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Superintendent Message (Feb. 21, 2017)

Good news on the college front

Feb. 21, 2017

Dear SAISD Staff,

It’s an exciting time of the year as our seniors begin receiving college acceptance letters. Ultimately, this is what all of our hard work is about. We have stepped up efforts to put more students on a solid path to college and are encouraged by the results we are seeing so far, two years into our 5-Year Plan.

Student acceptances to Tier 1 universities – these are the best in the nation – rose from 3 percent of graduates in 2015 to 5 percent of graduates in 2016. College acceptances for this year have just started coming in, and the college application data already look good. So far this year:

  • 77 percent of SAISD seniors have applied to one or more colleges or universities.
  • Most of the students who applied to college applied to one or more 4-year universities (89 percent).
  • And, about half of those who applied to a 4-year college applied to at least one Tier 1 institution (49 percent).

Our 5-Year Goal is 80 percent of SAISD students attending college, 50 percent of them attending a 4-year college or university and 10 percent at a Tier 1 institution. Our numbers indicate we are on track to meet our goal by the end of the 2019-20 school year as a result of new strategies and the hard work of our counselors, college advisers, administrators and community volunteers to guide students on the college path and assist them and their families through the college process.

We know our numbers will increase even more as we expand and deepen our college efforts. Over spring break, District staff and community volunteers will accompany 83 juniors on college tours across the country, through our Students on the Rise program. The students will be broken into groups for eight different trips at a mix of colleges and universities: four in New England, as well as tours in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Some of the colleges students will visit include Ivy League institutions such as Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, and liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Middlebury and Williams colleges.

These types of trips have a major influence on students and their college decisions. Being able to experience the campuses in person and talk with college staff and current students helps them to envision themselves in that setting. We look forward to hearing feedback from students who take the tours.

As those juniors prepare to get a taste of college life, 20 of our seniors are awaiting word on whether or not they will receive a significant scholarship to help pay for their higher education. They recently were named semi-finalists in the Dell Scholars Program, an initiative of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. 

Seven of the students are from Travis Early College High School, four each from Fox Tech High School and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy; two from Brackenridge High School and one each from, Burbank, Jefferson and Lanier high schools. It is a great honor to be named a semi-finalist in this program, which every year awards $20,000 scholarships to 300 students nationwide and also provides them with a strong support network to ensure college completion. We are proud of these students and their hard work and wish them the best in the final selection process.

Giving students an opportunity to explore what they might want to study in college or pursue as a career also is an important part of our work. That’s why we were excited to have more than 400 of our students participate in the second SA Works Job Shadow Day on Feb 2. This event allowed students to gain valuable industry insight by spending the day with employers such as Accenture, Bank of America, VentureLab and Zachry Construction Company. We want to continue to offer our students these types of opportunities.

We value every SAISD student, and, on February 13, the Board of Trustees illustrated this by adopting a resolution reaffirming its commitment to the admission, safety and privacy of our students. We will be working with principals to reach out, on an as-needed basis, to agencies that specialize in this area and that may be able to provide information that is helpful to families. Families also may find our FAQs Concerning Status and Students in Public Schools page helpful.

In other news, our information meetings earlier this month for the new Steele Montessori Academy, Twain Dual Language Academy and CAST Tech High School, all in-district charters that will open next year, went well. We have lined up the best in the country to consult on the design of some of these charters. Dr. Sara Suchman, who is with the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, hosted the Steele meeting while nationally recognized education and dual language experts Dr. Wayne Thomas and Dr. Virginia Collier led a presentation at Twain.

These soon-to-open innovative schools, along with the existing Advanced learning academy, Young Men’s Leadership Academy and Young Women’s Leadership Academy, are as much for the benefit of SAISD educators as they are for students and families. We want our schools and individual educators to look to them as models providing best practices that can be replicated on their own campuses and in their own classrooms. We encourage you to visit them and see if the model, or aspects of it, might work for your school.

In closing, I want to remind you that the application period for those interested in a Master Teacher position for the 2017-18 school year still is open, and we are recruiting heavily from within. The dates, times and locations for some of the upcoming information sessions is included at the end of this message. We consider this an opportunity to honor and recognize existing high-performing teachers within our District, including those who have been with us for many years. The talent pool is diverse, from those who have been educators for less than a decade to those who have spent five decades in the profession. Regardless of where they fall in the spectrum, we appreciate their dedication to their craft and their students, and we value the immense knowledge and skills they possess, which are vital to our transformation efforts.


Master Teacher Information Sessions*




Session 1

Session 2

March 2


Central Office Board room

3:45- 4:45 p.m.

5-6 p.m.

March 11


Job Fair / Info Session
Convention Center

10 a.m.-2p.m.


March 24


Region 20 – Bexar room

3:45- 4:45 p.m.

5-6 p.m.

April 4


Central Office Board room

3:45- 4:45 p.m.

5-6 p.m.










*Confirmed dates; additional meetings to be held