LA JOYA, Texas – Once IDEA La Joya is open, every family within the Rio Grande Valley will live within 15 minutes of an IDEA Public Schools school.

That is according to Jill Dominguez, regional superintendent of IDEA Rio Grande Valley. She said this statistic is “absolutely remarkable.”

Dominguez spoke at a recent groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility in La Joya. She said she came to IDEA as a founding teacher 13 years ago because she believed that Valley students were capable of meeting high expectations. 

Jill Dominguez

“I am proud to be part of an organization that continuously works to ensure that 100 percent of our students not only get to college but also finish college,” Dominguez said.

“Starting in 2007 with IDEA’s first graduating class in Donna, Texas, 100 percent of our graduating seniors for the last 14 years have been college-bound. I am even more proud of the fact that we are expanding and offering these opportunities to more students with each additional school that we open, including the students who will attend IDEA La Joya.”

Dominguez said her mind sometimes goes back to Emily, a founding student in her classroom back in 2006.

“She came to IDEA as a college prep student without the grasp of basic reading. She learned how to set goals for herself and she got the support she needed to become a proficient reader with the help of many amazing IDEA teachers,” Dominguez said.

“Even though she spent some of her time after school taking care of her siblings she always finished her homework and she would read every night.”

Dominguez said Evelyn graduated from IDEA and became a first-generation college student and a Gates scholar at Texas A&M.

“Upon her graduation she became and IDEA teacher for a few years and then went on to become a physician’s assistant, graduating this past May. Evelyn said if it weren’t for the rigorous academics and the unmatched support she would not be where she is today,” Dominguez said.

Great things will also be happening for IDEA students in La Joya, Dominguez predicted.

“In just a matter of months this concrete behind me and all these steel beams will transform into a beautiful building and it is going to serve 480 students in grades kinder, 1st and 2nd and 6th grade,” Dominguez said.

“And it will grow by adding one grade level each year until it is fully scaled as a K-12 campus serving more than 1,500 students from our community. By the spring of 2027 IDEA La Joya’s first graduating class will continue that IDEA legacy with 100 percent of our Valley seniors being college-bound.”

Dominguez noted that IDEA currently has 49 schools and serves 32,000 students in the RGV.

“And with every school we open we create more high quality seats for students just like Evelyn. With the opening of IDEA La Joya, now there is an IDEA school within 15 minutes every family here in the Rio Grande Valley. To me, that is absolutely remarkable.”

Dominguez thanked the co-founder of IDEA Public Schools, JoAnn Gama. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants,” she said.

Dominguez then spoke about the ways in which IDEA fights poverty.

“Former President Barack Obama once said the best anti-poverty program around is a world class education. At IDEA we are united by our shared belief that a college degree is our nation’s best anti-poverty solution,” Dominguez said.

“Indeed, we believe in and have become witness to the power of education to transform lives and communities. Our collective commitment, our promise to each family, to every student is that college for all is possible.”

Dominguez concluded: “At IDEA we know that no school will thrive unless the local community, government officials, business partners, and citizens are invested in that school’s success.”

Another speaker at the IDEA La Joya groundbreaking ceremony was the school’s founding principal, Belinda Gonzales. She told those in attendance that should can identify with the struggles of local families because she emigrated to the United States from Mexico aged ten.

“If we believe it, we can achieve it. Through our vision at IDEA La Joya we promise to prepare our future Javelinas for college and citizenship armed with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and beyond,” Gonzales said.

“We will accomplish this by building strong and nurturing relationships with each and every one of our schools by providing rigorous and engaging instruction in every classroom every day, and by partnering with one of our biggest assets, our families.”

Gonzales added: “Our relentless efforts will be achieved by a strong team of committed staff members that will do whatever it takes to see 100 percent of our students go to and through college.”

La Joya Mayor Isidro Casanova also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. He admitted that he doubted IDEA would ever start a school in his city.

“I heard that rumors but thought, nah, they are never going to make it out here. Sure enough, here it is, it is in the process of being built,” Casanova said.

Casanova said having IDEA in La Joya would not only help his city prosper but also surrounding communities. “It will bring jobs, with 100 people employed here, at least.”

Casanova pointed out that he is a board member of La Joya ISD. However, he said, competition raises standards. “To have an option is good.”

The mayor added that more commercial development would be occurring near IDEA La Joya. “We are talking to developers. There will be more housing, It (IDEA) is an awesome project for our city.”

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