Monday, February 26, 2018

Dallas early college campus singled out as one of the nation’s top schools for low-income students

So very proud of my UT Cultural Studies in Education doctoral student, Macario Hernandez, for this extraordinary achievement.  Mr. Hernandez is principal of Dallas ISD's Trini Garza Early College High School.  His early college campus was just recognized by the Texas Education Agency as "one of the nation’s top schools for low-income students."  As you can read for yourself below, he was one of two schools statewide that received this recognition.

Aside from being a Title I principal extraordinaire and a "hidden gem" himself in DISD, Macario is also researching "homegrown teachers."  These are educators that are from the community that have worked in their communities—sometimes for decades—as teachers.  He himself is both a homegrown teacher and principal and is a testament to the power of this model of which I myself am an advocate [Keyword "GYO," "GYO Teachers," and "NLERAP" on this blog for prior references to this national agenda for change.]

"G-Y-O works!  It save lives," he expressed, as a featured speaker at a national Grow Your Own Educator Summit held here in late January in Austin, Texas.  As mentioned in this Dallas Morning News article that correctly notes his and the school's philosophical underpinnings in caring relationships, people can indeed work together in unison and improve their children's lives while enhancing the quality of relationships in the larger community, as a whole.  Relationship-building, respect, and caring have to reside at the core of one's intention and practice.  Keeping schools small also helps.

Felicidades, Macario!  Congratulations!  You are the embodiment of the very GYO dispositions that all of our leaders and teachers need to have if we are to be positively oriented in a culturally relevant and attuned manner to the wishes, hopes, and desires of our communities.  

You have at Trini Garza what every kid on the planet wants.  To be cared for, valued, and loved in a culturally relevant, genuine, in-it-for-the-long-haul, way.  It's additive, not subtractive.  It's about extending students' resources and potentialities rather than about subtracting them, turning on its head the demonstrably wrong-headed project of assimilating youth in a culturally and linguistically eviscerating way. 

We are all so incredibly proud and happy for you and the many lives that you generously and graciously touch!

Angela Valenzuela

DISD hopes to 'break the cycle of poverty' with early college academies at nearly every high school

Dallas early college campus singled out as one of the nation’s top schools for low-income students

by Corbett Smith| Staff writer

It is fitting that Macario Hernandez’s office at Dallas ISD’s Trini Garza Early College High School has a window that faces one of the school’s main thoroughfares. If a student or teacher needs a word, it’s easy to flag down Hernandez, the school’s principal, and pop in for a chat.
Those connections — built with students, parents and the Oak Cliff community — are what Hernandez points to when asked to describe his campus’ successes.
"Relationships are the foundation for everything we do on this campus," he said. "Being able to make a connection with that student, it's profound because you're vested in that student, vested in the community."
Located on the Mountain View College campus, Garza was selected by the Texas Education Agency as a National Title I Distinguished School, one of only two schools in the state to receive such a designation for the 2016-17 school year. The other is Houston ISD's charter Project Chrysalis Middle School.
The award, presented to Hernandez and three of his teachers by the National Title I Association earlier this month at a conference in Philadelphia, honors high-poverty schools that excel in student performance or closing achievement gaps. One of DISD’s first early college high school efforts, with a student body that’s 86 percent socio-economically disadvantaged, Garza was one of 34 schools across the nation to be praised “for exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years.”

For the past three years, Garza has received all seven distinctions — indicators that a school is outperforming its peers — awarded by the TEA. The school’s performance on state assessments across all subjects was double the state’s average last year.
“I think that Trini Garza is one of the hidden gems in DISD,” trustee Audrey Pinkerton said during an award assembly at Mountain View’s performance hall on Monday. “And now, the secret’s out.”
When Hernandez spoke to the assembly on Monday, he was quick to remind the audience that they were the engine for the school’s achievements.
“This is about you, all the time,” he said.
The statement isn’t just puffery. It matches his collective, bottom-up approach to leadership, crafted over a decade as a volunteer community organizer and activist for Dallas Area Interfaith and administrative stops across the district.
“To me, this award isn’t about one person or one school,” Hernandez said before the event. “It’s about a community of learners. Relationships we have with students, teachers, parents, relationships we’ve built with the college partner, with the college president — that’s what’s really made us successful at this campus. Outside of that, it’s about valuing the stories and lived experiences of the people who go here.
“I grew up in Oak Cliff, so my job isn’t as much a position to me, as a calling.”
Senior Brandon Leal left the Kimball feeder pattern to apply at the school, intrigued by the dual-credit model that allows students to graduate with a high school diploma and associate’s degree.
He’ll head to the University of North Texas in the fall, with 60 college credits under his belt.
Leal credited the school’s small size — just 434 students — with fostering a sense of togetherness, with students banding together to help one another meet high expectations of college coursework.
“It’s a really good learning experience," Leal said. "You’re asked a lot of tough questions, since this is based on both college and high school. But it’s helped me get ready.

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