Socorro Independent School District’s administrators, counselors, board trustees, staff, and volunteers participated in the district’s annual Walk for Success.
More than 300 Team SISD members went door-to-door in the district’s neighborhoods to personally reach out to students who are not enrolled in school and encourage them to come back so they can graduate.
SISD officials shared that more educators walked in the event than years before.
“This has always been such an important event for Team SISD,” said Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza. “We don’t give up on a child. We don’t leave a child behind. It’s the passion we have as a team. We want our students to come back home.”
The personal visits allowed employees to talk to the students and their parents or family members about the different educational programs offered in the district, and the options available to students to assist them in earning their high school diploma.
“It hurts to lose any of our students,” said Cory Craft, the district’ academic compliance officer and coordinator of Walk for Success. “We see them as if they are our own kids.”
The number of students dropping out has declined as well. In 2014, volunteers went in search of about 300 youngsters who had left the district. This year, Walk for Success volunteers were reaching out to 156 students.
“We are so proactive as a district,” Craft said. “A lot of work goes behind the scenes. Our principals are doing a good job of keeping up with kids who drop out and bringing them back. They call, email, reach out on Facebook and Twitter.”
These efforts have helped boost graduation rates. The district has the highest graduation rate now, 91.3 percent, than it ever has had in its history. The rate is higher than the region and state, too.
“That is a direct result of everything principals and the staff at each high school do daily and Walk for Success,” Craft said.
The Walk for Success on Sept. 8 was one of the most heartening for Team SISD. Educators were excited to help bring students back to their home school. They talked to students, parents, grandparents and other family members.
“It really made me happy,” said Angelica Herrera, SISD’s director of elementary staffing, whose group was able to speak to a mother of a former Montwood High School student. “To see that this parent was so receptive to our group, it really touched me. She was so happy to see the district make such an effort, to show we really care about her daughter. It was an incredible moment.”
For Paula Figueroa, reaching out to children who have left the district is personal. She dropped out from Socorro High School as a senior after difficulty in passing the math part of the TAAS. She went on to get her GED that summer and graduated from college with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.
“I understand because I have been in their shoes,” said Figueroa, who is a counselor at Lujan-Chavez Elementary. “It was embarrassing at first. I am glad there is a program like this now.”