Tears of joy were shed by the board and staff members of the Premont Independent School District as Texas A&M University in Kingsville confirmed to academically collaborate with the school to help keep education in Premont alive during a press conference on May 21 in the Founder’s Room at Lewis Hall.
With the school at risk of being shut down for good, Texas A&M University was granted permission from the chancellor at Texas A&M University, John Sharp, and the Texas Commissioner of Education, Michael Williams.
Sharp and Williams joined TAMUK President, Dr. Steven Tallant, and Superintendent of the Premont ISD, Ernest Singleton, to make the announcement official as well as discuss the future relationship between the university and high school.
“When the Commissioner said we won’t be revoked, I was blown away,” said Singleton as he spoke of his meeting with Williams. “I was thinking, did he really just say that? We’ve been working hard for over two years to make all this happen.”
Singleton and the board members of Premont ISD worked alongside with the Texas Education Agency when the Commissioner advised them to consider working with TAMUK.
“The Commissioner has done something unprecedented by giving us this opportunity to collaborate with a major university as part of his decision making process,” said Singleton. “Everything is so unique about all of this because it’s never been done before.”
Director of Special Programs and Technology at Premont High School, was in attendance this afternoon as he watched the new relationship between the two education systems become a reality.
“As they mentioned in the press conference, this is historic because it’s never been done before. It’s nice to see that the University has reached out to help a rural district, a neighbor, who really needs their help,” said Ramos. “As Dr. Tallant mentioned, it is part of creating a strong middle class and producing teachers and an education system in South Texas, and that’s part of the University’s original mission.”
Ramos taught full time at TAMUK for over 15 years as the Director of the Forensics program and taught basic Communication courses.
“We are going to see opportunities we’ve never seen before and that other school districts don’t have,” said Ramos. “Our kids will be special in that way and they deserve it.”
The students at Premont High school will also be very special to TAMUK becuase they will also be considered as future students.
Associate Vice President for Student Successes, Dr. Nancy King-Sanders, will be working with Premont students to establish dual enrollment to give them the opportunity to earn college credit and become college ready.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said King-Sanders. “Premont has so much to offer and their students are great and they deserve a lot of support resources. We are the right school to offer those resources and I believe we are on the right track in helping them move forward.”
The plan of action was discussed at today’s press conference to establish some of the ideas, initiatives and resources TAMUK will be providing Premont.
“This is an alliance,” said Dr. Tallant as he spoke of the agreement that took almost three months to establish. “We will be helping them primarily in four different areas.”
These areas include learning systems, educational environment, assessment and accountability, and post secondary education.
“I am very excited and proud of the University,” said Dr. Tallant. “This is going to give us a chance to work with the school district in a model that’s never been seen and it can be historic and meaningful for South Texas.”
A motion still in progress, TAMUK and Premont are working on hiring two people who will be on a day to day basis to coordinate all of the efforts the alliance is trying to bring together.
“Everybody has encouraged us to do this and it has been very rewarding,” said Dr. Tallant.
Singleton told the story to the community of Premont, Kingsville, and various media outlets of how this long process began with the tug on the tail of his jacket as a student came to Singleton during a Science class asking for their help and not to give up on them.
Singleton did just that.
“It was such a celebration and very liberating to think we don’t have this black cloud over us anymore,” said Singleton. “Who I really label as heroes are the kids because they stuck in there all this time. I consider them my heroes.”
With the collaboration up and running, the process of rebuilding a stronger foundation of education has begun with a big year ahead of them.
A formal plan will continue to develop as well as professional development with the Premont staff starting as early as next year.
“This university was once called the ‘South Texas State Teachers College’,” said Dr. Tallant. “We were open to produce great teachers in South Texas and we do that. This is only going to make us better at what we do, and it’s just a great day to be