Encouraging, Empowering and Educating

At the Student Opportunity Center, our mission statement is Encouraging, Empowering, and Educating students for success.

Encouraging and motivating students to succeed is one of the things we do best at the SOC. The teachers are extraordinary at building relationships with their students, and helping them plan for and achieve their goals.

Empowering our students to take initiative and responsibility is a value that we strive to instill in our students to help them gain confidence and leadership skills. A perfect example of this, is when students initiate and facilitate a community building circle without teacher intervention.

Educating our students to achieve high school graduation and prepare them for life beyond, is the number one goal at the SOC. The teachers are phenomenal at working with different learning styles, and knowing what each student needs in order to succeed. 


Making Snowflakes

During SMART (Student Movement And Relaxation Time) Period here at the SOC, the students are asked to choose an activity they enjoy to clear their mind after lunch before beginning 4th period. One of the activities offered is Art. On this particular day, student Kendall Shaw, was showing another student, Rabia Basra, how to make a 3D snowflake. The students enjoy having this time to complete assignments, play basketball, or just sit and relax with their friends.blog


Year Up Program

On October 31, 2017, Marvin Blakely, Recruitment Director for Year Up, came to our campus to present to the Student Services Department at the Student Opportunity Center.  Year Up is a program that was created by a former Wall Street broker by the name of Gerald Chertavian who initially was a Big Brother and later sold his company and created the Year Up Program.  The program was established in Boston in 2000 and was established from a book written by Gerald Chertavian.  The goal of the program was to meet the untapped potential and provide resources for a population of underrepresented adults ranging from the ages of 18-24.

The program, which is a year in length, is broken into two phases.  Phase I, the students are enrolled in the business development phase of the program where they are earning 18 credit hours all taught by El Centro professors on their main campus in Dallas.  The students are required to dress for success daily, which includes training in soft skills ranging from writing a resume, understanding the importance of time management, and how to send professional emails. During the Phase I sessions, the students also participate in Feedback Friday by participating in sharing feedback among one another as well as receiving feedback from colleagues.  Phase I students receive a stipend of $200 and free public transportation passes to attend school.

Phase II is the second semester of the program where the students are placed in an internship program.  According to the recruitment director, during this phase the students are building their professional muscle working with corporations. After the end of Phase II the students will graduate from the program and will be hired (pending how successful they were for the duration of their internship), and have the opportunity to earn $22/hr or $50,000-$60,000 per year.

Mr. Marvin Blakely will return to the SOC to speak with another group of our SOC students, and we strongly encourage our students who are eligible to apply if they are capable of getting back and forth to the El Centro campus daily.

In addition to the professors on campus, the Year Up program also provides the students with “high expectations and high support.” The El Centro staff in the Year Up program are also mentors for the students and there are two Social Workers on staff to also assist with personal struggles and as a resource for the students in need.

For more information about the Year-Up program, please refer to the links below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw2_90N2464 (Year Up Overview)—60 Minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZP4SaDfgTo (Personal Story)


Frisco Family Tutorials

Frisco High School is offering after school tutoring for middle and high school students in our district!  The Frisco Family Tutoring Program originally started in 2010 at the Stonebrook Apartments. The main goals of the tutoring program are to help students be successful in school and also to increase family participation. We currently host the program at Frisco High School to be able to meet the needs of our students.
While the program is geared toward assisting English Language Learners, it also aims to benefit the community as a whole.  Many teachers have already volunteered to help with the tutorials, and we have also enlisted the assistance of FISD National Honor Society students to serve as peer tutors. High school tutors will gain valuable service hours while providing a beneficial service to their peers and to younger students in the community. We provide our students with a snack during each session. We also provide small incentives (school supplies or other such items) in the form of a raffle. We try to find businesses and organizations to support us with donations.
Another component of our program will be parent outreach. We are planning to host small presentations for parents, perhaps one a month.  We want to encourage parents to learn how they can help their students become more successful in school.  Our district strives to engage all of our parents because we know that we have to build a network of support for our students if they are to be successful.
We would like to extend you an invitation to help us sustain this program by volunteering one Wednesday a month from 4:20 – 6:15 pm at Frisco High School. We need at least two teachers to cover the tutorials every week. Please contact Elma Montenegro (montenee@friscoisd.org) or Alma Juarez (JuarezA@friscoisd.org), program coordinators, for more information.

A bit of Halloween at the SOC

At the end of a long month Halloween brings a welcome break from normal for a few students and staff members.  No masks are allowed but some students and faculty still manage to make the day a special occasion.  Some traditional costumes appear — a witch, a Spiderman.  This year we even had a dinosaur.DinasaurSometimes life can be very stressful.  It is good to see positive ways to relieve a bit of that stress.  Go out today and Smile.  It can be contagious.

Critters at the SOC

At the SOC most teachers don’t have their own classrooms rooms.  Most, if not all, teachers switch classrooms at some point in the day.  Some teachers switch classrooms every period, some just once a day, but it makes it more challenging to personalize the classroom space.

One way the science department has personalized its space is to have several different animals in the science lab. The first animal to arrive was Cornelius. Cornelius is a male corn snake about 7 years old. He’s been in a classroom most of his life and is very gentle. Students enjoy taking Cornelius out of his tank and learning that snakes are not scary.

The next pets acquired were the goldfish. Ms. Blackwell uses the goldfish in an experiment (no fish are harmed during the experiment) in her aquatics class where students learn about oxygen concentration in the water and its effect on the fish. But an aquarium also has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety by bringing the calming effects of nature right into the classroom.

The next animals we added to the science lab were the leopard geckos. They are a male named George and a female named Gracie. Students are generally not allowed to handle the geckos as they are very sensitive and skittish. When frightened, they can drop their tails which no one wants to happen!

The birds were the next animals added to the lab. There are three parakeets, Curie, Faraday, and Einstein, all named after famous scientists. They can get rather rambunctious at times, but are very fun to watch.

And lastly, our newest animal addition is Darwin, the red footed tortoise. Right now Darwin is a baby but will eventually grow to about 12 inches across. We can’t tell yet whether Darwin is a boy or a girl but it is named after Charles Darwin who studied tortoises on the Galapagos Islands. There is a bit more space for another animal or two so maybe we will be adding to our animal staff soon.


On Tuesday, October 11, 2017, tenth and eleventh grade students at the SOC were given the opportunity to take the PSAT test.  Students can only take the PSAT once per year, and most Frisco ISD students take the test in both 10th and 11th grade.

The PSAT is a great tool that will help students become familiar with the SAT exam and its format. The PSAT will help identify academic areas that need improvement as well as enhance appropriate test-taking strategies.  Testing skills in reading, writing, and math, the PSAT is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. Unlike the SAT, the highest score possible on the PSAT is 1520. Here’s how the test breaks down:

60 minutes, approximately 48 questions are dedicated to World Literature, Social Studies/History and Science.

35 minutes, approximately 44 questions cover expression of ideas and standard English conventions.

The final 70 minutes (45 of which students may use a calculator and 25 unassisted) is 47 questions, with a combination of Algebra, Data Analysis & Problem Solving, as well as Advanced Math.

The PSAT is more than a practice test for the SAT. The highest performers on this exam are eligible to earn scholarship money toward their chosen colleges. This is also the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program for students in the 11th grade-$180 million dollars in merit scholarships are awarded to students each year! In fact, 45 students in Frisco ISD have achieved the standing of National Merit Finalist for 2017.  Congratulations to them all and good luck to those who recently took the test.


“The 3 C’s of Life: Choices, Chances, Changes. You must make a choice to take a chance, or your life will never change.” ― Zig Ziglar

This year at the SOC, we made a choice at the campus-level to offer SMART period. This opportunity allows our students to choose where to spend this 25-minute period in the afternoon: outside in the courtyard (supervised, of course), in Room 113 for Art, in Room 110 for Study Hall, or in the gym.

As a gym chaperone, it has been fun and inspiring watching the camaraderie grow alongside the competition. These young gentlemen talk smack to one another but also congratulate each other when someone gets in a well-earned shot. The hustle on the court is time and energy well spent. And, though a formal study has not been conducted (yet), some teachers are saying this has been a VERY good choice for the school and especially for our students!

Brain Breaks

Brain Breaks are 1 to 2 minute activities which help you get refocused and reenergized. It’s like a refresh button for you. The activity challenges your brain while getting your body moving.

Brain Breaks can be used at home, work or at school. Teachers can use brain breaks to transition from one activity to another or help students stay focus on their topic. Refresh the brains in your classroom every 30 to 40 minutes.

As SOC students taking Algebra I finish an assignment, Mrs. Wesley, will have them take a brain break. Sometimes the break will be for an  individual or for partners or the whole class together. The breaks have increased the productivity of the classes.

Here’s a brain break from Energizing Brain Breaks by David Sladkey for you to try with your student.

“Say 21 and Win”

You and your partner are trying to count by ones up to twenty-one. The first person to say “21” will win.


  1. Stand up and find a partner. Decide who is A and who is B.
  2. Goal is to be the first one to say “21”.
  3. You will alternately say consecutive numbers starting at “1” until someone says “21”. However, at your turn, you have your choice of saying only one number or two numbers at a time. For example, if person A finishes their turn and said “7”; then person B could either say just “8” or “8 then 9”.
  4. Person A starts counting at “1”.