Photo courtesy SISD

Socorro ISD Fine Arts prepped for new school year with unique 2021 Job-A-Like conference

The Socorro ISD Fine Arts department, teachers and staff collaborated in an engaging and lively professional development with school districts across the region to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year.

The Fine Arts Job-A-Like conference was conducted July 28 at two locations to accommodate the more than 800 teachers and staff who participated.

Band, choir, orchestra, and music teachers attended their sessions at the University of Texas at El Paso and art, dance and theater teachers participated at Franklin High School. Some 200 Socorro ISD fine arts teachers and staff members were at the back-to-school professional development.

Numerous guest presenters from outside of the city and educators from within the region shared their best practices and rehearsal techniques in various sessions and trainings to help the teachers tackle the new school year in person after an unprecedented year and a half of virtual learning.

“Ultimately, with all my peers, our goal is to be the best we can for our students,” said Caleb Tullius, the band director at Eastlake High School. “An opportunity like this will give us exactly what we need to be at our best for the start of this school year.”

SISD Fine Arts director Armando Martinez said he was thrilled to have the teachers back in person for planning and preparation for the new school year.

“Fine Arts is unique in ways you can’t imagine,” he said. “The amount of extra hours they put in to perfect their craft is astonishing, even during pandemic, students and teachers rehearsed online no matter how difficult times got.”

Julian Vidales, an art teacher at Pebble Hills High School, had the opportunity to present for teachers across the region about his traditional techniques using digital tools on Sketchbook Pro, an artmaking software. His presentation focused on how students can achieve success with or without a fancy stylus or drawing tablet.

“I’m just so glad to see this software grow more and more every year since I’ve been using it in my instruction,” he said. “I believe it’s helped so many teachers in their instruction as well so the students can use it in their own practices.”

Dance teacher at Pebble Hills High School Monica Perez said this year’s event was one of the best experiences she’s had with professional development, including fun and educational activities.

“It was great to collaborate with our fellow colleagues of the same content from different districts,” Perez said. “I loved that we, as educators, were able to take class from professionals and learn new methods of our craft.”

Theater teachers had the opportunity to learn various lessons, strategies and addressed different topics, such as how theater affects the lives of the youth they work with.

Americas High School theater teacher Thomas Haase said his favorite workshop was on stage combat, which focused on how to get students to represent dangerous actions onstage, while remaining completely safe.

“This was a fun and energetic way to help me as a teacher think about the work I would be doing with my students as the school year begins,” Haase said.

Music and choir teacher at William D. Slider Middle School Catrina Lasyone said she learned many lessons from the COVID-19 era and found ways at the conference that will help her students thrive.

“It’s been such a crazy year and a half especially with rehearsing,” Lasyone said. “We had to depend so much on technology to get us through but now we can finally rehearse in person again. I’m very grateful for that.”

Aside from their workshops and various activities, the conference offered great opportunities for networking. The event included vendors, live music, lunch and raffle prizes. Educators were thrilled to be part of the event.

“We believe that happy teachers make happy students,” said Candace Printz, Socorro ISD Fine Arts assistant director. “So, we decided to spoil our teachers today, the giveaways and the hands-on learning is our way of showing our teachers we appreciate them here at SISD.”

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