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Home | Tag Archives: SISD

Tag Archives: SISD

Metamorphosis Art Exhibit to open at International Museum of Art

This Saturday, an opening reception will be celebrated for the Metamorphosis Art to Treasure III exhibit, which features artwork made from recycled materials.

The artists created the pieces for the annual contest in a community project spearheaded by El Dorado High School art teacher and event organizer Candace Printz.

The event is part of the It’s Your World community art project, in which participants create artwork from recycled material and raises awareness about environmental conservation, and Green Hope Project, a new nonprofit that is an offshoot of It’s Your World.

El Dorado students and community members involved in the project regularly take part in desert cleanups and turn the trash into art. The contest for the Metamorphosis exhibit invited all community members in the El Paso, Las Cruces and Juarez area to enter their artwork created from recycled materials.

In addition to promoting the arts and recycling, the Metamorphosis exhibit supports non-profits in the area, such as the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition, which helps preserve the local land, and MuttLove Dog Rescue, which helps take care of abandoned or sick animals that the It’s Your World community project members have found at the desert cleanups.

Proceeds from the sale of select works at the exhibit will go to one of these organizations or Green Hope Project.

At the event, both groups and the City of El Paso’s Environmental Services will set up informational booths. MuttLove also will have a dog adoption event. Entertainment will be provided by a DJ and the event will be catered.

Award winners will be presented at 3 p.m. during the reception.

The Metamorphosis Art to Treasure III exhibit will be on display from April 27 through May 17 at the International Museum of Art.

What:             Metamorphosis Trash to Treasure III recycled art exhibition

Who:               El Dorado High School art students and teacher; El Paso, New Mexico and Mexico artists; community members

Where:           International Museum of Art |   1211 Montana Avenue

When:             Saturday, April 27, 2019 –  Reception from 2 to 4 p.m., awards at 3 p.m.

El Dorado students art exhibit featured in opening reception at Hospitals of Providence East Campus

Earlier this month, El Dorado High School had an opening reception for its 2019 International Baccalaureate art exhibit in the Founders Hall at the Hospitals of Providence East Campus.

The annual exhibit featured the artwork that El Dorado students created as part of a two-year project in the International Baccalaureate program. The IB program is one of the Socorro Independent School District’s advanced academics academies, which provides students a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum that prepares them for college and careers and to be active participants of a global society.

“This is the culmination of everything they have been working on,” said Candace Printz, art teacher at El Dorado. “This reception is for the students so they can show their family and friends what they have been working so hard for.”

The students created numerous pieces and curated the exhibit. They wrote their biographies and created artist statements, creating an art portfolio to display professionally.

As part of their grade, the students spent part of the day defending their work to an art examiner.

“They had to be articulate and learn to explain themselves,” Printz said. “I found that the process helped a lot of the kids. It built their self-esteem.”

Many students sold their works and received 100 percent of the sales price they set.

Natalie De Santiago’s art intrigued a doctor, who walked by the exhibit. He bought one of her paintings and commissioned another.

“I honestly thought my work wasn’t that good,” said De Santiago, who hopes to become a psychologist and receive a minor in art therapy. “I was genuinely surprised that somebody would actually want my work. Being in this class opened that door for me.”

The two year project helped her discover an art style and uncover the kind of medium she prefers (painting). She learned so much about herself through her art work, De Santiago said.

“Art is so therapeutic,” she said. “It provides an escape for me. I am so grateful to have the IB program at El Dorado. It has led me to become a well-rounded student.”

De Santiago and her classmates’ experience would not have been possible without the help of the Hospitals of Providence East, who hosted the reception and exhibit, Printz said.

“They hang the show, provide the invitations, help celebrate our students with a luncheon and host the reception,” Printz said. “For somebody to be just down the road, be a Partner in Education and be able to step in and do that, it means the world to the kids. I am so grateful to the Hospitals of Providence for all they have done.”

El Dorado student art exhibit event photos

Socorro ISD to have job fairs for support personnel, WIN Academy

The Socorro Independent School District will be having two job fairs to seek highly qualified applicants for support personnel positions and teachers in the WIN Academy.

The first job fair will be for applicants to be bus drivers, bus monitors, maintenance and operations staff, child nutrition staff, technology staff, security guards, police services, crossing guards, and cafeteria monitors.

The job fair will be from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. April 22 at the SISD District Service Center, 12440 Rojas Dr.

For more information regarding the Support Personnel Job Fair, contact the Human Resources Department at 937-0213.

The next job fair will be for applicants who are qualified to teach in SISD’s innovative WIN Academy for the 2019-2020 school year. The job fair will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m., May 1 at the SISD District Service Center, 12440 Rojas Drive.

WIN Academy applicants should have a minimum of three years of teaching experience, hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a valid Texas teaching certificate with required endorsements or training for subject and level assigned, and be highly qualified in the appointed subject area(s).

Teacher candidates should bring at least three printed copies of their resume and be prepared for the opportunity to meet and interview with school principals.

For information regarding the WIN Academy Teacher Job Fair, contact the Human Resources Department at 937-0040 or at 937-0206.

Socorro ISD students celebrate UTEP scholarship announcements

Via the University of Texas at El Paso second annual Operation College Bound enrollment services, officials disbursed more than $560,000 in scholarships to Socorro Independent School District seniors.

The UTEP Scholars Excellence Program scholarships ranged from $4,000 to $32,000. About 15,000 incoming college freshmen applied for the UTEP scholarships this year.

The top school in the district and one of the highest in Region 19 was Montwood High School with $122,000 and 27 scholarship recipients.

El Dorado and Americas high schools each had $95,000 in scholarship funds and 22 recipients. Pebble Hills High School earned $91,000 and had 20 students, followed by Eastlake High School with $87,000 and 18 scholarships, and Socorro High School with $75,000 and 16 scholarship recipients.

SISD does excellent in earning UTEP scholarships, said Tammi Mackeben, SISD’s director of guidance and counseling.

“We are very proud of all our students who applied,” Mackeben said. “It takes a lot of work and ambition, so we are really excited for them for getting out there and applying for those scholarships.”

Alisa Rowe, a student at Pebble Hills, had planned to attend another college, but once she received a UTEP scholarship, the senior started thinking about becoming a Miner.

“This is exciting,” said Rowe, who wants to be an aerospace engineer. “I really wasn’t expecting this. I have a lot to consider now.”

Jose Caballero, a senior at Montwood, also wants to follow in the same profession. He is thankful for the scholarship from UTEP.

“This is a celebration for our 27 seniors, including myself, who received scholarships,” Caballero said. “This is just a testament to show how much here at Montwood we really work and how much we push ourselves. It feels really great. It’s a great honor.”

Megan Mack also was happy to receive a scholarship from UTEP.

“It’s reassuring that I can attend UTEP and have it paid for and covered,” she said. “It would have been difficult otherwise.”

For many students, the scholarships are vital, Mackeben said.

“One of the biggest barriers for students that keeps them from going to college is money, of course,” she said. “So, for the students to receive these scholarships, it is extremely important because we can assure they have the money to go.”

But finances should never be a reason a student does not attend a postsecondary education institution, Mackeben said. There are many ways to get help.

“Students can apply for scholarships still now,” she said. “There are many scholarships that are still available for them. And they can apply for scholarships every single year of their college career. There are so many opportunities to help students. They can talk to any counselor and get help.”

Socorro ISD continues to grow, District surpasses 47,000 enrollment milestone

The Socorro Independent School District reached a new milestone when third-grader Jesus A. Rodriguez enrolled at Robert R. Rojas Elementary in the Socorro feeder pattern.

The student population topped 47,000 for the first time on March 28 as Rodriguez walked in the door.

“The way they welcomed my son was definitely a surprise and it made us feel very special,” said Lyzzett Hernandez, Jesus’ mom. “I did my research before enrolling my kids in this school, and everyone said great things about it. As a mom, that is what you want for your child, for them to receive the best education possible.”

Rojas administrators welcomed Rodriguez, his mom, and sisters and presented them with school spirit gifts to commemorate the special occasion. Socorro High School students and staff made a special trip to the school to welcome the new family.

The drumline played for the future Bulldogs, while cheerleaders, flag team and Missionettes cheered and chanted, holding posters that read, “Welcome to Team SISD.”

“Team SISD is certainly a destination district as families are choosing to live in our community, where we proudly provide endless opportunities for our students to be prepared for college, careers, and life,” said Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “It is an honor to serve this rapidly expanding side of El Paso, Horizon City and the City of Socorro. We remain committed to giving our students and their families the best experience in their educational journey.”

Rojas Principal Jaqueline Salas is excited about welcoming new students to her school, and making history in SISD. She also said her school takes pride in reassuring students of their value on a daily basis.

“We strive to make our students feel special every day,” Salas said. “Our school is a safe place for our students to learn and grow. We can’t wait for them to take advantage of all the programs in our school and district.”

Officials share that Socorro ISD continues to be a “fast-growing school district, adding 1,000 students in the last three years, despite more school choices in the area.”

Click here to view the 47,000 student event photos

Audio+Story: Socorro ISD School Board Election: Meet the Candidates – David Morales

On March 21st of this year, I wrote about Paul Garcia and his bid for the At Large position of the SISD school board. That was the first of what I hope to be many articles on just what a school board is, and what they do.

Since that first article I’ve discovered there are more than a few people who are in the same position as me – we really don’t know what a school board does. I hope to change that during this series.

Before we jump into this article, a disclaimer: The El Paso Herald Post does not endorse any individual or party, so these profiles are simply to educate our readers about who is running.

Not too long ago I met with David “Coach” Morales. Morales is also running for the At Large position on the Socorro School Board of Trustees – the School Board in Socorro.

So, who is David Morales and what qualifies him for the school board?

“I’m an educator. I served as a teacher, coach and a middle school principal for 30 years as a career,” says David Morales. “I’m married,  my wife is Janet Morales. She’s also an educator. She’s an assistant principal in the Clint Independent School District.”

Morales not only has another child that is an educator by trade, but has two sons who are currently attending school within the district.

“I have five children, the oldest being Madeline. She is a teacher and she’s now a stay home mom, but she is certified in Texas, New
Mexico. I have a son, David Mark…he’s a Border Patrol agent in the Del Rio sector. And then I have a daughter – Amanda. She’s a CPA with the Jack in the Box corporation,” says Morales “And then my two sons are with me today. They attend Horizon Heights Elementary School, which is in the Socorro Independent School District. And [that’s] probably one of the reasons why I’m here today. I feel that I can be a representative for our community throughout the district. Being At Large I would be able to represent all 46 schools in the district.”

For my interview with Morales, he brought his two youngest sons with him, as did Paul Garcia. I think it’s very important for children to
not only see how their parents’ campaign, but that their children become active participants in the process – by being with their parents, they gain a greater understanding of the election process then they would from a textbook or classroom setting.

What challenges does the Socorro Independent School District face, according to Mr. Morales?

“Well, right now I believe the equity for all schools is something that I’m very conscientious about. I’m worried somewhat due to the fact that I’ve had some teachers, I’ve had some administrators, even some of the parents bringing that concern to me…a lot of these campuses are getting older, and they’re in desperate need of having some improvement made, renovations…some remodeling issues possibly down and down the road. Even with their infrastructure. I think that the the technology, some of the resources that are need[ed] and that would be trying to get the equity to each of the schools across the district with new schools.”

We also spoke about charter schools and how they are coming to El Paso. (Authors note: Tim Holt, a fellow writer with the El Paso Herald Post, as written a great piece about charter schools)

“Well, something I learned recently is it in San Antonio is a big issue. I believe it’s up to 25%. It’s taking over. Charter schools are taking over the San Antonio Independent School District, and for that they are really, really desperately looking for, finding ways to continue finding their schools,” says Morales.

“That is probably one of the biggest issues here in El Paso. It hasn’t really affected us. However, they’re starting to come. These charter schools are starting to come, and as you well know, we do not get funding for our district. These students are taking recruited out and the finding actually goes in the average daily attendance that each student is entitled to, it goes with that student.”

Charter schools and the worry over them is a common theme I am hearing from educators in all districts. Everyone is worried that these schools, with their lack of transparency and oversight, will ultimately do a disservice to the student. On this issue, both David Morales and Paul Garcia agree.

I also asked Morales about was about future growth for the Socorro School District. There is only so much land within Socorro, and they are soon to be land-locked by Ysleta, El Paso, and others, limiting future expansion.

“Well, first of all, we would have to realize that we have to put some strategic planning in place, knowing what is going to come, what’s coming at us, where the growth is and, and be proactive in the fact that some of the schools that we have in those areas, they may have to be rethought of…In fact, what I said earlier, they were, some of these schools have been outdated. Maybe the fact that they can be rebuilt to modernized campuses and therefore that may be an option.”

“Other things, you can have open enrollment,” says Morales. “Open enrollment may also entice students coming into our district. I mean that’s as far as meeting the charter schools. But as far as that, I think that being landlocked we would have to start looking at our older campuses and making sure that everything is working to efficiency.”

I gave Morales the chance to share his final thoughts with us.

“Well, as a future school board member, it’s a volunteer position. Obviously, we did not get paid and myself being involved with the Sun Bowl Association for over 22 years, I’m the chairman now with the team host committee for the Sun Bowl Association. We’re volunteers so; obviously we didn’t get paid for that as well…This is something I’m doing for the community. The fact that we need to be transparent. We need to have – allow our taxpayers; they’re hardworking – their funds to be properly spent. That’s one of the things, one of the issues that I’m running on. Also, our teachers need to be represented. I do know that there’s a need for some pay raises…not only for teachers or support staff and even the hourly employees.  I do know in Austin, in the state they’re working on it. I read an article this morning; it looks like something’s going to happen here that’s going to be positive for teachers. So, that is to me is very, very important to be a representative for all employees, all taxpayers.”

You can reach David Morales with your questions via Facebook or Twitter


Do you know of something in El Paso County that is interesting? If so, I would love to hear about it. Give me a call at 915-201-0653 or send me an email:

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10 VASE winners in Socorro ISD advance to state art contest

Ten students from the Socorro Independent School District earned superior and excellent ratings at the 2019 Regional Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) held at Hanks High School earlier this year.

The high schoolers now advance to the Texas VASE competition April 26-27 at San Marcos High School in San Marcos.

More than 556 students entered in the citywide contest. Ten of the 38 students advancing to state are SISD students.

“It’s quite an accompoishment for Team SISD,” said Macka L. Jones, the district’s visual arts specialist. “It’s a feather in our hat. It shows how excellent are teachers and students are.”

Art teacher Leticia Luevanos is taking four of her students to state. Two, Michelle Carrasco and Saree Castaneda, have qualified for the state event before.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “All that hard work paid off. They have been working on their creations since December. I am excited for them.”

Here are the SISD’s state qualifiers:

Americas High School
• Michelle Carrasco, whose work is called “Baby Grand.”
• Saree Castaneda, who entered the painting “Doodler’s Art Block.”
• Victor Gomez, who entered “Melancholy.”
• Jazlyn Marquez, whose work is called “Inside of Me.”
Teacher Leticia Luevanos

• Daniela Salinas, whose piece is “Frame of Mind.”
Teacher Samuel Munoz

Eastlake High School
• Ana Calderas, who entered the work “Dear Me.”
Teacher Claudia Castaneda

El Dorado High School
• Destiny Votion, whose work is called “Meraki.”
Teacher Allison Vega

• Giselle De La Fuente, who entered the work “Tainting.”
Teacher Candace Printz

Pebble Hills High School
• Colby Smith, whose work is called “Wrath.”
Teacher Julian Vidales

• Angelica Soto, who entered the piece “Optomistic Voices.”
Teacher Rosa Villarreal

Socorro ISD Campuses highlight Tech during Digital Learning Day

Recently, students and schools within the Socorro Independent School District took part in Digital Learning Day with interactive, technology-based teaching and learning.

“We are celebrating students by showcasing their creative, innovative, inspiring projects that have been wonderful,” said Erica Aragon, instructional technology specialist. “There are an array of different activities. The whole point is to motivate and inspire our students to pursue their dreams and to get them ready for college and careers.”

With more than 300 students present, the district also highlighted projects that integrate technology in the classroom at the second annual Academic Technology Showcase “Building Wonder” at the District Service Center.

The event showed the ways students use digital lessons and technological resources to enhance their learning, including samples of 3D printer work, multimedia, animation, graphic design and video production. They also competed in an app challenge and a video contest as part of the showcase.

WIN Academy students also participated in a Sphero competition. The students were challenged to develop an amusement park for their Sphero robots using computer coding skills and their technology expertise. They demonstrated their creations and digital learning at the technology showcase.

“Technology helps students become more engaged in curriculum,” Aragon said. “It gets them motivated to actually learn more about any digital tool that they are using. Through technology, they also can learn about content, fine arts, physical education and so on.”

Samantha Villareal, a sixth grader at SPC Rafael Hernando III Middle School , showed off a math program that she created, which helps students learn and understand different math concepts, at the showcase. It was the second time she has participated.

“I am just excited to be here and to do it again,” said Villareal, who wants to go into forensics when she grows up. “I have a lot of fun with it. And it’s really encouraging knowing there is a good community around supporting girls to do STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).”

Digital Learning Day also was in full gear in classrooms across the district. Students in all grade levels participated in numerous lessons throughout the day. They participated in coding, desktop publishing, robotics and programs such as Office 365, Nearpod and Prodigy, said Miguel Moreno, the district’s coordinator of instructional technology.

“We really wanted to highlight how technology is the avenue to learning and students connecting with one another,” Moreno said. “We want to highlight the things we do in the district. Every student has access to technology. Not many districts can say that.”

Through its Operation Future Ready efforts, SISD constantly works to advance digital teaching and learning, to fully train educators to utilize new resources, and to offer more technological devices for student use.

Jose Salinas, a third-grade WIN Academy teacher at Desert Wind School, said he uses technology all the time in the classroom. Currently, students are learning how to code using Ozobots.

“It keeps me inspired to keep learning about technology,” Salinas said. “I can teach them, so when they grow up, they can pursue careers in STEM.”

At Mission Ridge Elementary, Grecia Decena, third grade, said she enjoys the iPads and computers used in her classroom. She loves Prodigy because students use characters to battle each other using math problems.

“I’m not very good with math, but this makes it easier for me to learn,” Salinas said. “I never had any classes with all this technology before. It’s actually very fun.”

Fourth-grade Mission Ridge teacher Christina Reveco said she is appreciative students have access to a lot of different devices. It gives them an opportunity to use technology on a daily basis.

“That will really help them in the future,” she said.

Digital Learning Day at Desert Wind School photos  |   Digital Learning Day at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary photos

SISD continues partnership with EPCC, UTEP to provide enrollment services for seniors at home campus

On Monday, officials with the Socorro Independent School District, in partnership with El Paso Community College and The University of Texas at El Paso, announced the dates for their Operation College Bound enrollment services for seniors this spring at all six comprehensive high schools in the district.

“Our priority for every student in Team SISD is to ensure they are college and career ready. This incredible partnership with EPCC and UTEP gives our seniors a head start to enrolling in postsecondary education and helps them move forward to make their college and career dreams a reality,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “In Team SISD, we treat and educate all students as if they are our own children, and I am proud we can provide this service so they can be prepared for the future.”

Socorro Independent School District seniors will be able to finalize the enrollment process to attend El Paso Community College and register for new student orientation for The University of Texas at El Paso at their own high schools on March 26 and April 1 through 5.

The event premiered last year at SISD high schools to provide on-site enrollment services directly to the students at their campuses. It was the first time the process was conducted in any school district in the region.

The Operation College Bound event gives SISD seniors the ease and convenience to enroll in college in a familiar environment with assistance from representatives from the college and university.

The seniors at every comprehensive high school in SISD will attend an enrollment day at their school.

They will be led through the enrollment process, which will be set up in the gyms, classrooms and computer labs at the schools. The EPCC and UTEP staff will guide the students through the process and answer questions. SISD high school administrators and counselors also will assist with the events.

“EPCC is proud to partner with the school districts and UTEP to ensure graduating seniors in our region go to college,” EPCC President Dr. William Serrata said. “Operation College Bound helps students enroll and receive the information they need to make a successful transition from high school to higher education.”

UTEP will be available to talk with students about the transition from high school to college, answer any questions that students may have, and offer information about new student orientation, financial aid, housing, student life and student engagement.

The event also will include a showcase of UTEP programs to highlight exciting academic opportunities that students may pursue while attending the university.

“The University of Texas at El Paso is dedicated to providing access to higher education opportunities for all students in the community we serve,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

“As a top tier research university, our academic programs are highly competitive, ensuring our success in preparing UTEP students to play leadership roles in their fields of study. Our Operation College Bound partnership with the El Paso Community College and the Socorro Independent School District reaffirms our shared commitment to build a solid educational foundation for young people in our region, from PreK through graduate school.”

The first event will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 26 at Socorro High School, 10150 Alameda Avenue.  The other Operation College Bound registration days will be:

April 1 at Eastlake High School

April 2 at Americas High School

April 3 at Montwood High School

April 4 at El Dorado High School

April 5 at Pebble Hills High School

Socorro ISD Early College high school programs select first cohort of students

The Socorro Independent School District selected the first cohort of students for the new early college high school programs set to open for the 2019-20 school year.

“We were very excited that the Texas Education Agency allowed Team SISD to move forward with the launch of three more early college high school programs,” said Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “Socorro ISD will be the only district in the region to have an early college high school program in each comprehensive high school. This shows that we want equity in SISD. We want the same kind of opportunities for all students.”

The Empire Early College at El Dorado High School, the Falcon Early College at Eastlake and the Pebble Hills Early College will welcome 135 incoming freshmen from their feeder areas to the program.

Early college high school programs give students the opportunity to graduate from high school with up to 60 college credit hours or an associate degree, along with their high school diploma.

Students who applied to the programs were selected at recent lottery events at the high schools. Representatives from El Paso Community College, University of Texas at El Paso, district leaders and staff, and even mariachi groups and mascots, attended to take part in the first-ever selection process for the new programs.

“We had 226 applicants at our campus,” said David Herrera, director of the Pebble Hills Early College. “All applicants were assigned a number and we drew them one at a time in front of all representatives present. We were transparent about the entire process.”

Students who were selected for the program received an acceptance letter. Those who were not selected were placed on a waiting list in the order in which they were picked.

“We are thrilled that our feeder pattern will provide our students a K-16 environment,” said Vanessa Betancourt, principal at El Dorado High School. “Our scholars will have the opportunity to learn in a postsecondary environment, earn college credit and achieve high levels of success.”

SISD, in collaboration with El Paso Community College, offers the most early college high school programs in the region. SISD opened Mission Early College High School, the first program of its kind in the region and one of the first in the state, in 2006.

The district opened three more within a three-year span – Socorro Early College in 2015, Rams Early College in 2016, and Trailblazers Early College in 2017. In June 2019, Socorro Early College will celebrate its first cohort of graduates.

Socorro ISD School Board Election: Meet the Candidates – Paul Garcia

It’s not easy running for office, any office. Over the years I’ve covered people running for Congress, State Senate, Governor and more. It takes a lot to decided to toss your name in the hat and stand for election.

It’s tougher for those running for unpaid positions, such as board member of the Socorro Independent School District.

I recently met with Paul Garcia, who is running for the At Large position, and this is the first of several interviews I’ll be doing with those running.

Now, a disclaimer: the El Paso Herald-Post does not endorse any individual or party, so these profiles are simply to educate our readers about who is running.

Also, there’s a couple of personal reasons for me writing about the Socorro Independent School District election.

First, I want to learn what is important to both the voters and candidates.  Second, I wanting to follow the process of how a school board works, from elections to actions taken once elected.

So, who is Paul Garcia and what qualifies him for school board?

“I’m definitely ready to, to bring a lot of energy and passion to the school board,” says Mr Garcia. “You know, I am a product of the Socorro Independent School District. I’ve attended Hueco Elementary, Socorro Middle School and graduated from Socorro High School in 2003. I am one of their own.”

He also has children who attend school within the district.

“Two of them are in the public education at the Socorro Independent School District. They both attend Purple Heart Elementary,” says Garcia. “My son is in first, my daughter, she’s in Pre-K. So, I have a vested interest and have a vested interest to make sure that the district is continuing to grow and, go in the right direction.”

When I interviewed Paul Garcia for this piece, he had his son, Alexander, with him. I also think it’s good that his children are seeing their father in different aspects of his race for the At Large position.

I think I should explain that I had to ask Mr. Garcia what the At Large position was. I was unsure myself, never having written about the actual candidates and positions they may run for in a school board election.

“The at large position means there are two representatives on the board of trustees that represent the entire school district. So, if you live in the school in any part of the school district, you can actually vote for me and my race,” said Mr Garcia as way of an explanation.

The At Large position, I’ve since learned, can be held by anyone living within the boundaries of the district.

“They can live anywhere,” said Mr Pena, someone I turn to for information on elections. “They also, in my opinion, can do more than the average board member. They are able to represent the district overall and are not held to issues in certain sections of the district. They are elected to represent the district as a whole and are thereby able to help address a wider variety of issues.”

What issues are key to Mr Garcia? I asked him to identify the top issues that he sees.

“One thing is to make sure that teachers are being paid what they deserve. Teachers are the strongest pillars of our community,” says Garcia,  “If you think about it, what is our most precious asset for anybody? For any parent, it’s not your 401k; it’s not going to be your home. It is going to be your children. It’s going to be your son, your daughter, your granddaughter, your grandson. Teachers are with our, our children eight hours a day, you know, we need to continue to fight to make sure that they’re getting paid what they’re worth, what they deserve. Okay. That’s a big one for me is make sure across the board that we pay teachers and support stuff favorably.”

How will raises be paid for? I mentioned to Mr. Garcia that no one wants to see property taxes rise.

“There’s about 400, roughly about 400 million in the general fund,” says Paul Garcia. “So definitely have some money in there. I think Socorro Independent School District is doing a pretty good financially. They can definitely afford a 3% raise with a little bonus on the side for teachers, and employees. Absolutely.”

Another issue is charter schools.

“Right now we have a lot of charter schools coming in to play. Every time a charter school opens, that’s taxpayer dollars that are being pulled out of public education…So, I’m not a big fan of charter schools,” says Garcia, “I think they also lack any kind of accountability from the community. And they lack transparency as well.”

Another question I had was about the future of the district in terms of growth. There is only so much land within Socorro, and they are soon to be land-locked by Ysleta, limiting future expansion.

“I think future growth should be constructed and planned using the smart growth development,” says Garcia. “It allows for children, students from all walks of life to be able to find the resources there at the school. Schools are within walking distance. So, I think that’s going to be a major help for students across the board.”

“There’s a lot of growth, especially where I’m in, the Far East. I know they’re building Cactus Trail Elementary and it’s right down the street from my house, pretty much. So, it’s built in such a way where there’s a lot of homes around it. So, you know, it makes it very inclusive, for the community, for parents, from all walks of life.”

I’ll leave Paul Garcia with the final words in this piece.

“I just want to thank everybody for the opportunity. I can promise you I’m going to be trying extremely hard to make sure to listen to every single person, every single student, every single teacher; to make sure that Socorro Independent School District is the best,” shares Garcia.

“You can reach me through my Facebook, Paul Garcia for SISD Board of Trustees At Large, or you can give me a call, and we can have a cup of coffee or have some dinner, 915-667-8208.”

To connect with Paul Garcia, visit his campaign Facebook page


Authors Note: I have attempted to reach out to other standing for election in the Socorro School Board elections. If you are a candidate, and would like to be interviewed, please contact me at 915-201-0653 or send me an email at

State Science Fair Domination: Socorro ISD Sending Largest Group of Students to Competitions

Seventy-five students in the Socorro Independent School District have advanced to the 2019 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair March 29-30 at Texas A&M and one student has advanced to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 May 12-17 in Phoenix.

The students qualified for the next contest after competing in the 2019 Sun Country Regional Science & Engineering Fair March 2 at Pebble Hills High School. More than 130 SISD students participated in the regional event.

“We are building a science culture in Team SISD,” said Frank McDonald, the district’s instructional officer for secondary science education. “Our students are improving and they are part of the best in the city in the science fair competitions.”

The middle and high school students represented SISD well at the regional fair. Out of the nine sweepstakes awards for middle schools, seven went to SISD. Twenty-six of the 31 SISD middle schoolers going to state are from John Drugan School.

At the high school level, four of nine sweepstakes winners were from Team SISD. Mission Early High School will send 12 of 28 SISD teams to state. Jelena Wright, from MECHS, not only qualified for state, but she will attend the international science and engineering fair.

“Doing a science project gives students the opportunity to learn a variety of important educational skills such as research, math, analysis, writing and oral presentation,” McDonald said. “All these things prepare them for college and for a career. They are practicing skills needed in the real world.”

El Dorado High School students, Alexa Hernandez and Annai Cuvelier, were excited to present their science project, Integration Hydrophobic technology, which involved creating a solution that would repel water on a windshield and eliminate the need for windshield wipers. The young women, along with teammate Jenny Cha, earned a first-place finish overall and second place in the physical science high school sweepstakes. They will attend the state contest.

“It’s exciting,” Cuvelier said. “We worked really hard on this project. We did a lot of research and chemistry. Our expectations were high.”

Hernandez is grateful for Team SISD providing a stellar education with endless opportunities.

“Every SISD student needs to take advantage of all the opportunities,” said Hernandez, who plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I did. I started young doing science projects and I have been a part of the robotics team at El Dorado. It all prepares you for college.”

Eighth-grader Jazmin Rodriguez from Ernesto Serna School entered her guinea pig project at the regional science fair. To complete the work, she learned from other with scientists and did a lot of reading.

“I love taking risks,” said Rodriguez, who next year will be part of the Libertas program at Americas High School. “Doing this work really motivated me to continue doing more. It’s preparing me for the future.”

SISD winners from Sun Country Regional Science & Engineering Fair

SISD student attending the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 May 12-17 in Phoenix.
1          Jelena Wright   Cellular and Molecular Biology            Mission Early College HS

SISD students going to the 2019 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair March 29-30 at Texas A&M in College Station.
Place    Students                                           Category                                                    School
1          Alejandra Rodriguez, Michiel Noe        Biomedical And Health Sciences                    MECHS
1          Jelena Wright                                    Cellular And Molecular Biology                      MECHS
1          Gustavo Ramirez                               Computational Biology And Bioinformatics     Americas HS
1          Abdullah Hussien                               Biochemistry                                               John Drugan School
1          Arely Frias                                        Biomedical Engineering                                John Drugan School
1          Margaret Muller                                 Computational Biology And Bioinformatics     John Drugan School
1          Sophia Gomez                                   Embedded Systems                                     John Drugan School
1          Lizeth Castro                                     Energy: Physical                                         John Drugan School
1          Edgar Hernandez                               Mathematics                                               John Drugan School
1          Lauren Martinez                                Microbiology                                                John Drugan School
1          Alan Martinez                                    Systems Software                                        John Drugan School
1          Rachel Munoz                                    Earth And Environmental Sciences                MECHS
1          Steven Ramirez, Graciela Gutierrez, Jorge Alvidrez        Energy: Chemical               Pebble Hills HS
1          Matthew Hassoun                              Energy: Physical                                          Americas
1          Christian Rodriguez Porzio, Hiram Lopez, Alejandro Solano    Engineering Mechanics       Eastlake HS
1          Andrea Soto, Maya Woods, Denise Dominguez  Environmental Engineering              Pebble Hills
1          Annai Cuvelier, Jenny Cha, Alexa Hernandez     Materials Science                            El Dorado HS
1          Jacklyn Estrada                                  Plant Sciences                                             Socorro HS
2          Carisa Gonzalez, Vanessa Martinez, Nicholas Lopez       Biomedical And Health Sciences           Pebble Hills HS
2          Wendy Sandoval                                 Biomedical Engineering                                Montwood HS
2          Alyssa Ibave, Eduardo Soto                 Chemistry                                                    Pebble Hills HS
2          Aimee Cuvelier, Emma Carrillo Computational Biology And Bioinformatics                  MECHS
2          Chante Maree                                     Biomedical Engineering                                 John Drugan School
2          Riddhi Patel                                        Cellular And Molecular Biology                       John Drugan School
2          Arella Orozco                                      Computational Biology And Bioinformatics      John Drugan School
2          Diego Avila                                         Earth And Environmental Sciences                 John Drugan School
2          Cosette Ruiz                                       Embedded Systems                                      John Drugan School
2          Caroline Garcia                                   Environmental Engineering                            John Drugan School
2          Natalia Diaz                                        Microbiology                                                John Drugan School
2          Sophia Arellano                                   Robotics And Intelligent Machines                 John Drugan School
2          Fatima Franco                                     Systems Software                                        John Drugan School
2          Bryan Liston, Samantha Debe              Earth And Environmental Sciences                 Pebble Hills HS
2          Crystelle Martinez                               Embedded Systems                                      MECHS
2          Martin Resendiz, Brandon Smithson      Energy: Chemical                                         El Dorado
2          Hector Mcdonald, Dominick Martinez     Energy: Physical                                          MECHS
2          Brian De Leon                                     Engineering Mechanics                                  Eastlake HS
2          Alejandro Blasquez                              Systems Software                                        Eastlake HS
3          Erick Chico                                         Cellular And Molecular Biology                       Desert Wind School
3          Cryssanti Nwihim                                Cellular And Molecular Biology                       MECHS
3          Sofia Lopez                                        Animal Sciences                                            John Drugan School
3          Matthew Enriquez                               Biomedical Engineering                                  John Drugan School
3          Jennifer Ramirez                                 Computational Biology And Bioinformatics       John Drugan School
3          Nathan Briggs                                     Earth And Environmental Sciences                 John Drugan School
3          Andrea Arellano                                  Engineering Mechanics                                  John Drugan School
3          Kristina Pan                                        Microbiology                                                 John Drugan School
3          Nicolas Aldana                                     Physics And Astronomy                                 John Drugan School
3          Joaquin Hernandez                              Robotics And Intelligent Machines                  John Drugan School
3          Maya Cohen                                        Translational Medical Science                        John Drugan School
3          Anahise Garcia, Daniela Arevalo           Embedded Systems                                      MECHS
3          Mia Sifuentes                                      Materials Science                                         MECHS
3          Gabriel Gallegos, Nevaeh Torres           Mathematics                                                MECHS
3          Christian Rivera                                   Microbiology                                                MECHS
3          Carlos Gauna, Itzel Garcia-Gama           Physics And Astronomy                                Americas HS
3          Andrew Hernandez                               Robotics And Intelligent Machines                 MECHS HS
3          Mercedes Lopez                                   Systems Software                                        Socorro Middle School

Middle School Sweepstakes – Engineering Sciences
1          Ryan Miner                                                                Robotics           Col. John O. Ensor Middle School
2          Alan Martinez                                                            Systems Software                    John Drugan School
3          Arely Frias                                                                 Biomedical Engineering            John Drugan School

Middle School Sweepstakes – Life Sciences
2          Margaret Muller                                   Computational Biology And Bioinformatics       Col. John O. Ensor Middle School

Middle School Sweepstakes – Physical Sciences
1          Lizeth Castro                                                              Energy: Physical                     John Drugan School
2          Abdullah Hussien                                                        Biochemistry                          John Drugan School
3          Samuel Fierro                                                             Materials Science                    Col. John O. Ensor Middle School

High School Sweepstakes – Engineering Sciences
3          Andrea Soto, Maya Woods, Denise Dominguez              Environmental Engineering       Pebble Hills HS

High School Sweepstakes – Life Sciences
1          Jelena Wright    Cellular And Molecular                         Biology                                   MECHS

High School Sweepstakes – Physical Sciences
2          Annai Cuvelier, Jenny Cha, Alexa Hernandez                 Materials Science                    El Dorado HS
3          Steven Ramirez, Graciela Gutierrez, Jorge Alvidrez        Energy: Chemical                    Pebble Hills HS

Sun Country Science Fair photos

Montwood High’s ‘virtual book tastings’ encourage reading by using technology

Montwood High School brought literacy and technology together with a new program called Virtual Book Tasting. The technique allows students to use their laptops to sample, checkout and read eBooks.

The idea is similar to a popular trend nationwide called book tasting, in which students look at three or four book titles at their school library and determine if they want to read the literature. But a virtual book tasting lets students use any mobile device to check out eBooks they like and return it when they are ready. There are no deadlines or late fees.

“The idea is for students to enjoy reading and to really develop a lifelong appreciation for reading and for literature,” said Dr. Kirk Macon, lead librarian at Montwood. “It’s the first time it is done anywhere in El Paso, not just in our district.”

The lesson blends the district’s DNA 1:1 initiative (one laptop for every high school student) MackinVIA (the SISD libraries’ eBook system), Nearpod (an instructional software with interactive learning experiences) and student choices about their own independent reading or finding “just the right book,” Macon said.

Students click on MackinVIA eBook summaries, develop their own “backpack” of books based on genres, and personal preferences of reading material, and then check out the items virtually, he said.

“We just have a lot of options out there,” he said. “The eBooks are great. This is what we will be doing from now on.”

Montwood library media specialist Jennifer Marquez said the students have really enjoyed the process.

“Every student we’ve served has been engaged and enthusiastic about the library and 21st century learning,” Marquez said.

Alyssa Orozco, ninth grader, found that the program made browsing, checking out and reading books easier.

“You don’t have to go through the aisles,” Orozco said. “You just search it on your laptop and its right there for you. I thought it was interesting finding out all the different types of books they have available. I like the variety. I find this is much more relaxing. I think it was really cool.”

Classmate Kayla Jimenez said she sampled four books and found one she liked.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “We got the chance to find w

Socorro ISD students showcase strategies at annual Math Bee

Socorro Independent School District kindergarten to fifth-grade students showcased their math skills at the fourth annual Math Bee at Eastlake High School, held earlier this month.

Designed similar to a spelling bee and the only one of its kind in the El Paso region, the math bee uses number problems in a contest where students compete against their peers until only one is left standing.

“It allows them to practice mental math strategies,” said Elizabeth Marquez, instructional officer for pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade at SISD and Math Bee co-coordinator. “It motivates them to do better. This year, we had to increase the rigor because it’s gotten easier for students.”

The 2019 “Let’s Get Ready to Bumble” Math Bee featured more than 200 students. The competition consisted of five rounds per grade

level. Every round had a different math concept for students to master.

Concepts included math fluency starting with sequencing in kinder and three-step operations in fifth grade. Students had to answer three questions correct in each round to advance to the next.

Kindergarten winner James Kavanaugh, from James P. Butler Elementary, answered every math problem presented to him correctly.

“I really like math,” Kavanaugh said. “But I am surprised I won. I do like this trophy.”

His mother, Denise Kavanaugh, said James gets his math prowess from his father, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and an engineer.

“He’s a natural,” Denise Kavanaugh said. “I’m so glad the district offers this kind of contest. It’s healthy because it makes them think and practice their math skills.”

James isn’t the only one in his family to win the SISD Math Bee. Last year, his sister, Emilia Kavanaugh, took home the first place trophy in the first-grade category. She didn’t make it this year, but she did spend time helping her brother practice and gave him pointers.

“I’m proud of my little brother,” Emilia said. “He is so smart.”

2019 SISD Math Bee Winners

Kindergarten     James Kavanaugh       James P. Butler Elementary
1st grade          Emmett Ruppel           John Drugan School
2nd grade         Angel Espinoza           Dr. Sue Shook Elementary
3rd grade          Mason Davis               Sierra Vista Elementary
4th grade          AJ Lazarin                  Horizon Heights
5th grade          Tyesen Bradley           James P. Butler Elementary
Campus sweepstakes winner               James P. Butler Elementary

Photos of Math Bee event

Socorro ISD’s Lujan-Chavez Little Free Library encourages reading, sharing

Lujan-Chavez Elementary placed a Little Free Library outside of its doors to encourage reading, sharing and supplying the community with free books.

“We’ve wanted a Little Free Library for a long time, and we are very proud to finally have one available for our community of readers,” said Lisa Lopez, Lujan-Chavez Elementary librarian. “There are so many benefits to a Little Free Library, starting with kids being able to get books at any time of the day.”

Little Free Libraries are small cabinets that sometimes resemble dollhouses or birdhouses and are filled with books that students can borrow, read and return. They are placed in prominent areas of the school to provide students, parents and community members access to reading materials all year long, including intersessions and the summer break.

Fourth-grade WIN Academy students were first to celebrate the arrival of the Little Free Library at an after school inaugural ceremony.

The students got to borrow and donate books, and heard from children’s author Maricela Garza, who read “Christmas is Always Just Around the Corner.”

Now that the Lujan-Chavez Stars have a Little Free Library at their school, student Rhianna Naurisio plans to visit it every morning.

“The more you read the better because it makes you intelligent,” she said. “Reading is also important because it helps you find out what you want to be when you grow up… I want to be a writer and write big long books.”

SISD opened its first Little Free Library in August 2016 at Campestre Elementary School. Since then, 23 schools across the district have followed with the initiative.

“Little Free Libraries are a visual reminder that SISD schools value literacy and community,” said Marcy Sparks, library services coordinator in SISD. “It’s a public symbol that we want the best for our students every single day, even during the summer and on weekends.”

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