Officials from Aldine ISD, Prairie View A&M University, elected officials and community members gathered to celebrate the opening of the district’s first all-boys school, Impact Leadership Academy at Wilson at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the school on Thursday, Nov. 17.
Impact Leadership Academy is a partnership between Aldine ISD and Prairie View A&M University.
The district’s first all-boys school opened on Aug. 17 at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year as Impact students received a red carpet welcome from Aldine ISD administrators, Prairie View A&M administrators and members of the community.
Impact students have already made two trips to Prairie View A&M. A group of students attended a football game in the fall, while another group took part in the school’s Elementary Day to visit the campus.
Aldine ISD Superintendent Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney praised Impact Principal Jonathan Kegler to taking his leadership and thanked Prairie View officials for their commitment they have made to making Impact Leadership Academy become a reality.
“ That special red carpet welcome, as well as the PVAMU football game experience was coordinated by the school’s principal, Jonathan Kegler, a leader who has been tasked with providing our young men with a culture, a curriculum and experience like no other,” Dr. Goffney said. “Now, he isn’t doing it alone. Along with his team at Impact and those in the district, we are fortunate to have partners to come to his aid. Partners like Prairie View A&M. We are so grateful for our partners and friends at Prairie View A&M, not just for the great football experience, but for being there since the beginning, since the school was just an idea and a follow-up conversation. Thank you for being an important part of our village.”
Dr. Goffney added it was Prairie View A&M President Dr. Ruth J. Simmons who encouraged her and Aldine to open an all-boys school as quickly as possible.
“It was Prairie View A&M’s President Dr. Ruth J. Simmons who told me not to wait, to begin teaching leadership and instilling those qualities in our students as soon as possible,” she said. “This is the reason why our students here at Impact Leadership Academy are cultivating learning experiences rooted in cultural identity, community and leadership as young as first grade. Creating the pipeline of young leaders at Impact Leadership means they will take those qualities and teachings beyond this campus and into our other schools. Generations of young leaders will multiply across the district and will graduate onto the next chapter, their dreams and goals always within reach, guided by the leadership qualities that were instilled at such a young age and became a part of their identity.
Dr. Goffney added the opening of Impact Leadership Academy is fulfilling a promise of providing choices for parents and students in Aldine ISD.
“The opening of Impact Leadership Academy is more than a red carpet or a ribbon-cutting,” she said. “It is the culmination of many hours of collaboration and planning between our leaders, our staff and our community partners. And it represents our connection to this community and the promise that we have made to its members, which is to provide choices and opportunities so that when our children cross that stage as an Aldine graduate and go on to have successful careers and futures.”
Aldine ISD Board President Randy Bates sees Impact Leadership Academy as being a game changer for many male students for years to come.
“This right here is going to be a game changer for some of our kids,” Mr. Bates said. “These kids are building a brotherhood. I and my fellow board members are so proud to be a part of this and we are proud to have Prairie View as our partners.”
Dr. Michael McFrazier, Dean of the Whitlow R. Green College of Education at Prairie View A&M, spoke on behalf of the college at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
He said Prairie View is excited about this new endeavor and will continue to support Aldine ISD, as it has for many, many years.
“Prairie View A&M has enjoyed a positive and productive working relationship with Aldine for decades and the University is committed to continuously working to identify new and important ways to strengthen our partnership,” Dr. McFrazier said. “Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony highlights – and is an ocular demonstration of – our strong and effective strategic partnership in the fulfillment of our individual and collective missions. Indeed, this is a great day!”
Dr. McFrazier added Aldine’s plan to open an all-boys school should benefit the district’s male students for years to come.
“The Impact Leadership Academy certainly demonstrates Aldine’s unwavering commitment to provide a school experience that promotes the success of and empowers diverse male students,” he said. “Please know that this unwavering commitment and the Impact Leadership Academy’s mission of cultivating learning experiences that are rooted in identity, leadership, community and activism are relevant to the overall mission of PVAMU and in line with the University’s strategic goal of investing in programs and services that address issues and challenges affecting the diverse population in Texas and the larger society including the global arena. I commend Superintendent Goffney, AISD leadership and Principal Kegler for the outstanding work you have done to open the Academy amid the Global Pandemic – i.e., that Spring Break that never ended. Be assured that PVAMU is a key partner and our actions and responsiveness have and will continue to demonstrate our commitment to supporting the Impact Leadership Academy and the success of the young scholars attending.”
Chief Transformation Officer Dr. Adrian Bustillos shared with the audience the process and steps Aldine ISD took to open Impact Leadership Academy.
“In launching our five-year strategic plan, “A New Way Forward,” in 2019, it included our commitment to creating a plan that would position Aldine ISD as a school system that ultimately creates choices and opportunities,” Dr. Bustillos said. “Impact Leadership Academy at Wilson was born out of our dedication to student achievement and the belief that every Aldine student deserves to learn in a school where they feel welcomed and safe, and where they’ll graduate with choices and opportunities. We began to dive deeper through our Black Student Outcomes initiative and over time, identified a significant gap in our focus on our black and brown male students. The program focuses on entrepreneurship and leadership. The male students will be instilled with self-awareness, a sense of purpose and an expanded view of the world.”
Kegler thanked the district and Prairie View for believing in him, his staff and Impact’s students in undertaking this new endeavor in AISD.
“Today’s ceremony is a reminder of our vision to inspire young men to become leaders, entrepreneurial thinkers and determined advocates,” Kegler said. “This initiative would not be possible without our district and community partnerships. I would like to express my deep appreciation and sincerest gratitude to Prairie View A&M University, Good Reasons Houston, Leader In Me and Venture Lab. These partnerships are an example of what a community can accomplish when we work together for the betterment of our children, the next generation. At Impact, students are able to learn in an inclusive environment where their interests are on the forefront and are given several opportunities and experiences to blossom. We are officially a part of history and every single person here has made it happen.”
Kegler then introduced Impact student Camari Carithers, who wowed the audience with his address.
“I’ve always dreamed of going to an all-boys school, but I never knew it was possible,” Camari said. “My dream became a reality this summer when my Mom sent me the website link for Impact, the first all-boys school in Aldine. I saw entrepreneurship in the acronym L.E.A.D and I immediately told her I wanted to attend. This sparked my interest because I figured I could learn more about starting my own T-shirt business and creating digital content.”
Camari said he enjoys what Impact has to offer him and his fellow classmates.
“I have transitioned from a traditional school where my classes had multiple teachers to an innovative campus where I am able to interact with my teachers for support, learn how to play chess, visit an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) and have P.E. and recess every day. This is the best part!”