Messner • Over and Under the Snow, Kate Messner • Snow, Cynthia Rylant

RD GRADE

MODULE: THE SEA 1. Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, Dan Yaccarino 2. Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster, Mary Cerullo 3. Shark Attack, Cathy East Dubowski (DK) 4. Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Sea, Molly Bang 5. Amos and Boris, William Steig

Additional books to read over the summer continued on next page. IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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SUMMER RESOURCES

3rd grade additional books to read over the summer: Biography • A Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle, Claire A. Nivola • Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist, Jess Keating • Shark Lady: True Adventures of Eugenie Clark, Ann McGovern • Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark, Heather Lang • Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau, Jennifer Berne Picture Book (Literary) • Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter, Barbara Herkert Picture Book (Informational) • The Great Wave: A Children’s Book Inspired by Hokusai, Veronique Massenot • Ocean: A Visual Miscellany, Ricardo Henriques and Andre Letria Technical Accounts • Tentacles! Tales of the Giant Squid, Shirley Raye Redmond • National Geographic Readers: Weird Sea Creatures, Laura Marsh • Surprising Sharks: Read and Wonder, Nicola Davies • National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean, Catherine D. Hughes • Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea, Steve Jenkins • Sharks, Seymour Simon • Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans, Seymour Simon • Giant Squid, Candace Fleming • Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, Janet Halfmann

TH GRADE

MODULE: A GREAT HEART 1. Love That Dog, Sharon Creech 2. The Circulatory Story, Mary K. Corcoran

Additional books to read over the summer:

Biography • Clara and Davie, Patricia Polacco • Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield, Editors of TIME for Kids • Who Was Clara Barton? Stephanie Spinner Historical Account • Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero, Patricia McCormick • Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science, John Fleischman • Breakthrough!: How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever, Jim Murphy Novel • The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate • Katerina’s Wish, Jeannie Mobley • Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson Technical Account • The Circulatory System, Christine Taylor-Butler

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SUMMER RESOURCES

TH GRADE

MODULE: CULTURES IN CONFLICT 1. Thunder Rolling in the Mountains, Scott O’Dell

Additional books to read over the summer:

Biography • Sacajawea, Joseph Bruchac Historical Accounts • Trail of Tears, Joseph Bruchac • A History of US: The New Nation: 1789-1850, Joy Hakim • How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark, Rosalyn Schanzer • Only the Names Remain: The Cherokees and the Trail of Tears, Alex W. Bealer Novels • Seaman’s Journal: On the Trail with Lewis and Clark, Patricia Eubank • Zia, Scott O’Dell • Sing Down the Moon, Scott O’Dell • Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George • The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich • Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell • Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War, Helen Frost Stories • As Long as the Rivers Flow: Stories of Nine Native Americans, Paula Gunn Allen and Patricia Clark Smith • American Indian Stories, Zitkala-Sa

TH GRADE

MODULE: RESILIENCE IN THE GREAT DEPRESSION 1. Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis 2. Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse

Additional books to read over the summer: Picture Book (Informational) • Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly was Invented, Tanya Lee Stone • Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Great Depression, Carole Boston Weatherford Historical Account • Children of the Great Depression, Russell Freedman Novels • On the Blue Comet, Rosemary Wells • A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck • Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan • Moon Over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool • My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George • Sounder, William H. Armstrong • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor • No Promises in the Wind, Irene Hunt

IMPACT SUMMER 2019

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SUMMER RESOURCES

TH GRADE

MODULE: IDENTITY IN THE MIDDLE AGES 1. Castle Diary, Richard Platt 2. The Midwife’s Apprentice, Karen Cushman 3. Canterbury Tales, Geraldine McCaughrean

Additional books to read over the summer:

Drama • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, Laura Amy Schlitz Historical/Scientific/Technical/Economic Accounts • Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325–1354, James Rumford • Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote, Margarita Engle • Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages, Marsha Groves • Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction, David Macaulay • The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Life in Medieval Africa, Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack Novels • The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, Adam Gidwitz • A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, E.L. Konigsburg • Crispin: The Cross of Lead, Avi • The Kite Fighters, Linda Sue Park • A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park • The Door in the Wall, Marguerite de Angeli • Adam of the Road, Elizabeth Janet Gray • Catherine, Called Birdy, Karen Cushman

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SUMMER RESOURCES

TH GRADE

MODULE: THE POETICS AND POWER OF STORYTELLING 1. The Crossover, Kwame Alexander

Additional books to read over the summer:

Poetry • 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, Naomi Shihab Nye • Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters • Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices, Walter Dean Myers • I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices, Paul Fleischman Novels • The Red Pencil, Andrea Davis Pinkney • One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia • Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai • Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson • Witness, Karen Hesse

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SUMMER RESOURCES

F I R S T D AY O F S C H O O L

Printables

In preparation for the first day of school, and to make sure you’re ready to take your annual first-day-of-school photograph, we’ve created printables for your use! All you need to do is use the grade level your child is entering this year and snap your photo! We encourage you to share your photos on social media on

AUGUST 5

(Baton Rouge and New Orleans) and

AUGUST 12

(Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Austin, & El Paso), with the hashtag #IDEABack2School. We look forward to seeing thousands of photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

THE JOURNEY DOESN’T END HERE! VISIT IDEAPUBLICSCHOOLS.ORG/IMPACT-MAGAZINE for an interactive IMPACT experience on the web.


at IDEA

#IDEABack2School

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