EPISD’s next venture into New Tech will pioneer the project-based learning approach for which the program is known and combine it with the District’s nationally recognized dual-language curriculum.
Hart New Tech will be EPISD’s first elementary school with the collaborative learning program in the city, and just second in Texas. It also will be the first-ever dual-language New Tech school in the country.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to see what will happen when we introduce this type of learning at the elementary school and then see the student progress through high school,” said Scott Gray, New Tech Network coordinator.
The program will begin next year with third through fifth grade, and the following year kinder through second grades will be added.
Eventually, Hart students will be able to go from kinder to 12th grade in New Tech, which is offered at feeder campuses Guillen Middle and Bowie High School.
The addition of New Tech at Hart is funded by a $1.3 million grant EPISD received from the Texas Education Agency. The money will help train teachers and staff, and also will pay for the physical transformation of classrooms into active-learning spaces.
The New Tech approach has its advantages for dual language students when learning a second language. Students with varying abilities in English and Spanish work collaboratively to learn and build their language capacities.
“They tend to succeed because they’re building context,” Gray said. “They are taking ownership of their learning and tying what they’re learning to real world problems and solutions.”
Gray works closely with EPISD’s eight existing New Tech campuses and has been tracking data that shows New Tech students tend to out perform their traditional classroom peers nationally and within EPISD. He also said attendance rates are dramatically higher for students in New Tech programs.
“Students are engaged,” he said. “They want to learn and they want to learn this way. We have data support this.”
The grant, which is meant to transform teaching and learning at Hart, required EPISD to install a principal who had fewer than two years experience at the campus.
Angelica Negrete, who until last week had been principal at Alta Vista Elementary, is now the leader at Hart. Hart’s previous principal, Elizabeth Pragner, is now the principal at Alta Vista.
“I want to thank the Alta Vista community for being part of my journey as principal and teaching me so much. I know Ms. Pragner is going to excel there because of the dedicated teachers and wonderful students,” Negrete said.
“I am excited to take on this role at Hart and to have the opportunity to develop what I know will be an innovative and impactful program,” she added. “Students here at Hart will become very critical thinkers, which will provide them with more opportunities to be more ready for high school and even beyond high school.”
Story by Reneé de Santos / Photos by Alicia Chumley – EPISD
EPISD’s second International Baccalaureate program officially launched this week at Andress High School with an open house designed to show off the international coursework to parents and potential new students.
Andress showed off the progress it has made in the difficult task of developing an official International Baccalaureate (IB) program to a crowd of interested parents and students in the school’s library on Tuesday night.
Attendees spoke to teachers and current students about the challenging curriculum and the opportunities that can come from having an IB diploma upon high-school graduation.
“It sends a clear message to colleges and universities that you are a student who understands hard work and dedication,” said Ivan Rubio, a junior who is part of the first IB cohort at Andress. “Because IB is so well known throughout the world, having an IB diploma tells everyone that you’re ready for college and for any challenge that comes after that.”
About 40 students have tackled IB classes at Andress since the semester began in August.
The IB program is a world-class curriculum overseen by the International Baccalaureate group based in Geneva, Switzerland. Andress participates in the Diploma Programme of IB, which focuses on interdisciplinary teaching and learning in language and literature, language acquisition, social studies, sciences, math and the arts.
Thelma Phillips, the coordinator of the IB program at Andress, said students who take IB courses tend to be better prepared for college and have higher acceptance rates to top-tier universities.
“This is a program for students who are striving to excel and seek higher training and learning after high school,” she said. “And because they’re receiving an education that is world class and world recognized, they’re learning in a much more rigorous environment.”
Andress’ IB is open to all students in El Paso County, and already Phillips said several students from other school districts and charter schools have transferred into the Northeast school to participate in the program.
The creation of the program was meant to give more students access to high-quality educational programming. For about 20 years, the IB program at Coronado High School has attracted students from throughout the region, but distance has kept many students from enrolling there.
“I was supposed to go to Coronado for IB, but I live in the Northeast and I didn’t want to go across town for school,” said Dawsen Rystad, an Andress junior who is enrolled in the IB program. “I’m so happy that I get the opportunity here. It’s a great way to stay connected to my peers at Andress but still challenge myself academically.”
Students wishing to enroll in IB are required to submit an application, but Phillips said all students are admitted into the program.
“Our philosophy is that if a student wants to take on the challenge, she or he should be allowed to do so,” she said. “This is a life-changing opportunity, and we will work with any and all students to make sure they have the tools they need to be successful. That’s our charge.”
Story and photos by Gustavo Reveles Acosta – EPISD
PetSmart can’t provide live puppies to help sick children and the victims of crime, so they instead donated hundreds of stuffed animals to the El Paso Independent School District Police Services Department to distribute to those in need.
Officers from EPISD’s K-9 unit picked up more than 1,100 stuffed animals donated by customers of the store in the Fountains at Farah.
Giant bags and several shopping carts full of soft, cuddly toys sat in front of the story as the officers and their canine partners posed for pictures with the staff before hauling them off. The store hopes at least another 900 are donated through the remainder of the holidays.
“It was amazing when they told us the amount of stuff animals they collected,” said Officer John Dominguez. “We’re very thankful to PetSmart and their staff. This is going to make a difference.”
EPISD Police will be taking the donation to the Child Advocacy Center, the Children’s Hospital at Providence and Lee & Beulah Moore Children’s Home this holiday season.
“We also will be providing toys for children who are victims of crimes,” Dominguez said. “Every unit will have a couple toys in the police car to give to children when there is need. It is going to make a difference to them – just to put a smile on their face and know we’re there to help. It will give them security and make them feel more safe.”
Shauntel Caballero, associate store leader, said each store does a similar drive but the benefactors vary. EPISD Police purchases their canine supplies from Pet’s Mart at the Fountains, so the partnership seemed to be a perfect fit.
“The customers love it,” Caballero said. “They think it’s a great idea and some even buy one of each of the five stuffed animals to donate.”
The stuffed animals range from $5 to $8.99 and have been on sale since early November.
“The sale of the stuffed animals not only goes to the EPISD Police, but $1 of it goes to our charity fund,” Caballero said. “We deal with multiple shelters. Non-kill is our goal, so $1 goes to the charities for food and anything the shelters need to keep the animals alive.”
Author: Reneé de Santos /Photos by Leonel Monroy, EPISD
After one of the more memorable seasons in local high school football, the regular season was sent to end on a high note, with the Battle of the Southside – Jefferson vs Bowie – at the Sun Bowl.
The Silver Foxes and Bears did not disappoint, with Jefferson capping their season with back-to-back wins, sending the playoff picture into a scramble and dismissing Bowie 26-16. (Listen to the full broadcast here)
With their victory, the Silver-Foxes force a ‘flip-off’ between the teams tied for the final playoff spot; in a turn that could have only been written for an episode of ‘Friday Night Lights,’ Jefferson won the toss and took the final playoff spot.
Our photographer Steven Cottingham was there and brings you his view of this incredible game.
Fannin Elementary students enjoyed the fruits of their labor Tuesday, burying their hands elbow deep in the soil to harvest the sweet potatoes they planted six months ago.
The school’s garden club planted sweet potato slips last May in preparation for the holiday months. Paraprofessional Robert Gable, who leads the club, talked to the students about the first Thanksgiving.
“The first Americans had to learn to grow and harvest their own food if they wanted to eat, Gable said. “We really want students to appreciate what they have and that the food they get at the supermarket comes from somewhere.”
Although sweet potatoes were not likely among the first vegetables the pilgrims ate, students were excited to dig up the ripe roots and weigh them on a scale borrowed from the science teacher.
Fifth-grader Allie Bazan smiled as she stacked a large sweet potato into an almost-full milk crate. Her favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is in fry form.
“I love sweet potatoes fries. It feels good to see the sweet potatoes we planted grow so big,” Allie said. “I like staying after school with the garden club and making the school a better place.”
Fifth-grader Jude Simmons helps at home with the herb garden, but has never grown anything bigger than mint.
“I enjoyed digging up the sweet potatoes and getting my hands messy,” Jude said. “I think it’s important to learn to grow food because if something goes wrong with the farms, you can grow your own food.”
By the end of the harvest, students had filled three milk crates with sweet potatoes, some weighing as much as six pounds.
Each student took one home in a plastic baggie to cook out at home. The rest will either be donated with the school’s canned food drive or used for the school’s Thanksgiving lunch.
“Once we have pulled up all sweet potatoes they have to be kept in the dark for about eight days,” Gable said. “That gives them time to get even sweeter.”
First-grader Joelle Muse likes his sweet potatoes boiled.
“This has been really fun to get my hands dirty,” he said. “My favorite part of Thanksgiving is eating turkey and spending time with my family. Now I get to eat my sweet potato, too.”
Every day, outstanding music teachers provide high-level instruction to the thousands of students who have opted to incorporate music into their education plan.
On Tuesday, however, a handful of advanced music students got a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity: a one-on-one lesson from world-renown classical pianist Dzmitry Ulasiuk.
Ulasiuk, a native of Belarus who is trained in the Russian technique, imparted the master classes at Coronado as part of his visit to El Paso, which include private and public concerts throughout this week.
On Tuesday, he listened to students play Chopin pieces at the Coronado Capshaw Auditorium. After studying their performances he provided a personal master class aimed at helping them improve their skills at the piano.
“I’m here because I want to share my experience and my knowledge of music,” Ulasiuk said. “The students did a really, really good job. I am very glad to have been able to work with them.”
Ulasiuk appreciated the pieces the students chosse because the music from the Polish composer allows him to better understand the pianistic techniques the students know and use.
Part of his lesson to the students on Tuesday centered on their responsibility to the audience as a musician and performer.
“Play differently so they can hear differently. They need your help to show them the important parts,” he said. “When you play it influences people because they hear how music is actually formed right in the place where they are sitting. It’s not just a score. It’s actually a presence – a sort of magic.”
The pianist started playing professionally around the same age as the Coronado students. A point he used to stress that it is never too late to start playing if they are dedicated and willing to put in the practice.
“Spend all the free time you have practicing. It’s important to experience another approach, instead of studying with one teacher,” Ulasiuk said. “I think it’s important to play for different people and hear different aspects about music.”
Junior Isabella Ortega performed one of Chopin’s latter pieces, a nocturne with a wistful melody.
“It’s a really romantic piece. A lot of his advice was stylistic things I need to do because Chopin is different than the style I’m used to,” Ortega said. “This is the first time I have done a master class, so I was pretty nervous, but it is a good experience. It helped me out a lot.”
Ulasiuk covered everything from technique to performance tips.
“He gave really good tips for when you get nervous, stylistically feeling the keys and knowing you have to work on your body first before you work on your hands,” Ortega said. “That’s not something I ever really realized, but I will work on incorporating that now.”
Ulasiuk showed off his skills, playing Ravel’s “Ondine” and the “Nocturne for the Left Hand” by Aleksandr Scriabin, among others. Students were enthralled by his playing, which shifted from the serene to a jaw-clenching fervor of notes.
“It was incredible seeing the way he is able to connect his scale passages. It was really nice to see his fast passages, especially when he played his left hand piece,” Ortega said. “The voicing in the notes was amazing to watch.”
Teacher Clay Vandertulip hopes the students will take to heart what they learned on Tuesday.
“We don’t get professionals coming to the high school level very often,” he said. “When I was approached with this opportunity I jumped on it because the students need to hear about what is possible with practice and dedication. I looked at it as an opportunity for the kiddos to not only learn but to take in some fine professional music.”
The Socorro Bulldogs hosted the Franklin Cougars on a chilly Friday night in the Lower Valley.
Tension, adrenaline and energy coursed through the air, as the fans filed into the stands. With so much anticipation, there was no doubt that this would be tough contest for the Bulldogs, who were still looking for their first win of the season.
Socorro fumbled on their first drive, but stopped the Cougars on 4th and goal, after Franklin opted to go for it early in the first quarter.
The Bulldog defense played tough and was able to hold Franklin on their first offensive snaps, but Franklin made some quick adjustments to make it 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, with an impressive ground game.
Early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs found themselves inside the Cougar 5-yard line, after a spectacular 40-yard run by QB Damian Williams. Running back Nicholas Reyes pierced the middle of the Franklin D-line and scored on the following play, but the point-after attempt was blocked.
By halftime, Franklin led the home-standing Bulldogs 34 to 6
Late in the fourth quarter, Socorro scored again, as senior Anthony Martinez was able to break the goal line for the Bulldogs.
Although the Bulldogs were able to recover two pooch kicks on special teams, the small sparks were not enough to lift them past the unrelenting Franklin team, as the Cougars won 48-20.
“Tonight’s game is certainly a blessing,” senior wide receiver Edward Granados said. “Although I myself, along with some teammates, were injured, we still put our all into the game, and at the end of the night that’s all that matters.”
Story and Photo by: Briseida Rivera (SHS Journalism Staff)
Staff Report October 27, 2017NewsComments Off on Video+Story: Rosa Guerrero Elementary Celebrates 25th Anniversary262
The excitement in the air was palpable as students, teachers and parents filled the brightly decorated playground of Rosa Guerrero Elementary School to celebrate the 25thanniversary of the West Side school.
But all attention was centered on one special guest.
“Are you excited for Mrs. Guerrero to come?” first-grader Marlee Arrieta asked excitedly as she and her friends sat on the blacktop before the start of the ceremony.
El Paso icon Rosa Guerrero, a world-renowned educator and dancer, was on campus, ready to celebrate the silver anniversary of the school that bears her name.
“I’m so happy to be here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this wonderful school,” Guerrero told the students.
“I won’t be here for the 50th anniversary,” she joked. “But I’m alive now, and I am here now to encourage the students to move forward.”
Guerrero is an integral part of the school, and she makes frequent visits each year to help teachers and administrators deliver the innovative academic and extra-curricular programs for which the campus has become known.
Fifth grader Alejandro Carrasco introduced Guerrero on stage, thanking her for joining the celebration.
“This is your casa,” Carrasco said. “And we are always happy to see you around.”
Superintendent Juan Cabrera acknowledged Guerrero’s legacy as he welcomed the students to the ceremony on Wednesday. He said she was one of the first people he met when he arrived in El Paso four years ago.
“Her warmth and enthusiasm are contagious and her love for El Paso is second to none,” Cabrera said. “We are lucky to have her be a part of EPISD and of this District. You will one day be able to say that you met Rosa Guerrero here today.”
The ceremony was a celebration of the work that has been done by the generations of students and teachers at Guerrero Elementary over the last 25 years. Former students spoke about the way the school prepared them for college, and long-time employees were singled out for their commitment to the community.
“Great teachers stay in great schools, and we have a lot of teachers that have been here from the beginning,” said Jill Crossley, the Principal at Guerrero Elementary. “We have built a legacy of excellence over the last 25 years, and I hope that we will be able to build on over the next 25 years.”
Students from the Folklorico club performed a special routine for Guerrero, who founded the International Folklorico Dance Group.
Guerrero has always been an advocate for the fine arts both at the district when she was an administrator, and as a namesake at the school. This is something the administration at the school sees and respects.
Guerrero spoke to the kids about the importance of the border culture and inclusion.
“We all form the tapestry of life, we’re all beautiful,” she said. “Whether you’re vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan, or rocky road.”
Guerrero also was on campus for a ribbon cutting ceremony unveiling the school’s new blacktop as part of a PBIS enhancement grant.
EPISD plans for the program to promote Positive Playgrounds, instilling three core values in the students as they play— respect, safety, and responsibility.
The new blacktop features painted games that many parents may be familiar with from their own childhoods, like connect four and hopscotch.
As people spoke about Guerrero, they constantly referred to her as an icon. When she took the stage, she humbly corrected everyone.
“I am not an icon,” said Guerrero. “I am just another person.”