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Plan II Alumna Aurora Lora Named 2009 Outstanding Young Texas Ex

Mon, March 23, 2009

Aurora Lora is one of four University of Texas alumni chosen by the Texas Exes to receive the 2009 Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award. The Texas Exes inaugurated the award in 1980 to recognize young alumni who are distinguished in their fields and have demonstrated a continuing interest in The University of Texas and the Texas Exes. A recipient must be younger than 40 on January 1 of the year in which the award is presented. The four Outstanding Exes will be honored at a ceremony to be held at the Alumni Center during the May 2009 commencement.

Aurora Lora is Academy Administrator of the Young Women's Academy. As an Intern to the Superintendent and Project Specialist for the Office of Schools in Portland, she served as district lead for the conversion of a middle school into the Young Women's Academy.

Aurora conducted research on high-performing, high-poverty schools and organized site visits to schools in New York City and Houston. She also assisted with the development and implementation of the Jefferson High School Redesign initiatives.

Lora was an architect in the academy's design, she was the principal of the Harriet Tubman Middle School before it was reassigned and she's traveled the country observing similar single-sex academy structures. She says the Girls Academy has instituted a five-year plan to grow an Advanced Placement program. "We're on track to offer our first AP class next year," Lora said.

In Houston she served as Coordinator of the Gifted and Talented Program, Special Education Referral Chairperson, School Writing Program Coordinator, Mentor Coordinator and Tutor Coordinator.

Aurora has the reputation of being a "teacher's teacher" with Teach For America, which she joined after completing her Plan II Honors major at the University of Texas at Austin in 2000.

Aurora has experience as an instructional coordinator and classroom teacher. She completed a doctorate degree in the Urban Superintendents Program at Harvard and has a Masters in Education in Educational Policy and Management from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.

As the principal of the Young Women's Leadership Academy, Lora plans to send 100 percent of her school's students to college. This may seem impossible, but the former teacher says she uses the Young Women's Leadership Academy of Harlem as inspiration , that school met Lora's "100 percent to college" benchmark with students whose parents or grandparents had never attended college." We have to do whatever it takes," Lora says of getting Jefferson's young girls into college.

As a teacher in an inner-city Houston school with 100 percent of her students receiving free or reduced lunch, Lora says she was able to get every student to pass state testing benchmarks. The school will allow girls to learn in a more collaborative setting, while focusing on math, science and leadership. Lora said the school is partnering with OMSI to help girls have access to training and internships.

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