10 Things You Should Know About IDEA El Paso

IDEA Public Schools is so excited to open 4 public schools in El Paso this fall.  Read on to learn 10 facts about IDEA El Paso. 


We come to El Paso with experience.  

IDEA Public Schools was started in 1998 by Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama in Donna, Texas.  It was created as a way to help combat some of the major educational deficiencies they saw in their students, focusing the program on student achievement and college readiness.  18 years later, IDEA Public Schools now serves 36,000 students and prides itself in the belief that each and every one of their scholars can achieve success in college and in life. 

We celebrate reading.

Two words: Royal Readers!  The quest for reading royalty involves reading a million words (or two million in select upper grades) and testing on books in the Accelerated Reader Zone to an 85% accuracy or higher.   

Our favorite tradition is College Signing Day.

We cannot wait to bring this special event to El Paso in 2025.  IDEA seniors reveal their college choice to friends, family, and staff in a packed crowd.  It’s a time to celebrate seniors’ commitment and look back on their had work. 

We know healthy bodies = healthy minds.

Three years ago, IDEA started Healthy Kids Here to become the healthiest school district in America, through an innovative physical education program, on-campus gardens and farms that send fresh produce to campuses, and so much more.  Check out a recent issue of our IMPACT Magazine to learn more.  

We emphasize personalized learning. 

Personalized learning at IDEA means every student from Pre-K through high school learns at the level and speed just right for them.  We do this through small-group instruction and supplementary computer programs that cater to every student’s level. 

We challenge our students. 

IDEA provides Pre-Advanced Placement (AP) and AP courses for middle school and high school students. AP courses are classes taught in middle and high school, but aligned with the rigor of a college-level course. They provide opportunities for you to earn valuable college credit by taking an end-of-year exam based on the knowledge learned in that class. By the end of a student’s career at IDEA Public Schools, they will have taken at least 11 AP courses that prepare them for college.

We offer many clubs.

Here are just a few clubs offered across our campuses:


Arts & Crafts

Drum Line

Academic University

Interscholastic League

Junior Master Gardeners



Tae Kwan Do & Karate




Newspaper & Yearbook



Lego League

Student Senate

We have a thriving athletic scene. 

Sports we offer at IDEA:

Flag football




Track & Field

Cross Country




And more!

We foster a college-going identity. 

College field lessons, which begin for our students as early as 1st grade, are just one of many ways we strive to create an environment that teaches students to dream big and understand that they can attend the college of their choice.  In middle school and high school, students also take a class on the ins and outs of applying and succeeding in college.  

We welcome everyone. 

IDEA schools are tuition-free and do not have special entrance requirements.  We believe that all students can achieve at a very high-level regardless of income, geography, demographics, or special education needs.  In fact, IDEA collaborates with district and campus staff and parents to develop programs and activities that meet the needs of all students receiving special services. We ensure each student is fully included in campus instructional and extracurricular programs.  In our special education program, students receive individualized support through targeted resources, accommodations, extra help, and training so they can complete the same work and curriculum as their IDEA peers.

Interested in learning more about IDEA El Paso?

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