When her daughter reached school age, Rose Baladez decided to try something different.
She sent her daughter Isabella to the University of Texas Elementary School, a grade school operation by the university, now going into its 10th year.
"We had some family that was experiencing some problems in AISD schools, so coming over to the charter school was hopefully going to be a good idea," Baladez said.
Her daughter attended the school from pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade.
"This school helped me a lot,” Isabella said.
Now in the seventh grade, Isabella attends the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.
Erik Torres attended UTES for his fourth and fifth grades.
“I was a pretty bad student at my other school, but when I came to this school, I had all good grades,” he said. “It was the higher expectations."
Now he's a junior at East Austin College Prep Academy and plans to be a lawyer.
Mellisa Chavez helped build the U.T. elementary school from scratch.
"We didn't have a teacher, we didn't have a book, we didn't have a building,” she said. “And we had three months to open our doors to east Austin."
Their mission is to prepare students for college from the very start.
"They begin their college career in pre-Kindergarten,” Chavez said. “Pre-K to PHD is our motto."
They say the difference is their methods.
"What we've learned is that we have to educate the whole child, or teach to the spirit of every child,” Chavez said. “That means not just teaching math and science and social studies and English, but really caring about the social and emotional learning of children."
Parents like Rose Baladez say it works.
"The expectation is there for her to go to college,” she said. “That's what's really important."
The school recently completed construction on a new permanent facility at their East 6th Street location. They're still raising funds to build more permanent classroom space.