Tom Torkelson, co-founder and chief executive officer of one of the fastest growing and most successful public charter school systems in the country, will speak on the Wabash College campus at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Baxter Hall, room 101.

His lecture, which will focus on helping underserved students achieve academic success, is the last event of the President’s Distinguished Speakers’ Series at Wabash this year.

Torkelson graduated from Georgetown University in 1997 and spent three years teaching fourth graders in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the Teach for American program. At age 24, he co-founded IDEA Academy with a goal of providing high-quality, college-prep curriculum to underserved students in south Texas.

Today, IDEA Public Schools has grown to 79 schools serving 45,000 students across the states of Texas and Louisiana with a new school coming online in Florida next year. IDEA Donna has been ranked the 13th best public school in the United States by U.S. News and World Report, and was ranked the second best charter school in the country.

Since 2007, 100 percent of IDEA graduates have been accepted to colleges. Eleven IDEA graduates are currently enrolled at Wabash College, and several Wabash alumni now serve IDEA schools as teachers and administrators.

Torkelson has received the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership and the Freddy Fender Humanitarian Award, and was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the University of Michigan. He was inducted into the National Charter School Hall of Fame in 2018.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

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