The Miner pick, a proud symbol for the University of Texas at El Paso, today sits in the front of Purple Heart Elementary School. It’s a gift from the university to show the strong relationship it has with the Socorro Independent School District campus.
The pick, created by Juan Stockmeyer, owner of Savage Metals, can be found on the lawn of the school.
“This has been a special day for me,” said Purple Heart Principal Jennifer Parker. “This has been a dream of mine and it’s come true. My dream has always been to have a teaching school. This pick symbolizes our partnership with UTEP. It’s forged forever.”
Three years ago, Parker brought up the possibility of having UTEP classes at her school. The district and university agreed.
Since then, between 10 to 12 UTEP students, pursuing degrees in education, have taken class at the campus each semester, studying math, science and literacy. The classes are taught by university professors. The program allows prospective educators to get a first-hand experience in the classroom. In addition, several students have become interns at Purple Heart. Two were hired at the elementary campus.
“It allows future teachers a chance at hands-on experience and ensures plentiful student interaction,” Parker said.
The program isn’t just for UTEP students. It also is an endless opportunity for Team SISD students. The youngsters get to see college students in action, learning in the classroom, doing homework and pursuing their degree. Plus, students discover that education continues even after public school.
“Our motto at PHE is ‘College Begins in Kindergarten’ and our littlest heroes get to see college students learning alongside them,” Parker said.
David Carrejo, UTEP’s associate dean for undergraduate studies and education preparatory, said he knew as he took a tour of the school that it would be a perfect place to have university classes.
“We knew it would give our students valuable experience,” Carrejo said. “Our school culture is to have students immersed in the profession. That is what is happening here. The expertise that the teachers at Purple Heart bring to our students is priceless We are so grateful to Ms. Parker, the teachers, the staff and administration for everything they do for our students.”
Gabrielle Cervantes, a UTEP student hoping to become a teacher, took math and literacy classes at Purple Heart. It resulted in an internship at the school.
“This school is amazing,” Cervantes said. “The hands-on experience was the best. Everyone is wonderful. There is a lot of collaboration in the classroom. I never had a lot of experience with kids. Here they mentored me and showed me what I needed to improve on. Purple Heart taught me how to be a good teacher.”
The installation of the metal pick in front of Purple Heart Elementary – and the partnership with UTEP – was celebrated shortly before the end of school, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and guest speakers.
Photos courtesy SISD