POSTED: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 5:26pm
UPDATED: Friday, November 11, 2011 - 8:36am
Education is essential now more than ever and here in the Rio Grande Valley its been taken to the next level.
It started with the help of one man who ten years ago, had an idea. Tom torkelson grew up in a small town in Whitehouse, Ohio. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 1997 and shortly after he made his way into the valley.
In 2000 he co-founded the very first IDEA Public school from a small church in downtown Donna. Since then, he has become one of the most influential people in the valley. His vision: making sure every single student goes to and through a four year College or University.
Every single student that has graduated from an IDEA school within the last 5 years has gone on to a four year University. This 100% success rate is what inspires Tom Torkelson and all of his students. IDEA schools went from 156 students to over 10,000. Next year there will be 24 schools across the valley. Torkelson isn't done here in the Rio Grande Valley because there are thousands of students on a waiting list to get into an IDEA school.
Here in the valley many students come from low income families. Torkelson wanted to make sure they were no longer left behind from receiving a high quality education.
Several cities across the state along with foundations,community and business leaders are competing to bring IDEA schools to their area. Indication that the bar has been raised for education.
Even though Torkelson wasn't born in the valley, he says this is his home. As his ideas continue to expand far and beyond his own expectations he's proud to say it all started here in the valley.