Lincoln Middle School Earns National Distinction

SAN ANGELO, TX — San Angelo ISD congratulates and celebrates Lincoln Middle School for receiving the national distinction of Texas School to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). A Texas School to Watch is a school that consistently has moved to meet fully the nationally endorsed criteria for high-performing middle schools; one that has made marked progress in meeting all of these criteria, including measurable gains in the academic achievement of all students over time, and is committed to continuous improvement.

Lincoln Middle School is one of only 55 campuses across Texas to receive this honor which recognizes academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structure and processes. The award also recognized the strong campus leadership under Principal Joe Gandar and his team, exemplary improvement to curriculum and instruction by the difference maker Braves teachers and staff, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring continuous improvement to produce future-ready graduates. 

“It’s a huge honor for the North Side to have been recognized for this state and national distinction. For the last four years, my staff and I have worked hard to provide our kids with the best education possible, even with huge barriers like COVID and virtual learning,” said principal Joe Gandar. “The drive behind our success has been love. We strive to build relationships with our kids, build trust, and help build a healthy mindset in our kids so that they are more prepared for high school and life. Middle School is where kids begin to find themselves, and it can make or break students. We have the privilege to help build our kids up. We have high expectations for our kids, both academically and behaviorally. I feel we have the best kids in the district and the best staff in the district. National recognitions like this are not just handed out, they are earned. It is our duty to provide our kids the best middle school experience possible. We owe that to the people we serve, which is our kids and our families. I love my kids and staff with all my heart. This is for the whole North Side Community!”

The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they met criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work.

“We congratulate Principal Gandar and his staff, students, and parents for being a campus that does great things for all of their students,” said Leticia Menchaca, State Director for Schools to Watch in Texas and TASSP Director for Middle-Level Services. “This school has demonstrated that a high-performing middle school is a place that focuses on academic growth and achievement. Lincoln MS is a place that recognizes the importance of meeting the needs of all students and ensures that every child has access to a challenging, high-quality education.”

San Angelo ISD extends a proud congratulations to Lincoln Middle School, and its students, staff, and families on this well-deserved achievement. To stay up-to-date on San Angelo ISD, please visit the SAISD website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Launched in 1999, Schools to Watch began as a national program to identify middle-grades schools across the country that were meeting or exceeding 37 researched based criteria developed by the National Forum. The Forum developed a website that features online tours of schools, as well as detailed information about selection criteria used in the recognition program.  There are now 17 states across the country, which have trained Schools to Watch State Teams, with more than 500 schools recognized across the country. The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform began as an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.


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