Garza Early College High School wins national award!
Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School has been named a winner in the high school category of the National Center of Urban School Transformation’s 2012 Excellence in Urban Education Award. Garza is one of only three high schools in the country to win the award this year.
“To make it on any list that includes successful urban schools throughout the United States is humbling,” said Dr. Janice Lombardi, principal at Garza. “We know that our academics are rigorous and our expectations are high – we make no excuses for expecting the best of our urban students. We know our faculty brings out the best in themselves and the best in our students.”
Schools that met all the award’s criteria were named finalists in early January, with site visits by judges later that month. Judges reviewed data and interviewed students, parents and every teacher as part of their analysis of Garza. The school will be honored at the organization’s annual symposium in May in San Diego.
Garza currently serves 393 students, who are working toward earning their high school diplomas and an Associate’s degree from Mountain View College in the Dallas County Community College District, or 48 core college credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree. Opened in 2006, the high school employs its own staff and occupies space at Mountain View. The school is a Texas Education Agency Recognized school. Students are 85 percent Hispanic and 13 percent African American, 86 percent of them are eligible for free/reduced lunch and 27 percent are limited English proficient.
Students are not accepted to Garza based on college readiness criteria. “In fact, the opposite is quite true,” Lombardi said. “Many of our students would not ever go to college if they were not at our early college.” Eighty-four percent of Garza students are among the first in their families to attend college.
The teaching approach at the school considers the whole student: their behavior, their academics and their strengths and weaknesses. “We have a culture of learning and college readiness here,” she said. “Our instructional emphasis is effort-based; working hard does matter.”
The award celebrates urban schools that serve low-income communities and overcome multiple challenges, yet their students are performing well academically. Since 2006, the Excellence in Urban Education Award program has recognized 62 elementary, middle and high schools in 40 school districts and 17 states.
For information on the award, visit the National Center for Urban School Transformation’s www.ncust.org