February 3, 2011
DALLAS (SMU) – A Dallas education reformer and two game-changing educational organizations were honored by the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU on Jan. 27, 2011.
Israel Cordero ’97, principal of Dallas Independent School District’s W.W. Samuell High School; the Neuhaus Education Center in Houston; and Teach for America were honored for a commitment to improving lives through education.
“Our three recipients exemplify the meaning of luminary. Because of their talents, risk-taking and perseverance, they shine a light on making meaningful change in education,” says David Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU.
After four years of unacceptable state ratings, Samuell High School was on the verge of closure or state takeover. Cordero, the North Texas Luminary award-winner, became principal of the Title I high school in southeast Dallas in 2008. Under Cordero’s leadership, the school’s state rating improved in one year to acceptable. A 1997 SMU graduate and English major, Cordero taught secondary English and Spanish and served as a high school assistant principal and elementary school principal before becoming Samuell principal. He earned a master’s degree in education from Texas Woman’s University.
The Neuhaus Education Center, regional Luminary award winner, provides instruction to educators and parents on helping students master reading. Founded in 1980 to evaluate and teach students with dyslexia, the Neuhaus Center continues to train teachers on instructing reading, writing and spelling to all students and develops curriculum based on recent education research.
The Center's longstanding teacher-training collaboration with the Brownsville, Texas, Independent School District created significant student improvement, earning the prestigious 2008 Broad Prize for Urban Education for the Brownsville district. The Simmons School and Neuhaus Center have partnered since 2009 to offer a Master of Education with reading specialization to teachers in the Houston area.
National Luminary Award winner Teach for America was created in 1990 as a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools. In the current school year, more than 8,200 first- and second-year corps members are teaching in 39 regions across the country, including 240 teachers reaching 15,000 Dallas students.
Research consistently shows that Teach for America corps members have a positive impact on student success and play an important role in education reform. Two-thirds of corps alumni continue to work in education. Dallas-area Teach for America corps members have the opportunity to earn Master of Education degrees from the Simmons School while they teach full-time in local charter and traditional schools. Twenty-one corps members are enrolled in the Simmons program.
The Simmons School offers graduate-level and specialized programs for educators and research programs that focus on how students learn and develop language skills. These programs include literacy training, bilingual education, English as a second language, gifted student education and learning therapy.
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.