Whenever I’m asked why I wanted to start a charter school, the answer is always the same—because I wanted to make a difference!

I’ll never forget the day when, as an assistant principal in Dallas ISD, I had two 4th grade students tell me they had never been inside an elevator. I was shocked to learn that despite living in a city filled with skyscrapers, these students had never been in an elevator.

Later the same year, after experiencing the frustration that comes from working in a large school district, I decided that I definitely needed to do something different, something better, where students’ needs were always a priority. When I suggested to my husband that we apply for a charter school, he casually remarked: “we can look into it.” And so began our journey to bring La Academia de Estrellas to life.

While the journey began that day, our dream wasn’t fully realized until we opened our doors on August 14, 2006, serving 170 students from Kindergarten through 3rd grade in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. The school operated inside of Cliff Temple Baptist Church for several years, adding an additional grade level each year until we had students from PK 3 to 8th grade.

Now, nearly thirteen years later, this labor of love continues inside two buildings owned by the school. Our ECC campus, located at Hampton and Wright, houses approximately 250 students in PK 3 and PK 4 half-day classes. The Kiest campus houses approximately 850 students in Kinder through 8th grade in a two-story structure with large windows, a community-built playground and an interior courtyard.

But more important than the buildings is what happens here. Teachers and staff work tirelessly to ensure that students are engaged in their own learning each and every day. Students have opportunities to learn outside the school walls when they embark on numerous field trips each year, fully funded by the school. Community service projects afford students the opportunity to serve others. Combined, our students and staff complete around 20 service projects each year, benefiting a number of families and organizations!

As the co-founder and superintendent of La Academia de Estrellas Charter School, I am proud to lead an amazing group of dedicated teachers and staff as we work together to fulfill our mission of creating life-long learners.