Within Judson ISD, the Innovation Department offers specialized, open-enrollment school models and programs across the district for students from elementary to high school. These unique models provide students with individualized opportunities for success, both inside and outside the classroom.

The Innovation Department launched in 2021 with the goal to serve the JISD community in three ways:
  • by expanding the number of inventive, imaginative school options available to students;
  • raising the percentage of students in high-quality, best-fit campuses; and
  • increasing the academic achievement of all students.
Deputy Superintendent of Innovation, Business & Operations Cecilia Davis said Judson ISD is one of 22 members of TEA’s System of Great Schools (SGS) Network, a school improvement initiative that works to deliver the schools families want, need and deserve.

The four-year program provides district leaders with technical assistance, professional learning communities and support in applying for grants and other financial resources.

Through its involvement in the SGS Network, the department is launching its newest innovative campus, Pathways and Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), in the fall of 2023.

The P-TECH program at JudsonHigh School is in partnership with Alamo Colleges and other industry partners with a mission to create industry and college pathways for students focused on in-demand careers.

When the program launches in the fall, it will offer three specialty programs: Automotive: Collision Repair, Pre-Dental and Pre-Nursing.

Academic Dean at Judson High School Eric Pawkett said the programs weren’t chosen at random.

“We worked with our industry partners and looked at the Texas Workforce Commission’s list of high demand careers to make sure we have programs on campus that facilitate those needs,” he said. “Within the Alamo area, certified dental assistants, patient care technicians and collision repair specialists are all highly-needed jobs.”

P-TECHs are innovative open-enrollment high schools that offer a career focus with a work-based education. Through the open-enrollment high school, students have the opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and a credential and/or an associate degree.

“I like to say P-TECH is an early college high school with CTE [Career and Technical Education] sitting on top,” Pawkett said. “That's the sauce that makes it extra special.”

After the announcement of the upcoming launch, P-TECH received over 100 applications from students across the district.

“We originally planned to have 30 students start in each of our individual programs,” Pawkett said, “But after the wave of applications, we got the okay to allow 50 students into our Pre-Nursing program.”

The Pre-Nursing program has an agreement with Northeast Methodist Hospital, which will allow students to visit the hospital in groups of 10, accompanied by a teacher.

Pawkett said the reason for curbing the program’s enrollment is due to the ratio of students to teacher limitation.

“We already offer medical assisting as a program on the Judson campus, which is limited by the amount of seats that a teacher can hold,” he said. “We're going to expand [the program] as our students move through it.”

The innovative open-enrollment programs are open to students across the district, not just at the school a student is zoned for, and Pawkett said the district will provide transportation from the closest high school to the P-TECH program.

Judson High School Principal Richard Mendoza said from a community standpoint, the opportunities the Innovation Department is creating shows that Judson ISD is being intentional about servicing its students and our families.

“[As a district], we're being progressive by offering the opportunities for young people to be successful right out of high school,” he said. “As school districts and public educators, we've got to continue to find the nuances that are going to strike the interest of our students and our teachers. And I think that's the goal: being intentional about the opportunities that we're offering our students.”

For more information about JISD’s Innovation Department, visit the website here. To learn more about the innovative campuses throughout the district, click here.

The above story was produced by Summer El-Shahawy with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team. Our integrity promise to our readers is to clearly identify all CI Storytelling posts so they are separate from the content decided upon, researched and written by our journalism department.