“Our mission is to develop strong critical thinkers that will graduate from competitive four year colleges by providing strict character development and a rigorous academic curriculum.”
Houston Gateway Academy (HGA) is an open-enrollment charter school that opened its doors in 1999 with just two classrooms (45 students) at the Gulfgate Mall in southeast Houston. For the 2016-2017 school year more than 2,300 scholars in grades PK-3 through 12th grade are being served in three high performing campuses (Evergreen, Coral, and Elite) and plans are underway for expansion in other locations throughout the Houston area.
Our unique and highly effective school model has the essential components that fully support and push academic rigor, equity and innovation:
- Dual Language Program – English and Spanish instruction is provided for scholars starting in PreK (3 year olds) until they exit in first grade. Strong academic results in both languages are evidence that our bilingual and biliterate approach works.
- Mandatory Extended School Day for All Scholars (PreK- grade 12) – At HGA instruction begins at 7:45 am and ends at 5:00 pm as compared to traditional neighborhood schools that end two hours earlier. Additionally, dinner is provided for all scholars before they go home.
- Standards Based Instruction – HGA follows the state developed curriculum (TEKS) and fully complies with all academic accountability requirements that include participation in STAAR (TX state test).
- Data Tracking to Monitor Progress and Drive Instruction – It includes beginning of the year diagnostic assessments for all scholars, midyear benchmarks in December, IOWA (ITBS), STAAR (TX state test), weekly assessments, PSAT, SAT, and reading Running Records.
- Professional Development – In collaboration with our area’s education service center (Region IV ESC), teachers receive training based on areas of need. Additionally, principals and our chief of academics provide in-house trainings to target new learning and areas of improvement. HGA is also an approved Texas Education Agency (TEA) Continuing Education Provider.
- Ongoing Coaching Support from Our Instructional Leaders (assistant principals, principals, and chief of academics) – Regular classroom visits allow teachers to receive feedback that target precise praise, areas of improvement, and action steps. This support includes opportunities for modeling and practice.
- College Readiness – All scholars in grades 8-12 are required to take the PSAT and SAT. Other expectations and systems in place include integration of SAT questions in interim assessments, SAT problem of the day, mandatory SAT preparation classes for all scholars required to take SAT, Dual credit classes, and SAT rigor training for all teachers. Our scholars also take part of visits to local and out of the area four year universities.
- Co-Teachers – In order to be fully prepared for the expansion of new campuses, co-teachers have been assigned to teachers that have a track record of success. During this year long partnership, co-teachers acquire the knowledge and skills needed to be effective teachers.
- Strong Parental Commitment – Our Empowered Parent Coalition Program provides required parent sessions covering the following topics: Understanding Your Child, Communicating with Your Child, Promoting Positive Behaviors, Paving the Road to Academic Success, Understanding What It Takes, Navigating the School System, and Open Dialogue with the School Principal. ESL and citizenship classes are also provided. Additionally, during in-service all teachers conduct home visits of their scholars with the purpose of developing a strong bond and sense of trust with our parents. These visits also provide an opportunity to discuss the scholars’ strengths, weaknesses, and needs.
- Character Development – Strong emphasis is placed in modeling and teaching scholars HGA’s core values (High Expectations, Grit, and Achievement). Additionally, the following character traits area emphasized during the school year: Courage, Optimism, Uniqueness, Growth Mindset, Assertiveness, Resilience, and Service.