Dolores Gonzalez

Recognized for Leadership in Preparing All Students for College

  • Expertise: Preparing All Students for College
  • Position: Chief Program Officer
  • District: IDEA Public Schools, Weslaco, Texas

Three miles from the Pharr International Bridge in Texas—a major point of entry into the United States from Mexico—the prekindergarten students at the IDEA Pharr Academy arrive with virtually no English-language skills. By the time they graduate, though, most will be headed for a four-year college or university with at least 11 AP course credits on their transcripts. The lead architect of that trajectory is Dolores Gonzalez, the chief program officer at IDEA Public Schools, a charter school network that serves 30,000 students, most of them in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Motivated by “devastating” feedback from IDEA graduates who said they felt unprepared for college-level coursework, Gonzalez is leading an Advanced Placement for All initiative that, along with a new pre-K program, starts building the path to higher education in the earliest years.

—Erin Irwin/Education Week
—Erin Irwin/Education Week

“Pre-K eliminates the achievement gap for us at a very, very young age, all the way to AP, which is the other end of the spectrum,” Gonzalez says. “If I were king of the world, I would have every single school district have pre-K.”

Lessons from the Leader

  • Prioritize Early Education: Early-childhood education is crucial for eliminating achievement gaps and providing children with the tools they need to succeed in every year of school.
  • Focus on At-Risk Students: Take responsibility for helping every student reach his or her highest potential and use appropriate interventions at every step of the way to support students.
  • Make High School Rigorous: Design courses that truly prepare students for college and ensure that they can enter their first year of higher education without the need for remedial courses.
More Leaders of 2017 Sneak Peek

Produced with support from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org

×
2015 Agenda

7:15 a.m.–8:00 a.m.
Networking Breakfast
Join for breakfast with leaders who work in the fields of most interest to you. There’ll be tables for parent engagement, school climate, ed tech, and more!

8:00 a.m.–8:25 a.m.
Welcome, Introductions, and Recognition Presentation
Recognition of the work of 8 of the 15—2015 Leaders To Learn From selected by Education Week.

8:25 a.m.–8:40 a.m.
Breakouts—Meet the Leaders
First 8 Leaders will go to their subject matter tables located throughout the room to discuss with attendees their “Focus of Strength” and to answer any questions attendees have. (Attendees will be encouraged to find their table of interest based on the map of the room provided in the program).

8:40 a.m.–9:10 a.m.
Recognition Presentation Concludes
Recognition of the work of our final 7 Leaders To Learn From.

9:10 a.m.–9:35 a.m
Breakouts—Meet the Leaders
Second group of Leaders will go to their subject matter tables located throughout the room to discuss with attendees their “Focus of Strength” and to answer any questions attendees have.

9:35 a.m.–10:05 a.m.
District Leader Snapshots
(A selection of 2015 Leaders will come to the stage with their reporters and discuss their “Focus of Strength.”)

10:05 a.m.–10:30 a.m.
Midmorning Networking Break

10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.
“Three Keys for Maximizing Leadership Impact”
Michael Fullan, education leadership author and expert, and former minister of education, Canada (2003–2013).

11:30 a.m.–12:00 a.m.
District Leader Snapshots
(A selection of 2015 Leaders will come to the stage with their reporters and discuss their “Focus of Strength”).

12:00 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.
“Ask the ED”
Join in a Department of Education Lightning Round featuring Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Deborah S. Delisle other Department of Education leadership who will take your questions.

12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.
Networking Luncheon
Uninterrupted time to mingle with those you’ve met at your tables and at the various tables set up throughout the room during our break-outs.

×