While everyone continues the fight on the future of school choice across America, International Leadership of Texas (ILTexas), chooses to focus less on the current state of politics and more on America’s future leaders. A free, public charter school with 10 campuses spanning across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Houston, ILTexas teaches students from a global perspective through a trilingual curriculum requiring all students to master the Chinese, Spanish, and English languages and a character enrichment program that shapes students to become more socially conscious.

With a mission and passion to prepare students beyond the classroom and a diverse world, ILTexas recently attended the Asia Society/College Board’s National Chinese Language Conference in Houston—one of the largest Chinese-language focused sessions where new ideas and best practices in the fields of Chinese language teaching and learning, Chinese arts and culture, and U.S.–China educational exchange takes place.

Having brought more than 70 of our Chinese teachers, ILTexas was enriched by all the information shared about the increasing number of Chinese-language curriculums implemented and the growing immersion of Chinese and American culture across the nation. An integral piece supported by NCLC speakers like Neil Bush, businessman and son of former President George H. Bush’s (41), who along with other guest panelists discussed the strategic and methodological ways the U.S. can strengthen its relationship with China—particularly in education.

Also during our appearance at the NCLC, ILTexas had the opportunity to host approximately 50 educators from around the globe at our two newest K8 campuses in Houston. Guests were able to receive an in-depth tour that allowed them to sit-in on our Spanish and Chinese classes, gaining an invaluable perspective on the unique infrastructure of our trilingual curriculum. ILTexas Superintendent also served as a panelist for session, “From Vision to Implementation: A Trilingual Model in a Texas Public Charter School” where he discussed the strategies and approach he’s taken in growing ILTexas from 2,500 students to more than 10,000 in just four years.

It is through opportunities like the NCLC and other language-teaching conferences that help ILTexas move the needle in strengthening language acquisitions amongst students and international relationships. We look forward to being a part of an ever-changing landscape that shapes the future of Chinese curriculums and immersion across the nation. To learn more about ILTexas, visit www.iltexas.org.

Are your students maximizing their learning potential after-school? If you are considering alternatives for your after school program, then you’ll want to check out Champions, a Texas Charter Schools Association Solution Provider!

Champions, a turn-key, AdvancED accredited before and after school program, is dedicated to helping children find the spark that ignites their curiosity while giving them the freedom to follow their interests across a range of subjects. As your partner, we will work with you to tailor our curriculum to complement your school’s initiatives. Our goal is support your school day and community, while handling all aspects of your after-school program!

In fall 2015, International Leadership of Texas Garland K-8 was searching for a high quality after-school care program to serve their large number of families requiring an after-school care solution. Irene Aguilar, the principal of the campus, stated, “We decided to switch providers in the middle of the year last year to be able to enrich our students' after school experience with a structured, well managed program which offered standards based weekly themes. Our parents noticed the difference immediately!”

For ILTexas Garland K-8, Champions was a welcome change. With Champions’ significant investment in resources, the space was transformed into an inviting learning environment with many educational choices for the children. Ms. Aguilar comments, “From the humanoid Robotics programming class offered, to the library of books and wealth of educational toys and games in the learning centers - the differences were impressive, and our parents were so appreciative for what Champions had to offer.”

Champions’ hands-on curriculum builds the skills that research has confirmed are critical for children’s success: executive function, social-emotional development, inquiry-based learning, literacy, and a focus on 21st century learning skills. Through providing a centers based approach to after school care with the curriculum, educational toys, outdoor time, and snacks, the stage is also set for homework completion. “The commitment from the Champions staff to offer quality homework assistance to our students, while allowing students to make connections with what they have learned in their regular school day, is quite impressive,” said Ms. Aguilar.

For schools with high after school enrollment, these aspects of a Champions program are even more valuable as Ms. Aguilar said, “Even with increased enrollment this year, I can count on a safe, well organized, standards focused program for students in our after school Champions program!”

If you’d like to learn more, please visit us at the TCSA Conference, Booth 21 or visit our web site at www.discoverchampions.com. If you’d like to discuss the needs of your campus or school system in person, please contact Melinda Smith at 713-396-6439 or melsmith@klcorp.com.

The saying goes that everything is bigger and better in Texas, and population growth is certainly no exception. In fact, Census data shows that last year, 170,103 more residents moved into Texas from other states than left — averaging out to 466 new Texans each day. With this many new Texans, student enrollment also continues to increase, which only magnifies the issue of state-wide teacher shortages. Additionally, more than 20 percent of the new Texans are Hispanic which also increases the need for bilingual educators.

To help address the teacher shortage, the Texas Education Agency has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education of Spain for the Texas-Spain Visiting International Teacher Program (VIT program).

The Texas-Spain VIT program allows participating school districts the opportunity to initiate cultural exchanges by recruiting qualified teachers from Spain. Additionally, the VIT program provides local education agencies with access to teachers with the Spanish language skills needed to provide second language instruction to students in Languages Other Than English (LOTE) programs or primary language instruction to limited English proficient (LEP) Spanish-speaking students. This program provides students, parents, and educators the opportunity to work with professionals from another country.

At least two Texas charter schools are participating in the VIT program, Legacy Preparatory Charter School (Legacy Prep) and International Leadership of Texas (ILTexas). For this upcoming school year, there were approximately 3,000 applicants from Spain and 1,200 teachers were selected for the VIT program. In Texas, 13 districts will host teachers from Spain and this includes about 50 teachers for ILTexas and 17 for Legacy Prep at their various campuses. At Legacy Prep, each of the selected teachers has earned a Master’s degree and three have doctorates. By coming to the U.S., these teachers will double their current salaries and Texas students will benefit by having highly qualified teachers who bring much to the table including subject matter expertise, teacher training, and an international background.

Another source of bilingual teachers that has been used by these districts is Puerto Rico (PR). Since they are already American citizens, there are no immigration requirements. Teachers certified in PR have the same rights as teachers who come to Texas certified from other states so they are granted a one year waiver from the state test requirements. This year, Legacy Prep and ILTexas went over as part of a six charter job fair group from the North Texas area to interview those ready to come to Texas for more money and a less expensive standard of living.

The U.S. Department of Education identified the 2015-16 teacher shortages for Texas by subject matter and there are shortages in these areas: Bilingual/English as a Second Language, Career and Technical Education, Computer Science, English as a Second Language, Mathematics, Science, and Special Education – Elementary and Secondary Levels. The VIT teachers coming to Texas will teach many of those hard to fill positions, especially in those bilingual areas.

While policy-makers and the education community continue to identify more permanent solutions to address teacher shortages, programs like VIT ensure that students still receive instruction from quality teachers. As a result of their superintendent and leadership’s commitment to excellent teachers and quality education, ILTexas and Legacy Prep students will receive the support and instruction they need to succeed.

It all began three years ago when International Leadership of Texas (ILTexas) opened its doors. The goal – to prepare students for exceptional leadership roles in the international community. Fast forward to March 2016. ILTexas is holding its first college signing day in Garland, Texas. 100 percent of its senior class has post high school plans to continue their education (57 students are on the road to college and two students are enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps). Perhaps another Eddie Conger or two are in the mix.Photos first row

Students, arm in arm with their parents, took to the stage announcing their selections as the paparazzi flashed their cameras. Garland City Councilman Scott LeMay joined in the festivities by congratulating these students for their hard work. While acceptances came in from far-away places such as Montana State, University of South Carolina, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pittsburgh; most ILTexas students are staying in the Lone Star State.  

Photos second row

Fifty-four percent of the senior class participated in dual credit courses at Richland Community College, which amounts to more than 950 college credit hours. One such senior, Nicole Castillo, not only earned 30 hours of dual credits, but she will bring five advance placement credits with her to college. This first generation student and captain of her soccer team plans on studying business administration. Her parents and sibling were there beaming from ear to ear. 

TCSA offers congratulations to ILTexas and its entire graduating class! 

Please click on photographs to view larger.

By Jim Croswell

Last week, International Leadership of Texas (ILTexas) officially ended its series of four groundbreaking ceremonies on new campuses that will serve students in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area and Western Houston. These new campuses will provide over 4,500 seats, making ILTexas one of the fastest growing charter schools in the United States. ILTexas has an aggressive growth plan to accommodate for the high demand made known by wait lists numbers reaching more than 5,000 students in just its third year of operation. 

The move to Houston was initiated because of three local parents from Katy, TX who were seeking dual-language programs in the public school system.  As a result of extensive grassroots efforts by local parents, the ILTexas expansion into Houston was granted the following Spring, and will open with two K-8 facilities in August 2016. 

ILTexas is unique, requiring English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese as standard curriculum. ILTexas teaches Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to all students in every grade level beginning in kindergarten, requiring the two languages and an additional athletic conditioning course on top of the standard core classes. 

ILTexas was founded by Mr. Eddie Conger, a retired Marine Corps Infantry Officer and former Dallas ISD high school principal. He will tell you the secret to the unprecedented growth is “Competent teachers, supportive staff, and administrators and parents who truly understand the value of our mission.” 

ILTexas rallies around this understanding, and has created a vision for education unbound by borders. To fulfill this need, ILTexas has a growing international student program, and provides American students an opportunity to spend a month traveling to several cities across mainland China, and experiencing this world they’ve been learning about in their classrooms. The international student program currently educates 55 Chinese students who study alongside the American high school students, interacting daily, practicing their language skills, and developing relationships. With this program, American students are able to immerse themselves in a whole new world, and Chinese students are able to earn their diploma while studying in America. ILTexas is on the path to not only change public education, but to change the world.