College Preparatory Academy: Another Door to Success

by Marcelino Perez & Beatriz Villalba

Dr. Teresa Toro meets with Academy Seniors.

The College Preparatory Academy is a program co-authored by counselor Dr. Teresa Toro and Assistant Principal David Montano to challenge students to enroll in rigorous course work to: (1) apply and potentially be accepted into prestigious colleges and universities; (2) apply and have the opportunity to qualify for full-ride or free tuition scholarships; and be accepted into prestigious colleges and universities; and (3) be academically prepared for colleges and universities.

Once students join this program, they are committed to a four-year plan to keep them on track to graduate with as many AP, Honors, GATE, culturally relevant and dual enrollment credits as possible and to graduate with stellar grade point averages and other scholastic accolades. This program will also give students a better chance of being accepted into Pueblo’s National Honor Society, which always “looks great” on a senior’s resume.

Toro said, “Anyone who is willing to follow the contract’s guidelines and requirements will be allowed to join the academy.” She added that all grade levels are welcome to be part of the Academy but especially encourages freshmen so that they don’t miss out on the beginning foundational experiences.

The Academy was the “brainchild” of Toro and Montano—as she wanted to establish and implement a program to academically challenge those students who are willing to commit to and, inevitably, applying to excellent post-high school colleges and universities.

Toro said, “This program took a long time to create. I started developing the idea in 2008, and the Academy was officially established during the 2019-20 school year.”

She added that Assistant Principal David Montano assisted her with this program, bringing his skills and expertise to the Academy.

“This program has guided 182 students this year, including 65 seniors,” Toro said. “We expect at least 200 students in the Academy next school year.”

Toro explained that joining the Academy offers students more benefits that just potentially being accepted into prestigious colleges and universities in Arizona and beyond. While in high school, students will also earn Pima Community College and University of Arizona dual enrollment offerings, advanced placement (AP) offerings, GATE and Honors offerings, and community service and capstone experience. It is possible to earn 20 AP credits and 15 dual enrollment college credits upon high school graduation.

Toro said, “Being in the Academy can be like a golden ticket into colleges. For examples, the University of Arizona Honors College admissions officer said that when they see that a student has been a member of the College Preparatory Academy, his or her name application will be vetted on the “priority” list of admissions.

She added that even if students in the Academy earn less than a “C” grade, they are not permanently removed from the program; these students will be put on “academic probation”—giving them an opportunity to improve their grades and be reinstated in the Academy.

Toro said, “Students can grade replace or enroll in credit recovery and get off probation by attending one of the CCLC credit recovery boot camps or attend summer school to replace low grades.”

Students must earn C’s or higher to remain eligible in the Academy to benefit from the four-year experience. They must also complete at least 20 hours of community service per semester and fulfill the other requirements of the Academy contract.

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