Thursday , September 21 2017
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Tag Archives: EPISD

Coronado Teacher gets Funding to Modernize Art Instruction

For thousands of years, art has evolved alongside mankind, from cave pictographs to the modern digital creations . Art instruction, however, has remained mostly the same … until now.

Teacher Hugo Nuñez is paving the way for innovation in art instruction at EPISD with a $2,500 grant from the Texas Cultural Trust to help him create a digital art class at Coronado High School.

“When I got the letter from the Texas Cultural Trust, I was really happy and excited,” Nuñez said. “This kind of classroom really helps the students develop more skills and prepare them for the 21st century workplace. My goal is to implement more technology and digital art into district shows and in the community.”

The Texas Cultural Trust, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts, developed the Arts & Digital Literacy (ADL) program to integrate technology in the classroom. The project-based program focuses on linking art education and digital media instruction for high-school students.

“We want our EPISD students to become critical thinkers who are fluent in digital arts as a pathway towards creativity and innovation,” said Rosa Aguilar, visual arts facilitator. “Students today are born into a digital world and digital arts skills are essential tools to have as pencils and paints are to canvas and paper.”

Nuñez applied for the grant in December with the intent of incorporating more digital illustration in his Art I classes, but once he attended the Digital Pioneers workshop last month he realized the potential to take instruction even further.

“We learned about stop motion, animation, photography and even video game design. They want us to make the class as interactive as possible and for students to really engage using digital artefacts,” he said. “It opened up a broader curriculum. It was bigger than I had thought and gave me a lot of ideas on how to create lesson plans.”

To qualify for the grant, Nuñez had to commit to teach the ADL class for three years. He can reapply for another grant in two years.

He plans on buying a 3-D printer, an Oculus Rift system, as well as digital cameras. In the meantime, students have been using their cellphones and EPISD laptops, downloading apps to create logo and poster designs.

Students snapped photos on campus to capture real-life art concepts, such as line and space, value and color.

“They went on a scavenger hunt to get these colors,” he said. “They are very creative with their photography. It’s really amazing things we see every day, but we don’t put it together as a color wheel. It’s pretty interesting how they come up with these things.”

Students are responding well to the class, which filled up quickly at the start of the new school year. Junior Adriana Sanchez saw the class as an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and try something new.

“Traditional art classes have been taught the same way for decades whereas digital art promotes a new approach to the creative process,” Sanchez said. “I feel like this class is preparing me for many career opportunities.”

Her favorite assignment so far has been creating a poster, using illustrations apps on the iPad.

“It was a contest between everyone in the class to create a poster promoting the class at Coronado,” she said. “It was a lot of fun editing text and illustrations to complete this project. Everyone in the class is excited for upcoming projects. I am glad I joined this class to broaden my knowledge in the digital arts.”

Herald-Post Scoreboard: Week Three

Every week, the Herald-Post Scoreboard will feature the latest scores from the region’s high school football and volleyball action.

Andress vs Pebble Hills
Del Valle vs Horizon
Riverside vs Jefferson
Hanks vs EPHS
Bowie vs Horizon
Burges vs Ysleta
Pebble Hills Spartan Running Back Caleb Gerber shoots past an Irvin defender | Photo by Audrie Aguilar
Texas High School Football opening weekend, Eastlake vs El Dorado, SISD Activities Complex Aug 31, 2017
Texas High School Football opening weekend, Eastlake vs El Dorado, SISD Activities Complex Aug 31, 2017

EPISD: Burges, EPHS, Franklin get Upgrades; Work Kicks Off District-Wide Improvements

Burges, El Paso and Franklin high school football teams tackle a smoother, softer and even cooler field this season under the Friday night lights.

And when the student athletes call their field cool, they mean it literally. The cushier and cooler field is made with coconut fibers which is 40 percent cooler than previous turfs and an extra layer included within softens it for reduced knee and head injuries.

“Your feet are not burning up and don’t have to wear two pairs of socks anymore,” said Burges junior Michael Amezaga. “There’s no heat at all. You used to be able to see the heat rise when you looked across the field and you don’t see that anymore.”

Amezaga also likes the fact that the new field brings back the traditional mustang design, putting to bed forever the Denver Bronco-like design that existed for a decade.

“Now we have a real running mustang not a bronco anymore,” he said. “The field has been restored to how it should look.”

The newly rolled out turfs at the three high schools represent the first of 10 fields to be redone through the Bond 2016. All high schools will have their fields replaced under the bond program.

Beyond the safety upgrades, the new fields replaces patchy and pockets of torn up turf.

“They were in terrible shape,” Kennedy said. “We’re excited to be able to make these improvements for our kids.”

The cooler fields keep players better hydrated, and even impact other aspects of practice.

“The temperature factor is very important,” said Burges head football coach Neil Routledge. “We’re able to do things that involve tackling to the ground and we feel a lot safer about it because it isn’t as scorching hot as the old turf.”

The new football field and track upgrades inspired the alumni to add a fresh coat of paint to the trailers and ticket box.

Emblazoned on the the track are mustangs, and a tribute to the 2012 4×4 state championship boys track team, led by rookie Green Bay Packer Aaron Jones.

“No one had done it before and after a lot of years coaching track, I can see how special that the situations was,” Burges head track coach Manny Herrera said. “So when we had the track redone, we wanted to make a statement to show it was a meaningful time in our heritage not only for us but for the City of El Paso, too.”

Across town at El Paso High, coach Robert Morales sees his players inspired by their new field – the perfect compliment to the century-old school’s legacy and beauty.

“The color coordination and layout just puts a giant exclamation mark on the most beautiful high school football stadium in the country,” Morales said. “Our old turf was very dirty, ugly, and all patched up. We called it the ‘Field of Patches’ instead of the ‘Field of Dreams.’ Now our athletes play on it feeling they will have an edge on the competition because of all the pride they have in our facility.”

Athletic projects make up $32 million of the overall $668 million bond. Projects include: includes replacement and installation of turf at all high schools, renovations of track and tennis courts at eight high schools, court and field lighting and shading and court renovations at various playgrounds.

“Athletics is part of class,” Kennedy said. “A lot of kids come to school because of athletics and because of athletics they have to their pass their classes. Athletics keeps them motivated.”

The renovations make a difference throughout the District and give student athletes a chance to play on a level playing field no matter where their game is in EPISD.

“It’s big for our District keep up with the other districts,” Routledge said. “Other districts have newer facilities so now we can retain the kids have and maybe attract some kids from other districts

EPISD Partners with Hiring Our Heroes to Offer Service Members Job Training

Fort Bliss soldier and diesel technician Sgt. Manuel Lopez spends most of his days at EPISD’s bus barn and transportation hub working side-by-side technicians to get a feel for life after the military.

He’s part of the 12-week Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship program through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to get training and prepare for the civilian workforce. So far, he’s traded working on military vehicles to learning how to fix school buses and repairing other small engines in the District’s transportation department.

“Every week, he’s going to transfer to a different service area and learn everything from preventative maintenance to major repair,” said Jason Zamora, assistant auto shop fleet coordinator. “We’re also going to provide him with insight into the administrative side of a shop so he can get a well-rounded, full-shop operation experience.”

The Fort Bliss soldier, who spent eight years in the army, will be leaving the military in January and hopes a relevant position will open in EPISD for him to apply.

“Having the opportunity to learn a different motor pool lets me get a feel for how people work, how they communicate and how they do their paper trail,” Lopez said. “This is the best way to do it.”

Lopez, who is a few classes shy of a bachelor’s degree in business, wants to further learn about EPISD as he seeks employment as a civilian. Overall, Lopez is finding EPISD’s structure and work to be much different than the vehicles and culture he’s used to in the military.

“I’m actually getting a feel for a position I could be applying for,” he said. “Everyday, I’m learning so if I am offered a position, I’ll know more about the district.”
One of the first days of his fellowship, Lopez fixed weed eaters and the motors on smaller four-wheeled vehicles and tools.

“This gives him an idea what we do so he’ll be ready for an automotive shop in the civilian world,” Zamora said. “We’re really happy to have him.  We’re excited that we can contribute and help him get ready for the future.”

EPISD was one of the first to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on the program, which is sponsored by Prudential. Since EPISD began working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2016, three other soldiers have benefitted from working alongside professionals in the District’s human resources, research and accountability departments and at Chapin High School.

“Our overall goal is to help service members before they get out of the military and get on-the-job training, help them with resume skills and interview skills and put them with a company that’s ready to bring in a veteran,” said Carla Miller, fellowship program manager with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Other El Paso businesses and organizations working with the foundation to train exiting service members include El Paso Electric, ADP and First Light Federal Credit Union.

“The fellowship helps service members because many of them have never interviewed for a job or have a resume,” Miller said. “They don’t know what Corporate America is like so working in the fellowship allows them to learn more about working with civilians. It also gives them time to network in the community, which is also important in finding a job.”

Community Service Hour Requirement Now in Full Effect for High Schoolers

Tutoring, campus clean ups, working with non-profit organizations and other volunteering opportunities have added up to hundreds of thousands of hours donated by the Class of 2018 back to the community.

This year’s senior class is the first cohort required to complete 30 hours of community service per year or 120 hours for their four years of high school. The requirement began in fall 2014.

“EPISD believes that education is more than just about textbooks and laptops,” said Tim Holt, director of Innovation and Pilot programs. “It’s about teaching our students to give back to the community.”

Holt has been working on the community service project since its inception. He encourages students to look to their campuses for opportunities to volunteer and even consider reading or tutoring to students in their feeder pattern.

“Too often people stereotype teenagers as lazy, uncaring, and self centered,” Holt said. “By creating a district wide army of students that volunteer, we hope to break down some of those perceptions. Not only are we building a better citizen, we are creating a more empathetic student, one who will take the idea of giving back into their college years and beyond.”

Students also find the experience rewarding.

“Giving back to the community is very important in the development of a person,” said senior Irvin High School senior Alyssa Lomeli. “We as students, need to humble ourselves in order to help others.”

Lomeli plays an active role on campus, too. She’s StuCo treasurer, Community Service chair and senior class vice president.

“Volunteering teaches you to be compassionate, responsible and develop life skills that seniors will use later on in life,” she said.

EPISD has partnered with the United Way of El Paso to help students find volunteering opportunities, login hours and give campuses a place to list their volunteer needs. Students can set up an account with United Way on its website, which is also linked from the District’s Community Service page. Both pages are available for students to use to log hours.

“It is important for students to volunteer because it creates a sense of initiative, leadership, and engagement for our community,” said Brandon Guzman, community impact associate with United Way. “Volunteerism is based on the premise that we all have some time and talent to give, and that bringing people together, rather than working in isolation, strengthens and can achieve greater impact.”

More than 250 agencies are accessible through Volunteer El Paso with a wide range of opportunities for community service.

“This service is a free online source for students to create individual profiles and search for volunteer opportunities right here in our community,” said Brandon Guzman, community impact associate at United Way. “This service provides additional support for our students to help meet their volunteer service hours required for graduation, community support, and overall success.”

Opportunities include helping at local food banks, homeless shelters and providing administrative support, marketing and outreach for nonprofit organizations.

“We also have one-time specific events that students can volunteer with such as the McKelligon Canyon Green Up, which helps beautify our parks, and Project Bravo Paint-A-Thon, which helps our seniors and physically disabled by re-painting their homes,” Guzman said.

The service also gives EPISD campuses a place to post their volunteer opportunities on the website. Campus volunteer (VIPS) chairs can contact Guzman to set up an account to show campus-based volunteering opportunities for students such as mentoring, homework assistance and event help. United Way is working with the VIPS program to ensure volunteers are eligible to participate.

For more information, email Guzman at

EPISD Superintendent Releases Statement on Aid to Possible Evacuees in El Paso

Statement from EPISD and Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera regarding aid to Hurricane Harvey evacuees in El Paso:

The El Paso Independent School District stands ready to aid in the relief of evacuees impacted by Hurricane Harvey coming into the El Paso region.

“EPISD and El Paso have a strong tradition of service and humanitarian aid, and our schools and employees are ready to do their part in helping displaced Texans,” Cabrera said. “We’ve taught our students to lead with character, and now it’s our turn show what this means. EPISD will lend a hand and help those affected by Harvey during their toughest time.”

Superintendent Juan Cabrera has spoken with Mayor Dee Margo and City Manager Tommy Gonzalez to offer education and housing services to any children and families that arrive in El Paso as a result of the evacuation.

Cabrera said the District is ready to provide buses for the transportation of families and hire certified substitutes to provide instructional services to displaced school-aged children.

Bond Elementary Students Embrace Reading with a New Book

Bond Elementary’s computer lab turned into a giant book fair with students carefully walking through to select a free paperback or hardback of their choice.

Molina Healthcare and the El Paso American Federation of Teachers donated more than 2,500 books to the Westside elementary for its annual book giveaway. Librarian Rosanna Alvarado picked up the books over the summer, sorting all the titles into neat stacks for students to browse through.

“Today, we are making sure every student at Mitzi Bond Elementary gets a book,” Alvarado said. “Every year, we give away free books at our campus every year, whether it’s through donations from the PTA, the Federation or campus funds. We have a commitment to give students a book of their own to take home with them.”

Alvarado hopes the annual book giveaway inspires her students to embrace reading and become lifelong readers.

“Reading carries through all subjects, including math and science, so it’s really important for the students to immerse themselves in books whenever possible,” Alvarado said. “As a struggling reader myself, I firmly believe once you have a love for reading everything else falls into place, and this provides another avenue for them to grow that love of reading.”

Third-grader Gia Morron doesn’t need nudging to read. The self-proclaimed bookworm’s only issue was picking just one book. She had to weigh her options between “Malificent” and “Cinderella.”

“I think this is amazing because I love books,” Gia said. “I like to read short chapter books and also big chapter books.”

She is currently reading “Hank the Cowdog” – a childhood favorite of her dad.

“It’s important to read because it’s super-duper fun,” Gia said. “It’s also my favorite way to fall asleep. I always read in bed.”

Fellow classmate Gael Sosa checked out a few Spiderman titles before settling on a “Guardians of the Galaxy” book.

“It’s cool we get a free book. I like reading books with a lot of action,” Gael said. “I think it’s important to read so you can be a good reader when you’re older.”

Gael just finished reading a book about the Titanic.

“I learned about how it sank, and how it broke in the middle of the ocean,” Gael said.

Third-grade student Behya Gamon loves reading to her 5-year-old brother Jessie.

“I love to read. I like chapter books – Junie B. Jones and ‘Babymouse,’” Behya said. “My brother likes Mickey Mouse books.”

The free books also will be available during the school’s open house on Sept. 6.

“I want the parents to be able to pick out a book with their child,” Alvarado said. “It’s a great way to learn and bond. We want them to share that love of reading together.”


Video+Story: Community Rallies to Donate Backpacks and School Supplies

EPISD classes are back in session and thanks to the efforts of local community members and businesses hundreds of students were able to start school with new backpacks and supplies.

The Northeast Youth Stride for Success Foundation, which was founded by EPISD teachers Ricky Ramirez and Andrew Macias six years ago, collected more than 600 backpacks on August 6 for students in the Andress feeder pattern.

“We grew up in the northeast, and we both understand that there are less fortunate kids within our community,” Macias said. “We wanted to help parents and kids get the school year started off in the right direction by simply having the necessities of school to include a backpack. Every year it has grown, and every year we continue to get unbelievable support from the northeast community.”

The organization also collected basic school supplies and monetary donations to purchase more backpacks. The backpacks and supplies were dropped off at six northeast elementary schools, and will be given out by school counselors to students in need.

The backpack and school supply drive would not be possible without the support of students, who volunteered their time to collect donations on a Saturday. More than 50 Andress football and baseball players participated.

“It is important for our students to get involved. They understand that they are doing it for kids who attended the same elementary as them and who probably will attend Andress as well,” Macias said. “It’s all about looking out for one another and making sure we do our part to help out any way we can. The northeast is a special place with incredible people, and we have a lot of selfless young men at Andress who are great kids with great intentions and good hearts.”

Students at Hart Elementary also received new backpacks and school supplies thanks to a donation from Cardinal Health.

“We have a serious and strong commitment to support our community,” said Cardinal Health Operations Manager Ed Salas. “Our employees fundraised and brought supplies to help support students.”

The organization partnered with the south-side school to provide the supplies and assist with other projects throughout the school year.

“We are super excited to have new partnerships here at Hart Elementary,” assistant principal Michelle Corral said. “This helps students be prepared for the first day of school. They come in with so much confidence, and they feel supported.”

The organization donated around 50 backpacks, each filled with school supplies, such as paper, notebooks and pencils.

“I am excited about getting a new backpack,” fifth-grader Destiny Garcia said. “Sometimes your parents can’t buy you a backpack.”

At Burleson Elementary, the office of state representative Cesar Blanco hosted a school supply fair, which provided students with backpacks, school supplies, uniforms and even free haircuts.

EPISD’s Bejarano Named Texas School Nurse Administrator of the Year

Alana Bejarano, the El Paso Independent School District’s Director of Health Services, earned the 2017 Texas School Nurse Administrator of the Year title for her dedication to the health of the students of the District.

The award is the latest in a series of state-level honors EPISD staff has received.

“Words can’t describe how proud I feel to represent the hard work and dedication of the EPISD nurses and health services staff,” said Bejarano, who has been with EPISD for a decade. “The recognition I am receiving is because of the daily work of the nurses in the District and their tireless efforts to improve student outcomes.”

Bejarano, who has been a nurse for 20 years, will receive the award in November during the Texas School Nurses Organization conference in The Woodlands.

“This award could not have gone to a more deserving person. She exhibits a passion for helping others and a commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of all EPISD students,” said Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Special Programs Stacy Venson. “Under her leadership, EPISD continues to provide excellent health services for our students.”

Norma Luna, coordinator for Health Services, said Bejarano exceeds the criteria of the award through her dedicated leadership and commitment to excellence.

“We are very proud of her and are excited that she is being recognized for all of her hard work,” Luna said. “Alana is the hardest working person I have ever worked with. She sets the example of compassionate care for students for all school nurses. She is willing to help the school nurses in our district with anything that they need help with. She is definitely deserving of this honor.”

Bejarano said she was grateful for the honor, but that the work she does on a daily basis is her reward.

“I absolutely love working with our nurses and educators and I love working with students,” she said. “The best part of everyday is getting a mix of the great people and things happening in EPISD.”

Story+Links: EPISD Planetarium Shows Teachers Safe Ways to View Historic Eclipse

EPISD’s return to classes on Monday will not be your average first day of school.

The district still expects nervous kindergarteners, excited seniors and plenty of traffic around its campuses; but at around 10:30 a.m., the first day of school will take on an unusual phenomenon: a total eclipse of the sun.

The Great American Eclipse will take place Monday, providing an opportunity for students to experience science in action.

Roddenberry Planetarium program manager Evelyn Maldonado was on hand Wednesday during the EPISD Connect at Chapin and Irvin high schools to provide information and show teachers safe ways for students to view the solar eclipse.

“This is all about safety. With science, we are always thinking about lab safety. We want to provide a safe way to view the eclipse without hurting our eyes,” Maldonado said.

She suggested looking at the eclipse through a do-it-yourself pinhole projector, using a mirror to reflect the sun on a wall or even using two index cards. She showcased a projector she made using a shoebox, piece of foil and tape.

“The projector is very simple to make, and it’s completely safe for students to use,” Maldonado said.

The image of the eclipse is projected through a pinhole to the back of a shoebox, so students can see the eclipse without having to look into the sky.

Due to its projected path, only a partial eclipse will be visible from El Paso, starting at 10:30 a.m. and peaking around 11:47 a.m.

“I believe it’s a great teaching moment. Not only for our science teachers but also our history teachers,” Maldonado said. “Solar eclipses have always been thought of as historic moments. Different cultures have their own beliefs of what eclipses represent.”

Alta Vista teacher Minerva Salcedo is looking forward to sharing the special moment with her fifth-grade science class.

“It’s definitely a teachable moment,” Salcedo said. “I remember experiencing a solar eclipse when I was about nine or ten, and it is an experience I will never forget.”

She plans on having her students use the two-index card method, placing one card on the floor and another with a pinhole to project the eclipse downward.

“I think that will be a good way for the students to really get a feel for what is happening and keep them looking at the floor and not up at the sky,” Salcedo said.

The next solar eclipse visible from the continental United States won’t take place until April 8, 2024.

“I really hope they get inspired, and they get excited and share that with their students,” Maldonado said. “I know it will be the first day of classes, but it’s a great opening act for the schools. It is science at its best.”

Some pointers to keep in mind when viewing a solar eclipse:

Freshmen Camps Welcome EPISD’s Newest High Schoolers

Hundreds of incoming freshmen attended orientations and camps throughout EPISD high schools over the past two weeks with one goal in mind: turning nervous ninth-graders into cool and confident students by the time classes start on Monday.

Members of the Class of 2021 got a jumpstart on their high-school career by attending the camps at their respective school and learning about traditions, rules and – most importantly – one another.

“The camp helps relieves some of the anxiety of coming into an upper grade level by building community with our current students and bond with each other,” El Paso High Assistant Principal Gina Ramirez said. “They may have some of their friends here, but they have the opportunity to get know new people and collaborate with some fun, team-building activities. We want them to come in with the sense that this is a fun place to be.”

El Paso High’s two-day Cub Camp started with a rally with upperclassmen welcoming the freshmen, and ended with an outing to the Fort Bliss Leadership Reaction Course.

Celine Dipp loves the Lady on the Hill campus and looks forward to being a tiger. Her favorite part of the camp was going to Fort Bliss and trying her hand at the obstacle course.

“It was a lot of fun. It’s nice to integrate yourself into the school,” Dipp said. “I am looking forward to the dual language program. It’s great to be able to do your studies in English and Spanish.”

Over at Bowie High, students learned about the different clubs, sports and programs available before going on a tour of the campus.

Student Adrian Alvarado, who is interested in the business academy at the South Side school, enjoyed listening to the mariachis and watching the different dance groups perform.

“I’m excited to start school here. I am looking forward to focusing on my studies so I can go to the university to study mechanical engineering,” Alvarado said. “The orientation is school. I’m starting to feel that Bowie pride.”

Burges High School worked on generating some school spirit of their own Tuesday morning The Mustangs kicked off their safari-themed freshmen orientation with the chicken dance to get students moving.

Freshman Bryanna Gonzalez danced with her former Ross Middle classmates to stave off the jitters.

“I’m a little nervous because the school is really big compared to Ross, but it’s cool they are going to gives us a tour so we won’t be lost the first day of school. I’m looking forward to playing volleyball as a Mustang and meeting new people.”

Freshman Jesus Nuñez transferred from the Austin feeder pattern because he was interested in the programs at Burges.

“I’m a bit nervous but excited to start. I already signed up for the early college program and plan on playing basketball,” Nuñez said. “I want to get a head start so I can study architecture when I graduate. I am looking forward to being a Mustang.”

Chapin High School had its annual Fish Camp, where hundreds of incoming students learned about the Husky traditions and toured the school before watching the cheerleaders, band and dance groups perform.

Gallery+Story: 4k EPISD Teachers Return to School

Mariachis, cheerleaders, motivational speakers and even a movie screening were used today to welcome back the more than 4,000 teachers that returned to work in EPISD schools on Monday.

The fan fare is part of the kick-off celebrations for the 2017-18 school year that brings with it new and exciting opportunities for teachers, students and parents.

“We had an amazing summer of learning and growth, and our teachers were at the heart of our professional development and preparation during the break,” said Superintendent Juan Cabrera. “We want to make sure that teachers — not just students — have the tools they need to be successful in the classroom. That starts with high-quality training.”

Over the summer, hundreds of teachers attended different workshops, seminars and staff development opportunities with the goal of improving their skills and providing students with an even better experience in the classroom.

EPISD continues to focus its teaching in the Active Learning Framework, which ensures that all students engage in their education. It combines initiatives and instructional tools to help students succeed in a 21st century economy.

“It’s an exciting time to be a teacher in EPISD,” said Zach Lyons, an English teacher and swimming coach at Chapin High School. “The District is doing amazing things and our students are reaping the benefits of the innovative curriculum. I know my colleagues and I are ready to get back in the classroom.”

Throughout the District, principals welcomed teachers with fun activities.

Bonham Elementary teachers were greeted at the door with the festive music of mariachis, while teachers at Brown Middle were treated to a welcome-back breakfast.

Other schools chose excursions for their first day back on the job. Morehead Middle teachers took a bus to visit important aspects of the community they serve.

Teachers from Whitaker, Schuster and Stanton elementary schools gathered at Carmike Cinema for a special viewing of the film “Freedom Writers.”

“This movie and its subject are very inspiring and it can help us as educators see what we can do assist our student on their road to success,” said Stanton Principal Sarah Chavez-Gibson. “We felt this was a very powerful way to get the year started.”

Cabrera and Trustee Diane Dye attended the viewing. Other trustees and administrators made the rounds throughout the District to welcome teachers back.

Training and teacher preparation will continue throughout the week. Cabrera will give his address to the staff at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday during EPISD Connect. The address will be live streamed throughout the District.

First day of classes for students is Monday, Aug. 21.

At EPISD, This Time, Students get ‘Apples’

EPISD rolled out its latest Power Up initiative this week handing out the powerful MacBook Air to sixth through ninth grade students to expand the District’s one-to-one learning initiative.

Andress and Irvin high schools and Transmountain Early College High School were among the first freshman students to receive the powerful device funded through the 2016 Bond. EPISD’s technology department and Apple Store staff will continue to distribute the 11-inch devices through next week. Through the Power Up Initiative in 2015, EPISD distributed PC laptops to high school students but this year the committee decided to switch to the Apple product.

“The Power Up Committee looked at all devices available side by side and decided to go with the Mac because of its capability for 21st century learning and active learning framework,” said Jason Long, executive director of Innovation, Design & Development. “We also looked at the total cost of ownership rather than the initial price. Macs are more expensive than PCs but they are more durable and when you look over the course of four to six year, they have a better residual value.”

The laptops offer Office 365 suite of tools, EPISD’s Ck12 digital textbooks, the new Schoology Learning Management System and preloaded software including Sketch Up Pro to build three-dimensional models.

“EPISD is proud to provide our students with these new Macbook Airs. EPISD students and teachers now have all of the digital tools they need to become true 21st century learners,” said Tim Holt, executive director of Blended Learning. “We hope that all of our students will take full advantage of these tools, that teachers will provide students with these digital learning opportunities, and that parents will support their children and watch to make sure that they are good digital citizens.”

More than 15,000 MacBook Airs will be distributed to 18 campuses this summer as the district gears up for the 2017-18 school year. The campuses include high schools and middle schools with the exception of Guillen Middle School and the five middle schools that are part of the Verizon Innovative Schools grant. Those Verizon campuses – Armendariz, Bassett, Charles, Henderson and Morehead middle schools – will receive laptops next year. Guillen had received iPads last year through the Texas Literacy Initiative (TLI) and will be receiving their MacBooks next year, too.

Last week, EPISD had a small test distribution with the new incoming students at the Young Women’s Academy. The distribution brought excitement from both students and educators.

“Having the laptops for all students will allow our teachers to continue to integrate active learning in the classroom,” said Lincoln Middle principal Haidi Appel, who helped with the academy’s distribution. “Using a personal laptop can only enhance our students’ abilities to learn and grow. We know there will be a learning curve for teachers and students but we need to have our students ready for a different world than we live in today.”

Appel was on the Power Up Committee that selected the MacBooks. Lincoln’s 700 students will receive their MacBooks Aug. 12.

“The Apple products are easy to learn to use and seem to withstand a good bit of banging around,” she said. “The life of the Apple product should be able to carry our students for a great amount of time.”

Dozens of Young Women’s Academy students collected their laptops early Wednesday during the test site. Principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros walked around the maze of tables checking in on her new students.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “A MacBook is a powerful tool. Our teachers are going to be able to really use the technology to elevate their teaching and learning. There’s so much we can do with the MacBook, and our teachers are ready to have their students explore that.”

Incoming sixth grader Sofia Guerrero held her new MacBook tightly in her arms before heading back to the school’s summer camp.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to be responsible and be able to learn through technology,” she said. “It’s fun to be able to own my own Mac.”

Andress freshman Michael Aleman had never used a Mac before but looks forward to testing it out.

“It’s great,” he said. “I will be able to use it for learning. I’d want to see how it works.”

YWA parent Mickey Loweree also liked the fact her daughter received a Mac.

“With so much technology in the world today, having one of the better computers is a step forward for getting into the world for everything,” Loweree said. “She’s on the right track. From the staff and students and everyone here is just so excited. It’s so cool.”

In the event that a laptop breaks, the MacBook will be repaired by EPISD employees who are Apple trained. The laptops also have special tracking software to help recover the device if it is lost or stolen.

Video+Story: El Paso ISD Welcomes new Teachers to the Family

More than 140 new teachers – some new to EPISD others brand new to the profession – spent this week becoming familiar with District initiatives and meeting key personnel.

“All three days we’ve planned lots of excitement and welcoming activities,” said Kathy Seufert, director of Staff Development. “We want them to be geared up to start the year on a high and

want them to feel right away like they are part of the District.”

The New Teacher Support Academy included teambuilding exercises, a message from the Teachers of the Year, lunch with their principals and TTESS training. Sessions began Monday with keynote speaker Matt Vaudry, the Classroom Chef, who offered an energizing presentation on taking risks in the classroom.

“Teacher who take risk in the classroom will breed students who want to take risks in the classroom,” Vaudry said. “Modeling this behavior will mean their students will be interested in learning and trying new things, debating, augmenting and modifying their ideas as they go along.”

He said the concept was originally created for math lessons but the Classroom Chef grew to include all subjects. All new teachers were given a cooking apron to remind them of the session. Some even sported chef hats to carry on the theme.

“You start with an appetizer to get them excited and then you move on to the entree which is the core of the day, you augment with that with side dishes and do some type of assessment as dessert,” he explained. “The best chefs at restaurants are the ones that take a risk and try new things.”

Vaudry also advised teachers to use Twitter to network and figure out what can work in their classrooms.

“With Twitter you can put question up and hashtag it a certain way so other teachers can respond,” he said. “You can get 10s of 1,000s of answers. It makes taking a risk less scary knowing that someone else is affirming you.”

New teacher Jacqueline Soto, who joins the Young Women’s Academy as the new PE coach, enjoyed the new teacher academy.

“It’s a good way to meet different people and network with people in the same situation – the nerves, the excitement, the stories of how they got here,” she said.

Even though Soto is a bit nervous about her first year, she’s anxious to get started.

“I hope to bring innovation to PE not old school PE,” she said. “I want to incorporate technology and all contents areas into my class. I want the girls to be excited to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

CCTE Teacher Named Texas Health Occupation Association Teacher of the Year

It’s been a banner year for El Paso ISD’s Center for Career and Technology Education (CCTE) teacher Rebecca Manriquez.

On top of being named campus Teacher of the Year and her students placing at nationals, she was also named Texas Health Occupation Association Teacher of the Year.

The state honor came after she was selected from among seven other teachers, each representing a different part of Texas.

“I was humbled to be selected among so many amazing teachers. There were some teachers that had 20 and 25 years of experience, so for them to choose me, who is going on my seventh year of teaching, I felt really humbled,” Manriquez said.

Each finalist had to answer a series of questions regarding their teaching methodologies and accomplishments as teachers. Manriquez was happy to share the award with her fellow CCTE teachers, which she says are instrumental to her own teaching.

“I don’t feel like I would’ve gotten where I am if I didn’t have the support of my colleagues here and our administration,” Manriquez said. “We all work as a team here. This award belongs to all of us.”

She is especially thankful to assistant principal Charlton Archard, who is always open to new ideas about expanding the EMT program at CCTE.

“He is so supportive of us, and I am very grateful to be working with him,” she said. “These kids become all of our kids, and that’s a very special thing.”

Manriquez’s EMT students competed at the national Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) competition in June, taking home first in Medical Reserve Corp, second in CPR and fifth in Community Emergency Response Team.

“I was already pumped about nationals, so this just added to that excitement and all the ideas of what we can do this year,” Manriquez said. “I want to start an EKG program for the students, so they can have an extra certification and work with our law enforcement department to get them trained as dispatchers as well.”

Her excitement is contagious – something senior Cindy Oliveros can attest to.

She is looking forward to starting class after taking Medical Law and Ethics, as well as Medical Terminology with Manriquez. Oliveros was overjoyed when she found out her teacher had won the award.

“I think this award is very well-deserved because she is very dedicated and knows how to inspire her students,” Oliveros said. “She’s always open to opinions and ideas. She’s very supportive.”