Life Lessons: Discipline Breeds Success

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Kevin Olvera, a 2019 graduate of IDEA Quest attending the University of Notre Dame this fall

This blog post is part of our celebration of charter school graduates across the country and their achievements. Join us in celebrating our #CharterGrads!

As a child, I moved around a lot with my family. My father worked in a bank and my mother was in the process of finishing her college education aspiring to be a school teacher.

It was difficult at times for my family to make ends meet. At one point, my family couldn’t afford our living expenses, so we moved in with my grandmother for a while until my father got another opportunity in San Antonio. While we were there however, everything changed when we found out that my grandmother had cancer.

We packed up and moved back to the Rio Grande Valley to support her as she had always been there for us. My mother had a friend who worked at IDEA Public Schools (IDEA) and had her daughter enrolled there. She told my mother about IDEA and how they aimed to send every child to college. She told her about the curriculum and the focus on the whole child.

My mother entered me in the lottery and I was selected to attend IDEA for my 4th grade year. Starting at a new school was difficult. From the start, we had to take responsibility for ourselves both as students and citizens. We wrote down everything in an agenda, classes and routines were very structured, and there was a massive focus on accountability. But even then, I knew they were more than rules. They’re habits that are designed to train you to be responsible, efficient, and successful throughout life.

As I advanced each year, the rigor grew more intense. There were times that I asked myself if it worth it. I had older cousins who were juniors and seniors at other schools that didn’t have AP courses. Why was I having to work extra hard in AP courses in 9th grade? My parents encouraged me to stick it out. They told me about some of the universities that students from IDEA were accepted into and all of the success stories. My mother wanted me to get into a good college or university and find opportunities outside of the Rio Grande Valley.

Though I wished high school classes could have been easier, I powered through and stuck to each routine IDEA had instilled in me. My sophomore year, I took two AP courses and by junior year I was taking five. The good habits and discipline they had instilled in me since the 4th grade were paying off. I grew accustomed to the rigor.

This fall, I will leave the Rio Grande Valley and start the next chapter of my education at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. No matter how far I stray from the Rio Grande Valley, IDEA and the lessons I’ve learned here will stay with me for a lifetime. IDEA taught me so much, and after completing my senior year, I know I will be successful anywhere because I am able to handle anything. I feel prepared for college and beyond, knowing that discipline has given me the foundation to be successful.


Kevin Olvera is a 2019 graduate of IDEA Quest in Edinburg, Texas. In the fall he will begin classes at the University of Notre Dame.


[Click to Tweet] This fall, Kevin Olvera will start the next chapter of his education at @NotreDame as a 2019 graduate of @IDEASchools Quest! #CharterGrads


August 12, 2019 - 09:09pm
Elissa Klein

Kevin, congratulations, and thank you for sharing your story! If you move to Chicago after graduating from Notre Dame, you should come teach with us at ReGeneration Schools!