ILP Honors Top Students

Escondido Charter High School (ECHS), one of the charter schools in the American Heritage family of charter schools, celebrated the outstanding academic achievement of two of its top students in its Individualized Learning Program (ILP), 2013 valedictorian Joseph Garcia and 2013 salutatorian Melinda Serrato.

“We’re proud of their hard work, and are confident that they are moving on to a bright future,” remarked Deron Gallindo, ILP director.

Garcia earned over 300 credits by taking advanced classes at Palomar College (also in Escondido) while still a student at ECHS.  He is a member of both the California Scholarship Federation and the National Honor Society, traveled to China with ECHS’ International Leadership Class, participated in the mock trial team and served as a youth representative and commissioner for the City of Escondido.  He was also an active volunteer in his church.

Garcia has begun classes at Yale University, and plans to pursue a career as an attorney.

Serrato also earned more than 300 credits by taking classes at Palomar College while still an ECHS student.  She is a life member of the California Scholarship Federation.  She was an active volunteer at Palomar Hospital in Escondido, and has also been active with her church.

Serrato has begun classes at Reed College in Portland.  She plans to go on to medical school and become a cardiothoracic surgeon.


ECHS’ ILP is an independent study program which offers students a flexible, part-time schedule, much like a student in community college.  The amount of time an ILP student spends on campus varies; students work with a Teacher of Record to plan their individual academic schedules.  Students meet with teachers on campus 2-3 days per week for lab sciences, math, foreign language and computer technology classes.  Additionally, ILP students may attend community college to earn high school and college credits.

ILP is a year-round program and currently serves about 470 students.  Unlike the traditional ECHS program or Heritage K-8, there is currently no waiting list to become an ILP student.

ECHS’ ILP program caters to a variety of students, including highly motivated, college-bound students, students who train and travel frequently due to their involvement with a sports program, students who work to help support their families and students who do not perform as well in a traditional classroom environment.  Students can enroll or finish at any time of the year, and may participate in the ILP’s June graduation ceremony once they have completed their studies.

Deron Gallindo has served as ILP’s director for eight years.  He began with the program as an independent study teacher in 1996, the year the American Heritage family of charter schools began.  He believes students and parents are drawn to enroll in ECHS’ ILP because of its smaller class sizes, safe campus and the opportunity to take college courses with a flexible schedule.  He said, “We were founded on a mission of back-to-basics education, with an emphasis on the heritage of our country.  We have high expectations for our students and I think they appreciate that the teaching staff cares about them as individuals.”

Deron Gallindo, ILP director, and Joseph Garcia

Deron Gallindo, ILP director, and Joseph Garcia


Melinda Serrato

Melinda Serrato