The Gonzales ISD school board approved the provided extra instructional time in their Monday, Sept. 12, school board meeting.
The Apache Academy All-STAAR initiative was implemented for the 2022-23 school year for GISD; the purpose behind it is to help students extra instructional time for eight Saturdays for each semester.
GISD Superintendent Dr. Elmer Avellaneda has had prior experience with this program as a principal and district leader.
“I saw positive results I saw students improving their academics in both reading and math, which reflected on the state standardized assessments as well,” Avellaneda said.
The program is proposed as not only providing extra academic learning for the students in math, reading and special projects, but also character building.
Avellaneda explained that several different groups will provide character trait training from student ambassadors, FFA, family consumer science, ROTC, and etc.
“There's going to be a collaboration between CTE: career technology education and food service to bring in guest speakers to guide students, applying reading and math skills with their professions,” said Avellaneda.
Tessa Cain, GISD instructional coach coordinator, is the one leading the program for the academy and explained why they picked a Saturday.
“Looking at what the district had in place, with the House bill 4545 with Miss Steen and the ACE program, also in the afternoons to support our students and families, (lead to a Saturday choice),” Cain said.
Teachers will have a special role with the students for the program, they’ll be teaching student expectations, and filling the gaps for those students, making sure the teacher supports the student’s needs, Cain added.
“We want the kids do a lot of collaborating a lot of problem solving, tying in student expectations from like first grade, second grade, third grade, so they see how they scaffold, how they build,” Cain said.
Other than reading and math skills, the students will be doing project base learning that combines math, reading, science and social studies.
“It's called Texas project based and the lessons are already put together by grade level. So the students are going to have the option to choose if they want to do math, science, (etc.),” Cain said.
Avellaneda talked about the importance of character building for the students that are participating in the program.
“We want our students to be academically ready, but we also want them to have confidence in their character and pride in their character,” Avellaneda said. “So we're going to provide lessons that give them the opportunity to learn character traits that make up a great Apache student.”
Cain had the same response when asked about the program’s importance for learning and character building.
“It's a great initiative, as we're trying to keep our groups small. There will be 12 kids are fewer in a group, this way, we're actually meeting what they need to be successful on their student expectations, and building up their characters, confidence, and letting them know that you can go anywhere you want to,” Cain said.
The program is for fourth grade through ninth graders only. The Apache Academy All STAAR will be located on two campuses: Gonzales North Avenue Intermediate School for fourth to sixth graders and Gonzales High School for seventh through ninth graders.
The program hours are from 8 a.m. to noon for eight Saturdays for each semester; a combined 16 Saturdays.