The center was renamed in 2004 in recognition of 3 decades of contributions to Texas schools by educator, UT Austin alumna, and College of Education Foundation Advisory Council member Vaughn Gross.
“One only has to look over the accomplishments of Vaughn’s long career to see how dedicated she is and how creative she has been in her quest to teach young people,” Dr. Larry Faulkner, then president of The University of Texas at Austin, said at a ceremony announcing the renaming. “She once remarked that she is passionate about excellence and student achievement, and her record clearly demonstrates that she means it.”
Gross, who retired as assistant superintendent for Richardson Independent School District, began her professional career with that school district as a special education teacher. Her tireless efforts and unique gift for recognizing and meeting the varied needs of schools and students were soon rewarded, and she was named principal of Brentfield Elementary School and later of Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School.
During her time as principal of the magnet school, the campus earned exemplary status from the Texas Education Agency. Under her leadership, Brentfield was named a National Blue Ribbon School and gained recognition for its supportive environment and high academic achievement. Gross pioneered a program to fulfill the specific needs of “middle-of-the-class” children, or students who are not formally designated as gifted or specially challenged.
Gross’ extraordinary efforts to spur student achievement and personalize education have been noted by the magazine Texas Monthly, which detailed her taking the time every 6 weeks to write a personal note on more than 600 students’ report cards. In addition, she has received the National Parent Teachers Association Life Achievement Award and the Richardson Association of Children With Learning Disabilities Teacher of the Year Award.
“I have no doubt that there are many responsible and productive men and women in Texas today who can trace their roots to one of Vaughn’s schools,” Faulkner said. “We are very honored to place Vaughn’s name on the reading center and grateful that she is part of the Longhorn family.”