Moving Forward

 Beaumont ISD Tour

Beaumont ISD Principal Melanie Pharis had big plans for the 127 freshmen and sophomores starting the school year at the two-year-old Beaumont Early College High School (ECHS) – but when Hurricane Harvey hit, her students missed more than two weeks of school and then had to be relocated to the Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) to make room for another school whose building had to be closed.

Pharis says her students “have mostly found a groove” after the hurricane and can once again focus on school. “We have a few students that lost everything and are managing a constant level of stress and strain,” she said. “We check in on them regularly to make sure that their specific challenges do not become barriers to learning.”

Those challenges also extend to staff. Second-year teacher James Girard joined the Beaumont ECHS staff this year. “He lost his vehicle, most of his personal possessions, and still hasn't found a permanent home,” Pharis explains. “Despite all that, he is always in a good mood and ready to go for the kids.”

Despite everything, Beaumont ECHS students have embraced the opportunities presented to them in their new location. Being on the LIT campus has given students direct access to CTE courses that will train them for future careers in different industries. Students recently met industry leaders and toured LIT’s indoor and outdoor process operating units, which are like those found in the greater Beaumont-area’s oil refineries.

These courses, Pharis says, give her students a future. By senior year, Beaumont ECHS students will be one year shy of receiving a career certification in their chosen field. “They’ll be able to earn a living wage while still a teenager,” she says. “Even if they pursue a four-year degree, they won't have to take out student loans to pay for it. By the age of 19, students could enter the workforce at a starting salary of $60,000. Imagine that.” #IAmTXEd   Beaumont ISD