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Alumni leading charge at New Frontiers

 

Jeff Flores 

New Frontiers Charter School is going where few charter schools in Texas have gone before. In the fall of 2014, New Frontiers will start an Early College High School, a dual credit program that will enable students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from Palo Alto College at no cost to parents.

Leading this innovative program will be Jeff Flores, an outside-the-box educator with a pioneering spirit. In 2009, Flores started the tuition-free Henry Ford Academy, San Antonio’s only college preparatory art and design school. Every member of HFA’s first graduating class in 2013 was accepted into college.

 

Alfredo Segura Jr. 

“The chance to have students earn up to 60 college credits for free is exciting,” says Flores, who earned a bachelor’s in history (1995) and a master’s in education (1998) from Our Lady of the Lake University. “I love HFA and my students there. I miss them dearly but I know that New Frontiers is where I need to be.”

The Frank Madla Early College High School – named in honor of the late state senator – will admit 75 freshmen next fall on its campus at Palo Alto College and is projected to serve 300 students. Sixty college credits at state-funded Early College High School (ECHS), Flores says, will be equivalent to at least $5,000 in tuition. Every credit earned from Palo Alto College will be accepted at Texas A&M-San Antonio. Most credits will be accepted at OLLU and other four-year colleges and universities.

 

Deanna Sanchez  

“We will be offering students from throughout Bexar County an exceptional education and preparing them for success in college,” says Flores, the current middle school and future ECHS principal.

Flores is one of six OLLU alumni serving students at New Frontiers. The CEO and superintendent of the New Frontiers Charter School district is Lake graduate Alfredo Segura Jr. (BBA Business Administration 1991). Under Segura’s leadership, New Frontiers Middle School was named one of the best schools in Texas in 2013 under the state’s new accountability system.

“This is a community-based organization,” Segura says, “in which employees are given the opportunity to put their best foot forward with creative and innovative ideas that can change lives.”

 

Sylvia Duran  

The New Frontiers staff includes four teachers who are graduates of OLLU: Deanna Sanchez (BA Elementary Education 2003, MEd 2006) teaches sixth grade math; Sylvia Duran (MA Special Education 2004) teaches middle school special education; Grace Nava (MEd 2005) teaches elementary intervention; and Karen DeMore (MEd 2005) teaches seventh grade math.

“My time at NFCS has been personally and professionally rewarding,” says DeMore, now in her seventh year at the school. “I am the sixth through eighth grade math content specialist and the faculty adviser for the National Junior Honor Society.”

Nava has taught at NFCS for 11 years. “I am fortunate to serve students in own community,” she says. “I attended SAISD schools located near New Frontiers and grew up within a mile of the school. I have lived in the neighborhood all of my life.”

 

Grace Nava  

Sanchez is new to the school but has developed a strong connection. “I love teaching at New Frontiers,” she says. “The students are eager and willing to learn and the parents are supportive of their children.”

According to the Texas Education Agency, New Frontiers will be one of the few charter schools in Texas to boast an Early College High School program. Panola Charter School runs an ECHS in Marshall. Rapoport Academy has one in Waco.

New Frontiers runs its K-8 charter school on the near South Side. But students in the ECHS program will attend classes at Palo Alto on the far South Side.

Flores brings a rich and diverse educational background to New Frontiers. He took college algebra five
 

Karen DeMore  

times at OLLU and dropped it four times. Why? He didn’t want an “F” on his transcript. After meeting with a professor before and after class and on weekends, Flores passed on his fifth attempt. His success inspired him to believe every student can succeed. “I never give up on a kid,” Flores says.

He has taught special education in the Edgewood Independent School District. He has served as a teacher and principal at a charter school (Blessed Sacrament Academy). Over the past decade, Flores has held a variety of positions in local schools: technical assistance provider, business operations manager, principal and superintendent.

Four years after founding the Henry Ford Academy, Flores left for New Frontiers. “After much prayer,” he says, “I felt the need to make a move of faith. As a South Side native, New Frontiers is in many ways coming home.”

With the support of Segura, the CEO from OLLU, Flores is leading New Frontiers to a new frontier. In the not-too-distant future, students from non-college going families will be graduating with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.