HARLINGEN — Best in the state.
That’s what teachers, students and administrators are talking about as they begin the school year at South Texas Independent School District.
“Everybody is excited,” said Marla Guerra, superintendent of STISD, a collection of magnet schools spread throughout Cameron, Willacy and Hidalgo counties.
She was talking about the district’s ranking with the Niche 2018 Best K-12 schools in Texas.
The 2018 Best Public High Schools ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with test scores, college data and ratings collected from millions of Niche users.
“This is the first year we’re ranked at the top of the state level,” Guerra said.
“Our school community continues to try to get better.”
Guerra said a combination of things have caused STISD schools to be a cut above the rest.
“Kids, when they decide to come here, they really want to succeed,” she said.
“I think it’s a really positive school culture combined with a lot of support we give our students.”
That support, she said, comes from a desire to ensure each student coming to the district succeeds.
“If they’re struggling with a particular subject, we provide tutoring in the morning, at noon, after school, Saturdays,” she said.
“Our teachers develop relationships with our kids. They get to know their kids and they push them. We’re not large enough for kids to get lost in the mix, yet we’re small enough to really provide a family type atmosphere.”
Amanda Odom, public relations spokesperson for the district, expanded on this by referring to the culture of individual small learning environments at each school.
“As you go and talk to the students at the different schools, that’s really one of their favorite things about attending an STISD school,” Odom said.
“They feel so comfortable, like it is a family environment.”
She gave special mention to the district’s partnerships in local communities.
“It allows our students to really go out there and do hands-on things that make what they are learning in the classrooms relevant,” she said.
“We’ve had those partnerships, some of those have been established for many years.”
South Texas Independent School District serves junior high and high school students in the Rio Grande Valley.
The district stretches over Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties, and overlaps 28 other school districts.
The district is comprised of six magnet schools:
• Rising Scholars Academy of South Texas (Rising Scholars Academy) – new middle school in San Benito
• South Texas Business, Education & Technology Academy (BETA) in Edinburg
• South Texas Academy for Medical Professions (Medical Academy) in Olmito
• South Texas High School for Health Professions (Med High) in Mercedes
• The Science Academy of South Texas (Sci Tech) in Mercedes
• South Texas Preparatory Academy in Edinburg