Mayor hosts celebration of top grads with workforce-ready credentials
Published on May 25, 2022
Today, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker hosted a new event, “Where Achievement Begins: Mayor’s Celebration for Workforce-Ready Graduates,” to celebrate 70 top students graduating with advanced degrees and certificates in addition to high school diplomas.
“I am thrilled to be celebrating the future of Fort Worth today. What they have achieved cannot be understated,” Parker said. “My vision is a Fort Worth where every student accomplishes this feat and walks out of high school not just with a high school diploma, but also a workforce-ready credential granting opportunities and options for success. Workforce readiness out of high school is life-changing for individuals, families, generations, and even our entire North Texas economy, and now is the time to be intentionally investing in these opportunities for students.”
Ten students from each of the seven Early College High School programs with graduating seniors serving Fort Worth were selected by their respective schools to be invited to the celebration (additional Early College High Schools are operating in Fort Worth, but do not yet have graduating classes):
- Crowley ISD: Crowley Collegiate Academy.
- Everman ISD: Everman Collegiate High School.
- Fort Worth ISD: Collegiate Academy at O. D. Wyatt High School, Marine Creek Collegiate High School, Tarrant County College South/Fort Worth ISD Collegiate High School, and Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences.
- Northwest ISD: James M. Steele Early College High School.
Early College High Schools are high schools that allow students an opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and either an associate degree, advanced certification, credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree or a combination of these. Early College High School graduates are three times more likely to earn a college degree than non- Early College High School graduates, drastically increasing earning potential over their lifetimes. Further, compared to the average Texas high school graduate, 46% more of the graduates of a Fort Worth ISD Early College High School program were considered college ready, as well as being significantly more likely to enroll in college. At the same time, Fort Worth ISD Early College High School students are much more likely to come from an economically-disadvantaged background.
Tarrant County College serves as the educational engine behind Fort Worth’s Early College High Schools. Official numbers are still being finalized, but this month TCC expects to confer approximately 3,282 spring 2022 degrees and certificates, with 508 being presented to local Early College High School graduates.
“Tarrant County College has made a courageous shift on behalf of our students and the communities we serve. We are fully committed to attending to the unique and varied needs of the diverse students we serve from initial interest through completion,” said Elva LeBlanc, acting chancellor of TCC. “The success of our early-college high school students is one example of many that can be shared.”
To discuss how Early College High School programs have impacted their lives and futures, Mayor Parker held a panel conversation at the “Where Achievement Begins” event with students from each of the school districts represented: Jose Almaguer, Collegiate Academy at O. D. Wyatt High School, Fort Worth ISD; Melanie Bisisi, Everman Collegiate High School, Everman ISD; Brandon Irving, Crowley Collegiate Academy, Crowley ISD; and Jordan Smithee, James M. Steele Early College High School, Northwest ISD.
To further celebrate the seniors’ hard work and achievement, all students attending the event were surprised with a Meta Quest 2 virtual reality headset from the event’s sponsor, Fort Worth Education Partnership, a nonprofit that supports access to high-quality educational experiences for Fort Worth children.
“Fort Worth’s Early College High Schools are some of the top performing high schools in the city, and we are proud to support these outstanding graduates who have already progressed so far along the path to success,” said Brent Beasley, president and CEO of Fort Worth Education Partnership.
Meta provided a $20,000 sponsorship to the Fort Worth Education Partnership to support the celebration. Since breaking ground on the Fort Worth Data Center in 2015, Meta has continually invested in education initiatives in the Fort Worth community.
“At Meta, we strive to be a good partner in our data center communities, and we are committed to Tarrant County and its students. We’re thrilled to be a part of this celebration of student achievement, and can’t wait to see what these graduates achieve in the future,” said Katie Comer, community development manager at Meta.
Mayor’s Council on Education & Workforce Development
Noting the astounding success of Early College High School programs, as well as Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-Techs), Dual Credit Courses, and Career Technical Education programs, Parker, in coordination with Tom Harris, executive vice president of Hillwood, has formed the Mayor’s Council on Education & Workforce Development to influence and enhance educational programs and career pathways in Fort Worth public schools to help prepare students for their future careers, including careers that help meet the current and future needs of business and industry in Fort Worth and North Texas.
“The students Mayor Parker celebrated today are a prime example of the awesome potential that already exists in our schools, and my hope is that the Mayor’s Council helps us take that achievement to new heights for more students, ultimately impacting the future workforce and economy of our entire North Texas region,” Harris said.
The Mayor’s Council on Education & Workforce Development is made up of some of the brightest minds in the future of education and workforce in Fort Worth:
- Brent Beasley, Fort Worth Education Partnership, president and CEO.
- Shannon Bryant, Tarrant County College, executive vice president.
- Jay Chapa, J Chapa Strategic Solutions, principal.
- Dr. Bill Coppola, Tarrant County College, president.
- Jeanelle Davis, BNSF, executive director of public affairs.
- Eric Fox, Lockheed Martin, director of government relations.
- Michael Gagne, Greenlight Credentials, executive director of employer partnerships.
- Tom Harris, Hillwood, executive vice president (council chair).
- Melody Johnson, Fort Worth ISD (retired), former Fort Worth ISD superintendent.
- Jay McCall, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, program manager.
- Brian Newby, Cantey Hanger, managing partner.
- Eric Reeves, Greenlight Credentials, managing director.
- Dr. David Saenz, Fort Worth ISD, chief of innovation.
- Natalie Young Williams, Tarrant To & Through Partnership, executive director.
Chaired by Harris, the Mayor’s Council will work to increase student population participating in local, existing high-performing college readiness and career tech programs, increase high school graduate enrollment in Tarrant County College, and identify educational training and education gaps in current public school curriculum to help meet industry needs for workforce-readiness. The Mayor’s Council efforts will include development of performance measurements, engagement with school districts to support existing efforts, collaboration with nonprofits with similar missions, and identification of opportunities for increased engagement between the schools and businesses.
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