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Home | Tag Archives: Socorro Independent School District

Tag Archives: Socorro Independent School District

Socorro ISD military families have fun, connect at Spring Splash event

Socorro Independent School District students and their parents who serve in the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard gathered for the SISD Military Family Spring Splash event, recently.

The Spring Splash was a unique way to recognize SISD military-connected students and thank their families for their service to our country, said SISD Director of Administrative Services Dr. Carmen Olivas-Graham.

“Our military families really enjoyed coming together to develop friendships and gain support,” Olivas-Graham said. “A lot of them don’t have family here and we know that can be a difficult thing. By gathering at events like the Spring Splash they can form friendships, connect and have a blast!”

The event, now in its second year, was held at the SISD Aquatic Center. Students and their parents spent the day by the pool, enjoyed hot dogs, refreshments, and the company of other military families in the district.

“I loved it,” said Priscilla Rodriguez, a military parent at Hurshel Antwine Elementary. “It was great to be outside of base with military families, especially through the school. This is the first time my kids are outside of a military school and this event helped them get in touch with other classmates.”

SISD serves more than 3,500 military students. The district offers various means of support for the students and their families, such as special events like the Spring Splash, informational meetings for military parents, and an assigned military experienced counselor who works exclusively with military students.

To provide another avenue of support, the district will present a proclamation to establish a network of active military spouses at the May 21 board meeting. The district will help military spouses to connect with each other or with district resources they may need.

“We are proposing this proclamation to provide our active military spouses more opportunities to come together,” Olivas-Graham said.

“We get to educate them on the Texas accountability requirements, the expectations of our school district, and provide them information about the different programs we offer, and functions we organize throughout the year.”

Rodriguez said she finds comfort in knowing the district is working to assist military families.

“This would be very beneficial because it’s great to find a community that you can talk to, especially when family is so far away,” she said. “It makes the transition easier.”

The district will organize other military family events in the fall. These include an ice cream social on Aug. 24 at Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary School, 14900 Tierra Mirage; a Relationship Building event Oct. 26 at the District Service Center, 12440 Rojas Dr.; and a Pajama and Movie event Dec. 7 at Pebble Hills High School, 14400 Pebble Hills Blvd.

SISD students recycle to create wearable art, Pieces featured in student art show

Two Socorro Independent School District schools brought fashion and trash together by creating wearable art.

Students from William D. Slider Middle School and Pebble Hills High School used coffee filters, magazines, newspapers, clothing or whatever they could find in their classroom or home for their projects.

Several pieces of their collections were included in the 32 annual SISD Student Art Show, which was on display at the District Service Office.

“I wanted the students to think outside the box,” said Sonja Kern, theater teacher at Slider. “I wanted it to coincide with Earth Day, too. I wanted them to learn how to be creative and how to use everyday items, such as newspapers, duct tape, coffee filters, hula hoops, plastic tablecloths and other items, to create something special.”

Kern has been encouraging her classes to get involved in the “Trash ‘n’ Fashion” project for several years. She provides the supplies, or the students bring recyclables from home.

Students do research first on how to recycle materials and have two weeks in class to create the wearable art.

This year was the first time Slider entered art pieces in the SISD Student Art Show. Two of their projects, a yellow prom dress and a white summer dress, received first and second place respectively.

“We are so excited,” Kern said. “I am really impressed with my students. They went all out and did so well.”

Lorena Evans created the winning yellow mermaid-style dress and wore it to Destination Imagination contest. She is proud of her creation.

“I like making stuff from scratch,” Evans said. “I used coffee filters to create the bodice and added tulle that I had to the bottom of it. But I never thought I would win.”

At Pebble Hills, Rossy Sanchez has included a trash to fashion project for the past two years. Students take recycled clothing they own or fabric that has been donated to the class and recreate outfits, purses and other wearable items.

“It really is a collaborative effort,” said Sanchez, who teaches technical theater and fashion design. “The students work together in teams to create their item within two weeks. I want them to see the beauty in everything they use.”

One creation used recycled Vogue magazines to create a beautiful gown. Gwenevere Vasquez was one of the makers of the dress.

She has been making clothes for her dolls since she was little but never thought about doing it for herself.

“This experience has been fantastic,” Vasquez said. “Using recycled objects to create something unique is amazing. I never thought it was possible.”

For Danae Morales, creating a dress from recyclable materials was a great experience. She has learned a lot about helping the environment just by reusing old clothes.

“You can bring it back to life,” Morales said. “My goal now is to be more thrifty and modernize my old clothes.”

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

Americas, Eastlake, Socorro advance to 2019 UIL State Mariachi Festival

Three Socorro Independent School District mariachi groups will showcase their musical talent at the 2019 UIL State Mariachi Festival February 22 and 23 in Edinburg, Texas.

Americas, Eastlake, and Socorro high schools are three of the four mariachi programs in El Paso advancing to state after earning a Division One, Superior rating at the UIL Regional Mariachi Contest.

“It’s awesome for our schools and district to be represented at the state mariachi contest,” said Janet Lynch, SISD instrumental music specialist.

“Our students will get to compete with the best mariachis in Texas. It gives them the chance to see and listen to other groups and learn how to improve their craft in mariachi music.”

Each mariachi program has ten minutes to perform two songs, one in the style of son jalisciense. Groups that receive the highest rating will receive a trophy.

The SISD musicians are excited and feel confident that they will do well.

“This is such a big accomplishment,” said Alondra Carbajal, a senior at Eastlake High School. “We are very excited because we have been working really hard for this competition.”

With the upcoming state contest, the students are fine-tuning their skills and strengthening their stage presence.

“We are practicing as much as we can,” said Steve Ramirez, a senior at Socorro High School. “We are strong enough and I know we can do this. Le vamos a hechar ganas!”

Sergio Ramos, mariachi director at Americas High School, said the extra hours students spend practicing their violins, guitars, trumpets, and vocals will pay off.

“’These are hard-working kids and their commitment to the organization is very evident,” Ramos said. “I’m very proud of my students, and it makes me happy to see mariachis from different high schools participate. Hopefully, this becomes a standard for the city.”

To live stream the 2019 UIL State Mariachi Festival, visit the Texas UIL website.

Americas High

SISD to Open ‘Academia de Dos Idiomas’ at Two Schools for 2019-2020

The Socorro Independent School District announced Wednesday that they will open a dual language academy at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

“Team SISD is the right choice for endless opportunities and we are pleased to announce that those opportunities will soon include a dual language academy,” said José Espinoza, Ed.D., SISD Superintendent of Schools. “We will provide high-quality instruction for students to learn to read, write and speak a second language. Coupled with our effective Operation College Bound efforts, this rigorous, multicultural education will prepare our students for future success in a global society.”

The new academy will be offered at Myrtle Cooper and Dr. Sue A. Shook elementary schools. Instruction will be in English and Spanish for two sections of kindergarten and first-grade students. SISD plans to grow the academy every year thereafter.

“We anticipate a huge demand for Academia de Dos Idiomas among both our native Spanish and English speakers,” said Lucia Borrego, Chief Academic Officer. “This is an exciting opportunity for our students as it will help them become global citizens that are competitive in a diverse market economy.”

Benefits of being a dual language learner include proficiency and literacy in both languages, high levels of academic achievement, greater creativity, attention to detail, problem solving skills, and confidence.

The enrollment process will be based on various criteria and a lottery system. Students who join the academy will participate in a summer bridge camp with activities and learning to prepare them for the next school year.

Information nights have been scheduled for parents to learn more about the academy. The information nights will be:

  • 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 and 20 at Myrtle Cooper Elementary, 1515 Rebecca Ann Dr.
  • 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and 25 at Dr. Sue A. Shook Elementary, 13777 Paseo Del Este.

SISD, Project Vida Team Up, Earn Grant to Provide Behavioral Health Services at Schools

The Socorro Independent School District and Project Vida Health Center recently launched a Community Mental Health Grant Program in three high schools and their feeder campuses.

“We are honored to be working with Project Vida Health Center and humbled to be the first school district in the region to reap the benefits of this grant and expand the services to hundreds of students in our schools,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D.

“With this program, we are working together to listen to our children, to watch over them daily, to give them help right on the spot, or to be able to direct them to assistance with other agencies, if necessary.”

The program has been implemented through the Community Mental Health Grant, an $800,000 award donated to the health center from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The five-year grant is the only one of its kind to be awarded in the El Paso region and aims to eliminate barriers for students and families to receive behavioral health services and provide easy access to services from Project Vida Health Center at the schools.

The program serves students at Montwood, Pebble Hills and Socorro high schools and will serve the feeder schools in those areas, as well. The program started last year with successful implementation of services by Project Vida Health Center at Eastlake High School and Desert Wind School.

As part of the district’s proactive commitment to Keep SISD Safe, the goal is to expand the Community Mental Health Grant Program services to all high schools and feeder areas in the district.

Tammi Mackeben, SISD’s guidance and counseling director, said it is highly beneficial and important to have access to the behavioral health services directly on campuses.

“There can be many barriers to our students’ educational learning and one of those is their emotional health,” Mackeben said. “So, providing a service in our schools helps to make that barrier a little bit smaller.”

Along with Dr. Espinoza and Mackeben, Project Vida Health Center leaders, other social and emotional health partners, and SISD administrators, principals, counselors and staff attended a special ceremony at Pebble Hills High School to celebrate the program launch.

“The fact that Socorro ISD openly embraced this initiative says a lot about the district,” said Aida Ponce, chief wellness and outreach officer for Project Vida. “The district really wants to help students’ wellness and well-being. We see that there is a necessity to address that and that is why we started this program.”

Carmen Crosse, SISD’s assistant superintendent of secondary education, said the district does not shy away from things like emotional health.

“We know there is a need,” Crosse said. “We want to help our students. This program is about supporting our kids at all levels.”

The Community Mental Health Grant Program is supervised by a project manager and project director and promoted and sustained by an in-school outreach facilitator. A Project Vida Health Center navigator provides students and their families access to behavioral health services as needed from Project Vida Health Center or other community agencies.

The innovative program gives counselors more support to provide early intervention access to behavioral health services for students and families. The grant also allows more students in Team SISD to benefit from mental health services with ease and convenience.

“We know that if our students don’t feel safe emotionally, it is very difficult for them to perform academically,” Mackeben said. “So, providing this in the school makes it so students don’t have to leave school for these services. The can get these services right here on their campuses.”

Pebble Hills Principal Melissa Parham knows the importance of making sure students have overall good health to succeed.

“We will continue to watch our kids, watch for signs,” Parham said. “Now, we can get them the help they may need here. Honestly, we have hit the jackpot with this program.”

The programs were announced in October.  To view a gallery of the event, click here.

Socorro ISD’s Hilley Elementary Wins 2018 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

H.D. Hilley Elementary is tops in the nation when it comes to reading success. The Socorro Independent School District school was named No. 1 in Texas and the nation in the 2018 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

Hilley students logged in 4.2 million reading minutes, a number no other U.S school could touch.

The Socorro Independent School District campus of about 600 students celebrated with a pep rally that included a Scholastic representative, the Peter Piper Pizza mascot Rocky, the Mustang cheerleaders, and the Socorro High School cheerleaders and drumline.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” said Lisa Hernandez, Scholastic’s local field representative. “What’s amazing is the students don’t have access to a public library in their community. It is certainly unusual. Everyone put forth a huge collaborative effort. The principal, librarian, teachers and parents made sure students were reading in the classroom and at home. It is very motivating.”

Students relied on the school library and their Little Free Library, a small wooden cabinet located in the cafeteria stocked with donated books they can borrow and return.

Every time they read, students logged in their minutes on the Scholastic website. The contest was from May 7 to Sept. 7.

“We didn’t expect to be ranked No. 1 nationally,” said Rosalyn Morales, librarian at the elementary school. “But we were all unified in making sure students were reading. There is no way we could have done this without all our teachers and parents support.”

Hilley’s top status was precarious throughout the summer. It competed with an El Paso middle school and an elementary in Fremont, Calif., Hernandez said.

“It went back and forth,” she said. “It was so close, but then Hilley blew by everyone.”

Last year, Hilley was No. 7 in the nation and first in Texas along with Horizon Heights Elementary, who was No. 8 in the U.S. Other Team SISD schools that have ranked in the top 10 for reading minutes nationally are Mission Ridge Elementary, Hurshel Antwine Elementary and Dr. Sue Shook Elementary.

“Socorro ISD is definitely leading the pack when it comes to reading,” Hernandez said. “Every year, they have one or two in the top 10. Now, other districts in the area are following them. It is such a good thing to promote reading during the summer and intersession. Students lose a lot when they don’t keep up with their reading.”

Hilley Principal Fernie Miranda was so proud of his students. During the pep rally, he showed up in a Superman costume. He wanted to show students that all Mustangs can be heroes, especially when they read.

“Reading is huge,” Miranda said. “It is everything that we do in life. It not only will carry them through school, but also it is going to set that foundation for whatever they want to become. Just so they can be at their optimal, maximum potential. … It all begins with the love of reading.”

Jonathan Kwan, a fifth grader from Hilley, spent the summer perusing chapter books and reading for comprehension. He loves autobiographies.

“I am an avid reader because my parents and teachers encourage me,” Kwan said. “Reading helps with my vocabulary, grammar and writing. It makes me more sophisticated. I am glad we won. It feels like we are the best in reading.”

To view a gallery of photos from the event, click here.

Local Marching Bands Participate in UIL Region Contest at SAC on Saturday

The Socorro Independent School District will host the 2018 University Interscholastic League (UIL) Marching Band Region Contest at the SAC.

The competition will feature bands from the El Paso region, including all six SISD high school bands. It will begin at 10 a.m. and will feature Class 2A, 4A, 5A and 6A bands.

Awards will be given after all schools from each class perform.

This year, Class 6A marching bands, who receive a division 1 rating, will move on to participate October 27 in the 2018 UIL Area Contest at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa. Top bands will then move on to the Texas State Marching Contest November 5-7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

In between the UIL Region and Area contests, SISD will sponsor the 26th Annual Marchfest. The competition on October 20 at the SAC allows bands to fine tune their marching programs.  Marchfest will again be streamed live, right here on El Paso Herald-Post starting at 7am

Both the UIL and Marchfest event are open to the public and offers great family entertainment.  The general admission fee is $5; children under the age of three are free.

What:             2018 UIL Marching Band Region Contest

Who:               Regional high school bands, directors, parents and school administrators

Where:           Student Activities Complex (SAC)  | 1300 Joe Battle Blvd.

When:             Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018  |    Performances begin at 10 a.m.

SISD Accepted into National Network of Innovative School Districts

On Tuesday, officials with the Socorro Independent School District announced that they had been accepted into the League of Innovative Schools.

SISD was selected from a competitive national pool of applicants based on its leadership, evidence of results, innovative vision for learning, and commitment to collaboration.

“Through our Operation Future Ready efforts, Team SISD has been proactively investing in technology to advance teaching and learning across our district,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “Being accepted into the League of Innovative Schools is a great validation that SISD is a leader in innovative instruction and giving our students and staff the tools to excel in this digital age. I’m proud of our administrators, faculty, and staff for their hard work and vision to ensure our students are prepared for college, careers, and life using the latest technology and digital learning.

Via a news release, official shared that the League of Innovative Schools is a “national coalition of forward-thinking school districts organized by Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization with the mission to accelerate innovation in education and improve the opportunity to learn for all through technology and research.””

The League of Innovative Schools, launched in late 2011, accepts new members through an open application process once per year. With the new members, the League now includes 102 school districts in 33 states. The full list of members can be found online.

“As we expand our efforts to identify, build, and scale the innovative work of our League districts, I am excited to welcome a new cohort of districts who deepen the diversity, populations, and contexts of the network and move us further in advancing equity and excellence for every learner,” said Kimberly Smith, executive director of the League of Innovative Schools.

League members are represented by their superintendent, who commits to:

  • Attend biannual League meetings, which feature classroom visits, collaborative problem-solving, and relationship-building with peers and partners;
  • Participate in League challenge collaboratives on a broad range of topics relevant to the changing needs of school districts;
  • Support Digital Promise research and provide feedback so it translates easily into classroom experiences and expands what we know about teaching and learning;
  • Engage with entrepreneurs to advance edtech product development steeped in the latest learning science and meets district needs; and
  • Participate in the League’s professional learning community by connecting with other members online, in person, and at each other’s school districts.

In addition to superintendents’ participation, there are also opportunities for other school administrators, principals, and teachers to participate in League and Digital Promise initiatives.

The League will officially welcome new members at its fall 2018 meeting on October 10 in Park City, UT, held in partnership with Juab School District, Uinta School District #1, and Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

For more information on the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, visit: click here.

300+ Socorro ISD Staff Team Up for Students in Annual ‘Walk For Success’

Socorro Independent School District’s administrators, counselors, board trustees, staff, and volunteers participated in the district’s annual Walk for Success.

More than 300 Team SISD members went door-to-door in the district’s neighborhoods to personally reach out to students who are not enrolled in school and encourage them to come back so they can graduate.

SISD officials shared that more educators walked in the event than years before.

“This has always been such an important event for Team SISD,” said Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza. “We don’t give up on a child. We don’t leave a child behind. It’s the passion we have as a team. We want our students to come back home.”

The personal visits allowed employees to talk to the students and their parents or family members about the different educational programs offered in the district, and the options available to students to assist them in earning their high school diploma.

“It hurts to lose any of our students,” said Cory Craft, the district’ academic compliance officer and coordinator of Walk for Success. “We see them as if they are our own kids.”

Since the inception of Walk for Success in 2014, more than 40 students have graduated, and more than 200 have re-enrolled in school.

The number of students dropping out has declined as well. In 2014, volunteers went in search of about 300 youngsters who had left the district. This year, Walk for Success volunteers were reaching out to 156 students.

“We are so proactive as a district,” Craft said. “A lot of work goes behind the scenes. Our principals are doing a good job of keeping up with kids who drop out and bringing them back. They call, email, reach out on Facebook and Twitter.”

These efforts have helped boost graduation rates. The district has the highest graduation rate now, 91.3 percent, than it ever has had in its history. The rate is higher than the region and state, too.

“That is a direct result of everything principals and the staff at each high school do daily and Walk for Success,” Craft said.

The Walk for Success on Sept. 8 was one of the most heartening for Team SISD. Educators were excited to help bring students back to their home school. They talked to students, parents, grandparents and other family members.

“It really made me happy,” said Angelica Herrera, SISD’s director of elementary staffing, whose group was able to speak to a mother of a former Montwood High School student. “To see that this parent was so receptive to our group, it really touched me. She was so happy to see the district make such an effort, to show we really care about her daughter. It was an incredible moment.”

For Paula Figueroa, reaching out to children who have left the district is personal. She dropped out from Socorro High School as a senior after difficulty in passing the math part of the TAAS. She went on to get her GED that summer and graduated from college with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

“I understand because I have been in their shoes,” said Figueroa, who is a counselor at Lujan-Chavez Elementary. “It was embarrassing at first. I am glad there is a program like this now.”

To view a gallery of the event, click here.

Aztec Architectural Academy is unique opportunity for SISD students

The Socorro Independent School District launched its seventh advanced academic academy at El Dorado High School at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

“Our students will be exposed to architecture all four years,” said Luisa Valenzuela, the academy instructor and an El Paso area architect. “They will build their knowledge and by their senior year they will know what it is like to be an architect. They will become excellent designers, they will have the opportunity to present to professional architects and civil engineers so that when they graduate they are prepared for the college environment and be ready for the real world.”

SISD officials add, “The Aztec Architectural Academy, the only one of its kind in the El Paso region, is a rigorous, hands-on program that allows students to gain a foundation in the fields of interior design, construction, civil engineering, and architecture.”

Students also earn dual credit and take career and technical education courses that will have them on an advanced pathway to earning a degree in architecture.

Forty-five students are in the academy’s first cohort. They will delve into several hands-on projects, including creating an actual blue print of a home and then building a small model of it; completing 25 hours of community service with an architect; and learning all mechanical, electrical, plumbing and green building codes, she said.

“It’s everything a college student would be taking in an architecture class,” Valenzuela said. “I want them to graduate ready for college. It’s an excellent opportunity for our students.”

The academy class is divided into two groups. One class meets is in the morning. The other in the afternoon. The classroom is set up much like an architectural office with draft tables, metal architect swing arm, LED desk lamps, architect and engineer scales, protractors, sketchbooks, colored lead pencils, liner pens, tracing paper and storage tubes. New computers and projectors on either side of the room top out the class amenities.

“We want to make sure students have all the necessary tools to succeed,” said El Dorado High School Principal Cynthia Retana.

AAA will be working closely with the El Paso Community College architectural program. A committee from the college oversees the academy and, this past summer, students took a tour of the architectural facility at El Paso Community College.

“We are here to help you,” Alejandro Mireles, architecture coordinator at El Paso Community College, told students who attended the inaugural meeting. “Architecture is constantly changing. It’s competitive and this will challenge you, but it also will be a very exciting experience.”

The decision to create an architectural program occurred after SISD’s Career & Technology department received many requests from students interested in the field, Retana said.

“It’s exciting to offer an endorsement that many students are interested in,” Retana said. “It’s another opportunity for students.”

Desiree Cuevas, 14, can’t believe that the district is offering something she has been wanting to do since she was a little girl.

“I love building things,” Cuevas said. “I used to play with Legos all the time, making tall buildings and houses. This is pretty exciting.”

Socorro ISD’s Latino Family Literacy Project Celebrates Families, Reading

More than 200 parents were recently honored by the Socorro Independent School District’s Bilingual Department for their participation in the Latino Family Literacy Project.

“It’s important that we keep growing because it helps our students be more successful,” said Terry Saldaña, a bilingual instructional specialist with SISD. “Research and data shows that if parents are involved in their student’s education, the student is much more successful in school.”

The recognition celebrated about 75 more parents who joined the program for the 2017-2018 school year.  In addition, more schools participated last year, jumping to 21 campuses from 11 in the 2016-2017 school year.

The family reading program is designed to engage and establish reading routines between parents and their children. It also offers parents of middle and high school students information regarding high school and college courses their children can take, and assists them with the college application process.

“It helps a student with vocabulary, reading strategies and discovering a love for reading,” Saldaña said. “Plus, parents learn about the importance of reading at home. For middle/high school, parents and their child learn about college awareness and the key steps of the college going process.”

The goal for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year is for the literacy program to be included at all SISD schools, said Karina Schulte, director of the bilingual department.

At the recognition, SISD Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza spoke to families, congratulating parents for being involved in their children’s education and the importance of family reading together.

Plaques were given to the top three schools with the most parent participation. They were: Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary with 26 parents, Hueco Elementary with 18 parents and Bill Sybert with 17 parents.

The event’s guest speaker was Erica Fernandez, a former migrant student who became a Gates Millennium Scholar and later earned a master’s degree from Stanford University. Guests also were entertained by Eastlake High School’s Mariachi Falco.

Parent Christine Silva, who has three children, attend the celebration. She loves what the literacy program has done for her family. She decided to join because she wanted to better understand what her children were learning at Bill Sybert.

The move prompted her to start volunteering at the school on a regular basis.

“It has helped so much,” Silva said. “We spend more time together and really love reading. On Tuesdays, my children would get very excited every time we would go to the school to get a new book. They would spend the rest of the week reading. One would read in English, the other would try the Spanish book. It is a great program.”

To view an album of the entire ceremony, click here.

Socorro ISD’s Hernando, Sanchez Middle 8th Graders Receive Laptops

Nearly 500 Socorro Independent School District eighth graders were eager to receive their own personal laptops recently as part of the district’s Digital Nurturing Academics one student to one laptop program, also known as the DNA 1:1 program.

The students from SPC Rafael Hernando III and Salvador H. Sanchez middle schools are the first SISD eighth graders to get a laptop they can use 24/7 on school work and homework during the next five years.

The DNA 1:1 program was expanded for the 2017-2018 school year to include more than 4,000 students from the two middle schools and Socorro, Pebble Hills, Americas, El Dorado, Eastlake, Montwood, Mission Early College and Options high schools. The program is part of the district’s Operation Future Ready, a proactive plan to provide advanced technology resources and digital learning to all students.

“It’s important that Team SISD students become globally competitive,” said Erica M. Aragon, an instructional technology specialist with SISD. “By having laptops at their fingertips, students become more and more tech savvy. We are teaching our students to think critically and communicate effectively.”

For the first time since DNA 1:1 began in 2014, every freshman at all SISD high schools and every Socorro High School student (from ninth to 12th grade) has a laptop.

“We have already seen how effective it is in high school and the amazing impact it has had on instruction,” said Melissa Trejo, instructional technology specialist. “So, the decision was to bring the program to the eighth grade so we can prepare students even earlier.”

Angela Romero, 13, was the first Hernando student to receive a laptop from the district. She currently uses her mom’s laptop for homework and is excited to now have her own. The 13-year-old and her friends were giddy when they found out the laptop was a touchscreen.

“I feel the same way I felt when I got my viola in the sixth grade,” Romero said. “I was so happy, but a little nervous. It’s a lot of responsibility. But we are really, really fortunate to have this. It’s going to help me a lot. It’s going to make studying a lot easier.”

At Sanchez Middle, Abraham Gonzalez has always had to use the school’s computers for homework or to finish extra assignments. Now with his own laptop, he can concentrate on essays, math and other subjects at home.

“It’s going to be so much easier,” Gonzalez said. “I will be able to use online help. It’s going to help me be a better student.”

Salvador H. Sanchez Principal Rosy Vega couldn’t sleep the night before the laptop distribution. She knew what a big deal this would be for her eighth graders. Teaching and learning are going to be transformed at the school, she said.

“We are not only opening the door for kids to transit easier to high school, but they are going to be learning the skills they need to be competitive beyond it,” she said. “We are also opening the door for our teaching staff to think outside the box when planning for delivery of instruction. It now will embody technology. The four walls of the classroom have now expanded. This allows everyone to be connected globally.”

Luis Villanueva, an eighth-grade math teacher at Sanchez Middle, can’t wait to see the laptops in use in his classroom.

“Students are going to be more engaged,” he said. “This is real progress. By learning this at an earlier age, the students will be used to it in high school and it makes them college and career ready.”

Click here to view additional photos at SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle.
Click here to view additional photos at Salvador H. Sanchez Middle.

Socorro, Clint ISD Teachers Named 2018 Region 19 Teachers of the Year

Leading the way, Christina Luna-Castaños and Luis C. Luna, strive to elevate the role of teachers because teaching – is the most important profession. It influences all other professions.

Both educators received the region’s highest teaching honor for their ability to inspire their students at an award ceremony at the El Paso Convention Center on Saturday, July 22.

Luna-Castaños, a fifth grade teacher at Purple Heart Elementary in the Socorro Independent School District was named Elementary Teacher of the Year. And Luna, a History teacher at Clint Junior High in the Clint Independent School District was named Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Through this recognition, Luna-Castaños aims to represent and be the voice for many students and fellow teachers.

“Our passion is to find the meaningful joys in teaching. When we shed the light on all the positive things happening in education, promising teachers will be drawn to our profession,” said Luna-Castaños. “By attracting those aspiring individuals called to our profession, we can all better shape the future of our society.”

As for Luna, he takes this opportunity to guide and enlighten other educators.

“Our profession calls for us to be teachers, counselors, mothers, fathers, motivators, listeners, and coaches,” said Luna. “Teachers impact students’ lives every day. We must motivate our students and peers to be the best. Teachers are like coaches of the NBA, NFL, MLB; we coach our athletes to win the ultimate championship.”

Luna-Castaños and Luna advance to compete for the Texas Teacher of the Year title in Austin, Texas on September 15.

In addition to the Region 19 top two educators, 20 District Teachers of the Year were also honored.

Socorro ISD wins 2017 School of TechXcellence Award

The Socorro Independent School District won the 2017 School of TechXcellence Award by District Administration magazine, HP and Intel, for an innovative, effective and replicable technology program in math instruction that is contributing to student success.

Team SISD received the designation for the success of its Math as a Second Language 4 English Language Learners Academy, which promotes math literacy and builds comprehension of math among English Language Learners.

Socorro ISD is one of 19 schools and districts from 14 states selected for the award.

“Being honored by a national program for the instructional work we do with our teachers speaks volumes about our district,” said Alisa Zapata-Farmer, chief academic officer. “Our instructional team is constantly working to bring professional development that is relevant in order to meet the needs of all students. The large majority of the workforce today requires workers to have some type of knowledge on how to use technology, therefore; it is important that Team SISD remain innovative and incorporate technology into our lessons as much as possible to prepare our students for a global society.”

SISD’s program implements reading, writing, vocabulary and technological strategies into math curriculum to assist teachers who work with the Limited English Proficient, bilingual, English as a Second Language, and migrant student population in the district.

Since the start of the Math as a Second Language for English Language Learners Academy in 2015, student math benchmark scores for grades 3 to 12 have increased by eight percent.

“In developing the program, we researched what would be the best approach to teaching math skills and concepts that our students would comprehend and retain,” said Rachel Sendek, instructional officer for elementary math. “This academy helps teachers be better prepared to teach our second language learners by providing them strategies they can apply towards mathematics.”

Read the District Administration Magazine feature on Socorro ISD:

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