George Lucas Educational Foundation

Yes Prep North Central

Grades 6-12 | Houston, TX

YES Prep's Blueprint for Success

YES Prep North Central, serving grades 6-12 in Houston, does whatever it takes to prepare students for college success. More to this story.
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Teacher: I want to quickly just recap this school year. Can anyone think of some of the things that we had to deal with as a trailblazer family this school year?

Student: Ike.

Teacher: Hurricane Ike. Blew the-- came and blew the roof off of our building. On top of Ike, anything else happen?

Student: Swine flu.

Teacher: Swine flu, yes. And I know a lot of you have had some tough stuff go on personally. Who's gone through personal stuff this year that's been really tough for them. Almost all of us. It's been a challenging year, and while we could have made excuses, day in and day out, no one did. And the good news is that our scores came back stronger than ever, and so for the sixth year in a row, we will be an exemplary campus next year.

Craig: Our students are here because they're on a mission. They know their ultimate goal, at the end of the day, is, they need to be better preparing themselves for college, and not just going to college, but completing college as well.

Rachel: Romeo has not received the letter yet from Friar Lawrence. Talk about that with your table. What are the--

Chris: You've got to have a great teacher in every classroom, and the rest of the stuff is great, you know, computers and stuff, and things, that's all dandy, but if you don't have a great teacher in the classroom, it doesn't really matter.

Erick: So the pressure launches this out. By changing the angle in the equation, before we shoot it, we're able to calculate how far it's going to go.

Michelle: We're a project based school, so the students are asked to do things that are going to really challenge them to think critically. It excites them, so they always talk about projects, and they're really excited to do them, because of those relevant connections.

Katie: So if the moon is going to be right here, remember that we're going to look in a straight line.

I think we've learned that kids love it when we integrate. They see the connections a lot more quickly than I think we ever thought they would. And they sort of latch onto that information.

Mark: We want to be preparing students to be highly successful, and part of the way we do that is introducing them to long hours. So our school day is from 7:30 until 4:30, Monday through Friday. That's a 45 hour work week. You know, just getting more time in front of the students, teaching them, having them work on projects, more time, we believe, is positively correlated with better results.

Philip: This is a small example of what's going to happen for the rest of your life. If you make poor decisions, you're going to miss out on the great opportunities.

I think, kind of the approach with the students is that, look, I care about you tremendously, I really want you to be successful, I'm not giving up on you. But you've let me down, and you've let your classmates down, you've let your teachers down, but each day is a new day to hold themselves responsible for their behaviors, and that they, with their actions, can get back into the community, and be a part of the family again.

Man: Oh, come in, please, Sir.

Bryan: I think the home visit does a number of things. At first, it's that direct personal contact we can have with the parents, and I think it's a nice personal touch that kind of sets the mood for the fact that we are a family oriented school. We're not only willing to say it, but we're willing to kind of put our money where our mouth is.

Chris: The contract, I think is, it's symbolic, but what we want parents to understand is that this has got to be a team effort. You know, this is a three legged stool. It's us, it's your kid, and it's you, and if we work together for the next seven years, your kid is going to be able to go to any college they want to.

Bryan: Sign under the Student Signature, please?

Rachel: The students know the expectations, and they recognize that they need this education to get to the place that they want to go to. They love being in an environment where they have teachers who care about them and care about their success, and they feed off of that. So when you walk into a classroom, you will see students, you know, engaged, and participating and whatnot, because they know that this is their ticket to something great.

Nelson: Good afternoon, my name is Nelson Mendoza, and this fall, I will be attending, Yale University.

Narrator: For more information about, What Works in Public Education, go to

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Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis


  • Karen Sutherland

Coordinating Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Thomas Waldron
  • Mark Angelo


  • Kris Welch

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.


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Comments (4) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Kate Vosta's picture

If this story is not inspiring, I don't know what is! This is how all schools should function. Too much bueracracy is ruining the lives of our children!

Todd Rigg Carriero's picture
Todd Rigg Carriero
Science Teacher for Middle School

Wondering if there exists a college level analog to this kind of program....

tatyanna cervantez's picture

i am a student that attends yes prep north central,the teachers are hard working and never give up on the students.but the teachers do a half way job.the students must complete the other half to get to college...

Joanne OBrien's picture
Joanne OBrien
High School English and Career Education teacher

I found this video inspiring and useful. I would add another leg to the model which makes it even stronger - Administration/Government. This fourth leg adds to the stability and success of the students. If administration/government makes sure there are qualified teachers in the classroom, adequate books, supplies and other education materials in the schools and for project based learning, resources for educational speakers, trips and academic competitions,and finally having a safe, comfortable environment in which to learn, then children would really have to work at failure. Unfortunately in many districts we have legacy "honors" programs, legacy teachers and staff and legacy administrators closely related to government officials - people who are influential not because of merit but because of connections. In my district we have dynasties of privileged families. Their children are in the honors programs over better qualified students. We have teachers who are guaranteed jobs before they are even posted, and may be the only one interviewed for the position, often receiving higher compensation than contractual hiring guidelines allow. We have had teachers that failed in the classroom promoted to administrative positions, sitting in judgment of superior teachers. These districts work very hard to hide these processes from parents, but the students know and act out accordingly. It makes me hopeful that so many districts with similar student demographics are so successful and I will keep sharing information with my colleagues and presenting information to my BOA. It's important to fight for project based learning and giving students the knowledge to create change.

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