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Home | Tag Archives: EPISD

Tag Archives: EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: Franklin, Coronado High Join Forces for ‘Holiday Blessings Drive’

 Coronado and Franklin high schools students set aside their competitive spirit on Friday, December 7 as they got together to collect toys, clothing, shoes and gifts for students at Douglass Elementary.

Student council members from both schools started the Holiday Blessings Drive five years ago at Zavala Elementary, picking a different school each year to visit.

The high schoolers welcomed each grade level into the school’s choir room, where Santa Claus and stacks of boxes awaited each student.

Before each student received their gifts they were made to take an oath and promise not to open — or even try and get a peek — of their gifts until Christmas morning.

Student Council students pick an elementary at the beginning of the school year, meeting with the principal and counselor to coordinate the project.

The elementary in turn is responsible for providing students’ clothing and shoe sizes, as well as what the students have asked for on their holiday wish list.

Story & Photos by Leonel Monroy |  Video by Raymond Jackson/EPISD

Video+Story: EPISD Showcases Active Learning Framework for Visitors

Instructional leaders from throughout the region and country were in the El Paso Independent School District to speak with students and teachers about how the Active Learning Framework is transforming education in our schools.

The visit to Lee and Coronado High School gave dignitaries like Texas State Board of Education Member Georgina Perez and Amy O’Rourke, a former educator and the wife of Congressman Beto O’Rourke, a glimpse of the successes EPISD has had implementing the Framework in the classroom.

Principals and educators from the Canutillo Independent School District also took part in the visits.

“My favorite part of Active Learning is in the end there’s always a big project that you get to do that you work on with your team,” Lee fourth-grader De’lon London said during a conference-style panel discussion that included other classmates. “Active Learning has helped me do better. It will help me with jobs I may have in the future. Active Learning is fun.” 

EPISD is considered a national leader in the implementation of Active Learning strategies, which changed instruction from a sit-and-get model into an engaging, small-group and project-based model. EPISD’s Active Learning Framework allows teachers to use interactive, technology-based and researched-backed strategies to let students learn state standards in a much more effective and long-lasting manner.

The visitors were given access to students and classroom teachers who have embraced the Framework and have seen results in student performance.

“We heard from our students and they talked about how they are able to work in groups and established norms. They talked about how they are able to accomplish their learning tasks. They talked about the work of the teacher and how the teacher has become a facilitator,” said Tamekia Brown, EPISD’s Chief Academic Officer.

“This is the beauty of the Active Learning Framework,” she added. “This is what is transforming teaching and learning in our community.”

Brown said students like De’lon’s are seeing the difference the Framework is having in the classroom.

“They want more of it,” she said. “This is a note to us as adults, as those individuals who are charged with helping them to experience this, to do it better and bigger and to continue to get better in how we are providing Active Learning experiences.”

Lee teacher Cecilia Perez has seen the changes in her students, whom she taught first as third graders last year and now as fourth graders.

“I saw a dramatic improvement in them,” Perez said. “I was the same person, and they were the same students. It was just that I changed the way I was teaching. I’m proud to be part of this. I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’ve tried lots of different things. This is something I am going to stick with. I’m glad that we are supporting it as a district.”

Bonham Elementary School principal Sandra Sanchez visited classrooms to watch Active Learning in progress. She and other principals took notes and posted sticky notes with accolades on the doors of the classrooms.

“This has definitely been a great experience learning the different aspects and the different components of active learning and how our educators in EPISD are working together to provide our students with those opportunities.”

Inside the classrooms she’s seeing rigor and activity engagement among students.

“We’re looking for that exploration process of learning,” she said. “We’re seeing here at Lee Elementary that the teachers have taken a shift and they’re no longer standing up and teaching and delivering that instruction directly. The students are now taking ownership of their learning.”

Brown is encouraged by the demonstrated active learning occurring at Lee and throughout EPISD.

“The future is bright and EPISD,” Brown said. “In about 2022, every classroom in every school will have quality seats because we will have every teacher coached and trained on the Active Learning Framework, so we are really excited. There are great things to come and this is the time to be in EPISD.”

The visits were held last week.

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy Video by Angel Dominguez and Raymond Jackson/EPISD

EPISD’s Girls Academy Looking for 1st ‘Fresh-WOMAN’ Class

EPISD’s all-girl school is expanding and applications are now being accepted for its initial fresh-WOMAN class.

The Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy,  has served middle-school girls since its inception three years ago. As originally planned, the Academy is now expanding to serve high-school students.

“Our goal from the start has always been to provide a high-quality learning environment in a single-gender campus in order to maximize opportunities and access,” said Principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros. “We are happy to start our first high-school cohort next year with our first group of ninth graders. This group of young women will be our pioneering class that will grow our high school all the way to the 12th grade.”

The Academy provides girls in all grades with a Project-Based Learning curriculum based on the popular New Tech Network.

Teachers use research-based approaches to education, focusing on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math to provide early access to careers through high-quality instruction, community service learning projects, internships and mentorship.

The school offers students with college dual-credit opportunities, Advanced Placement courses and certificate programs that include computer information research science, software development, business and marketing intelligence analysis, and social justice and advocacy programs.

Students at the school will have access to extracurricular activities, clubs and major competitive sports. Like every other EPISD campus, the Academy is free and open to any qualifying student living in El Paso County.

For more information visit the Academy’s webpage and to apply, click here.

Henderson Middle Students Get Jump Start on Future Medical Career

Students at Henderson Middle School who are interested in the medical field were lucky enough to visit the Medical Center of the Americas recently.

The 60,000 square foot building consists of medical labs and research spaces that many healthcare professionals, life science researchers, and biomedical entrepreneurs use to collaborate.

The field trip was an excellent learning experience for students because they learned that working in the medical field does not mean that they have to focus on one specialty their entire career. Instead, they can expand and major in different medical areas at the same time.

“Overall, it was a great experience because these real-life researchers provided us with information of the steps needed to achieve success in the biomedical field,” said Henderson Middle eighth-grader Anahi Bustamante. “To me, that is invaluable.”

This is good for students since their thoughts of the medical field is limited, which leads them to not pursue their medical dreams. This experience also taught students more about the highly specialized medical equipment that exists and how to use it.  

Students can now use what they were taught to expand their knowledge in the medical field and look forward to the biomedical advances that researchers at the MCA make.

NOTE: The following article was written by Henderson Middle School student Serena Evans and first appeared in The Hive Newletter. 

Story by Serena Evans  |  Photos by Henderson Middle  – EPISD

Second Annual EPISD College Art Fair Set for Next Week

Many representative from the top art schools in the country will be in El Paso next week to review portfolios and recruit El Paso ISD students who wish to pursue a college education in the fine arts.

It’s all part of the second annual EPISD Art College Recruiting Fair.  According to EPISD officials, their district is one of few school systems in Texas that organizes a college fair specifically for students seeking to attend art schools.

“EPISD recognizes the importance of fine arts in our education system and we want to make sure that those students with the talent and drive to pursue a college education in the arts have the means and information to do it,” said Philip Barraza, EPISD’s Director of Fine Arts. “The College Art Fair is a unique way for us to provide access to students.”

Last year, EPISD’s first college art fair resulted in the recruitment of more than 80 students that received one-on-one conferences with art-school officials from schools as far away as Paris, France.

Scenes from 2017’s fair | Photo by Alicia Chumley

The schools awarded $368,000 in scholarships and grants to EPISD students.

This year, colleges and art programs from the School of Chicago Art Institute, Maryland College of Art and Design, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Austin, the Pacific Northwest College of Art, the University of Michigan, UTEP and other schools from throughout the country will be on hand to speak to students.

Recruiters from Columbia University and New York University were in EPISD earlier this year to recruit.

The recruiters will review portfolios, go over admission and scholarship information and give tips for students who wish to become more competitive in art education.

The event is 9 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, at the Region 19 Education Service Center’s Paso Del Norte Conference Room, 6611 Boeing Drive.

Ross Middle Deaf-Ed Students get ASL Lesson on App Development

Forget Fortnite. Students in Ross Middle School’s Deaf Education Program this week traveled to the Cielo Vista Apple Store to get a lesson on how to develop their very own app.

The students gathered around the workshop table with their EPISD-issued MacBook Pros, sharing screen time and face time with a signing Apple Genius. The Apple Store also had two American Sign Language-fluent employees on site to get one-on-one lessons in Keynote — the program they used to design their apps.

“Today, they’re learning how to prototype an app and we went over accessibility features,” said Arcy Aguina, an EPISD instructional technology specialist. “We really want students to learn to use their devices to leverage learning instead of using it say for just Fortnite.”

Sixth-grader Ramoncito Sanchez dreams about creating new apps.

“We’re learning to make something cool,” Ramoncito said through an ASL interpreter. “I’d like to create a game. Have you heard of Fortnite? I like that game a lot.”

The students initially walked around the Apple Store with their phones and other devices in hand to do an exercise in creating an app for the Apple Store.

“They’re visual learners and this is an impressive way for them to learn,” Aguina said.

The Ross students had already been delving into Apple technology with iMovie and using a camera.

“The camera is a powerful tool for them because it allows them to communicate in a way they haven’t been able to before,” Aguina said. “They can write out definitions, put in pictures, pop in videos of them signing words. When I showed them iMovie they were so excited.”

The field trip to the Apple store also gave the students an opportunity to practice life skills by riding Sun Metro to and from Cielo Vista Mall and ordering lunch at Burger King on their way back to the campus.

“They were excited about using public transportation,” Aguina said. “These kids have such a good school culture. They really look out for each other. That’s something that teachers really look for and they already have that in this program.”

Burges High School students went to the Apple Store earlier this month for a similar experience and Aguina plans to do the same with students from MacArthur Elementary/Intermediate next month.

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photo by Ross Middle –  EPISD

El Paso ISD Pilot Program Trains Students to Become Tech Entrepreneurs

A pilot program aimed at creating tech-savvy entrepreneurs brought together more than 400 EPISD high-school students to give them a leg up on their road to success.

The Success through Technology Education Foundation brought Techstars — a nationally known program that mentors and trains new entrepreneurs — to Bowie High School for a first of its kind high-school program.

The half-day training gave students real-world scenarios and steps to start up a business.

“The goal of having Techstars program will be to excite and engage youth by the masses to make a lasting impact in El Paso,” said Joseph Sapien, the foundation’s executive director. “If students can self-identify as an entrepreneur and gain the confidence of starting businesses, then they are more likely to start them here.”

Sapien, who coordinates a STEM Business Challenge, saw how TechStars presented an attractive and innovative model tailored to college and professional startups, and thought the model would work for high school students.

He worked with CTE facilitator Victor Martel to coordinate the workshop for EPISD CTE students.

“They are learning the business model and taping into their entrepreneur talents that they probably don’t know they have,” Martel said. “El Paso ISD was chosen to pilot this program so this opportunity for the city is phenomenal. Our students are the only ones in the country getting it right now. It’s inspiring them to look at themselves as entrepreneurs.”

Bowie senior Ethan Ontiveros’ team worked on a business plan to create a battery to power gymnasiums by using students’ energy on treadmills and stationary bikes.

“This shows high school students that they can do anything they want,” Ontiveros said. “Nothing is a dumb idea. They have showed us how to market our business, how to grow and be open to new things.”

Coronado High senior Valerie Camarena already knows she wants to start her own company one day in the field of technology or engineering.

“I don’t want to have a normal job like other people,” Camarena said. “This gives us a head start and gets us into it. It has improved my perspective. Instead of having an immature mind getting into this, you start thinking ‘I got to get my stuff together and be prepared for the real world.’ This throws you out there. I need to start building on it and be able speak out in front of people and turn my nervousness into excitement.”

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

El Paso ISD Expands ‘OnRamps’ Program; Offers Students UT-Austin College Credit Opportunities

Thanks to an expanded program, students in every EPISD high school can complete their graduation requirements and enroll in courses taught by professors at the University of Texas at Austin to earn some college credits at the same time.

EPISD joins Clint ISD, Socorro ISD, Ysleta ISD as well as Harmony Science Academy in El Paso, in offering the OnRamps program.

The OnRamps dual-credit program allows students to earn hours toward a bachelor’s degree during their high-school years under the instruction of accredited professors at UT-Austin.

The OnRamps program began in EPISD last year at Chapin, Austin, Jefferson and El Paso high schools. This year, it expanded to all EPISD traditional high schools and Transmountain Early College High School.

“We just saw it as another opportunity for students to get dual credit,” said Jason Long, EPISD’s executive director of college and career readiness and innovation. “There’s some constraints with the traditional dual-credit program most high school currently offer.  The UT OnRamps program removes those boundaries for students.”

Unlike the traditional dual-credit classes, the OnRamps program does not require that students pass the Texas Success Initiative. Also, because the courses are taught by professors at the Austin university, EPISD is not required to hire teachers with master’s degrees.

OnRamps courses are free of charge to EPISD students, allowing parents to save up to $1,100 in tuition and textbooks per class. Courses include physics, ELA, pre-calculus, college algebra, statistics, history, computer science, geoscience and art & entertainment technology.

Students interested need to check with their counselors to see which OnRamps courses are available at their campus.

Chapin High School teacher Ben Mendoza began working with the program last year. His role in the OnRamps physics course is to be a liaison between UT-Austin and the students who enroll in the course.  He helps monitor labs, facilitate exams and assist with homework.

“They have to take ownership of their education,” Mendoza said. “I like seeing that and how it transforms them from the beginning to the end.”

Mendoza also promotes the program among his students at Chapin and hopes more OnRamps course offerings become available.

“It gives you a leg up on other students because you get to have that college experience beforehand,” he said. “There’s no risk, so why not take it? You can get two things done at once and gain some experience.”

Chapin senior Mia Flores, who plans to attend UT-Austin next fall, liked the opportunities afforded through the OnRamps program. She earned college credit for the physics course she took last year.

“What I liked about taking the honors classes that it was a lot more independent than my regular courses,” Flores said. “I got to be exposed to what a real college course was like. It’s a lot of learning on your own and I really appreciated that aspect.”

Chapin junior Alexia Morales took Mendoza’s OnRamps course for the challenge.

“I want to attend UT-Austin so I felt if I excel in this class I will be able to use the credit,” Morales said. “So far, it’s been challenging. It’s a great class and great experience. I look forward to taking more OnRamps classes.”

Story by Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy  – EPISD
**EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that EPISD was the only district in the area offering ‘OnRamps’  The story has been edited to add the correct information.**

Students at Jeff/Silva Learn the Dangers of Drinking and Driving via ‘Shattered Dreams’

The often-gruesome and tragic effects of dangerous driving among teenagers were in full display for the students at Jefferson/Silva High School this week during a simulated, but very realistic mock emergency drill.

The school on Wednesday organized a Shattered Dreams mock crash, which shows students what can happen when teens choose to drink and drive. The event used crashed cars, fake blood and the intervention of actors and real-life first responders.

The simulation at Jefferson even featured a death scene complete with crying relatives, funeral home officials and several grim reapers.

“Shattered Dreams is very realistic and the images students see are very impactful,” said Principal Fred Rojas. “We want students to be aware of what can happen if they make unfortunate choices like drinking and driving … to be aware of what this all looks like.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, the percentage of teens who drink and drive has decrease significantly since 1991.  Still, one in 10 teenagers say they have driven while drunk.

The CDC says young people are 17 times more likely to die in a car accident if they take the wheel with alcohol level concentration of 0.08 percent.

To learn more about how to combat teen drinnking and driving visit the SADD web page.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – El Paso ISD


Tom Lea Students Get Lessons From EPISD Maintenance Pros

Electricians, plumbers and maintenance workers from the El Paso Independent School District brought their insight and knowledge to the pre-kindergarten classrooms of this Northeast elementary school for a neat show-and-tell presentation.

Tom Lea teachers said the school often welcomes soldiers, lawyers and other professionals to speak to classes, but to their recollection this is the first time students get a glimpse into the crucial jobs these dedicated employees do.

“We want them to visually see the people in action and see what they can inform them about their job. It’s hard for them to visualize what an electrician is or what a plumber does and then if they come in and tell us about their trade they’ll be able to understand it better,” teacher Shawn Weigartz said. “I hope that they understand what their job is and why it’s important for our community. They may understand that firemen and police officers are not the only jobs out there because that is what they think right now.”

To help with the presentation, the teachers enlisted the help of nearly 40 fifth-grade campus student ambassadors.

Electrician Demetrio “Meter” Vargas, a 3-year employee with the district, brought in some visuals to show the students the different types of light switches and the light bulbs he uses. He also gave them a brief history lesson by telling the students that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in the 1870s.

“Maybe there’s a future electrician,” Vargas said after speaking with the young students. “There’s this misunderstanding that this field is just for men, but it’s becoming more common to see women electricians.”

Dual Pre-K teacher Angie Gonzalez wanted to make sure that the students see district workers as community helpers the same way students see law enforcement or first responders.

“When we talk about community helpers the first thing that comes to their mind is police officers, firefighters, soldiers so we wanted to bring actual employees from the district that actually help the community, help the schools,” she said. “Usually we see them here in the campus and we let them know who they are, but we just see them working and we really don’t get to interact with them.”

Gonzalez added: “By them coming into the classroom and bringing their stuff the the students are able to visualize it and get a broader, bigger idea of what it is that their jobs entail. Usually we only look for them when things are not working.”

Fifth-grade student and campus ambassador Mercedes Talamantes assisted the teachers with the students.

“It was very interesting, and I think it was quite important because the students actually learned something new about light switches,” she said. “They don’t know stuff like that so it was a new experience for them.”

Sergio Lujan, an HVAC foreman for EPISD, said he enjoyed the chance to speak with students.

“I really take pride in my work. I love to give the schools my priority, so I can give them air conditioning, heating and cooling,” he said. “I like to provide a nice clean environment for them so they can have a good learning experience and be comfortable and let them concentrate on their studies.”

Story by Leonel Monroy  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Video+Story: EPISD Begins Bond Work at Historic El Paso High

Students, staff and alumni at El Paso’s oldest high school came together on Thursday morning under the landmark columns of the Lady on the Hill for a ceremonial turn of dirt to mark the start of construction that is part of the 2016 EPISD Bond.

The District will spend nearly 20 million to upgrade instructional space at the school, taking into careful consideration the historic architecture that has become trademark of El Paso High School and the community as a whole.

The 2016 Bond project at El Paso High includes the construction of a new fine arts building with state-of-the-art instructional space for art, band, choir plus a recording studio and art gallery. Other upgrades include the installation of a new elevator and renovations to classrooms, bathrooms and window treatments.

“What we have here at El Paso High is a truly unique combination of modern learning facilities with historic architecture,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “I know the community is excited to get amazing new spaces that will respect and enhance the beautiful Trost building our city loves so much.”

The District also is in the process of assessing the beautiful façade of the historic building to determine which upgrades are needed.  An architectural firm already is performing the study and should have a report ready by January.

Principal Mark Paz, surrounded by his fine arts students, thanked the community for the passage of the 2016 Bond – knowing that the new facility will be a source of pride for current and future generations of Tigers.

“I cannot begin to tell you just how excited this campus is for the 2016 Bond Project to get started,” he said. “We have a lot of programs to be proud of on this campus, but our fine arts programs have never been stronger or more popular among our students than they are right now. This new fine arts addition will ensure our students are able to compete at their full potential and enjoy a state-of-the-art facility for generations to come.”

Freshman Mariana Jo Silva stood amongst her theater peers at the steps of the 102-year-old building excited about the possibility of performing in the new fine arts building.

“Our school really appreciates the new building,” said Silva, who also marches in the Tiger band.

“Being in theater makes me feel confident and helps me get ready for the real world. I’m glad people are working together and making the commitment to doing this for the kids.”

Choir director Tim Thompson whose students kicked off the ceremony with the National Anthem looks forward to the completion of the building – especially the recording studio.

“It’s going to mean everything for our students – more room to practice and rehearse and to do sectionals. For band and orchestra, the kids won’t have to practice sectionals in the hallway. It’s going to mean a lot for an already award-winning program to do even better.”

The bond project balances maintaining the historical presence of El Paso’s first high school while offering new and upgraded facilities to keep up with 21st century learning.

“There are just a lot of benefits across the board for this bond,” Paz said. “Upkeep to the historical frame of the outside of the original building is just much needed but will be in-line with the historical facade. All of the three main buildings will have that same look with modern twists and upgrades. But if you’re driving by on Schuster, you would see a universal theme.”

The fine arts project begins construction in the coming weeks with an expected completion of fall 2020. Construction also will begin this month on new tennis courts. One of the first projects of the $668 million bond was the new turf, which was installed last summer 2017.

“We will have many more of these ceremonies in the coming months.  Our bond is going on overdrive right as we had scheduled,” Cabrera said. “We are going to deliver on our bond promises throughout EPISD by 2021. We are excited to start working.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy   |  Video by Angel Dominguez / EPISD

Story+Gallery: EPISD Students Celebrate 5th Annual ‘Read Across the District’

Students throughout the El Paso Independent School District paused in unison at 10 a.m. on Friday morning to pick up a book and celebrate their commitment to literacy and their love of reading as part of the annual celebration of Read Across the District.

For the fifth consecutive year, students have celebrated this unique activity in every corner of EPISD. This year’s kick off was hosted by Rosa Guerrero Elementary School.

“It’s such an honor for us to be able to showcase the passion for literacy that exists here at Rosa Guerrero Elementary,” said Principal Jill Crossley. “Books play an important part of our education process, and our students are embracing them and making them part of their every-day life.”

Local celebrities, civic leaders and district personnel visited different schools throughout EPISD to help lead reading efforts.  From local television reporters, politicians, military personnel and even a masked luchador, many El Pasoans came out to support Read Across the District.

At Guerrero, celebrity readers included Board President Trent Hatch, The Cat in the Hat and one of El Paso’s most beloved cultural icons: dancer and educator Rosa Guerrero, for whom the school is named.

Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera said Read Across the District is one of the premier events in the District, because it highlights the EPISD’s efforts to improve literacy at all grade levels.

“Access to education starts with reading and we know that our students can thrive if they have the desire to read,” Cabrera said. “I know that in the five years this event has been organized, we have instilled the love of books on thousands of kids.  To me, that is a worthwhile cause that will have a long lasting effect.”

Story by Gustavo Reveles |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Video+Story: Ross Middle Honors Retiring Teacher

Spanish teacher Amalia Muro thought she was attending just another pep rally for her beloved students last week. After all, during her 47 years of teaching she had been to so many.

This was no ordinary pep rally however.  Hundreds of students, co-workers and Ross alumni had gathered at the school to celebrate the career and dedication of an educator who had dedicated a lifetime to the service of the students at the East-Central school.

Muro was greeted by an earnest standing ovation — a clear sign that the she has earned the utmost respect from the students and staff at Ross Middle School.

“It’s time. I leave with a heavy heart (but) I need to heal,” Muro said referring to a disc surgery she recently had. “Otherwise, they would have to drag me dead from the school. I’d stay here forever.”

Muro is known for her commitment to education and her die-hard support of Ross Middle athletics.  She says she can count in one hand the number of football games she has missed throughout her tenure at the school.

Dozens of Ross alumni were at hand during the pep rally to announce the creation of a scholarship fund that bears her name. They handed her a plaque and a giant check that represents the initial donation into the scholarship fund.

The Ross football team also unveiled a special helmet sticker the team will wear in her honor starting this week. The sticker is of an apple with Muro’s name.

“She calls the players her babies,” said Rebels coach Roman Abuhamidan. “If you didn’t have someone to cheer you on, that was her job. She didn’t care if you had her in class or not. She was there for you.”

Abuhamidan presented her with a miniature helmet featuring the new insignia and a Ross jersey embroidered with No. 1 fan.

Principal Jason Yturralde presented Muro with a special plaque on behalf of the faculty and staff. He thanked her for her dedication to Ross and acknowledged the legacy she leaves behind.

“It has been my greatest honor to be here at Ross with you, Ms. Muro,” he told her, just before reading the heartfelt message engraved on the plaque:

In appreciation of your lifelong dedication to the education of our students

For believing in children, for guiding through example, for inspiring with passion

For living through love, for leaving an incredible mark on the future

For touching the human soul.

You have made all the difference.

Alum Joe Zubia read a special letter on behalf of his brother, J.D. Zubia, who fondly remembers Muro from his middle school days in the mid-1970s. The letter describes how J.D.’s school years were plagued by tough times at home and how he recalled Muro checking in and counseling him.

“Ms. Muro could have just left me alone and let me go about my school day but she has always loved her students enough to go out of her way for them,” the letter read. “I am now a school administrator and when, to this day, I train our teachers on what it means to care, I tell them this story about my favorite teacher – not just at Ross, but ever.”

The crowd rose to their feet when Ross Alumni Association president Edmundo Calderon announced the Amalia Muro Scholarship available only to Ross students.

“Ms. Muro has dedicated her life to her students and has made an impact not only in the classroom, athletic fields, after school programs, but in their lives,” Calderon said.  “The love and devotion she has given to the thousands of students can never be measured.  As alumni, we cannot thank her enough for everything she has done for us.”

The ceremony included appearances by former and current students and faculty and who offered a hug and a single rose. The Burges High School cheerleading squad and drumline, which included some of Muro’s former students, were also present to honor her.

A video showing photos of Muro’s tenure at Ross – from the black-and-white shots of her early years to the digital pics taken just this year – were greeted with cheers from the crowd.

“She understands us. She would be there for me,” said current Ross eight-grader Melissa Luna, who had had had Muro for two years. “I love her and will miss her a lot. I thank her for everything.”

The end of the pep rally ended with yet another standing ovation following Muro’s emotional message to the students and the entire Ross community:

“You know that I love you. You will always be my babies. I will love you forever,” an emotional Muro said. “Be good. Do well. Educate yourself. Respect your teachers and your parents. Know that my heart stays with you always.”

Story By Reneé de Santos | Photos by Leonel Monroy | Video by Angel Dominguez / EPISD

Story in Many Pics: Coronado Tops Socorro 48-20

The Coronado Thunderbirds flew across town to take on the Socorro Bulldogs Friday Night at the Student Activities Center.

The home-standing Bulldogs put up a fight, but the T-Birds would top the ‘Dawgs, 48-20.

Our very own Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta was there and we bring you his view of the game in this ‘Story in Many Pics.’

Coronado vs Socorro , SISD SAC, El Paso, TX, October 26, 2018, Andres Acosta El Paso Herald-Post

Op-Ed: Why Don’t You Help Parents with Ed Tech?

I recently was asked to answer a questions for a tv report about edtech in the classroom.  My answer was never used in the report, so I thought I would share it with you.

“Do you provide classes or help for parents who are not comfortable with technology?”

Our district has been moving steadily towards more and more digital tools. The implication of the question, at least in my mind, was that the technology was difficult to understand, and the school district should provide some kind of training for parents so that they could work with their children.

It sounds like a great idea. At least at first.

I got to thinking about the question a lot. I tried to think of another area in school where parents might be given instruction about how to use the tools their children are being asked to use. I could not think of a single one, although I am sure they are out there somewhere.

For instance, suppose my child is in marching band. Do we teach parents how to play the trumpet so that they can help their children during practice?

Do we give parents lessons on modern dance to help their children with a complex dance routine? No.

Even more basically, do we do this type of thing for basic academic topics? Do we tutor parents on Algebra, American Government, Calculus, or Physics? No, we do not.

Would ed tech training even be helpful for parents? I don’t think so. Here is why: Student use all kinds of technology to get to a single answer. For instance they might solve a Algebra homework question by using Wolfram Alpha, or Khan Academy, or The list is endless.

There is no way a school could say to a parent “here is the only way to help your child with this Algebra problem.” It would be a useless exercise. The better exercise would be to teach students how to search properly for help, how to collaborate on questions, and how to use tools like Skype toward together after hours.

Then explain to their parents WHAT students will be expected to do, how to monitor them online, and how to set expectations for technology use at home.

I know that some school districts and even schools by themselves, give “parent training” on the basics of technology. Usually, these classes center around how to use a computer, how to surf the internet, how to fill out online forms, etc. They are meant to help non-technical parents function at a low level in a technical workforce.

However, I don’t think that these are all that useful for parents to work with their children unless the lessons given to the parents are directly tied to the lessons the students are learning in the classroom. In most cases, they are not. They are simply the basics of technology use.

The children probably have a greater understanding of the technology just by what they use in the classroom and with their peers.

Now to be fair, our district does provide videos for students on how to use the very basics of the technology they are getting. And parents could easily access those videos. And we help parents with topics like cybersafety.

But how to use devices in class?  Not now, not yet.

I think that this type of question is part of a larger issue: People still do not see technology as an integrated piece of the learning culture, but rather an add on. Therefore, tech is something of an afterthought.

Instead of that laptop being an extension tool like a pen or a pencil, to is something ADDITIONAL to the learning experience, not included in the learning experience.

I hope that mindset changes in the very near future.


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.

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