The Donna Independent School District wants to ensure the success of all its students. Sometimes it means doing something new to get results.

The Donna Alternative Education Program (DAEP) School implemented a new program this school year called “Dress for Success and Leadership Workshop.” Principal Juan Mendoza said that since the campus launched the program, they’ve noticed a difference in their student’s attitude and self-esteem. “We’re amazed as to how much this program is impacting our kids in a positive way. You can see it in their behavior. We hope this will ultimately reflect on their school work, home environment and overall daily lives,” Mendoza said.

DAEP, serves 1st through 12th grade students who display behavioral problems at their home schools and pose concerns to the campuses. Right now, 66 students are enrolled at DAEP.

The Dress for Success and Leadership Workshop provides students the opportunity to dress professionally every Wednesday. The girls wear a nice conservative style blouse while the boys come decked out in a button-down shirt with a tie. Mendoza said many of the articles of clothing are donated by local residents and provided to the children whose families cannot afford them.

The other part of the program which also takes place on Wednesday is a leadership workshop. DAEP invites past Donna graduates who are prominent leaders of the community to talk to the students about their lives and the obstacles they have faced and overcame to become the successful people they are today. “We want our students to know that it doesn’t matter the status of your economic situation or problems you’re facing, if you have the will and desire, you will succeed in whatever you set your mind too,” Mendoza said.

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Students heard from U.S. Federal Judge Micaela Alvarez Oct. 19. The Donna ISD alumna, presides over cases at the federal building in McAllen. She shared stories about her life growing up, the financial problems her family endured and how she did not let it stop her from pursuing her dreams. She encouraged the students to do the same. “More important than anything else to me is that they have within their grasp the ability to pursue whatever career they choose and that there is no impediment to that other than to work hard to get there, but they can achieve anything they want to achieve,” Alvarez said. 

DAEP student Eleazar Guajardo said he really likes the Dress for Success and Leadership Workshop. The senior said he is not letting his days at the alternative school get him down. “Since I like cars and all that, I see myself as an engineer or a mechanic so I see myself wearing this almost every day. The program gives me self-confidence,” Guajardo said. 

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