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Happy Birthday, IDEA Public Schools!



The original IDEA sign in Donna, Texas.  

Today, March 3, marks IDEA Public Schools’ 17th birthday!

Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama made their way to the Rio Grande Valley as Teach For America corps members in 1998. Little did they know, this would be the first step towards starting a tuition-free, Pre-K-12, high-achieving public charter school system for nearly 30,000 students across 51 schools in 3 Texas regions, all on the road to a college degree.  

A lot has happened since then. 

We’ve announced rigorous plans to reach 100,000 students in 173 schools across ten regions, and are well on our way to achieving this milestone.  Next year, we’ll operate 37 schools in the Rio Grande Valley, 20 in San Antonio, 6 in Austin, and soon after will open schools in El Paso, Southern Louisiana, and Tarrant County, Texas.

Our scholars have achieved stellar results year-after-year, thanks to excellent educators, leaders, and top-notch academic programs like Advanced Placement For All and Blended Learning.

We’ve been recognized nationally by the Washington Post and the U.S. News & World Report as the best and most challenging schools in America. 

We won the prestigious Broad Prize for Best Public Charter School in the Nation, after being a finalist for the past 3 years. 

We started Healthy Kids Here, a program dedicated to bettering the lives of our students and staff through a state-of-the-art physical fitness curriculum in partnership with Adidas 2.0 and a farm-to-school initiative that has established organic farms and gardens at several IDEA campuses.  These farms and gardens deliver fresh produce to our cafeterias daily.       

All of our graduating seniors have achieved college acceptance for eleven years consecutive years! 

As we continue to grow, serving more students in need of a great education, we know none of our success would be possible without our Team & Family of 3,600 employees and more than 30,000 students and families. Since March 3, 2000, we have grown together, united by our goal to impact children’s lives through education and prepare all scholars for college and a better life.

Our ultimate birthday present?  The opportunity to foster students on the road to and through college.  Enroll now to attend IDEA, or join our Team & Family.

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