Here are the examples of positive education growth in Port Arthur, local leaders detail

Published 12:20 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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Local leaders shared educational successes from the classroom and beyond during the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Leadership Luncheon.

Port Arthur Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Porterie shined a light on Lincoln Middle School’s robotics teams that went to Lubbock for competition.

“Our first team came in fifth out of 24 areas across the state of Texas, and our No. 1 team won overall in robotics,” Porterie said as the crowd gathered at Bob Bowers Civic Center erupted in applause.

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In addition, a PAISD student earned a highly competitive Gates Scholarship.

The scholarship was formed in 1999 by Bill Gates and Melinda Gates.

“Out of 53,000 applicants, we have one of our students that qualified for Gates,” Porterie said. “And what makes that so unique is they can use that Gates Scholarship from bachelor’s, master’s to doctorate, and it will pay full ride. Everything is paid.”

PAISD’s partnership with Lamar State College for dual enrollment shows that on May 10, approximately 100 CTE level one certifications and associate’s degree students are set graduate from Woodrow Wilson Early College High School.

The crowd listens to speakers during the luncheon. (Mary Meaux/The News)


Autism is something not talked about much, Porterie said, but there is a large number of local students diagnosed with Autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Porterie asked attendees to read up on Autism.

State Rep. Christian Manuel, who was not scheduled to speak at the event, took to the microphone to elaborate on Autism.

“One of the things that is very important and what is weighing down Texas schools is that people that do not have an awareness of Autism and what it is doing to our community and what it is doing to our schools,” Manuel said.

Manuel has a godson who is autistic.

“These children just need a little bit of help,” he said.

Some children who are autistic are hyper technical and can thrive in certain areas, such as computer programming.

An understanding of these students is needed, as some just need a little bit of help in different areas, he added.

Lamar State College Port Arthur President Dr. Betty Reynard, left, talks of the college’s growth as Anya McInnis with Port Arthur LNG listens during the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Leadership Luncheon. (Mary Meaux/The News)


Lamar State College Port Arthur President Dr. Betty Reynard noted a major increase in enrollment, construction, programs and partnerships, all in the name of furthering education.

Reynard also gave a glimpse into today and the future.

Enrollment has increased 39 percent on campus, she said, adding there are a number of factors for it.

“Over the last couple of years Representative (Dade) Phelan has worked really hard to reduce our tuition rates on the two-year Lamar campuses in the area,” Reynard said, adding tuition was reduced by 50 percent.

The other contributing factor is the FAST program in which the state pays tuition for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch currently enrolled in state school districts.

There are also some new programs this fall called social media and digital communication and an EMT program.

“Those of you that have driven around on our campus, it looks like a building site because it is a building site,” she joked. “We have a new Allied Health and Science building under construction. It’s a $37.4 million building that will house most of our allied health programs, not quite all of them, and some of our science classes on campus. That is due to be completed March 2025.”

Another project on campus is the rehab of the Monroe Building. The renovation will take at least 18 months to complete.

There are also a few new campus locations, she said.

On Monday she was in East Texas for the ribbon cutting for a nursing program that is going to be offered in Jasper. There are already students enrolled who will no longer have to drive an hour to go to class.

LSCPA is partnering with the other two Lamar two-year campuses to offer classes in Livingston. A local community center is being used to offer training classes.

Monday’s Leadership Luncheon also had speakers Terry Stokes with the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, Mark Viator with Sabine Pass Port Authority, Larry Kelley with the Port of Port Arthur, Judith Smith with the City of Port Arthur Health Department, Dashawn Armstrong with Entergy, Claire Jackson with MOTIVA, Monique Thierry with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan.