Guide to Enrolling at Southwest Prep in 2023–24

Southwest Preparatory School photo collage

Southwest Preparatory School—known as Southwest Prep—is a network of open-enrollment charter schools offering college preparation and career readiness in a safe environment with individual attention and an academically enriched curriculum. Open enrollment for the 2023–24 school year will begin on February 13, 2023, and continue through March 3, 2023. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about Southwest Prep and take steps to enroll your child for the next school year.

About Southwest Prep

Southwest Prep was established in 1998 by Jim Neal and Gary Short, who had been teachers together at Roosevelt High School. Neal had experience providing alternative education to at-risk students for Alamo Heights ISD and Judson ISD. He adapted two of the features of the alternative school—character education and self-paced learning—and incorporated those into the charter application for Southwest Prep.

For 25 years, the school district has taught students to be self-motivated, self-reliant, and optimistic about learning and growing.  The overarching vision of Southwest Prep is to do profound good in the community by providing an adaptive educational program that better meets the needs of our youth and prepares them for the future. In today’s world, teaching traditional American values to our youth is more important than ever, so Southwest Prep teachers and staff are guided by a set of core values that create an environment to prepare students to succeed in the real world through academic achievement, career readiness, developing good character, and a civic purpose.

Southwest Prep in the San Antonio Region

During the 2023–24 school year, Southwest Prep will have six campuses in the region, including five in San Antonio and one in Seguin. The school calendar, as you can see from the 2023–24 calendar, follows a typical academic year schedule. On its district report card, Southwest Prep earned a B rating; the list below includes links to campus report cards.

Download the free San Antonio Charter Schools app for an interactive map that includes Southwest Prep and many more. You can also find campus information about Southwest Prep (and other schools of choice) in our Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.

Southwest Preparatory School photo collage sports

Enroll at Southwest Prep

Families can apply online to enroll their children at Open enrollment for the 2023–24 school year will begin on February 13, 2023, and will continue through March 3, 2023. The lottery will be on March 4, 2023. Families can still apply for enrollment after the lottery, but they may be added to the waiting list.

Each campus will be hosting open house events called The Power Hour in the spring. These events will allow interested families an opportunity to learn about the school, ask questions, meet with staff, tour the campus, and enjoy refreshments and special kids’ activities. 

We recommend that you follow these Southwest Prep social media accounts:

In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about Southwest Prep. Families with students who are currently enrolled at Southwest Prep can comment based on their experiences.

Facts about Southwest Prep

Southwest Prep, there are many programs that set them apart from other schools, including their pre-K program, the Media Education Design Academy (MEDA), Early College High School, and Capturing Kids’ Hearts.

Full Day Pre-K

All of Southwest Prep’s elementary schools offer a full-day pre-K program for four-year-old students. The Northwest Elementary campus also has a three-year pre-K program. The program is free for those that qualify, but the tuition rate is less than half of most daycares if you do not qualify. The Frog Street curriculum focuses heavily on social-emotional development and managing big feelings in new situations. Students receive a solid foundation in academic skills that set them up for success in kindergarten and beyond. Children learn through discovery and exploration during independent play, whole-group activities, and small-group instruction to promote a love of learning. The program is designed to encourage family involvement and for teachers to build relationships with the students that last through elementary into middle and high school. The pre-K teachers are focused on whole child growth and development.

Southwest Preparatory School Media Education Design Academy MEDA

Media Education Design Academy (MEDA)

The New Directions campus offers a Media Education and Design Academy (MEDA) that emphasizes career and professional readiness in the fields of Audio/Video Production. They offer courses on both their middle and high school campuses, allowing students to maintain friendships and mentorships.

Successful MEDA students can speak publicly in various formal and informal settings, with diversified audiences, responsible and goal-oriented, actively pursuing and achieving those goals within a given time frame. The MEDA program is a partnership with Alamo Arts Academy and is open to students in grades 6–12.

Early College High School

The Northwest campus offers an Early College High School program where ALL students can earn up to 60 college hours at no cost to the family. The students attend classes that earn both high school and college credit, saving the student and the family time and money. The Northwest Early College High School is unique because it is housed on the Texas A&M University—San Antonio campus. This allows the students to fully immerse in the college experience by attending classes and events the college offers.

Southwest Preparatory School capturing kids hearts

Capturing Kids’ Hearts

Southwest Preparatory Schools believe building positive relationships with all staff and students is key to the overall success of the students. Southwest Preparatory Schools are proud to implement a very effective program called Capturing Kids’ Hearts (CKH). The CKH program provides training and support to schools in creating a positive and supportive school culture. The program emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships between teachers and students and focuses on creating a positive and safe learning environment. It includes activities, tools, and strategies for improving communication, reducing disciplinary incidents, increasing student engagement, and addressing challenging behavior.

The program is designed to be used by schools, teachers, and administrators, and it helps Southwest Preparatory School create a positive and supportive culture that promotes student success and well-being. 

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Southwest Prep principals, including Cheryl Wills-Pacheco from Northwest Elementary and Northwest Early College, Ray Martinez from Northeast and New Directions, and Dr. Geneva RicoWatson from Southeast, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on February 7, 2023 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Cheryl Wills-Pacheco graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in 2008. She received her Masters in Education with an emphasis in Special Education in 2010. After working in the field of special education for many years, she decided to seek a leadership position and enrolled in the McNeil Foundation Principal program. She obtained her principal certification in 2017.

Cheryl has been working in education for 22 years. She has held many different positions in education, including PEIMS coordinator, teacher, testing coordinator, special education coordinator, and assistant principal. She believes these positions have helped her become a strong leader because she understands all these roles and departments.

Cheryl has been with the Southwest Preparatory District for almost twelve years. She is the principal of Northwest Elementary and Northwest Early College High School. She loves working for this district and feels she has found her forever educational home.

Ray Martinez became the proud principal of Southwest Preparatory Northeast/New Directions in February 2021. Mr. Martinez has been an educator for over eight years, and all have been with Southwest Preparatory School. Before becoming a principal, he taught secondary science and coached athletics. During Mr. Martinez’s time as Southwest Northeast/New Directions Principal, the school has earned an “A” rating in accountability with the Texas Education Agency and a School of Distinction recognition from Cognia School Accreditation.

Mr. Martinez earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry from Schreiner University and a Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences from Clemson University. In Mr. Martinez’s free time, he enjoys spending time with his children and playing sports.

Geneva M. RicoWatson, Ph.D., is the Principal of Southwest Preparatory Southeast. She is a dedicated educational leader driven by a passion for educational excellence and equity. Throughout her career, she has had many excellent opportunities to learn and grow within organizations that partner with families and transform communities through education.

Before joining Southwest Preparatory School Southeast, she held several professional positions, including classroom teacher, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, founding elementary and middle school principal, and university instructor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s University. In May 2017, she earned her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching from The University of Texas at San Antonio.

In addition to her roles as a principal and researcher, Geneva is continuously learning from and growing into her most important role—mother. She has been blessed to be the mother of a brilliant four-year-old. To see the world through her eyes is both magical and inspiring.

Geneva enjoys outdoor adventures with her family and running during her spare time. One of her most rewarding moments was completing the Bandera 100K in honor of her young friend, Kristin Tiger.

She is honored to continue to serve families and create transformational change within the Southwest Preparatory School Southeast campus community.

Read More About Southwest Prep

Share with friends:


A nonprofit that helps parents to research school options and become advocates for high quality education.