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Non-traditional high school motivates students to graduate despite challenges

Eighteen-year-old Sabrina is focused and ready to concentrate on every word and every sound she hears in Ms. McClure’s classroom.

She is one of five students in the North East ISD’s first court reporting program at the Academy of Creative Education (ACE).

ACE is a non-traditional high school that offers students a unique path toward earning their diploma.

“The Academy of Creative Education was founded in 1991 through an innovative grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to serve the District’s at-risk of drop-out population. We serve those who someone has noticed is at-risk of not graduating on time,” Sandra Villegas McClure said.  

McClure has been teaching at ACE for sixteen years and is leading the court reporting pilot program.

“It’s like learning a foreign language but each of these letters represent different words. I’ve had to go to school to learn how to do this. First, an online course in the summer and then I’m taking classes at San Antonio College (SAC) to see how to teach what court reporting is,” she said.

Ms. McClure is passionate about teaching students that education can open the door to careers they might not have thought possible.

“We are so short of court reporters in Texas, we should have 7,000 and we only have 2,200. There is a big demand. Official court reporters that work for the courts make over $100,000 a year, so we are training the students to get into that career path through this career and technology course,” she added.

Sabrina hopes to be a lawyer one day.

She said being at ACE has helped her balance her time between school, work, and home life. 

“The reason why it’s made it a lot easier is because I have more time to go home and I have more time to spend with my sister because me and my sister have been in and out of foster care, so I have to take care of her,” the high school senior said.  

“When you take an at-risk student that maybe didn’t know the possibilities and you start opening up the world for them when it comes to employment, they have that additional hook to stay in school and continue and be successful,” McClure said.  

Since the school’s opening, over 4800 students have graduated from ACE.

The students have always chosen to move forward, no matter their circumstances.

“The students that are here at ACE are amazing! I truly believe that our sister schools send us the best students that they have,” McClure said.

McClure also said that ACE is a place of mutual respect between the students and teachers. 

“This is a very positive school; these students are here to learn and be successful and they are,” she said.

Sabrina said she loves attending ACE because of the teachers and her fellow students.

“The people here are super sweet and nice. The teachers especially like Ms. McClure, she’s one of the best teachers here,” Sabrina added.

Ms. McClure said that the students are teaching her everyday too.

“I love what the student bring to us as well, they bring us another outlook on life and they energize us each and every day.”

To learn more about The Academy of Creative Education, click here:

Discover the NEISD way, where our educators care about each and every student and help guide them toward success.

Ashley Speller