Guest Column – EPISD’s Cabrera: EPISD is ready to PowerUp!

Superintendent Juan Cabrera / EPISD Photo
Superintendent Juan Cabrera / EPISD Photo

Visitors to any of our schools this year will notice that things are different.

Sure, they will continue to see the region’s best teachers and employees working to give our students the best education possible. But they will notice that instruction is very different.

From simple things like student desk arrangements to major initiatives like EPISD Flex-books and the distribution of laptops for all of our high-school students, education at EPISD is changing in a very positive way.

This is all part of our strategic priority “Active Learning” and EPISD PowerUp, the District’s new initiative to transform teaching and learning to help create future-ready students. The transformation will include technology, active learning and other initiatives that will impact every student in every campus of the District.

Our teachers and campus administrators already are focusing on new and innovative ways they can incorporate PowerUp in their classrooms and curricula.

Teachers are now seeking opportunities to engage in critical thinking scenarios that align to traditional lessons. Students then will be given the tools and access to use traditional and digital instructional materials to complete assignments.

To help us facilitate PowerUp, EPISD is distributing laptops to every high-school student who does not want to bring their own device. This laptop distribution, which has begun and continues through mid-September, is a huge undertaking on behalf of our Blended Learning and Technology departments.

These laptops (and there are about 18,000 of them) will give our high school students the opportunity to fully engage in PowerUp and everything it has to offer. Through these machines, they will follow lesson plans, do research for projects, engage with other students and teachers for class assignments and access their textbooks either in school or at home.

Speaking of textbooks, our high school teachers have been critical partners in launching PowerUp. Teachers in all four core areas (English language arts, social studies, science and math) have come together over the last year to create digital Flexbooks that meet all state curriculum requirements, but also incorporate some of the EPISD-specific lessons we know will help make our students ready for their future plans. This means that high school textbooks were not only created by some of their teachers, they are also designed to meet their specific needs.

Better yet, these books are digital and available to every student via the internet or their district-issued laptop.

As you can see, Active Learning and PowerUp are ambitious initiatives that will have transformative effects on teaching and learning. We know this is a lot to ask from our teachers and administrators, but we also know that this is the right thing to do for our students.

We invite the EPISD community to join us as we PowerUp the 2015-16 school year and beyond. This is not a fad, this is the core of the new EPISD!

Author: Superintendent Juan Cabrera, EPISD