New IDEA Principals Announced

We are thrilled to announce 17 outstanding individuals who will become principals of IDEA schools during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.  These leaders will serve as campus principals in our Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Southern Louisiana, and Rio Grande Valley regions, continuing our mission of college for all children.        

IDEA Public Schools is honored to welcome this dynamic group of leaders who will lead their staff to success and impact the lives of our students for years to come.

Congratulations to our new IDEA principals!

IDEA Southern Louisiana

Cecilia Paz Aguilar: IDEA Cortana College Prep
Cecilia Paz Aguilar brings a wealth of experience to her role as the founding principal of one of IDEA’s first campuses outside Texas. A native of Northern California, Cecilia’s experience as an educator and a leader spans the United States. She has taught classes from grades 6 through 11 at successful public charter schools including Aspire.  She has led new TFA Corps Members to impressive results as both a Manager, Teacher Leadership Development in Los Angeles and a Summer Institute School Director in Phoenix, and a graduate of the prestigious Ryan Fellowship at Northwestern University, which led to her involvement in the push for educational equity in Baton Rouge. For the past year and a half, Cecilia has worked alongside the students, staff, and community of IDEA College Prep North Mission as a Principal-in-Residence and key member of the successful launch of that campus. While her resume clearly speaks for itself, we are so enthused to have such an accomplished and deeply committed educational leader ready to lead the charge at IDEA Cortana College Prep in Baton Rouge starting this upcoming fall. 
Deion Brown: IDEA Innovation College Prep
A longtime educator with deep ties throughout the South, Deion Brown has been a successful leader at KIPP and IDEA schools in Memphis and San Antonio, respectively. Deion joined IDEA as a Principal-in-Residence in 2014, and after developing as a PIR at IDEA Edinburg, he launched IDEA Eastside College Prep in San Antonio. Deion has been on the ground in Louisiana since this summer, working hard alongside the regional team to ensure a successful launch for the incoming students and families of IDEA Innovation College Prep. We couldn’t be more excited to have an experienced leader like Deion at the helm at Innovation. 

IDEA El Paso

Yanira Aguilar: IDEA Rio Vista Academy
Yanira “Yani” Aguilar has worked at IDEA since 2011, and has been a constant exemplar of our Core Values. Prior to becoming a Principal-in-Residence for the El Paso region in the last year, Yani taught for several years at IDEA Edinburg.  She then managed the GEAR UP program for the entire district, before transitioning to the role of Manager of College Success. Yani’s deep experience with IDEA, as well as her well-known commitment to ensuring ALL students go to college, are just a few of the reasons why we cannot wait to see her positively impact the El Paso community as the founding principal of IDEA Rio Vista Academy. 
Adrian Hernandez: IDEA Rio Vista College Prep
Adrian Hernandez will be Yani’s college-prep counterpart as the founding principal at IDEA Rio Vista College Prep this upcoming fall. Adrian began his work with IDEA as a TFA Corps Member teaching at IDEA Frontier in 2010, and from day one, his high expectations of himself, his colleagues, and his students were evident.  After several years as a Teacher-Leader at Frontier interspersed with summers as a Corps Member Advisor at TFA Houston Summer Institute, Adrian held the roles of Manager of Alumni Affairs and Director of Alumni Affairs, playing a significant role in improving IDEA’s commitment of supporting our graduates to and through college. Adrian then traveled to the West Coast to earn his M. Ed from Stanford, but we were lucky enough to welcome him back after graduation as a Principal-in-Residence.As a native of El Paso, and longtime IDEA leader, it’s hard to imagine a profile better suited to lead one of our first College Prep campuses in El Paso than Adrian. We are excited to see him return to his community.  
Rebecca Cobian: IDEA Edgemere Academy
Yet another El Paso native, Rebecca “Becky” Cobian will bring her more than 20 years as a successful teacher, curriculum expert, and school leader back to El Paso this upcoming fall as the founding principal of IDEA Edgemere Academy. Prior to joining IDEA as a Principal-in-Residence this past summer, Becky’s most recent role was principal of Rusk Elementary School in the El Paso Independent School District, a role she excelled in since 2012. Mrs. Cobian is incredibly well-regarded throughout El Paso as one of the most successful elementary school leaders in the city (as well as the state)! Her willingness to relocate to IDEA Frontier as a PIR this year, even given her substantial experience and record of results, is further proof that she has that type of “growth” mentality that we see in our most successful leaders and teachers. 
Rodrigo Wong: IDEA Edgemere College Prep
Joining Mrs. Cobian at IDEA Edgemere will be Rodrigo Wong, founding principal of the College Prep campus in El Paso. With almost a decade of experience working at IDEA, Rodrigo’s reputation as an expert teacher and coach is well-earned. Throughout his time as an educator, instructional coach, API, and PIR, much of it at IDEA Alamo, Mr. Wong consistently delivered the kind of dedication and high-quality results that all students deserve. Having spent this year in preparation as a PIR at IDEA Edinburg, the IDEA Team & Family could not be more excited to see Rodrigo take the next step in the El Paso community. 

IDEA Lower Valley

Saron Mata: IDEA Academy Elsa
A veteran educator of the Rio Grande Valley, Saron Mata began teaching in 2006 at Monte Alto Elementary and transitioned to IDEA in 2012. After several very successful years teaching and leading 3rd grade reading, Saron became an API, and has been in the PIR program since 2016. Saron possesses a deep understanding of the needs of students in the RGV, as well as the record of results proving that she can meet and exceed those needs. We look forward to seeing Saron continue her successful career in education as the founding principal of one of our newest campuses in the Valley, IDEA Elsa Academy.
Antonio Garza: IDEA College Prep Elsa
Antonio “Tony” Garza was born and raised in Ed Couch Elsa, and prior to joining IDEA, spent more than 20 years working in the city’s ISD as a successful and respected teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Next year, he will open IDEA Elsa College Prep. Tony’s commitment to ensuring better educational outcomes for students from his community has been evident throughout his career, all of which was only further confirmed when he made the decision to join IDEA in 2015 as a Principal-in-Residence after serving as the Principal of David Ybarra Middle School for more than a decade. Already a deeply experienced, accomplished educator in his own right, Tony’s humble nature, openness to feedback, and desire to improve have served him well and impressed our Team & Family since he joined the PIR Program. Whenever possible, it’s always the most exciting and ideal situation when IDEA can launch new schools with leaders who hail from those same communities; Antonio Garza is a perfect example of this. 

IDEA Upper Valley

Cyndi Vasquez De La Fuente: IDEA Owassa Academy
Cyndi Vasquez De La Fuente, founding principal of our newest Upper Valley campus, IDEA Owassa Academy, joined our Team & Family as an API in 2012 after many years as a successful bilingual teacher-leader in the PSJA school district.  As an instructional leader at IDEA, Cyndi has consistently led her academy-level teachers and students to impressive gains. This summer, she joined the PIR program, ready to take the next step to positively impact the outcomes for even more students and families in the RGV, where she was born and raised. Cyndi’s patience, perseverance, and self-awareness have all been key levers in her development of becoming a founding principal, and will only continue to serve her and her new campus well. 
Stevie Luera: IDEA Owassa College Prep
Stevie Luera has more than a decade of experience working at IDEA as an incredibly successful teacher and leader.  Whether leading her own students, or later on, her teachers, to some of the highest ACT and English AP results in the district year over year, Stevie has demonstrated the ability to continuously achieve an impressive record of results. Her high bar, and her ability to teach both students and teachers how to get there, is unwavering. A deeply experienced leader, having been a PIR since 2015, there’s no doubt that Ms. Luera will lead a successful launch this fall at Owassa. 

IDEA San Antonio 

Nancy Bethencourt: IDEA Ingram Hills Academy
A native of El Paso with more than a decade of experience in education, Nancy Bethencourt will open our newest San Antonio campus, IDEA Ingram Hills Academy, this upcoming fall. While in Colorado, Nancy was an exemplar elementary school teacher in inner-city Denver for many years before assisting in turnaround efforts with the public school district in Aurora as an assistant principal. Compelled by the opportunity to further develop her instructional leadership skills in a new context, Nancy joined the PIR program in 2016 and for the past year-and-a-half has been working hard in our San Antonio region to combine her significant takeaways from Colorado with IDEA’s model and focus. Please give a warm welcome to Nancy as one of our newest IDEA principals! 
Jeffrey Rothschild: IDEA Ingram Hills College Prep
Jeffrey Rothschild, graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will be the founding principal of IDEA Ingram Hills College Prep in the fall of 2018.  Jeffrey first led classrooms in Louisiana as a 2010 Teach For America corps member. He excelled as an elementary school teacher and later on as he led various initiatives for his campus and district, including being a key member of significant improvements to the Response To Intervention program.  Always eager to further develop his skills and to continue positively impacting students and communities, Jeffrey is also a graduate of the nationally renowned Columbia University Summer Principals Academy, which he attended in New Orleans in 2012. From 2012-2016,  Jeffrey worked as an assistant principal, summer school director, and teacher with public charter programs in New Orleans, prior to joining IDEA’s Principal-in-Residence program this past summer. Jeffrey has excelled in his role as PIR at IDEA South Flores Academy, and is excited for the opportunity to work with the communities of San Antonio, a city he has quickly come to love and enjoy since his arrival. 

IDEA Austin 

Ester Polanco: IDEA Academy Kyle
Beginning her career as a co-teacher in 2012, and later as an elementary math teacher and grade-team leader at IDEA Academy San Benito, Ms. Ester Polanco has always pushed the thinking of her colleagues, students, and families.  She played a key role as Assistant Principal of Instruction from 2014-2016 at IDEA Academy San Benito, earning “Lead Team Member of the Year” in her last year there.  Eager to apply her skills in a new context, Ester became a PIR this past summer for the Austin region, and currently works at Bluff Springs Academy. Ester is a proven leader and we could not be more excited to announce her as the founding principal of the Austin region’s newest campus, IDEA Kyle Academy!
Jorge Chipres: IDEA College Prep Kyle
Originally hailing from Mexico, Jorge Chipres first earned significant accolades as an elementary level bilingual teacher in the Houston-area Alief ISD. After demonstrating the same laser-like focus on student achievement as a fifth-grade teacher at IDEA Weslaco Academy in 2014, Jorge then joined the IDEA McAllen Academy lead team as Assistant Principal of Instruction for grades 3-5.  After a strong stint learning and contributing to IDEA McAllen’s consistently high performance, Jorge became a PIR this past summer, learning the ropes of school leadership at the growing campus of IDEA North Mission Academy. We’re so grateful to have a leader with such maturity and diverse experience as Jorge founding the College Prep side of IDEA Kyle. 
Mera Doughtery: IDEA Academy & College Prep Pflugerville
Mera Doughtery will open IDEA Pflugerville College Prep this upcoming fall, having taught and led at some of the strongest public charters in both New York and Texas.  A graduate of Columbia University, Mera joined the TFA New York Corps in 2010 as an elementary teacher in Brooklyn, and later was the founding kindergarten teacher of a new campus with Harlem Village Academies, one of the more innovative charters in the country.  Upon relocating to Austin, Ms. Doughtery was yet again a founding teacher at KIPP Austin Leadership Elementary, later on leading her grade level and teachers to significant gains. In 2015, Mera joined IDEA Rundberg Academy as an API. In the past year-and-a-half, Mera joined the PIR program and also gained experience at Rundberg College Prep, and has proven she is now ready to lead her own school. Her wealth of experience, especially playing a role at founding campuses, will shine at IDEA Pflugerville. 

2019-2020 Announcements 

Jarod Hawk: IDEA Health Professions Academy
Mr. Jarod Hawk is a native of Ohio who earned a wealth of educational experience in his home state, as well as South Carolina, prior to joining IDEA for the 2016 school year.  We are excited to announce Jarod Hawk as the founding principal of IDEA Health Professions Academy in Austin, especially since the campus will not officially launch until the 2019 school year.  Jarod has either directly taught, or led teachers, at almost every level of elementary and middle school. From 2013-2015, he served as a teacher, principal intern, and summer school principal in Magnolia Ohio, before moving to South Carolina where he continued to teach and develop his administrative and leadership skills. Jarod has spent the past year-and-a-half as an API, and then PIR, at IDEA Rundberg Academy. IDEA’s Team & Family looks forward to his continued development and push for excellence in Austin as he prepares for the 2019 launch. 
Cameron Cook: IDEA Health Professions College Prep
Mr. Cameron Cook taught at the secondary level in a diverse number of settings including his home state of Colorado, in the country of Bolivia as an AP Biology teacher, and Austin, his home since 2014. Alongside Jarod Hawk, Cameron will spend the next year-and-a-half preparing to lead IDEA Health Professions College Prep.  Prior to joining IDEA Austin as a PIR in 2016, Cameron was one of the highest performing teacher-leaders at Eastside Memorial High School, consistently outperforming state and local high schools while also managing the campus mentor program and directly coaching 8 first-year teachers. Cameron has seen first-hand, and helped confront, the educational inequities in Austin, and we are excited to be able to announce his principalship so early on.   

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