A Letter from IDEA Co-founder, CEO and Superintendent JoAnn Gama

Hi IDEA Alumni- I have had a lot of jobs in my 20 years at IDEA Public Schools, starting as Assistant Director and one of our teachers in Donna, Texas, and lately as President and Superintendent. Now I’m excited to move into a new role as IDEA’s Chief Executive Officer.

I’m taking over from our friend Tom Torkelson, who has led IDEA since he and I had the crazy idea in our 20s to start our own school. Now we have almost 100 of them, and my own two children are among IDEA’s 53,000 future alumni.

Seeing IDEA graduates go on to accomplish great things at college—and beyond—is a big part of my motivation for working at IDEA. I know from my own experience growing up in Houston and being the first in my family to go to college that education is the key to a world of choices. That’s what I want for all IDEA students, including my kids, and it’s what I work for every day.

Right now is a really hard time for the extended IDEA family. If you are in college, you’re now learning online. If you’re already in a job, you are working remotely, or worse, out of work for now. We’re on top of each other at home. We’re trying to do schoolwork or job work in our kitchens. I’m sure some of you are working heroically to take care of the rest of us. There’s a lot of uncertainty and stress everywhere. But what I see in the IDEA community is a “Whatever It Takes” spirit that’s been part of our DNA since the beginning. We’ll get through this.

Your perspective as an IDEA alumnus is invaluable, so if you have an ideas and questions for me as I settle into my new job, please reach out. Alternatively, join our Facebook Live on Wednesday. We’ll address questions that come in via the chat.

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