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Little Longhorns, big dreams

Giving News

Little Longhorns, Big Dreams

By Jamey Smith

Look into a classroom at the University of Texas Elementary School and you’ll see the bright faces of enthusiastic Little Longhorns, ready to learn. The school is distinguished by its application of scientifically based UT faculty research in all aspects of its operation. But just as important to UT Elementary’s success are the support and encouragement students receive from their families and the greater community.

“Parents have helped make the decisions here,” says Janie Castillo-Flores, mother of two Little Longhorns and a member of the school’s management board. “It’s what my husband and I wanted — more community involvement.”

As the first and only University of Texas-sponsored elementary school, UT Elementary’s mission is to offer an excellent education in a nurturing environment, provide cutting-edge professional development and research outreach for UT’s academic units, and be a model for others. The school is a key component of a broad UT System initiative aimed at enhancing education for all Texas schoolchildren. Innovations that set UT Elementary apart include an extension of learning time by 30 minutes a day and one week a year, after-school programs for students who don’t achieve benchmarks, family literacy programs to encourage reading in the home, and a Texas Exes mentor program.

Now with about 260 students who are predominantly minority and low-income, the school continues to grow but remains in temporary facilities. Partial funding comes from UT and the state, as well as federal dollars, but private funds from individuals, corporations, and foundations will be essential to build a permanent facility and endowment. A campaign is under way to encourage new donors to join the school’s original generous partners in creating a modern, welcoming home for future Little Longhorns.

The campaign recently got a boost from Austin developer Perry Lorenz. Lorenz, who owned the 2.4-acre site, sold the plot to the University for $1 million less than its market value. In addition to Lorenz’s gift, the Buena Vista Foundation has pledged $1.1 million for the new campus and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has donated $250,000. The gifts will help the school’s $19 million campaign to build a permanent 50,000-square-foot campus.

“The Eyes of Texas are upon us,” says principal and CEO Ramona Treviño, “and we intend to make all Texans proud.”

Visit UT Elementary online at www.utexas.edu/provost/elementary/.

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