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Home | Tag Archives: EPISD

Tag Archives: EPISD

New Small Learning Community Academies make debut at Bowie

Freshmen at Bowie High School this year kicked off the start of a new era of education at the South Side school. The new Small Learning Community Academies will give students an edge in college and workforce readiness unlike any other in the region.

A $5-million grant from the Texas Education Agency helped EPISD set up the academies at Bowie which will focus on three high-demand areas of career preparation or instructional approaches: sports science, global industries and STEAM OSO New Tech project-based learning.

“Although all of our schools met academic standards, the Transformation Zone will support further improvements to high-quality teaching and learning,” said Adrian Bustillos, executive director of the Office of Transformation. “The programs that will be created will address specific needs at each impacted campus.”

Starting this school year with the 300 incoming freshmen, every student at Bowie will pick one of the three academies based on their career or academic goals.  Teachers and administrators will cater instruction at each academy in hopes of preparing students for college and the workforce.

“We designed these programs by hearing the voices of the students,” Bustillos said. “The small learning community fellows went down to Guillen and down to the elementary schools and heard their voices, their ideas, their vision.”

Principal Frank Ordaz sees the excitement in the eyes of his new students and is eager to see the program’s progress at his campus.

“The combination of tailor-made lessons plans, a focused academic path based on students’ high level of interest based on their chosen pathway, and teachers’ ability to affect a smaller number of students at a higher level will have a measured positive impact on all of our Bowie students now and in the future,” Ordaz said. “The best is yet to come for Bear Nation.”

The students are not just going to graduate with a diploma, but also have a certification and be able to jump into the job market or to help put themselves through college. Students will graduate with a minimum of 12 college credits through AP, dual credit or the UT OnRamps program.

While the freshman class is the first cohort of the academies, Bustillos said similar opportunities will be expanded all students.

“This way no one misses out on these opportunities, even though we’re starting with ninth grade,” he said. “All students that will be Bowie High School will have the same access to options as we go forward.”

The new global industry learning community will focus on building the skills and knowledge for successful careers as entrepreneurs in the fields of hotel hospitality, culinary arts, corrections, and agriculture options. This program will build on the former Bowie International Business School.

“Unlike other traditional high schools that wait until the junior or senior year to really start embedding them into their career and technology courses, we start immediately during their freshman year,” said Nuri Robles, administrator of the global industry program. “When we designed the small learning communities, we designed them so that 100 percent of our students would have the opportunity to get licensure or certified in their area of study. We want 100 percent of our students to have the opportunity to gain exposure to their future career.”

Sports science academy administrator Robert Padilla left a successful career as Bowie’s head football coach to help launch the Small Learning Communities at his alma mater.

The timing was perfect. He already achieved what he set to accomplish on the field – six trips to the playoffs, one bi-district title and a district title – and his son would be entering Bowie as a freshman. He expects his two younger children to follow suit.

“I’ve got a little bit more skin in this particular game,” he joked. “I started thinking about how I could help the school on a broader scale – do some of the same things that we did with our football program and apply it on a grander scale to try to help out with the school in general. And a just by coincidence, this program was being talked about.”

His cohort of students will focus on sports medicine, therapy services and medical coding.

“It’s three branches of the medical field that haven’t been explored very much,” the 1992 Bowie grad said. “We’re focusing on things that are a little bit more accessible right after high school.”

Freshman global industry student Kayla Olmos had initially transferred to another program in EPISD but was drawn back to Bowie because of the opportunities to embark on a career with the FBI.

“It’s like family here and I feel at home,” she said. “It’s exciting to experience that I’m going to be the first to graduate with a global industries type of certification.”

Jesse Gonzalez, a global industries student, isn’t quite sure what business he wants to launch but he’s certain to be a success after completing the program.

“I know it will help build me up and learn the stuff I don’t know to run a business,” he said. “It feels good to be one of the first to come through this program.”

Bowie is one of eight schools benefiting from the TEA’s Transformation Zone grant. The other campuses are: Andress and Chapin high schools, CCTA; Bassett and Richardson middle schools; and Hughey and Milam elementary schools. Plans for programming at those schools is underway.

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

Lady Gaga foundation funds projects at nearly 30 EPISD schools

Hundreds of students in dozens of classrooms throughout EPISD will have a Million Reasons to celebrate and share their gratitude with Applause, thanks to the generosity of pop megastar Lady Gaga.

The Bad Romance singer announced last week that she would fund projects at 125 classrooms in El Paso in response to the hateful attack to the Cielo Vista Walmart on August 3.

She said she would fund classrooms in Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California, two communities that also were victimized by mass shootings.

“My heart goes out to those who were taken from us too soon and to their families, loved ones and communities who are left grieve,” Lady Gaga wrote on her official Facebook page. “In this moment, I want to channel my confusion, frustration, and fury into hope. Hope that we are there for each other and for ourselves.”

The funding will come from the singer’s Born This Way Foundation, which identified requests from teachers through the DonorsChoose.org website.  Educators have used the website to seek donations for classroom projects and other efforts that benefit students and schools.

In EPISD, the Born This Way Foundation funded at least 67 projects in as many as 26 different schools.

One of the projects includes one proposed by Dowell Elementary School third-grade teacher Kaitlin Hernandez, who wanted to furnish her classroom with chairs and a couch that invited students to learn in innovative and out-of-the-ordinary settings.

“My students have truly been blessed,” Hernandez said of the funding. “To know that there are people who are famous and have so much going for them, but still take the time to recognize the impact we can have as teachers … well, that means the world to me and to my students.”

Other schools who benefited from Lady Gaga’s funding include: Andress, Burges Coronado and El Paso high schools; Magoffin Middle School; and Bond, Cielo Vista, Coldwell, Crockett, Fannin, Herrera, Hillside, Kohlberg, Lee, Lundy, Milam, Moreno, Moye, Newman, Powell, Rusk, Stanton, Tippin, Tom Lea, Whitaker and Zach White elementary schools.

The projects fund requests that range from chairs and rugs to iPads and supplemental reading books.

Story by Gustavo Reveles –  EPISD

Gallery+Story: El Paso ISD’s Mesita welcomes Chinese exchange teacher

Teachers and staff members from Mesita Elementary last week waited anxiously at the El Paso International Airport to welcome their newest co-worker: a Chinese exchange teacher who will provide Mandarin instruction to students in the Early Childhood Development Center throughout the 2019-20 school year.

After some unforeseen flight delays that moved her arrival for a day, teacher Yan Liang finally arrived in El Paso on Friday, Aug. 9. Mesita teachers greeted her with flowers, cheers and a big welcome sign.

“We are so excited to add Yan Liang to our staff for this year. With her help and guidance, our students are sure to have an invaluable experience learning, not just the Mandarin language, but also Chinese culture,” said Principal Laila Ferris. “We know that she will be a wonderful fit at Mesita and that she will help us meet the academic goals of our students.”

Mesita’s renown Connecting Worlds/Mundos Unidos dual-language program offers students instruction in both English and Spanish. But for several years, the school has added Mandarin Chinese to the curriculum to help students be ready for a 21st-century economy.

Yan is in El Paso as part of the Teachers of Critical Language Program, which placed 28 teachers in U.S. schools this academic year.

The program is designed to increase the study and acquisition of important world languages in U.S. schools. This program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of critical languages by bringing Chinese, Egyptian, and Moroccan teachers to the U.S. to teach their native Arabic and Chinese language for an academic year.

It is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, an international nonprofit organization that prepares individuals and institutions to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.

Story by Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy –  EPISD

MacArthur karateka earns spot on Team USA

Incoming MacArthur seventh-grader Elijah Priego is not your average 12-year-old boy.

Sure, he’s one of the Ponies that starting Monday will return to classes and work hard to reach his academic goals. But he also is a world-class athlete who has been selected to represent the United States in an international karate competition.

After outstanding performances at the local and regional level, the karateka has been selected to compete at the 2019 World Karate & Kickboxing Commission (WKC) World Championship this November in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“I aspire to become a prominent member of the 2024 U.S. Olympic team so this is the first step to accomplishing that goal,” said Elijah, who has collected donations from community members to make the trip to New York. “Everyone’s donation will help me fulfill this amazing opportunity and assist me in representing not only our city and school district but the country as well.”

The WKC World Championships could help him get much-needed attention. The competition gathers martial artists from throughout the world to compete in disciplines like speed fighting (point and continuous sparring), kata (forms), and weapons.

To learn more about Elijah’s journey to the WKC World Championship, click here.

Story by Hector Gonzalez – EPISD

Silva Health Magnet student attends Bank of America leadership summit in DC

While most teenagers would rather take a summer trip to the beach or an amusement park destination, others like Silva Health Magnet’s Emely Muñoz chose instead to hone their leadership skills in the nation’s capital.

Muñoz was the only EPISD student selected to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Bank of America Student Leaders Summit — a youth workforce development program that connects students with paid work opportunities in their communities and offers them leadership training for long-term sustainability.

“We recognize that building hard and soft job skills combined with access to jobs early in life creates positive outcomes for young peoples’ long-term success,” said El Paso Market President at Bank of America Kristi Marcum.

She added: “Investing in youth is part of Bank of America’s broader commitment to connect individuals to the training and jobs needed for success, ultimately strengthening our community by creating more widespread, sustainable economic mobility.”

Muñoz worked at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless throughout the summer and spent her time in Washington meeting peers and connecting with Congressional leaders.

Story by Hector Gonzalez – EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: Coronado celebrates Bond 2016 groundbreaking

Students, faculty and staff at Coronado High School celebrated a milestone in the modernization of their decades-old campus during a groundbreaking ceremony that signals the start of major renovations.

“These storied buildings have served us well for more than five decades, but there is no denying that in order to better serve current and future T-Birds, modern facilities are needed,” Coronado Principal Marc Escareno said.

The voter-approved Bond 2016 project will pump $68.3 million into the school to build new classroom wings, demolish outdated classroom buildings, add a new fieldhouse, create new parking lots, and give the gym and courtyard much-needed renovations.

Students can’t wait to see all of the new upgrades their school will be getting and look forward to being the talk of the town.

“I am really excited and can’t wait to see the major improvements our school will be getting,” President of Student Council Daniela Enriquez said. “None of this would be possible without the voters who approved the Bond 2016 and I speak for the entire student body when I say that we are very thankful for this new and much-needed change.”

This is the District’s 13th groundbreaking ceremony. Construction crews are hard at work at schools throughout EPISD.

“The work that is being done not just at Coronado, but at campuses in every corner of the District is transformative,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “Thanks to the support of the community, our students will now have modern, innovative and inviting learning facilities that will help them reach their academic goals.”

Bond 2016 work at Coronado also includes athletic upgrades such as the replacement of the football turf, running track and tennis courts, as well as lighting for the baseball and softball fields.

Coronado High School’s renovations are scheduled to be completed by early 2023. Architects for the project are by Parkhill Smith & Cooper.  The contractors are HB Construction and AO General Contractors.

Author: Hector Gonzalez  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy  |  Video by Angel Dominguez – EPISD 

EPISD Young Women’s Academy names first high school-level coaches

The Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy — EPISD’s only all-girls school —  this week announced the appointment of its first high school-level coaches in campus history.

The school will begin enrolling ninth-graders starting this upcoming academic year.

The District announced the appointment of Laura Pacheco as head volleyball and softball coach and Jermaine Williams as head basketball coach.  Both coaches are expected to grow their teams into the varsity level with the addition of grades tenth through 12th over the next four years.

“We are excited to welcome Coach Pacheco and Coach Williams to the Warrior Family,” said Principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros. “The Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy offers girls from throughout El Paso County a high-quality education, and that includes access to competitive athletic teams. We know these teams will make the school proud.”

Pacheco is a former El Paso Community College softball player and assistant coach. She has served as an assistant softball and volleyball coach at Chapin High School, where she helped lead those teams to numerous district, bi-district, regional and area championships.  Pacheco has served as president of the El Paso Coaches Association and is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso.

Williams previously served as junior varsity and assistant varsity coach for the girls basketball team at Andress High School.  The Andress JV team won district championships three of the last four years under his leadership; and the varsity team has won district, bi-district and area championships.

Williams has served as assistant coach of the Greater El Paso Girls’ Coaches Association All-Star Game.

Author: Gustavo Reveles – EPISD

Migrant Program students get backpacks for back to school

Students in EPISD’s Migrant Program are back-to-school ready thanks in part to the donation of school supplies they’ll receive as part of the District’s second annual backpack giveaway.

More than 300 participating students will receive backpacks filled with notebooks, pens, pencils, paper and other supplies they need to be successful in the classroom.

The supplies come in handy for families who may otherwise have to spend money on back-to-school essentials during tight economic times.

“I have three siblings, so it can be hard for my parents to buy all of us school supplies,” Coronado High School sophomore Victor Salcido said. “We are thankful and excited to put these supplies to use in the classroom.”

EPISD used federal Title 1 funds to buy the supplies, which benefit students from pre-kinder all the way to 12th grade.

“This is a two-day event and so far, we have had a great turn out,” EPISD Migrant Coordinator Edward Martinez said. “This is our second year doing this so hopefully next year we will have more stability and we expect to serve the migrant population more efficiently and more effectively.”

Local health clinics were also at hand offering free vaccines to those who attended the event.

First day of school in EPISD is August 12.

Story and photos by Hector Gonzalez – EPISD

New Teacher Academy welcomes educators to El Paso ISD

More than 80 new teachers joined the corps of educators in EPISD this week and are now ready to tackle the innovative classrooms that are designed to prepare students for the 21st century.

“They’re learning about our policies and having opportunities to get to know each other as well as other people in the district,” said Dr. Melissa Ortega, EPISD’s assistant director of staff development. “It’s important to have these sessions so that we are all united in ways that we are able to support each other and give the teachers the opportunity to learn what it means to be a teacher here.”

The educators — teachers who are either new to the profession or new to the District — went through three days of training to help them learn about EPISD, its culture of excellence, the forward-thinking initiatives at every campus and the tools they will need to help them prepare students when they return to classes on August 12.

Topics covered included Social & Emotional Learning, Assessing Curriculum, Dual Language and other technology tools that will help them become successful educators.

Most of the sessions for the New Teacher Support Academy happened at EPISD’s Professional Development Center, although the teachers did eat lunch with their principal at their new campuses on Tuesday.

The theme of the academy, as well as the theme for the rest of EPISD’s back-to-school festivities, is ‘EPISD Rocks!’

Highlights of the academy included a motivational presentation by EPISD Teachers of the Year Pete Delgado from the Young Women’s STEAM Prep and Lisa Gailey from Tom Lea Elementary. The academy also gave new teachers a chance to network and bond with their new colleagues.

“I’m meeting new people, learning about the resources that EPISD has and provides for its teachers,” new Burges High School teacher Kimberly Torres said. “There’s a lot that we’re learning.”

Torres comes from a family of educators who have worked in EPISD.

“They pretty much were my main inspiration for becoming a teacher. I’ve always loved reading and writing and that’s something that I really want my students to love,” she said. “I want to teach them that there’s value in those skills and help them realize that those are skills they’re going to need for the rest of their lives.”

Story and photos by Reneé de Santos – EPISD

Lundy, Mesita students go far in National Spanish Spelling Bee

Two EPISD students are among the best Spanish spellers in the country.

Azul Morales from Lundy Elementary School and Marium Zahra from Mesita Elementary School competed in the National Spanish Spelling Bee earlier this month in Denver.

Both students made it deep into the final rounds of spelling.

Morales, this year’s EPISD Spanish Bee champion, spelled all the way to the 13th and final round. She was unable to correctly spell circense, an adjective that describes a person or thing that is related to the circus.

Zahra, who took second place in the EPISD bee, was not too far behind Morales.  She made it to the 11th round of spelling but unfortunately was not able to spell the Spanish word for a macaw: guacamaya.

“I’m excited to be here because my fourth language is Spanish and it’s important to know I can get this far,” said Marium, also speaks Urdu and Hijabi.

EPISD’s dual-language students compete annually at their individual campuses and 60 winners advanced to the districtwide Spanish Spelling Bee at Chapin in March.

Morales and Zahra qualified for the national Spanish bee based on their performance at the District bee.

Dozens of students from throughout the country participated in the national Spanish bee in Denver.  In the end, eight students were selected as winners.

“This event provides students the opportunity to showcase their Spanish language skills and to network with peers throughout the country,” said EPISD Connecting Languages Facilitator Ana Muñoz.

Story by Reneé de Santos   |  Photos courtesy EPISD

Gallery+Story: EPISD 2019 Summer Dance Camp

EPISD’s Fine Arts Department had its first-ever Summer Dance Camp recently at Bowie High School.

Dance teams from all 11 district high schools learned and engaged with visiting professional artists that included a cheerleader from the Dallas Mavericks, a Cuban dance master, a dance artist from the Austin Dance Company and professional dancer from Juárez.

Nearly 250 participating students also received instruction from local dancer and Broadway veteran Eddie Carrillo, as well as yoga guru Jen Ramos.

EPISD dance teachers had a chance to speak to the visiting artists one-on-one where they learned what their views are on choosing music and choreography, as well as movement interpretation.

The District hopes to make this dance camp an annual event for dancers in the District.

District photographer Leonel Monroy spent an afternoon following the dancers and capturing their day of learning.

Photos and caption by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Video+Gallery: EPISD campus administrators return to work, prepare for 2019-20 school year

EPISD kicked off the back-to-school season this week with the rocking edition of the annual Champions by Design workshop for campus administrators.

More than 200 administrators gathered at Franklin High School for a preview of what’s to come in EPISD this academic year, but also to celebrate the accomplishments from 2018-19.

“Champions by Design is our annual administrators conference that’s mostly for principals and assistant principals which really helps set the tone for the next school year,” said Kathy Seufert, EPISD’s director of staff development. “We’ll be looking at data, goals and the new adoption for English Language Arts – a lot of things that they will be working with their teachers on that first week back.”

The conference provides a vision for leadership at the campus level, and the tools principals need to be strategic and successful at their campus.

“We want them to be outcomes-focused so that they’re looking at data to drive the decisions that they make,” said Dr. Tamekia Brown, chief academic officer. “And all of that is what we are defining as key leadership needed to lead in EPISD.”

Brown also said campuses should see a better communication process at central office between departments to ensure better outcomes.

“We are trying to organize ourselves differently to ensure that we are communicating across central office in a better way so that we are a better service to campuses,” she said. “Our principals are going to see a big difference this year in the way that we communicate and the way that we serve them.”

During the initial session, campus leaders got a recap of the accomplishments from the previous year.

Highlights include: becoming the largest Social Emotional Learning district in the state; being the largest number of students who took and passed the PSAT and SAT in El Paso County; becoming the highest performing large urban district in Texas; and offering the greatest expansion of specialty programs with dual credit, IB and New Tech.

“I’m really excited about 2019-20 and how we’re already moving up,” Brown said. “We’ve gone from an 86 to an 88 in terms of our district rating. I am convinced, and I’m confident that next year we will be in an A district because we have so many hardworking individuals that are committed to making EPISD the best district – not just in the state of Texas –but in the nation.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy | Video by EPISD Live

Gallery+Story: EPISD summer graduates receive high-school diploma

EPISD’s Class of 2019 is now complete.

A total of 171 seniors from every high school in the El Paso Independent School District accepted their diplomas on Wednesday during the 2019 Summer Graduation Ceremonies at the Bowie High School auditorium.

The graduates completed all state graduation requirements during the summer and now join the 4,200 seniors who received their high-school diplomas during ceremonies in May.

“The fact that you are here today is a testament of the hard work and dedication you have demonstrated over the years,” said Dr. Carla Gonzales, EPISD’s Assistant Superintendent of High Schools.

“You have the skills you need to be successful in life. Go out and work toward reaching your goals. You can do whatever you want to make an impact in this world.”

Wednesday’s ceremonies were split in two to accommodate parents and graduates.

The morning ceremonies featured students from Andress, Austin, Burges, Chapin, Franklin, Irvin, Jefferson and Silva Health Magnet high schools, as well as the College, Career & Technology Academy.

The afternoon session featured students from Bowie, Coronado and El Paso high schools.

Author – Gustavo Reveles  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

El Paso ISD wins national public relations awards

EPISD’s Office of Community Engagement received several Publications and Digital Media Awards from the National School Public Relations Association earlier this month.

“It is our pleasure to tell EPISD’s stories on a daily basis,” said Melissa Martinez, the Chief Communications Officer for the District.

“In every school and every office, there are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.  We are happy to be able to share what’s happening in EPISD with the rest of the community, and to be recognized for doing the work we love to do.”

The awards recognize EPISD’s efforts to promote and celebrate the outstanding work done by students, teachers and employees of the District during the 2018-19 school year.

EPISD earned awards in three categories:

The announcement of the NSPRA awards caps a banner year for EPISD’s public relations and marketing efforts.  Earlier this year, the District earned 20 Star Awards from the Texas School Public Relations Association.

Author:  Gustavo Reveles  – EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: EPISD students stage smash musical ‘Rock of Ages’

EPISD Fine Arts takes a road trip back to the 1980s on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip this summer as they stage “Rock of Ages” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at Bowie High School.

From the moment the production begins to the “Don’t Stop Believin’” finale, expect hit after hit of legendary 80s classics guaranteed to take the audience back to 1987.

“It’s going to be an amazing show,” said Chapin junior Ariayana Anaya, who plays the female lead, Sherrie.” It has something for everyone, and I think that the audience will appreciate what we’ve done.”

Anaya’s character is a wannabe actress who hails from Kansas. She falls for Drew, an aspiring rock star who works as a busboy at the Bourbon Room. It is Anaya’s first experience with the annual summer musical, but she enjoys singing the familiar songs.

“My mom is love with 80s music,” she said. “It’s all she ever listens to, so I grew up listening to it.”

The show is expected to be particularly appealing to the parents in the audience.

“The adults are going to enjoy it because it has a bunch of 80s songs that were popular when they were our age and going through some of the things our characters were going through,” said 2019 Austin grad Dante Salcido, who plays Drew.

Over the years, fine arts has staged classics such as “The Pajama Games,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “My Fair Lady” but last year began opted to go a bit more modern with the smash Broadway and film hit “Hairspray” and continued this new tradition with its 34th summer musical.

“We’ve done almost all of the classics,” said fine arts director Phillip Barraza. “This year, there was a demand to do something new and different, so we went with new, back to the 1980s with ‘Rock of Ages.’”

Barraza spent some of his afternoons on stage with the cast during rehearsals, choreographing the numbers. He proudly stood below the stage watching as the cast belted out its rendition “It’s the Final Countdown.”

“There’s a lot going on here,” Barraza said. “We have students learning costuming, students sharpening their rock guitar skills, and students sharpening their singing, dancing and acting skills. And we cannot forget our tech crew that is learning to use the lighting.”

The summer musicals are known for the combination of districtwide talent that comes together year after year to bring a show to life.

“The summer musical brings out the best actors, singers, and musicians – culminating in one EPISD production,” Barraza said.

Salcido sums up the summer musical best with a sports analogy: “In sports, we have an all-star game and for theater in EPISD, we have summer musical and that’s really cool.”

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

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