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Aldine ISD Opens New Young Women’s Leadership Academy

YWLA Student Katelyn Herrera, Assistant Superintendent Latonia Amerson, Board Trustee Rose Avalos, Board Trustee Connie Esparza, YWLA Principal Dr. Jericah Jackson, Former Aldine ISD Board of Trustee and Campus Namesake, Otice Parker, Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney, CEO of YWPN Lynn McBee, Board of Trustee Paul Shanklin, Chief Transformation Officer Adrian Bustillos and YWLA Student Joelena Danful.

On Friday, November 19, the district held an official opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newest school Aldine Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Parker (YWLA). The all-girls campus opened its doors to sixth and seventh-grade girls on August 16.

Special guests present included Yuroba Harris with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s Office, Ayanna Pierre with State Representative Senfronia Thompson’s Office, Miriam Laeky with the Office of Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Jo-Anne Reed with the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Education, Lynn McBee, CEO of Young Women’s Preparatory Network, Rick Ogden, former Aldine ISD Board Member, Otice Parker, former Aldine ISD Board Member and Aldine Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Parker namesake, and business and community partners.

YWLA has been a two-year journey. Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney first mentioned a single-gender school during the 2020 State of the District ceremony.

“I promised that I would create a school for girls. We wanted our young women to have a space where they felt empowered. We wanted our young women to have leadership opportunities and unique learning experiences, including a chance to hear directly from women working in STEM fields. Allowing them to explore career pathways and thrive academically and socially. It has truly been a labor of love. This school and this environment will further support our girls as they journey towards success,” Goffney said.

Aldine ISD Board President Paul Shanklin expressed that the district has been working on numerous projects to increase student access to high-quality schools and that YWLA is just one more example. He invited those in attendance to partner with the school to create and expand partnerships to create more experiences to help benefit Aldine ISD students.

Chief Transformation Officer Adrian Bustillos works with the district leadership team to create new choices and opportunities for students in Aldine. He helps to develop partnerships and resources to make those choices and opportunities a reality for students and families.

“This fall, YWLA became the tenth public school for girls in Texas as a unique public-private partnership with young women’s preparatory network. We opened the doors of the campus with 186 sixth and seventh graders, and next year we are looking to open with 477 students,” Bustillos said.

Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Parker will eventually serve girls in grades 6-12, adding a new grade level each school year. The inaugural class of YWLA will graduate in May of 2027. The campus focuses on college prep, leadership, and STEM. The campus offers students multiple opportunities to engage in year-round programs including summer learning camps, academic STEM challenges, AVID, and other STEM-based college preparatory programs. The campus is built on the foundation of a STEM curriculum with a focus on four pillars:

STEM
COLLEGE PREP
HEALTH & WELLNESS
AND SISTERHOOD

Young Women’s Preparatory Network CEO Lynn McBee was present to help celebrate the opening of YWLA.

“We are proud to have Aldine ISD join us as our tenth school in Texas. Our schools over the years have been successful and have a 100% graduation rate, a 100% college acceptance rate, and our young women are graduating at 3 times the national average of their cohort groups. We know that Aldine ISD will have the same success once the campus has grown out. Our partnerships are strong, our program is rigorous, and our girls will succeed,” McBee said.

Sixth-grade student Katelyn Herrera shared how much Young Women’s Leadership Academy meant to her.

Herrera and sixth-grader Joelena Danful presented namesake Otice Parker with a thank you basket from the students and staff for his continued supported of their campus and Aldine ISD.

Principal Dr. Jericah Jackson recalled her childhood and why her conviction is so strong to look for girls who yearn to work at advanced levels. She expressed her wishes for each student who passes through the doors of YWLA.

“Every girl at YWLA will be encouraged to take risks and ask questions. They will be supported to develop the necessary skills to be a leader and perform at an advanced level. Our educators will help them continue to exceed their own expectations. So yes, every girl belongs here at Young Women’s Leadership Academy,” Jackson expressed.

Jackson passionately stated that the students of YWLA will be future trailblazers that will leave a legacy behind.