Tag Archives: Palo Duro High School

The New Face of ACE

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ACE students have completed more than 1,374 certificates and degrees and are a projected to return $2.6 billion in lifetime earnings to Amarillo’s economy.

One of the most powerful features of the ACE Scholarship Program is its ability to leverage outside sources of financial aid.  Since ACE assists students in obtaining federal, state, and local grants and scholarships, we are able to send students to college for an average cost of $1,200 per year. The ability to leverage outside aid makes ACE an excellent educational investment in Amarillo students.

As we look forward to another 20 years of assisting ACE scholars, we are asking for your help in supporting the educational aspirations of our students.  Your $100 a month actually sends a child to college through the ACE program. Will you be a face of ACE?

Meet our current ACE supporters.

Meet Christopher, an ACE student.

Visit https://www.amarilloareafoundation.org/face-of-ace to become a face of ACE today.

 

Amarillo Area Foundation Announces Completion of ACE Expansion Campaign

Blog_headerWednesday, August 31, 2016

AMARILLO, TX – In 2009, the Amarillo Area Foundation made a commitment to grow the ACE Endowment by $5 million. Growing the endowment allowed the ACE program to expand its outreach to three elementary schools in the Tasocsa High School cluster. Fifth graders attending Bivins, Margaret Wills, and San Jacinto elementary schools are now eligible for ACE scholarship funds if they enter Tascosa in their freshman year and maintain the program requirements for grades, attendance, and behavior.

This past May, 39 Tascosa seniors graduated ACE eligible, joining 154 of their ACE colleagues from Palo Duro and 192 ACE graduates from Caprock High School. Roya and Sheida Jaberiandoraji were the first two Tascosa ACE graduates.  Both girls completed high school in two years and began their college career at Amarillo College in 2014.  They are currently studying at West Texas A&M University this fall.

Since the first graduating class of ACE students in 1998, more than 4,800 students have graduated ACE eligible, 3,267 have attended college on an ACE scholarship, and 1,374 have earned a college degree or postsecondary certificate. Almost $6.5 million has been awarded in ACE scholarships and the Amarillo Area Foundation has helped students obtain more than $16 million in federal funding and other scholarship funds. ACE students have a wealth of resources to assist them in their postsecondary pursuits because of the dedication of ACE donors.

More than 2,000 donors have made gifts to ACE totaling over $9.9 million since the inception of the program in 1994. Individuals, corporations, and foundations made diligent efforts to provide lasting impact in the lives of ACE students and their families and also in the social and economic prosperity of the Amarillo community.

A special gift was made in honor of Robin Gilliland Weir by her husband, David Weir, to finalize the expansion. Gilliland Weir was Co-Chair of the ACE Campaign with Allen Durrett. Gilliland Weir commented, “I am so proud of our community for creating and funding ACE for 22 years. I have always loved this program because of how many lives it has touched.  To educate the youth of our community is a win/win for all of us!”

For Gilliland Weir, giving to ACE was also a familial legacy. “My parents have been donors to ACE since it began at Palo Duro and set an example of the importance of helping others to break down the barriers to a college education.  My husband is also a donor and is so understanding and supportive of the students who face challenges to postsecondary education.”

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Finding Will

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I am busy. That’s my attitude most of the time. I am just too busy to solve the world’s problems. I am in the stage of life where balance between life, family, and work is key. I literally have no time. Besides, I am just me, one person, what can I do. I am sure you find yourself with the same sentiment at times.

Then, I sat through what I like to call “the indoctrination of Doug Curry.” Have you met him? Have you ever heard him talk about young people? He inspires you to put aside your own expectations or judgments. He talks about chance encounters and how to influence our young citizens. He has a plan to ensure all students are pestered until they create a plan for life after high school. So, now, wherever I go, I ask young adults, “What’s your plan?”

Doug and Dr. Dana West started this movement, and now I cannot stop asking the question. One day, an unsuspecting sacker at United, whom I will call Will, was just minding his own business. I asked him where he went to school, he said, “Tascosa, I’m a Rebel.” He said that in a way that let me know it wasn’t just his mascot, but perhaps a way of life.

Then I released the hounds, “What’s your plan after high school, Will?”

He stuttered and spurted and finally let it out: “I’m an artist, I don’t think school is for me.”

“Really? I have a ton of friends who are artists, and they all went to school,” I replied.

“Yeah, I don’t like people telling me what to do when it comes to art,” Will said back.

It was clear that I was dealing with the typical thoughts of teenagers, who today have a lot of pressure on them. “You know graphic artists are very talented, and they do really important work. The process of school will not make you lose your artistic expression, but more like unearth all the talent that’s within you. Amarillo College and WT both have great programs for artists,” I explained. Continue reading

#WHYACE: For the Peeples

Blog_headerThis week we are visiting with the 2015 Council of Chief State Officers Teacher of the Year, Ms. Shanna Peeples. CCSO Teacher of the Year is the oldest most prestigious national accolade of its kind. Since receiving the award, Peeples since spent the past year traveling the globe as an ambassador for education.

Peeples is a graduate of West Texas A&M University, an ACE network university, and an AP English teacher at one of our ACE schools, Palo Duro High School. We are delighted to interview Shanna and capture her thoughts on ACE.

AAF: So Shanna, as an award-winning educator, what do you see ACE doing for your students?

Peeples: I am grateful that ACE has an attendance requirement because research strongly supports the correlation between a student just being in school and that student’s probability of graduating. It’s hard to overstate how much low-income students struggle with the demands of helping their families pay the bills. These demands can take the shape of time spent caring for siblings or other family members while the parent or guardian is at work, or in the form of work to help pay household bills. Or both. Those who are blessed with not having to make the choice between these kinds of demands and school attendance may have a hard time understanding the pressures faced by students who grow up in poverty. For many high school students in poverty, life is a constant cost-benefit analysis: what is worth more? Keeping my family on track or going to school today? ACE, in a very concrete sense, helps students see the benefits of education.

AAF: You’ve done a ton of traveling over the last year advocating for education. In your travels, have you recognized or heard about programs similar to ACE?

Peeples: I’ve not heard about programs similar to ACE in the way it is so broad-based and open to so many students.

AAF: One of the belief statements of AISD is that “education is the equalizer in our society and that our schools can and should provide a culture of hope for all children.” How do you see ACE contributing to that belief statement for students?

Peeples: Here’s the thing: hope is not an abstraction. Hope is built by the actions and the attitudes around us. That’s how I translate the belief statement. The use of the word “can” implies that what we do every day in our classrooms builds hope. And the word “should” means that it’s a moral decision to create that hope. What we choose to do or what we choose to neglect has consequences. This foundation of hope depends on our community to reflect the message to every child that they matter, that they have value, and that we expect them to take their places in our neighborhoods as citizens. ACE contributes to the belief with a solid plan for every student to meet those expectations in the way of financial help for college.

AAF: What do you wish our community knew about ACE?

Peeples: I want Amarillo to be proud of the fact that we have programs like ACE that are just plain smart economics. For every dollar we invest in education, we get triple in return, according to data from California State University. College graduates not only return millions of dollars to the state, but they tend to be healthier, have more stable relationships, and volunteer at higher rates – all quality of life indicators that make a city attractive to outside investors.

AAF: Triple the return, we’ll conclude on that note. It’s been an honor, we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

Peeples: Thank you for letting me speak about a subject I love: education!

That is all for this week. Join us next week, on the eve of AISD graduation, as we conclude our series with the voices of ACE students past and present.

Till next week!

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#WHYACE: A Culture of Hope

Blog_headerAs we begin our fourth week of the ACE Blog series, we are shifting our focus to Amarillo Independent School District’s perspective on ACE. More specifically, we are letting AISD Superintendent, Dr. Dana West; Caprock Principal, David Bishop; and Guidance and Counselling Program Director, Tracey Morman do most of the talking.

Like good reporters we did some research on AISD’s mission and belief statements beforehand. Belief statement No. 2 immediately stood out: “We believe that education is the equalizer in our society and that our schools can and should provide a culture of hope for all children.” Sounds vaguely like ACE, no? So we decided to chat with Dr. West to see if she agreed.

AAF: When did you first learn about ACE and what was your initial perception of it?

Superintendent West: Well you’re going to laugh when you hear this, but I was new to Amarillo as a principal at Travis Middle School and I really just thought ACE was this assembly we did every six weeks encouraging attendance, grades, and good behavior. Obviously, my understanding has changed since then. The conversation transitions from “here’s a certificate and free pencil” to “people in our community will help you pay for and achieve your scholastic goals.”

AAF: That is funny. As an administrator what would you value most then about ACE?

Superintendent West: It’s our community’s commitment to our district’s mission. Graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school. What is your plan? Your community supports you.

AAF: You’re emphasizing both ACE and No Limits No Excuses with that statement. So I was really moved to see that one of AISD’s belief statements is that education is one of the great equalizers in our society and you believe that your schools should provide a culture of hope for all children. How do you see ACE contributing to that belief statement?

Superintendent West: ACE reiterates the culture of hope in our schools by emphasizing that everyone is committed to the economic development of Amarillo. ACE says our community realizes that our economic development relies on our scholars in our local schools. In many ways ACE makes our community put our money where our mouth is to show that support. We can then create hope in our students because we have a program that blatantly displays that community effort and support.

Creating a culture of community support all their own, is Principal David Bishop of Caprock and his staff. We sat down with Mr. Bishop and here is what he had to say:

Principal Bishop: ACE is a tool that helps us build a conversation around a K-16 plan instead of a K-12 plan. If you shape students to believe going to college is achievable and a part of their personal plan just like going to high school is, you would be amazed by how much they listen and internalize that message. ACE has specifically caused a cultural shift on our campus. College wouldn’t have always been a part of the conversation here 10-15 years ago.

AAF: Can you tell me a bit about what you have done to make ACE unique at your campus?

Principal Bishop: Well we have two really special features to our ACE program that are fairly new. We have the $25,000 check we give to each of our incoming freshman students on our Freshman Walk and we have ACE Insurance Agents.

AAF: Explain to me more about these checks. What are they?

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