Governor Abbott 'high-fives' AISD elementary kids on first day of school

Some Zavalla Elementary students coming back from summer break got a nice surprise Monday afternoon -- a hi-five from the Governor.
Governor Abbott stopped by a classroom full of second graders and was impressed at how focused the students were.

"I love the way your classroom is set up, it looks like you're ready to go!  Ready to learn," Abbott told the kids.

"That's because they begin their education not in Kindergarten today but in Pre-K...learning how to be a good student.  And so they're starting their education careers this year already prepared and ready to learn," Abbott said.

Earlier Monday morning at William Barrett Travis High School, sophomore Johanna Ramos-Ramirez had a first day of school different than any she's had before.  She's technically going to high school AND college.  It's something she's hoping will be an inspiration to her 4 younger siblings.

"Me as an older sibling, I feel like I should have to encourage them into building a better future for themselves," Ramos-Ramirez said.

It's a program called Early College High School.

AISD started the program at LBJ and Reagan several years ago.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz says it's been a success.  So this year it's Travis High School's turn.

"Early College High School is an opportunity for students to earn up to 60 college credit hours or an Associates Degree by the time they actually graduate high school," Cruz said.

The best part for the students: it's free.

"We do pay for tuition for students, we do pay for books and materials.  And it's an arrangement, an agreement that we have with the Austin Community College," Cruz said.

"It's a great opportunity, it's completely free college and it's a good way to get a head start into where I'm headed," Ramos-Ramirez said.

And where she's headed is the medical field.  She's thinking of becoming a Neurologist.

Travis High School, according to AISD, went from being rated "improvement required" in 2014 to meeting all state standards and getting 6 out of 7 distinctions this year.