"Even the kinder(garteners) can do it," Perez said, "even if they're just pointing to a banner and saying, "I want to go to that college.'"
Perez runs a tight ship.
Anthony students rarely had homework before her tenure, now it's two hours a night, she said.
She knows most of the parents and kids, and she and her staff know the New Mexico education standards inside and out, administrators said.
Perez can walk into a classroom and immediately know if a teacher's lesson meets the benchmarks, Yturralde said.
At a principals meeting at the beginning of the school year, he asked the principals to name a standard and no one could, Perez said.
"You have to know," she said.
"Behemoth," "monster" notebooks of data track progress, said teacher Lisa Quintis, who coaches teachers who might need extra help with the standards themselves.
That assessment, that accountability is what other schools lack, administrators said.
"Students don't fail, we fail them," Perez said. "If you have a large portion of your kids that are failing, you can't blame it on the kids. There has to be something wrong with you as the adult."
'I just have to hope'
After graduating from Anthony Elementary, the students will enter middle school with its peer pressures and puberty, roadblocks and snags.
Gadsden Middle School received a "B" rating; Gadsden High School a "D."
At Gadsden Middle, 42.3 percent of students are proficient or advanced in reading and 39.3 percent in math. At Gadsden High, 28.8 percent are proficient or advanced in reading and 28.2 percent in math.
Only 63 percent of New Mexico students graduate high school, though Yturralde said GISD's rate is higher, 81.2 percent for all three high schools combined. State data show Hispanic students are less likely to graduate than their peers, and low-income and limited English proficiency students even less so.
Gadsden Middle doesn't track how students from individual schools do but is working with Perez to help replicate Anthony's positivity and college emphasis, interim Principal Veronica Quinonez said.
Just instilling that college drive in elementary school might be enough to get Anthony students to college, regardless of the challenges they'll face in middle and high school, Perez said.
"I just have to hope that they won't" get lost in the system, she said. "I guess part of it is I don't want to think that they'll get lost, that they're going to make it through."
Cesar's mother, Araceli Rodriguez, said she's seen big improvements in her kids under Perez. They love school now, and she hopes they'll go to college.
"I think my kids are going to be the first," she said. "My kids are really into it. I'm the one that's nervous they're not going to."
Lindsey Anderson can be reached at 575-541-5462. Follow her on Twitter @l_m_anderson.
Anthony Elementary at a glance
-- "A" grade from state Public Education Department
-- 62.4 percent of students proficient in reading
-- 70 percent of students proficient in math
-- No. 1 of 51 schools with similar proportion of English language learners
-- No. 2 of 139 schools with similar proportion of economically disadvantaged students
Source: New Mexico Public Education Department
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