National Spotlight Shines on ASPIRE Collaboration

National Spotlight Shines on ASPIRE Collaboration

Visit by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recognizes the success of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a public university and school districts to build a school-to-college pipeline for students to earn a university degree, to begin encouraging that aspiration in middle school, and to support teachers and families in those efforts.

Editor’s note: In the photo above, Texas A&M University-San Antonio President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson (far right) bestows a welcome gift of blown-glass art from Caliente Hot Glass gallery to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, as College of Education and Human Development Dean Dr. Carl Sheperis (far left) looks on. View the complete photo gallery of the visit.

It’s not every day that the U.S. Secretary of Education drops by to flag your efforts as a national model for increasing college readiness, access, and attainment.

On Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro visited Gus Garcia University School (GUS Middle School), one of three K-12 schools within the Edgewood Independent School District (along with Winston Intermediate School of Innovation and the Burleson Center for Innovation and Education) that are “powered” by Texas A&M University-San Antonio. As an operating partner of the three schools, A&M-San Antonio—through its ASPIRE collaboration consisting of seven independent school districts in South Bexar County—provides the schools with administrative leadership and teachers and the surrounding community with the support needed to better prepare teachers and improve outcomes for current and future students.

Secretary Cardona emphasized the collective impact of such collaborations among K-12 and higher education and their value in increasing educational excellence and equity in learning. The two-hour visit included a tour of GUS Middle School and a roundtable discussion among middle school students, parents, and teachers about the impacts of the pandemic and the need for in-person learning.

In pointing to GUS Middle School as a model to replicate across the nation to enhance student success, Secretary Cardona likewise praised the ASPIRE partnership for what it is doing to boost digital inclusion and to support teachers in their critical role of advancing a college-ready mindset among students.

Also in attendance at the event:

  • Texas State Senator José Menéndez (D-San Antonio)
  • Gus Garcia Principal Christopher Bland
  • Edgewood ISD Superintendent Dr. Eduardo Hernández
  • Harlandale ISD Superintendent Gerardo Soto
  • Somerset ISD Superintendent Dr. Saul Hinojosa
  • Southside ISD Superintendent Rolando Ramirez
  • Southwest ISD Superintendent Dr. Lloyd Verstuyft

East Central ISD Superintendent Roland Toscano and South San Antonio ISD Superintendent Dr. Marc Puig were unable to attend.

Edgewood ISD is one of seven school districts that comprise the ASPIRE network (A&M-San Antonio and South Bexar County ISDs Partnership to Impact Regional Equity and Excellence), along with East Central, Harlandale, Somerset, South San Antonio, Southside, and Southwest. The ASPIRE network is the first of its kind in Texas and in direct response to Texas legislation SB 1882 allowing the creation of in-district lab schools through partnerships between school districts and institutions of higher education aimed at improving student outcomes.