Since 1991, Kerrville ISD’s Hill Country High School has helped hundreds of area students earn the high school diploma they may not have received otherwise.
The program was born of a vision to help students obtain a diploma who struggled to finish in four years at the district’s traditional high school. The junior and senior level school serves two broad groups of students. The first are students who fell behind at the high school whether due to family death, illness or frequent moves, or other life challenges. The second group is students who want to accelerate the graduation process because of a pending family move or other extenuating circumstance.
Students must apply for admission, interview and show potential for success. From the very first day, students learn to greet with a handshake. They are taught time management skills crucial to their future success. Students work in conjunction with staff to keep track of the courses they need to graduate and the effort required to graduate in a reasonable time frame.
Hill Country High School employs three full time teachers and one roving teacher certified in special education. Each teacher is certified in multiple disciplines and provides individualized instruction. The students are required to spend a minimum of four hours per day on campus. Some leave for jobs while others stay all day. The amount of time they commit to the program determines how quickly they complete their diploma.
All students graduating from Hill Country High School have completed the necessary 22 credits to graduate and have passed the mandatory State of Texas Assessments of Academic Skills End of Course (STAAR EOC subject tests). The diploma is the State of Texas’ most basic diploma, so while it does not prepare the students for a four-year university, it does provide students the opportunity to go on to a junior / community college or technical school, or enter a military career. KISD also partners with Alamo Colleges to offer courses at Alamo Colleges Greater Kerrville Campus, a branch of Alamo Colleges Northwest Vista.
More than just a diploma is earned at Hill Country High School. The teachers and counselor ensure curriculum is connected to real life. Students who have been through difficult situations sometimes have trouble with self-esteem, motivation, persistence, goal setting, and the "soft skills" that help them present their best selves to the career world. These skills are woven into the fabric of learning through Principal Steve Schwarz’ Tuesday Talks and persistent coaching from teachers and the counselor.
Part of the curriculum involves researching postsecondary education and career options. Students learn to research colleges and certification programs online, apply for student financial aid and attend field trips to colleges as well as technical and trade schools, as well as receive information from all branches of the armed forces..
In the 2017-2018 school year, 66 students graduated from Hill Country High School at their own pace, with plans to continue on to community colleges and technical schools or to the military. Since the school gained its own location and became a separate high school in 1999, more than 800 students have obtained their diploma through this non-traditional route.
Kerrville ISD is especially proud of the dedication of the staff members at Hill Country High School in working to ensure that all young people in the community obtain a diploma and have options for creating the future they want.