Region One ESC, TWC create Driving for Success Initiative for students

Upon graduating from high school, graduates are often faced with a need for accessible transportation to places, such as college or their place of employment.

Entering this new chapter of their life could be difficult for those who are still in need of obtaining their driver’s license and have to depend on others to get to where they need to go.

Because of this, a local educational institution is hoping to help combat that issue by implementing a new program in schools throughout South Texas.

Region One Education Service Center (ESC) personnel announced last week that they are starting a Driving for Success Initiative.

Region One ESC serves thousands of students and educators in eight counties to help school districts improve in areas, such as student performance, economical and efficient operations and the implementation of initiatives.

Some school districts the center works with are located in Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy and Starr counties.

As part of the Driving for Success Initiative, students will receive the online learning component of the driver’s education process.

Once the student completes the required classroom hours, they are able to complete the driving hours with a local driving school.

According to Region One ESC personnel, school districts that have already expressed interest in the initiative include — Brownsville ISD, Mercedes ISD, Edcouch-Elsa ISD, La Joya ISD and Hidalgo ISD.

“Our role as an education service center is to provide support to our school districts and students,” Region One ESC Interim Executive Director Dr. Judith M. Solis stated. “In this case, by providing opportunities to students and their families that will potentially eliminate barriers to students as post-secondary students or members of the workforce is another level of support that we proudly espouse.”

According to Region One EDC personnel, Solis took the idea one step further and identified a group of students that could benefit from the Driving Toward Success Initiative.

Personnel added that as a lifelong educator, Solis recounts how students receiving special education services face greater challenges when it comes to daily living activities, such as driving.

“We hold all students up to high standards and expectations and students receiving special education services are no different,” Solis stated. “We want all students to have the same opportunities to pursue post-secondary or workforce activities. If driving to school or to a job is a potential barrier, we want to do something about it.”

The center’s efforts are in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

“We identified this need and reached out to Commissioner Julian Alvarez at Texas Workforce Commission to ask how they could help,” Solis explained. “He immediately agreed that this was an underserved area where together we could make an impact. Connecting with the TWC Vocational Rehabilitation we are now able to provide this impactful initiative.”

This new partnership between Region One ESC and the TWC targets section 504 students and special education students.

To address the need for a driving program, Region One ESC entered into a memorandum of understanding agreement with Driving Quest, a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation approved online driving course, to create the initiative.

Through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program of TWC, these students will also have access to the Driving Quest online driving course.

Section 504 students and special education students will receive vouchers to enroll in the driver’s education program and challenge the driver’s license exam, which will lead to further employment or post-secondary opportunities.

The initiative is open to all public, charter school, homeschooled, private or post-secondary students ages 14 to 22 years old and students who have been identified as Section 504 or in a Special Education Program.

Students who are interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact their campus vocational rehabilitation counselor.

Home-schooled and private school students interested in participating in the program can contact Region One ESC at (956) 984-6000.