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ACE Celebrates 30 Years

When Twain Tharp was the Executive Director of Special Programs for North East ISD in the 90s, he saw a need.

“Our goal was to find spots for students who didn’t fit the traditional school,” said Tharp.

So, the Academy of Creative Education (ACE) was created.

The goal was to help students graduate.

Since its inception, the self-paced program has given students with challenges outside of education a chance to continue their high school careers and graduate.

It’s now become a nationally-recognized model for high school students at risk of dropping out.

“It’s everything we ever hoped it would be,” said Tharp at the most recent ACE graduation.

He looked on with a smile as more than 50 students crossed the stage for their diplomas.

Evelyn with her diplomaEvelyn Moya was one of those graduates.

She had attendance issues at MacArthur High School, putting her behind.

So a friend suggested ACE.

“ACE made me feel very comfortable. I wanted to graduate. I wanted to be at ACE. I loved how I felt being at school. So, I didn’t feel like I wanted to miss any days,” said Moya. “I am excited I made it here because I didn’t think I would be graduating.”

Her story is like so many other ACE graduates.

A story without a goal turned into a success story.

Part of the success of ACE is the Academy Advisory Corporate Council (AACC).

It’s comprised of business and community leaders, ACE parents, staff and alumni.

Tharp has since retired from NEISD, but he remains on the AACC.

Another member of the AACC is Clarence Bray.

Bray and Tharp together at graduation

He was the President of the NEISD Board of Trustees when ACE was created.

He saw the vision from the beginning and has been involved ever since.

“This has very much been a reward for me,” said Bray. “These are people who really need some help, and they are getting it from people who are really trying to make a difference. The AACC is one way I can support teachers and students.”

The AACC operates like a PTA for ACE. Members of the AACC support the staff. They mentor students. They also offer scholarships to students every year who want to continue their education in college.

“It’s really been a positive thing in helping these kids,” said Bray. “What we are trying to do is help people. And I believe we are. Look, if you don’t have help or the support -- life gets hard – and ACE is a place where someone can get personal support through teachers. These teachers really care about these kids.”

ACE is just one program NEISD created to help fill a needed gap for kids in our District outside of a traditional learning environment. It’s meeting students where they are and making a difference.

Here’s to 30 more years of inspiring students not to give up and fulfill their dreams #theNEISDway.

link to NEISD article