PHARR, RGV – More than 400 educators and school administrators from around the nation learned about the implementation of early college programs during Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s 2nd Annual “College For All” Conference this week, held Nov. 4-6 at the McAllen Convention Center.

Due to a high demand of educators frequently traveling to PSJA ISD to learn about its early college program, last year the school district held its first conference to offer an opportunity for share best practices and innovative designs providing all high school students with the opportunity to earn at least 12 college hours by their high school graduation, with many of them completing up to two years of college or an Associate Degree.

Visiting educators from the PK-12 and higher education arenas had the opportunity to learn from more than 50 informative sessions and campus tours held during the conference.

The sessions touched on various topics such as: policy and college success; establishing and scaling early college high school, back on track to college, academic rigor, providing opportunities to a higher education to undocumented and DACAmented students and empowering parents.

Currently, there are more than 3,400 students enrolled in PSJA’s eight Early College High Schools.  The district’s comprehensive, innovative approach and proven results have garnered the attention of the New York Times and PBS, among other national publications and media outlets. Top officials from the U.S. Department of Education, the Texas Education Agency, as well as local, state, and national elected officials have also showcased PSJA ISD’s solutions to the dropout crisis and preparing students to be college ready.

Educators from more than seven states were in attendance during the conference, including groups from Colorado, North Carolina and Illinois, to name a few. Texas educators from throughout the region and other parts of the state also took advantage of the learning opportunities and said they looked forward to implementing them upon their return to their home districts.

According to Monique Smith, the Houston Community College P16 Director, the conference provided her with valuable information on how to provide more opportunities for her students.

“Amazing conference,” said Smith. “Learned how to successfully connect and support all students to dual enrollment educational opportunities. [I’m] looking forward to applying some practices learned to my work with Early College High Schools.”

For Peggy Dylan, High School Executive Director for Richardson Independent District High Schools, she enjoyed uniting with other leaders passionate about making a difference.

“I think anytime that you can come together with people that have the same cause with helping kids be successful there is always something good that you can take away and something good that you can bring back to your own district,” said Dylan.

Due to the success of this year’s conference, PSJA ISD looks forward to continue growing its Early College Program and offer even more insights and firsthand knowledge to educators and school administrators in the years to come.

“We thank our staff, students and partners for helping us share our vision and initiatives throughout the last couple of days,” said Dr. Daniel King, superintendent of schools. “So many of our students are having successful futures thanks to the implementation of these programs and now so many more throughout our nation will do so as well.”

Cutline for Main Photo: Success Students – PSJA ISD alumni shared their experiences in the Early College Program. From left, Cecilia Corral, Ivan Bocanegra, Dr. Daniel King, PSJA Superintendent, Thomas Ray Garcia, Allysa Medrano and Isaac Bailon.