Young Women's Leadership Academy Principal Delia McLerran.
Young Women's Leadership Academy Principal Delia McLerran Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

San Antonio Independent School District is replicating its successful single-gender model at Young Women’s Leadership Academy with a second all-girls school, to be located just east of downtown, district officials announced Wednesday.

The new school, Young Women’s Leadership Academy Primary, will open in 2019-20 on the site of Page Middle School as an elementary school , starting with kindergarten and first grades.

“In a nutshell, our vision is for a strong next generation of female leaders,” YWLA Principal Delia McLerran said.

In the process of being phased out, Page Middle School has only an eighth-grade class this academic year.

McLerran currently oversees what the district is now referring to as YWLA Secondary, located near Woodlawn Lake in near Northwest San Antonio. The school serves students in grades six through 12 and opened in 2010. It has been one of SAISD’s top-performing schools since opening and was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school in 2015.

With the opening of YWLA Primary, SAISD will build a similar in-district charter model for students in grades kindergarten through five, adding one grade level each year. McLerran will oversee both YWLA schools, with help from associate principals who will remain at their respective campuses.

Admission to the new school will be by lottery, and enrollment will be open to girls within Bexar County. However, preference will be given to residents of the community around YWLA Primary and of SAISD, Chief Innovation Officer Mohammed Choudhury said.

At minimum, the school is expected to serve just under 100 students in its first year, with two classes per grade level. However, McLerran said she is hoping for four classes per grade level.

Enrollment at YWLA Primary will not assure acceptance into YWLA Secondary.

The opening of YWLA Primary in the southern part of the district signifies a new offering of a choice option in an area of SAISD that has not been served by many in-district charters.

“When you look at our newest options, we are really starting to look at options here that are south and south central of our district because as you know most of our options have been either west, or central, or slightly north,” Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. “We want to send a message to parents that our commitment is to the entire community.”

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez speaks about the future plans of YWLA.
SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez speaks about the future plans of YWLA. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The new YWLA school’s  curriculum will focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and social-emotional learning. Information sessions for interested families begin in October and run through November.

Over the next year, McLerran plans to visit other successful single-gender models throughout the country to better understand how to build a successful all-girls elementary school. She said she has trips planned to Atlanta, Denver, and cities in California.

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.