On Tuesday, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp joined Texas A&M University-Kingsville President Steven Tallant and Premont Independent School District Superintendent Steve VanMatre to celebrate the successful alliance between the university and the school district, which has experienced an unprecedented turnaround.

Five years ago, when the Chancellor and officials from the Texas Education Agency announced that the alliance was forming to help the struggling school district near Kingsville avoid closure, such a celebration would have seemed improbable, at best. Premont had tried everything – even going so far as to eliminate their athletics programs – but the district’s academic performance was still lagging.

Through the alliance, A&M-Kingsville provided a number of support programs to the district. These included helping to raise about $8 million in grants for Premont ISD, aiding the district in the transition to a new state accreditation system, kicking off a Teacher Advancement Program, helping to launch Premont ISD’s Early College High School and Summer Bridge programs, and even allowing Premont high school freshmen to study and take classes at the university.

For more on this transformative partnership, watch this video: Premont ISD

In 2016, Premont ISD met the state’s academic standards for the first time since 2011. Since reaching that milestone, the district’s positive momentum has continued to build. On Tuesday, they broke ground on the new Ernest H. Singleton Premont Early College Academy, which is named for the superintendent who first entered into the alliance. The district’s varsity football is also scheduled to return this coming fall.

“The Texas A&M University System has a long history of producing excellent educators. So, I knew that this alliance would benefit Premont students in a significant way,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “The fact that it has been so successful this quickly is a testament to both the quality of the faculty at A&M-Kingsville and the fighting spirit of the Premont community.”

Because of the district’s success, Tuesday’s celebration marked an informal and triumphant end to the alliance. However, some A&M-Kingsville faculty will remain involved in the administration of grants that benefit Premont ISD.