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How Teacher Training Impacts Schools Pasadena Principal Takes Home the Gold

We are happy to announce that Aldo Prado, an assistant principal at Pasadena High School (PHS) in Pasadena, Texas, has been awarded the College Board’s 2014 Southwestern Region Academic Assembly Excellence in Service Award! This award recognizes an individual who demonstrates advocacy for universal access to high standards of learning.

 From 2007 to 2010 Prado worked in Pasadena ISD’s Central Office as a Science, ESL, Dual language Instructional Specialist. He has also been a college professorandhighschool principal in Mexico, as well as an elementary teacher here in the United States. In addition to serving as assistant principal at PHS, he currently conducts seminars and courses related to advanced academics, science, and ELL at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. Over the course of his career, Prado has also earned the Hidalgo Prize for Technological Innovation in Mexico, in addition to earning 3rd place in the National Literary Games in Mexico. He was also a presenter in the National Symposium of Education in Mexico, as well as at the University of Houston, Texas Association for Bilingual Education, and Texas Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
NMSI has a long-standing relationship with Pasadena ISD, and our College Readiness Program has been transforming education at PHS since 2010, thanks to a grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. So, to honor such a wonderful achievement for one of our own, we reached out to Prado for a Q/A session about his award, the impact NMSI has had on his school, and some of his future goals for PHS. 
Q: Would you explain the importance of this award and what it means to you?
A: This award has allowed me to validate my philosophy in regards to English Language Learners (ELL) and the way we serve these students. I have discovered that setting high expectations for at-risk students elevates their daily performance. In order to reach high levels of excellence, it is necessary to put in place an effective support system based on data driven decisions – especially when we are working to place our students in the best academic setting available.
Q: What would you consider to be PHS’s top achievements?
A: In 2012 we were named a National Model School by the International Center for Leadership in Education. In 2014 we have been named part of the AP District Honor Roll.  In 2010 the performance gap that existed between PHS and the State of Texas was considerable in terms of AP scores. In 2009, the campus percentage for total AP students with passing scores was 24% and the state was 51%. As of 2013 data, PHS has a campus percentage of 41% for passing AP scores, while the results for the state of Texas are still sitting at 51%. This closing of the performance gap is even more significant when you consider that the population of our campus is 93% Hispanic, 86% at-risk status, and 11% ELLs. This is all thanks to the excellent teachers and administrators at PHS, who have worked hard to increase the overall enrollment and achievement in AP courses.
In 2013 we won the Cross Country District Championship (sports are important too!) and this year we won the district championship in 1 meter Diving.
Q: What roles did the students and teachers play to earn the achievements listed above?
A: Although this award has my name on it, I have to recognize all of our staff at PHS. They have collaborated in many different ways to make this possible. Our teachers work very hard on organizing afterschool tutorials, attending trainings, and staying late for meetings, while the different departments work and plan as Professional Learning Communities.  I feel privileged to have worked beside these educators in this venture and I am also overwhelmed with the award I have received. I need to give credit to our students as the main reason for receiving this recognition.  At the end of the journey, their success and hard work paired with the fruits of our planning, ideas and passionate daily work make this all possible.
Q: How has the NMSI program impacted your school since the program implementation?
A: Calculus AB is a great example of the impact that NMSI has made in our school. In 2009 only 6 students received a passing score. In 2013 we had 48 students take the exam, and 34 earned a passing score.
Furthermore, for the first time in PHS recent history, we had 10 students registered in BC Calculus, and all 10 passed their exams; six got score of 5, two scored 4, and two students scored 3.
Q: How do you help prepare your students for college and career success?
A: We are involved in different grants and partnered up with great organizations such as NMSI, the College Board, AVID, Rice University, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. We take all the opportunities that these institutions have given us to improve the college readiness of our students. We have a lot of support from our Central Office as well; the curriculum that they have created is totally college and carrier oriented.
Q: What are some of your future goals for better preparing your students?
A: We need to close the GAP between subpopulations and regular students and improve our graduation rate – especially for Special Education and ELL students. We will continue serving gifted and talented and advanced students by offering them enrichment opportunities, and by challenging them every day with a rigorous curriculum. We will continue setting high expectations for all of our students, and providing them with the tools to reach those expectations. Our main goal is to provide a nurturing, respectful environment that instills our students with the confidence and skills necessary to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world and to become valued members of a global community.
From everyone at NMSI, we would like to congratulate Mr. Prado and the PHS students, teachers and administrators for the exceptional academic progress they’ve made!
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