August 5, 2013
San Antonio, TX
Tom Torkelson, co-founder and CEO of IDEA Public Charter Schools, Inc., kicked off the National Institute for Direct Instruction's Annual Training Institute with energy and vigor this morning at the Marriott Plaza Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. IDEA Public Charter Schools strives towards the goal of 100% of their students graduating from college. Statistics quoted by Torkelson indicate they are well on their way to achieving this goal. From Torkelson's perspective, we are not going to solve our education crisis by solving poverty, but rather, we will reduce poverty by improving our schools. By positioning their schools in areas of high poverty, IDEA Public Charter Schools are increasing opportunities for those students to experience success. Torkelson closed with two stories that exemplified IDEA's goals.
Tom started the first IDEA Academy in Donna, Texas in 2000 after working for Teach for America. Now, he oversees 28 schools located in Austin, San Antonio and along the Rio Grande Valley, with another school set to open in San Antonio later this month. Since 2010, all elementary schools in the IDEA Schools system have implemented the comprehensive Direct Instruction model schoolwide with NIFDI support.
In 2009, Tom was featured in Time magazine as Wendy Kopp’s pick for the 100 most influential global citizens. Tom is the recipient of the prestigious Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership (2009) and the University of Michigan Ross Business School’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2010), among other honors.