TAMIU and Freer ISD Chart Higher Ed History

TAMIU and Freer ISD
Chart Higher Ed History

 A new chapter in Texas higher education is being co-authored by Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and the Freer Independent School District (FISD) this Fall with the launch of an Early College High School (ECHS) for Freer High School students at TAMIU.

Ray Keck, Chris Lichtenberger, Steve VanMatre

Making History
TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck, Chris Lichtenberger, Freer Independent
School District Board Chairperson and Freer ISD Superintendent Steve VanMatre,
celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that paves the way for the historic establishment of Freer’s Early College High School.

The two have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing the ECHS for grades 9-12 and providing Concurrent Enrollment for Academic Dual Credit University courses.  Under the agreement, students will be bused into TAMIU twice a week with approximately 60+ students participating.

TAMIU’s historic and successful launch of both the Laredo Independent School District’s award-winning Early College High School and its Texas Academy of International and STEM Studies last Fall were fundamental in Freer ISD’s decision to approach TAMIU.

Freer ISD Superintendent Steve VanMatre said the District researched their ECHS goal carefully.

“We had considered forming an ECHS relationship with various institutions in the region. We had observed the successful partnership between TAMIU and LISD. TAMIU was one of the first institutions of higher education in Texas to pursue ECHS, so we felt confident about placing our students in a situation with an established record of success like TAMIU,” Superintendent VanMatre said.

TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck applauded Freer ISD’s initiative and creativity.

“We are very excited to join this relationship with Freer ISD and its Board of Trustees.  All have shown truly inspiring initiative and creativity in collaborating to provide this historic opportunity for Freer High School students. We’re also impressed by FISD’s desire to see its students become and identify as Dustdevils, and we hope that this will allow us to reach other students in the region as well who might not have had opportunity to envision a future at TAMIU,” Dr. Keck said.

Dr. Kevin Lindberg, TAMIU associate provost who helped develop the initiative, said the University is looking forward to the collaboration.

“Through our LISD and Academy experience, we have developed a strength in bridging the High School and University experience.  While such relationships require much effort on the part of all entities involved, we are duly impressed with the enthusiasm, thoughtful consideration, and careful planning Superintendent VanMatre and his team brought to this collaboration.  They have been an ideal partner as this relationship developed and in all our subsequent experience,” Dr. Lindberg said.

Lindberg explained the specifics of the new ECHS.

“Our plan is to offer Freer students opportunity to gain up to 60 hours of university credit, with primary emphasis on the 42-hour core curriculum mandated by the State. Other offerings will be coordinated between TAMIU and the high school to allow students maximum benefit toward their achievement of both their high school goals and establishment of a university major,”  he said.

Lindberg noted one of the primary University strengths in developing such collaborations is faculty and University integration.

“While there are many models for delivering high school dual-credit instruction, TAMIU has always taken the position that our courses will only be offered by instructors under direct and exclusive supervision of the University. We feel that this is the best way for us to ensure that instruction meets TAMIU standards, and we’re pleased that Freer ISD shares this conviction,” he concluded.

Freer High School has approximately 200 students. The ECHS model will be school-wide, allowing any student, regardless of rank, to take courses for which they are academically qualified.  Students will be able to take two or more dual credit courses per semester.  The ECHS begins this Fall.

For additional information, contact FISD Superintendent VanMatre at 361.394.6025, or Dr. Lindberg at 966.326.2601.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu