Category: McAllen

McAllen ISD grad gets head start on medical career thanks to dual enrollment

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Like many 19 year olds, Jazmin Miranda is a college student. Unlike most people her age though, she is already a college senior. “I graduated both from South Texas College and from high school,” Miranda said.


She earned both her high school diploma and her Associate’s Degree at the same time by going through McAllen ISD’s Achieve Early College High School. It’s a vehicle that focuses high school students on picking up college credit and even using college resources through a partnership with South Texas College.


Students in McAllen ISD’s high schools have multiple avenues to pick up college credit. These include dual enrollment, Advanced Placement testing, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, specialized academies in medicine, computers and engineering plus concurrent enrollment. In fact, the class of 2014 collectively earned 15,800 college credit hours, Associate’s Degrees, professional licenses and certifications. The college credit translates into a savings for families of about $4.7 million in tuition costs (based on UT Austin data). At McAllen ISD’s Achieve ECHS, graduates earned 80 Associate’s Degrees – all college expenses paid for.


Jazmin herself graduated with 73 college credit hours – more than enough for her Associate’s Degree in biology. Now studying at the University of Texas Pan American, Jazmin is the first in her family to attend college. She wants to help others, something she has wanted since she was a child. “I just knew I always wanted to do something in the medical field, either to be a physician, an assistant, a nurse or something” Miranda said. “It was mainly to help people. My mom always taught me to help others.”


Jazmin recalls her A-plus moment in eighth grade at McAllen’s Morris Middle School when her counselor told her some good news. “It would have to be when I was accepted at Achieve Early College High School,” she said. “I knew since the very beginning I wanted to go to college and I always thought I was going to take four years to get a bachelor’s degree. But when this school opened up and offered free college, which I greatly appreciate now that I’m at the university, it really helped make my dreams come true. I’ve learned so much and grown as a human being as well.”


McAllen ISD’s program also took care of her books and tuition. Some textbooks can run above $200. “To get two free years at McAllen ISD paid for and everything is just a really great opportunity for young kids,” she said. Now, she is on the cusp of graduating college and moving into a career in medicine.


“I’m currently a senior at Texas-Pan American,” she said. “I need about one more year until I get my bachelor’s in biology towards the pre-medical field. I plan to apply at the medical school that is opening up at Texas-Pan American in fall 2016. I’m also planning to apply for their physician assistant program which is really good.”


A student saw her dream crystallize at a young age and is now making it into a reality. “Go for what you want,” she advises. “If you are dedicated and you put your mind to it, you will always get there.”


To learn more about McAllen ISD’s programs and opportunities, contact the Office of Advanced Academics at 956-618-6059.

McAllen ISD PE Coordinator recognized by state

 Pictured, Reyna (left) receives his award from TAHPERD President Dr. Henry Ross of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Pictured, Reyna (left) receives his award from TAHPERD President Dr. Henry Ross of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Mario Reyna, Health & PE Coordinator for McAllen ISD, received a special award from a state organization Dec. 6 in Galveston. The Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) recognized Reyna as the 2014 K-12 Administrator of the Year. Pictured, Reyna (left) receives his award from TAHPERD President Dr. Henry Ross of Texas A&M University-Commerce.


The award honors “individuals (who) exemplify the highest standards in accomplishment and innovation, and in strong and vigorous leadership,” according to TAHPERD.


Reyna’s relentless support of the Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative and advocacy efforts prompted an invitation to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama in February 2014. A few weeks later, former First Lady Hillary Clinton applauded McAllen ISD for its efforts in the Let’s Move! Active Schools and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation initiatives.


Under his direction, McAllen ISD has become the only district in the United States with 100 percent of campuses earning the Let’s Move! Active Schools Recognition Award . Reyna’s recruitment of the City of McAllen as a Let’s Move! City has paid off – the city earned four Let’s Move! Gold medals. Reyna organized and hosted the Let’s Move! McAllen Pep Rally that attracted 5,500 participants in September 2014. He is currently serving as the Texas Let’s Move! Active Schools Co-Coordinator.


In 2012, he secured $1.9 million from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant. For ten years, he managed the After-School Enrichment Program where he procured more than $4.5 million.


In 2010, Reyna became the first Hispanic  to serve as president of TAHPERD. His awards include: 2006 Texas AHPERD Honor; 2014 AAHPERD Southern District Ethnic Minority; and 2014 Texas AHPERD K-12 Administrator of the Year.


He earned his Master of Education from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1990 and has worked at McAllen ISD for 34 years – fourteen in an administrative role.


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