Both South Texas ISD middle schools nominated as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Both South Texas ISD middle schools nominated as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools

This week Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency announced the nomination of 26 Texas public schools as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Both STISD middle schools – South Texas ISD Preparatory Academy (Preparatory Academy) in Edinburg and South Texas ISD Rising Scholars Academy (Rising Scholars Academy) in San Benito – were among the nominees. 

“These 26 schools exemplify academic excellence, and I thank the teachers, staff, administrators, students, and parents for their outstanding work,” said Governor Abbott. 

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes public and private schools that have high student achievement and/or highlights where exemplary progress has been made in closing achievement gaps among student subpopulations. The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) initiated the program in 1982, and since its founding, 9,000 schools across the nation have received this prestigious designation.

In Texas, public schools are considered for nomination based on student performance on the first administration of the previous year’s STAAR assessments. Each nominated school has an economically disadvantaged population of 25 percent or more.

Prior to this, Preparatory Academy was named a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School. Ana Castro, campus principal, attributes the honor to the entire Preparatory Academy team. She shares, “It is amazing to be nominated for the second time for the distinct recognition of National Blue Ribbon Schools. It is truly a privilege and an honor for me to work with an amazing group of teachers and staff that go above and beyond to support our students and the families we serve. Thank you to our students for their hard work, and to our families, our central office administration and our Board of Trustees for their continued support to our program. This nomination would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of the entire team. Congratulations, Spartans!”

This is the first time Rising Scholars Academy has been nominated within the six years since its founding. Criselda Rodriguez Flores, campus principal, also sees this achievement as a collaborative effort. She shares, “This nomination recognizes the commitment of South Texas ISD Rising Scholars Academy - faculty, staff, families, and scholars - to learning and academic excellence for all. We are extremely proud of our faculty and staff for their daily pledge to cultivating a powerful learning environment that inspires our scholars to impact their communities through stewardship and leadership, and ultimately the future. This accomplishment embodies our culture of mutual commitment to our core-values as an RSA family and community. South Texas ISD Rising Scholars Academy has been unified by our shared vision and mission, and through teamwork, we have worked hand-in-hand to support one another to achieve this goal.” She thanks the STISD board and administration for their continued support and leadership.

The nominated schools must now complete a rigorous application process conducted by the USDE. National award winners will be announced in September of 2021. Schools that receive the designation are recognized at the Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

South Texas ISD Preparatory Academy and South Texas ISD Rising Scholars Academy are the two middle schools within South Texas Independent School District. The campuses serve 7th and 8th-grade students from three counties in the Rio Grande Valley – Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy – through a rigorous academic curriculum, enabling them to earn above-grade-level coursework and develop the skills and habits necessary for success in higher learning while still in junior high. For additional information, visit or call 1-800-21STUDY.