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How Julián Castro Bet on 4-Year-Olds to Transform San Antonio

Jennifer Martinez Young’s 8-year-old daughter, Addison, blitzes through books: Lisa Yee’s DC Super Hero Girls novels, the Rainbow Fairies and Mariella Mystery series. Just starting third grade, she’s reading at almost a sixth-grade level. This year, at Addison’s former elementary school, fifth-graders will read a story she wrote last year, as a model.

Addison’s mother credits her pre-school, San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA North Education Center, for inspiring her love of reading. Addison is still pen pals with Mrs. Ashworth, her preschool teacher. “She says she taught her so much,” Martinez Young, 37, says.

In 2013, Addison was one of the first 700 4-year-olds to enroll in San Antonio’s Pre-K 4 SA program, which provides high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten for disadvantaged 4-year-olds. It’s the brainchild of former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who went on to serve as President Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development.