Photo courtesy SISD

4 Socorro ISD middle schools earn Texas Schools to Watch national distinction

Four middle schools in the Socorro Independent School District have been re-designated as Texas Schools to Watch as part of a national recognition program conducted by The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform and the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

Spec. Rafael Hernando III, Col. John O. Ensor, Socorro Middle and William D. Slider middle schools were four of 50 schools in Texas to earn the distinction based on criteria such as academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational structure and processes.

“Our hard-working instructional and leadership teams at Ensor, Hernando, Slider and Socorro middle schools are achieving incredible success and certainly treating and educating all students as if they are their own children,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “They have maintained an unwavering focus on college and career readiness to ensure all their students succeed. I am extremely proud of their commitment to put their campuses and Team SISD in the spotlight as Texas Schools to Watch!”

The SISD schools will be recognized nationally, along with other Schools to Watch, at the National Forum’s Virtual National Schools to Watch Conference in June.

The principals were proud to share their achievement via social media.

“This is a shared achievement by our entire school community! Congrats to all of our hard-working Cavaliers,” said Valerie Hairston, principal of Spec. Rafael Hernando III Middle School, on Twitter. “It is a great day to be a Cavalier!”

They also eagerly congratulated their school communities.

“Congratulations to all our Bulldog community, your #HeartandHustle made it happen!” said Mauro Guerrero, principal of Socorro Middle School, in a Twitter post.

As Texas Schools to Watch, the campuses have demonstrated academic growth and achievement, and that they are ensuring students have access to challenging, high-quality education. Schools are recognized for a three-year period, and at the end of the three years, they must demonstrate progress on specific goals to be re-designated, according to the Texas Schools to Watch press release.

The national Schools to Watch program requires schools to identify strengths and focus on areas of continuous improvement.

The designation shows that the schools are excelling at various levels in meeting students’ needs to excel with rigorous and relevant education.

Lisa Estrada-Batson, principal of Col. John O. Ensor Middle Schools, was happy to announce her school’s success.

“Congratulations to our entire @Ensor_MS Learning community who helped make us one of the top middle schools in TX! #ProudPrincipal #TeamSISD,” she said in her social media post.

William D. Slider principal Brandon Rios shared the good news on Twitter, as well.

“Slider Middle School joins approximately 50 other campuses across Texas with this distinction and honor. #StallionsLeadTheWay,” Rios said.

The Schools to Watch selection process is based on a written application that requires schools to show how they meet the criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, according to the press release.  Schools that appeared to meet the criteria were then visited by state teams, which observed classrooms, interviewed administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and looked at achievement data, suspension rates, quality of lessons, and student work.

Learn more about the program at