The Early College High School vision became a reality four years ago when T.L.L. Temple Foundation, Lufkin ISD and Angelina College came together to help students make the most of their high school experience. Now the Lufkin Early College High School (ECHS) model will be an example to other schools starting the ECHS process. T.L.L. Temple Foundation provided a grant in the amount of $507,500 over the course of three years to open the Center for Excellence that will be housed at Lufkin High School and will provide technical assistance to school districts in the 23 counties served by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation.

From left: Dr. Wynn Rosser, Lynn Torres and Dr. Michael Simon

This May will be the first time Lufkin High School will graduate students from the ECHS with almost a third of those graduates receiving an Associate of Arts in General Studies or the Texas Common Core. Lufkin ISD Superintendent Lynn Torres sees the benefit of providing high school students the opportunity to be a part of an ECHS program and the privilege to be a demonstration site.

“Lufkin Independent School District and Angelina College have a strong partnership that benefits our students. Through the Early College High School and our collaboration with Angelina College we have seen a very positive increase in the number of dual credit courses offered to students. As an instructional site for Angelina College, we have seen the benefits for our students and the availability of courses for all,” said Lynn Torres, Lufkin ISD Superintendent of Schools.

In 2020, the Lufkin ECHS became a demonstration site meaning that the program is recommended as a model for other high schools. As a demonstration site, the Lufkin  ECHS will be responsible for helping other potential ECHS campuses succeed by providing mentoring opportunities and opening their campus to leadership teams from prospective ECHS campuses. T.L.L. Temple Foundation provided financial support that will be used to open the Center for Excellence under the leadership of Kristy Bush who will schedule tours, host webinars, provide content related to best practices, and more.

“When visiting the Center for Excellence, visitors can expect comprehensive experiences that demonstrate how to develop high-quality instructional programs, sustain a strategic alliance with institutions of higher education, and scale a portfolio of school designs that enable all students to resiliency as they graduate college and career ready. Together we can transform norms to exceed expectations in rural East Texas,” said Kristy Bush, Demonstration Site Coordinator for the Lufkin ECHS Center for Excellence.

Mrs. Torres went on to say that it’s the local partnerships that have made all the difference.

“We look forward to our further collaboration through the Center for Excellence and the mission of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation to help all students have access to these opportunities. Both Lufkin ISD and Angelina College will be able to share our successful model with other schools in East Texas. Lufkin ISD is grateful to have such strong support from our partners,” said Torres.

Angelina College President Michael Simon supports the partnership and feels that this opportunity supports the college’s mission.

“The strong collaboration between Lufkin Independent School District and Angelina College to create and operate the Early College High School has been an unmitigated success for students.  Furthermore, the operating and funding model we adopted is sustainable and scalable for both institutions.  The opportunity to share our experience and practices with other educators through the Center for Excellence aligns with our mission to help Texans reach their full potential,” said Angelina College President, Dr. Michael Simon.

The partnership with the T.L.L. Temple Foundation has been instrumental in the progress of the program.

“The T.L.L. Temple Foundation is excited to further support the Early College High School partnership between Lufkin ISD and Angelina College. This grant will build upon the success of previous investments, accelerating the Lufkin Early College High School’s momentum toward becoming an East Texas Demonstration Site. Ultimately, this grant advances a successful education model for rural East Texans, ensuring more students across rural East Texas have clear pathways to graduate high school college and career ready,” Wynn Rosser, T.L.L. Temple Foundation President & CEO.

The ECHS program at Lufkin will graduate their first students this year.

“In the first graduating class of the Lufkin Early College High School, we have about one hundred students who will graduate with their high school diploma as well as numerous college hours awarded by Angelina College. As an individualized program, students can choose to work toward the Associate of Arts degree, Core Completion, or other certificate programs including Welding, Architectural Design, and Patient Care Technician,” said Charlotte Davis, ECHS Director.

Currently there are almost 500 students in the Lufkin Early College High School in grades 9-12. The application process is underway for the Class of 2026 with applications due on Friday, February 18. Applications are available at Lufkin Middle School and are open to all current 8th graders. The Center for Excellence is now open for business and will be scheduling tours soon.

“Our students are the true beneficiaries of the partnerships that make the Center for Excellence possible. We are fortunate to have a successful ECHS program and the opportunity to share what we’ve learned with other school districts,” said Torres.