SAN ANTONIO - Officials with the San Antonio Independent School District and Centers for Applied Science and Technology Schools announced Wednesday that CAST Med High School will open in August 2019.
The school will be the third campus in the CAST network and second within SAISD and will add to the pipeline of much-needed doctors and researchers in the San Antonio area, a news release said.
H-E-B and its chairman and CEO, Charles Butt, are donating $2 million to support startup's costs and renovations to the future campus at Brooks, a mixed-use development on San Antonio's South Side.
CAST is a network of tuition-free, industry-led, career-themed high schools in San Antonio founded by Charles Butt and H-E-B in partnership with area industries. The latest gift brings the total investment from the Charles Butt Foundation and H-E-B to more than $8 million in support of the network of three schools.
"Charles and the amazing folks at H-E-B have pursued a vision for this network and brought it to life through in-kind resources and generous contributions," said Kate Rogers, president of The Holdsworth Center and a network founder. "We saw a critical need in San Antonio to help graduates build skills and connections that will allow them to move seamlessly into high-demand jobs. The model benefits both the individual student and the economy as a whole."
CAST Med will build on San Antonio's strengths and address current educational gaps to place an emphasis on medicine, public health and biomedical research. The new high school will not duplicate existing health career programs within SAISD and will prepare students with the foundational knowledge to continue beyond a bachelor's degree.
"The innovative model of CAST schools is changing the landscape of high school education, and we already are seeing this with the success of CAST Tech," said SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez. "The medical-industry immersion students at CAST Med will experience will put them on a higher-level playing field when it comes time for them to enter medical school. And that's what we want for our students."
UT Health San Antonio, with its research expertise and growing focus on population health and health disparities, is an anchor partner for the school helping to imagine how to best prepare medical school aspirants. UT Health San Antonio is the largest health sciences university in South Texas.
"UT Health San Antonio is delighted to be collaborating with SAISD in the founding of CAST Med. We see this as a unique opportunity to invest in the future of our medical community and to strengthen the ability of our own children to prepare for a career in the biomedical sciences," said Dr. Ron Rodriguez, professor and chairman of UT Health Department of Urology. "We believe with this opportunity we can redefine how to foster diversity in our providers and strengthen our position as a national leader in healthcare education."
Since CAST schools are designed as professional development laboratories, teacher residents from the University of Texas at San Antonio's College of Education and Human Development will work alongside master teachers from CAST Med. In addition, the UTSA College of Sciences' Department of Biology will assist in planning and in the curriculum design process for CAST Med, as well as help implement summer programs for students.
"At UTSA, we are preparing future leaders in education," said Margo DelliCarpini, dean of the UTSA College of Education and Human Development. "Our teacher residents will collaborate with master teachers from CAST Med to develop innovative approaches to promote student success in the health fields."
San Antonio College, with its focus on health careers, will further offer students early access to its medical laboratories and equipment, summer opportunities, and relevant college coursework.
"We are thrilled to continue partnering with CAST-SAISD," said San Antonio College President Robert Vela. "SAC has been involved with CAST Tech since shortly after its inception, and will have a smooth transition as we expand educational deliverables to CAST Med. Students will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities housed in the Nursing Allied Health Complex and the entire college campus."
CAST Med students will have the opportunity to learn from industry partners and gain real-world experience through extracurricular study groups, summer enrichment programs, job shadowing, mentorships, internships, volunteer experiences and clinical and research opportunities.
Industry partners include the Bexar County Medical Society, the Children's Hospital of San Antonio and Mission Trail Baptist Hospital. The Brooks business and residential community, where CAST Med is located, also is partnering with the school to address its facility and faculty needs. Additional industry partners are expected to sign on in the coming weeks and months.
The campus will be led by Dr. Eddie Rodriguez, who was selected as CAST Med's principal and is currently leading the school's development. Rodriguez is a 28-year veteran in education, most recently serving as the founding principal of Harlandale Independent School District's STEM Early College High School-Alamo Colleges at Palo Alto College.
The application period for the first cohort of ninth-graders will begin in November, and open house dates will be announced this fall.
CAST Med will be operated as an in-district charter in SAISD, and will be open to students across Bexar County through a lottery. CAST Med will open its doors to the first class of 150 ninth-graders in fall 2019. An incoming ninth-grade class will be added each year as each class advances until the campus serves students through 12th grade.
Students enrolled in CAST Med will follow one of three pathways: biomedical research, medical professionals, or public health professionals.
The CAST Med campus at 2601 Louis Bauer Drive, in the Brooks development, will be converted into high school instructional spaces to include a 215-seat auditorium and lab spaces for biology, biotech and engineering, virtual anatomy and computer stations. The facility is currently configured around an open-air courtyard with seating.
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