• photo of Richard Rickey

    C.E.O./Founder's Welcome Letter

    Thank you for your interest in Orenda Education and our Gateway Schools. 

    My name is Richard N. Rickey and I am the founder and C.E.O. of Orenda Education, the not-for-profit sponsoring entity for Gateway Schools. For almost 20 years I was employed in the healthcare field as a hospital C.E.O. and most recently as a multi-facility executive overseeing hospitals and clinics in multiple states.  Prior to my healthcare career I was in the education field developing and delivering public health curriculum and programs to several school districts in Oklahoma.  I come from a family of educators and have also been a volunteer in the classroom and coach youth sports. In the mid 1990’s I began to research public charter schools, and while a hospital C.E.O., I formed Orenda Education in 1995.
    Here in Williamson County we have some good but very large public schools. We all know that one school size does not fit all students. Some of our children do not feel a sense of belonging in a large school. There may be too many students in the school and classroom who are not serious about their studies. It may feel unsafe.   For many boys, in particular, while a large school may offer a great sports program, the culture of the school may not be conducive to creating an atmosphere that produces what we at Gateway refer to as a Citizen, Scholar, Athlete.   Some students are not reaching their academic and human potential in these settings. Private school choices in the area are limited, and for some families unaffordable. 
    In 2009, under our Orenda Education umbrella, we opened Gateway College Preparatory School on Westinghouse Road and Gateway Tech School on Williams Drive to meet this need.   The idea behind these two Gateway schools is to offer another public school choice for those students who want a smaller school experience that may be a better fit for their academic, social, physical and moral development. The Gateway College Prep 40 acre "green school" campus is designed to serve 1,200 K - 12 students with 100% of the graduating seniors attending college.  
    Our Gateway Prep school offers what I call the “Essential R’s”:            
    With a high school enrollment capped at about 450 students we offer a smaller public school experience for students in Williamson County and surrounding areas.   A small school allows our students the opportunity to feel like they really “belong”, can get the help they need, and have ample opportunities to be involved in extra-curricular activities. It is more difficult to get “lost” in our school. Everybody knows your name and how you are doing.
    We employ a "blended learning"  environment that incorporates on-site teacher led instruction with off-site e-learning that is available to our students twenty four (24) hours a day.  In this model we have groups of students working together with the teacher as coach, not just a lecturer.  Blended learning also allows us to use the latest in technology to match the instructional content and delivery tools to the unique learning styles and interests of each student.
    At Gateway College Prep School we only offer a rigorous college prep curriculum with Advanced Placement (AP), Pre-AP and dual credit courses for college credit. We also have a mandatory advisory period each day so we can stay on top of student progress.  Gateway Prep was ranked 27th in Texas and number 2 in the greater Austin area in "America's Most Challenging High Schools", 2015 rankings by The Washington Post.
    The Vision for the Future
    Our vision is that our Gateway schools will be a premier public school of choice for families looking for a smaller school environment that prepares their child from kindergarten through high school graduation for success at a top tier college or university.  
    Whether you are a potential student family member or an interested community citizen that cares about quality education, I encourage you to attend one of our Monday night “Gator Bites” informational sessions to meet us and to learn more.