Excellence Is Everywhere!

March 8, 2011 |

Quality public education can flourish in a variety of contexts. This month, we are proud to shine a light outstanding achievements in Texas public education, in traditional public schools, high-performing charters and wherever it happens.

In these times of shortfalls and budget cuts, it’s important to recognize the achievements of educators, parents, community and business leaders, legislators and students whose efforts have resulted in great public schools. This month, Raise Your Hand Texas honors the best of the best— high-performing, high-achieving public and charter schools that support student growth and achievement, create new learning opportunities for students, and provide the kind of free public education that will allow students to achieve and succeed in the 21st century and stand as an example for all public schools to follow.

Broad Prize Winners and Finalists

Awarded annually, the Broad Prize for Urban Education honors the urban school district that has made the greatest improvement in student achievement while reducing achievement gaps between high- and low-income students and among ethnic groups. In 2010, two Texas public school districts were selected among the finalists, and in 2009 Texas claimed a finalist and the winner.

Aldine Independent School District, Texas
2009 Broad Prize Winner

  • Outperformed other Texas districts that serve students with similar family incomes in reading and math at all grade levels.
  • Demonstrated better performance by racial, ethnic and income subgroups; achieved higher average proficiency rates than state counterparts in reading and math at all levels; African-American students achieved higher average proficiency rates than state counterparts in math at all school levels and in middle and high school level reading.
  • Made progress in closing income gaps in reading at all school levels and in elementary and middle school math; and narrowed gaps between its African-American students and state average for white students between 2005 and 2008.
  • Eliminated link between poverty and student achievement in reading or math at all levels, making high student achievement just as likely in a low-income Aldine school as in a non-low-income school.
  • Was Broad Prize finalist four years in a row

Socorro ISD
2010 Broad Prize Finalist

  • Outperformed other Texas districts that serve students with similar family income levels in reading and math at all school levels

  • Narrowed achievement gaps between Hispanic students and the state’s white students and between low-income students and the state’s non-low-income students in math at all school levels.
  • Increased SAT participation rates for Hispanic high school seniors by an average of 4 percentage points per year.

Ysletta ISD
2010 Broad Prize Finalist

  • Outperformed other Texas districts that serve students with similar family incomes in reading and math at all school levels (elementary, middle and high school).
  • Achieved higher average proficiency rates among Hispanic and low-income students than their counterparts statewide in reading and math at all school levels.
  • Reached an average graduation rate for Hispanic students was 70 percent, the fifth-highest graduation rate for Hispanic students among the 100 school districts eligible for The Broad Prize.
  • Achieved highest participation rate in the SAT exam (88 %) of the 100 districts eligible for The Broad Prize and the highest participation rate for Hispanic students (79%) of Broad Prize-eligible districts.

2010 Blue Ribbon Schools Award Winners, Texas Education Agency


The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that dramatically improve student performance to high levels on state tests and whose students achieve in the top 10% of their state on state tests. The winning Texas schools were recommended by an intra-agency committee at the Texas Education Agency that examined student achievement statistics for the more than 8,000 public school and charter campuses in the state. The selected schools have demonstrated success in closing the achievement gap in school populations where 40% or more students come from economically disadvantaged groups. Schools that receive the award serve as models of best practices for schools across the state.

For high performance:

  • Alief ISD* – Dr. Louis B. Stoerner, superintendent
    Alief Kerr High – Greg Freeman, principal
  • Dallas ISD – Dr. Michael Hinojosa, superintendent
    H.S. Thompson Learning Center –   Kamalia Cotton, principal
    James B. Bonham Elementary – Sandra Fernandez, principal
  • Glasscock County ISD* – Steve Long, superintendent
    Garden City High – Ken Hoskins, principal
  • Houston ISD – Dr. Terry B. Grier, superintendent
    J.P. Cornelius Elementary – Karen Jackson, principal
    James Burrus Elementary – Jesse Woods, Jr., principal
    Oak Forest Elementary ­– Scott Pollack, principal
    Briarmeadow School (charter) – Peter Heinze, principal
  • Jacksonville ISD* – – Dr. Joe Wardell, superintendent
    West Side Elementary – Sandi Jones, principal
  • La Vega ISD*– Dr. Sharon M. Shields, superintendent
    La Vega Elementary – Shaunte Stewart, principal
  • Lone Oak ISD*– Eddie White, superintendent
    Lone Oak Elementary – Judy Steadham, principal
  • Mason ISD*– Pam Kruse, superintendent
    Mason High – Chris Habecker, principal
  • Richardson ISD– Dr. Kay E. Waggoner, superintendent
    Dover Elementary – Brona Comeaux–Hudson, principal
  • South Texas ISD– Dr. Marla M. Guerra, superintendent
    South Texas High School for Health Professions – Barbara Heater, principal
  • The Varnett School*– M. Annette Cluff, superintendent
    The Varnett School (charter) – East Campus in Houston– Twilet Alexander
  • United ISD*– Roberto J. Santos, superintendent
    Trautmann Elementary – Cynthia Rodriguez, principal

For Dramatic Improvement:

  • Beaumont ISD– Dr. Carrol Thomas, superintendent
    Ogden Elementary – Wayne Wells, principal
  • Bloomington ISD*– Bradley S. Williams, superintendent
    Bloomington Elementary – Israel Salinas, principal
  • Corpus Christi ISD– D. Scott Elliff, superintendent
    Marvin Baker Middle – Darla Reid, principal
  • Houston ISD– Dr. Terry B. Grier, superintendent
    Albert Sidney Johnston Middle – Dave Wheat, principal
  • Hurst–Euless–Bedford ISD– Dr. Gene Buinger, superintendent
    Central Junior High – Jonathan James, principal
    Hurst Junior High – Lesli Guajardo, principal
  • Jacksonville ISD*– Dr. Joe Wardell, superintendent
    Fred Douglass Elementary – Amber Penn, principal
  • Richardson ISD– Dr. Kay E. Waggoner, superintendent
    Lake Highlands Junior High – Veronica Escalante, principal
  • Scurry–Rosser ISD*– Chris Couch, superintendent
    Scurry-Rosser Middle – J.R. Proctor, principal

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Award Winners

IDEA Public Schools

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards celebrate public school professionals whose leadership and dedication inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities. In 2009, Houston’s IDEA Public Schools became the first charter school district to win the H-E-B Excellence in Education Award for the best small district in the state. That year, U.S. News & World Report also named the charter school district’s high school in Donna among the best in the country.

Oprah’s Angel Network


YES Prep

Yes Prep Public Schools is a free, open-enrollment public school system that serves students across eight schools in the Houston area. Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report ranked YES Prep among the top 100 public high schools in the country. YES Prep’s graduating seniors have acceptance rates of 100% to four-year colleges including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Rice and Stanford. YES Prep combines a highly successful 6th-12th grade model along with high standards for student achievement. In 2010, Yes Prep was awarded $1 million by Oprah’s Angel Network recognizing Yes Prep as a model public school for the nation. The money will go to open new schools and expand by more than 1,000 students.

Milken Educator Awards

The nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, The Milken Educator Awards honor K-12 teachers, principals and specialists. Recipients of the $25,000 award are heralded for their achievements in early to mid-career for and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future. With no formal application or nomination process, the candidates are recommended according to strict criteria by an independent blue ribbon committee and the final selections are made by the Milken Family Foundation.

2010 Texas Winners:

Rogelio Garcia
James B. Bonham Elementary School
Dallas, TX
General Elementary
Grade: 3

An educator and role model, third-grade teacher Rogelio Garcia plays a dual role at James Bonham Elementary in Dallas, TX. To combat obesity and diabetes, he helps students with diet and exercise, while tying the lessons to mathematics instruction. Garcia also integrates group discussion and phenomenological awareness to teach literacy, and is a model of bilingual instruction. His school is now one of the premier-performing low-income schools in Texas, having posted 100 percent in third-grade reading compared to the state average of 92 percent, and 96 percent in math compared to the state average of 86 percent. Garcia is a leader in the district bilingual program. As Campus Improvement Leadership Team bilingual representative, he analyzes data and drafts improvement plans. As New Teacher Support Team mentor, he helps new instructors transition into their jobs. Garcia also gives bilingual presentations to parents, staff and volunteers in various capacities outside of school.

Tracy Spies
Ben Milam Elementary School
Bryan, TX

Principal Tracy Spies of Ben Milam Elementary in Bryan, TX, is completing her PhD. in bilingual education and has a passion for school reform. Since Spies’s implementation of TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, the school has posted a dramatic trajectory of improvement.

Under Spies’s leadership, Ben Milam earned a “5” this year—the highest value- added score possible, signifying “far above average” results compared to its Texas peers. Spies models Texas TAP strategies during principal trainingsand neighboring TAP principals look to her for guidance and mentoring. She is a dynamic presenter at state and national conferences on dual languages, and leads the bilingual summer school. As both a scholar and practitioner, she helps professors with papers using her action research. Spies has presented at such conferences as the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE) and its Texas chapter (TABE).

Title I National Distinguished School Award


Since 1996, the National Title I Distinguished School Program has honored schools across the country for their innovation in helping Title I populations achieve high educational standards. Selected from each state by members of the National Title I Association, these schools represent examples of superior Title I programs in exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years or for closing the achievement gap between student groups. 

Harmony Public Schools

Harmony Public Schools are high performing K-12 college preparatory charter schools that focus on math, science,engineering and computer technologies.  For over a decade, the schools have provided students living in underserved communities the opportunity to excel in their studies in a small classroom environment focused on providing the skills they need to succeed later in life.

With a college acceptance rate of 100 percent, Harmony Public Schools have earned the reputation of providing a distinct, high-quality education. They also have the honor of being T-STEM field pioneer schools.

Harmony was the only charter school in the nation to receive the National Title I Distinguished School Award for closing the achievement gap.

Other 2010 Texas Schools to be honored by Title I

For exceptional Student Performance:

Stults Road Elementary
Principal: Darwin Spiller

For closing the Achievement Gap:

Austin Middle School
Principal: Cathy VanNess


Related Posts