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Thursday , July 19 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: Socorro ISD

Tag Archives: Socorro ISD

Socorro ISD Awarded $1.4m TEA Grant for Afterschool, Summer Enrichment Programs

The Socorro Independent School District has been awarded a $1.4 million 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the Texas Education Agency.

The grant will allow the district to enhance its afterschool and summer academic enrichment programs providing students an additional safe learning opportunity while school is not in session.

The federally funded program, also called Texas Afterschool Centers on Education or Texas ACE, will provide students in grades K-12 additional opportunities to access programs and activities that reinforce the regular academic program. It will help students meet state and local standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math.

Team SISD is one of 51 entities in the state to earn the grant and the only school district in the region to be eligible for four years of grant funding.

The grant will be used to implement the Texas ACE program at Campestre, H.D. Hilley, Hueco, Escontrias and Rojas elementary schools; Escontrias Early Childhood Center; Desert Wind and Ernesto Serna K-8 schools; and Salvador H. Sanchez and Socorro middle schools.

“We are grateful to have been awarded the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, which will enable us to continue our efforts to ensure every student succeeds,” said Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. “The additional learning time and support will have a positive impact on our students, helping them become effective communicators, providing them experiences to collaborate with their peers on projects, and developing their creative and critical thinking skills.”

Through the Texas ACE program, SISD will offer 15 additional hours of literacy, science, technology, engineering, arts and math courses weekly during the school year. In the summer, additional services will be offered four hours daily, for six weeks.

The funding will start August 1, 2018 and will run through July 2021. To learn more about Texas ACE, visit the TEA website or click here.

Socorro High School Graduate Wins National Educators Rising Competition

A Socorro High School student’s exceptional teaching skills deemed her the first-place winner at the 2018 Educators Rising national competition this summer.

The career and technical education competition allows students to learn, network, and compete for national titles in 21 competitive events.

Marivel Medrano, a 2018 graduate, competed against 27 other students nationwide and earned the top honor for her lesson plan and delivery project. To get there, the student competed at the regional Texas Association of Future of Educators contest where she finished in the top five and qualified for the national competition.

“It’s an honor and a humbling experience to know that I won,” she said. “It shows that I am on the right path to help future generations of students.”

Medrano’s project was a lesson plan to help students improve their persuasive writing skills. She then presented and recorded her lecture to sixth-grade students at Salvador H. Sanchez Middle School. The video was showcased at the competition where she had the opportunity to explain her lesson to judges.

“Teaching is exciting,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to know that you have students looking up to you. I did my best to keep them engaged and focused. I want to be a role model for them.”

The student has nurtured her passion for teaching through the education training courses at her campus. These have allowed her to gain real-world experience and work with experienced educators four days a week to learn best practices.

“I am one proud teacher,” said Melissa Haggerty, practicum in education teacher at Socorro High School. “Marivel is a natural. I have enjoyed watching her grow as an educator.”

Now that she graduated, Medrano plans to pursue her education degree at the University of Texas at El Paso. She wants to teach English and history at the middle school level.

“I want to be a teacher to help create a better future in our society,” she said. “Having a positive impact on lives and the interaction with students is not something you get in every job.”

Alternative Graduation Requirements Gives Former SISD Students Opportunity to Earn Diploma

With the recent passage of Senate Bill 463 and the Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees adopting a resolution that approves alternative graduation requirements, SISD students, who have not graduated due to an assessment deficiency and who qualify under certain criteria, will now have the opportunity to receive their diploma.

The alternative requirements will allow students, who have been out of high school for many years but never received their diploma because of not passing a standardized state test, to have their information reviewed by an SISD local graduation committee to see if they qualify to graduate based on the new requirements.

“This process is very emotional because these individuals, many of them who are adults with children of their own now, have wanted to move on with their lives but haven’t been able to,” said Cory Craft, SISD academic compliance officer. “This will give them a new lifeline to pursue going to college, career goals or bettering their job opportunities.”

The resolution states that pursuant to Education Code 28.02541, a district may award an individual a high school diploma if they entered the ninth grade before the 2011-2012 school year and did not perform satisfactorily on all or part of an assessment required for graduation, but did meet all other graduation requirements for the year they entered ninth grade.

Under the local alternative graduation requirements, the district committee may deem students eligible to receive their high school diploma based on criteria, such as an industry certification, current or former military service, successfully completing at least one college course, or meeting standard on a different assessment such as the SAT or ACT.

One SISD student who recently qualified to earn his diploma was elated at the opportunity to go through the new graduation requirement process.

“This has opened a thousand doors for me and given me so much confidence now, knowing that I am a high school graduate,” said Mike Torres, a former Americas High School student.

Torres said now he can finish a course he needs at El Paso Community College and pursue his goal of applying for the El Paso Police Department.

“I see a better future, most importantly, for my family. Getting my diploma is a huge accomplishment and a big deal,” he said.

The district committee will be reviewing individuals who may qualify to graduate under the local alternative graduation requirements now through Sept. 1, 2019.

Individuals who would like to inquire about going through the review process with the SISD local graduation committee may call (915) 937-0353.

Socorro ISD Celebrates CNS Staff’s Accomplishments, Dedication

Socorro Independent School District had its annual Child Nutrition Services appreciation event for the 580-plus employees who work in the department.

The employees heard from SISD Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D., and Shelley Chenausky, CNS director, while enjoying some refreshments and listening to music. Both thanked the staff for their hard work and dedication to students.

“We just want to celebrate them,” Chenausky said. “They make a difference in everything they do. These guys and gals that work in our kitchens. They work so hard. We are trying to show our employees how much we care about them, appreciate their hard work and their loyalty.”

The CNS staff served more than 8.8 million meals during the 2017-2018 school year. All 46 cafeterias scored an average of 97 on their health inspection. In fact, 32 campuses were given a 100 score for having the cleanest kitchens.

The employees served early dinners to students in the free supper program, which began last school year. CNS served more than 120,000 meals during the school year in the supper program.

“They do such a great job,” said Sylvia Holguin, a CNS employee who is now a supervisor and trainer. “We always want to make our employees feel appreciated.”

Adrian Padilla, a cashier at Socorro Middle School, likes the steps the district takes to make sure they are recognized.

“It’s a pretty good deal,” Padilla said. “It’s good to see that the district takes good effort to value their employees. For us and our staff at Socorro Middle, it brings up morale because we know we are appreciated.”

To view photos of the celebration, click here.

El Dorado High Students Bring Joy, Smiles to Children Fighting Cancer

Members of the Texas Association of Future Educators from El Dorado High School brought a little joy to the pediatric oncology patients at the El Paso Children’s Hospital.

The organization raised $1,700 to donate more than 73 outfitted stuffed animals to children fighting cancer at the local hospital as part of its Build-A-Bear community service project. This is the group’s seventh year undertaking the project.

“The students worked hard to raise the money,” said Dianna Sianez, El Dorado TAFE advisor. “It is so meaningful for them. They know they are giving back to the community.”

Her students had fun choosing the stuffed animals and creating their outfits. There were bears, bunnies and dogs decked out as the Darth Vader, an Army soldier, a princess, a sailor, Batman and Superman.

This year’s community service project was especially valued by Crystal Barrera. The 17-year-old participated last year and created three bears. Several weeks later, she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.

“The funny thing is the first few days at the hospital, they gave me a Build-a-Bear,” she said. “As I opened the box, I realized it was one of my bears I had created. I cried because I couldn’t believe it.”

The bear really helped her through surgery, chemo and recovery. It also gave her a resolve to continue to be a part of the project when she returned to school in the fall of 2017.

“I saw it as a sign from God,” she said. “He was telling me that it doesn’t matter what you’re going through, you will get through it. The project also showed me that people actually care for you.”

Barrera and others like her is the reason Alex Diaz decided to donate $400 to the project. The UTEP student is a tutor at the high school and graduated from El Dorado four years ago.

“It might not mean much to others, but these bears bring a little bit of joy to the kids,” Diaz said. “It can make a big difference to them. They know someone cares. I enjoy helping. It’s a beautiful experience and hopefully it will bring a smile to a child’s face.”

To view more pictures of the event, courtesy SISD, click here.

Apple Publishes App Created by Clarke Middle School Students

Seventh and eighth grade students at Captain Walter E. Clarke Middle School designed, illustrated and voiced a mobile app that has been published and copyrighted by Apple Inc.

Elements and Principles of Art is the first mobile app of its kind to be published in the app store, according to Apple. The educational tool allows users to learn about art-making components, such as balance, rhythm, contrast, unity, pattern, movement and emphasis, and incorporate them into their own illustrations.

Samuel Saucedo, visual arts teacher at Clarke Middle school, said his students worked hard on the project to ensure it met required guidelines, quality and functionality.

“I am really proud of my students,” Saucedo said. “To have their drawings, voices and designs published is exciting. There are so many things you can do when you combine art and technology, and this will surely open many doors for them.”

The young app developers now are setting their sights on how to improve and update their app. Their goal is to create art appreciation awareness through digital curriculum that can be used worldwide.

“It’s an honor to know that we were part of this because it will help other kids,” said Yedsenery Espinoza, a seventh grader at Clarke Middle School. “They will read the definition of the element and when they see our drawings they will say ‘oh, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.’”

Another student, Jessica Perez, said the experience has built her desire to succeed.

“I never thought something I contributed to would be this successful,” she said. “I want to keep drawing and see where it leads. I did accomplish helping create an app. What makes me think I can’t do something bigger?”

Proud parent Stephanie Michele, said that when her daughter mentioned the app she didn’t think much of it, until she received news that it was published.

“I think it’s amazing that my daughter’s art piece can be viewed by people in different countries,” Michele said. “There are some things I didn’t know about art elements until I downloaded the app. It’s pretty cool that it teaches me, too, and will let them be in touch with people from other countries.”

The free app is available in the App Store for iOS devices. Click here to download Elements and Principles of Art.

Two Socorro ISD Teachers Win National My Kool Smiles Classroom Grant

Two elementary school teachers in the Socorro Independent School District were awarded the My Kool Smiles Classroom Grant for going above and beyond to promote dental health education in the classroom.

Arleen Parada, a kindergarten teacher at Lujan-Chavez Elementary, and Crystal Leyva, a first-grade teacher at Elfida P. Chavez Elementary, were among five elementary educators in the nation to earn the $1,000 grant by the children’s dental health provider Kool Smiles and the Benevis Foundation.

Parada and Leyva won the award for their original, creative and engaging lesson plans that endorse good dental health practices.

“I used videos and engagement activities to demonstrate how they need to care for their teeth,” Leyva said. “We also created bar graphs to show how many teeth students have lost each month.”

The educators said teaching dental hygiene is vital for student’s health and their success, and is an important part of caring for the whole child in Team SISD.

“We are not just teaching our students academics, we teach them life lessons,” Parada said. “Simple things like being kind to one another, and how to brush their teeth…all these things are important.”

The two teachers were surprised by Kool Smiles representatives who visited the schools to award the grant to purchase classroom supplies.

“I’m very excited that we have two schools from El Paso win this award,” said Veronica Peña, Kool Smiles office manager in East El Paso. “This is a big achievement!”

The students and teachers were treated to oral health care products, a pizza party and Bahama Bucks snow cones.

“My teacher tells us to brush our teeth and floss every day,” said Elijah Chacon, a first grader at Elfida P. Chavez. “You get cavities if you eat a lot of junk so I don’t eat junk because my teeth might go bad. If you don’t have teeth you can’t eat chicken.”

The five teachers who won the award were more than deserving for their excellent work in the classroom, according to Kool Smiles and the Benevis Foundation.

“We hope that this program will inspire other teachers to make dental health lessons a priority in classroom curriculum to help students adopt good dental habits early on in life,” said Dr. Dale Mayfield, chief dental officer for Kool Smiles in a press release.

Click here for photos of the Lujan-Chavez Elementary   |   Click here for photos Elfida P. Chavez Elementary event
All photos courtesy SISD

Montwood High Counselor is Named Texas School Counselor of the Year Finalist

Annette Monsivais, head counselor at Montwood High School, has been selected as a 2018 Texas School Counselor of the Year finalist by the Lone Star State School Counselor Association.

Monsivais is one of five Texas counselors to be selected as a finalist for the state recognition. The award honors professionals who run a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program, and devote their careers to advocating for students, addressing their academic, social and emotional development, and college and career readiness needs.

“This is such an honor,” Monsivais said. “I am blessed to be at a campus that supports the American School Counselors Association (ASCA) model, and I am excited to represent my school and district at the state level.”

Monsivais began her educational career as an English as a Second Language teacher in 1999. In 2014, she became a counselor because she wanted to work with students at a different capacity. One of her greatest accomplishments as head counselor has been incorporating the ASCA data-driven program at her campus.

“We began this journey several years ago,” she said. “We wanted to redirect the paradigm, strengthen our program and demonstrate proof of the positive results. We set our goals, from data, attendance, to behavior and we back them up with results.”

Monsivais was nominated for the award by other school counselors, teachers and administrators. She will be recognized at the third annual LSSSCA conference this November in Frisco, TX. If she is selected as the Texas School Counselor of the Year, she will advance to the National School Counselor of the Year contest.

“I’m eager to show that even though I come from one of the largest districts in El Paso, following the ASCA model is still feasible,” she said. “I want to highlight SISD’s endless opportunities and Montwood’s model ‘Where Excellence Abounds,’ so we can continue to be an example for everyone else.”

To learn more about the Lone Star State School Counselor Association, click here and to learn about the ASCA School Counselor of the Year Award, click here.

Three Socorro ISD High Schools win Safe Sports School Award

Americas, Eastlake and Pebble Hills high schools won the Safe Sports School Award by the National Athletic Trainers Association. The Safe Sports School Award recognizes secondary schools around the country that take crucial steps to keep their athletes free from injuries.

SISD athletic trainers said they are proud to offer the highest safety standards for students in various programs, such as soccer, football, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, marching band, and dance.

“We are very proud of this award because it champions safety and recognizes that we provide a safe environment for student-athletes,” said Christopher Lopez, athletic trainer at Pebble Hills. “It reinforces the importance of providing the best level of care, injury prevention, and treatment.”

Athletic trainers provide and coordinate physical examinations before and after games to promote safe and appropriate practices. They minimize risk of a concussion, fractured bones, sprained ankles, and other life-threatening injuries such as cardiac arrest, heat illness, and exertional sickling.

“We keep the standards high for our sports medicine program and athletic teams,” said Lindsay Parrish, athletic trainer at Eastlake High School. “It is our job and our passion to make sure that every student athlete is taken care of. This award just means that we take those responsibilities to the next level.”

Athletes between the ages of 5 and 14 account for almost half of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals, with the severity of the injury increasing with the age of the participant, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Students in the athletic trainer program said they are happy to help protect student-athletes’ health and safety. They credit the recognition of the high school programs to the support of personnel, proper planning and equipment.

“Our administrators, athletic trainers, nurses and security officers always emphasize safety,” said Kyra Saenz, a senior at Americas High School. “One of the first things you do as an athletic trainer is become CPR certified. It’s rewarding to know that we have the knowledge to prevent injuries, handle allergic reactions, work with blood pressure machines, and know how to react to emergency situations.”

Socorro ISD Superintendent Awards Students $10,000 in Scholarships

Socorro Independent School District Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. surprised five Team SISD graduating seniors with scholarships for winning the Best in Education Prize essay contest.

The essay contest winners were Liliana A. Lira Magallanes from Americas High School; Cheryl Marina Gutierrez from Pebble Hills High School; Veronica Denise Alvarado from Socorro High School; Rafael Ortega from Montwood High School; and Madison L. Ochoa from Mission Early College High School.

The seniors were awarded $1,000 each to use toward tuition for the college or university they will attend in the fall of 2018.

A $5,000 scholarship also was awarded to a Socorro Middle School WIN Academy student for his outstanding performance in school, including living up to the philosophy of the WIN Academy – Work hard, have an “I can do it” attitude, and Never give up.

The essay contest celebrated the academic excellence in Team SISD, which was showcased nationwide when SISD Superintendent José Espinoza won the Escalante-Gradillas Best in Education Prize in October 2017. Dr. Espinoza and Team SISD earned the national recognition for doing more with less, overcoming obstacles, boosting student achievement levels, and raising the standard of excellence for SISD schools and the district overall.

“In our school district we treat and educate our students as if they were our own children,” Espinoza said. “We don’t want finances to be a reason for any of our students to not attend college and further their education.”

WIN Academy student Simon Ubanda, an eighth-grader at Socorro Middle School, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship, also to use for college or university costs when he graduates from high school.

The graduating seniors who won the contest wrote essays that addressed the question: How have you or your family done more with less?

“Reading all the stories was really touching,” Espinoza said. “Our students have overcome many struggles and challenges but they continue to persevere. No matter the challenge, they work hard to jump that hurdle, and I know they all have bright futures ahead of themselves.”

Liliana A. Lira Magallanes

Liliana A. Lira Magallanes from Americas High School

“There is never a good enough excuse to give up on yourself. You have to learn to live with what you have and make the most of it. I am a cancer survivor who emigrated with her family for a chance to live. It was not an easy journey, but with the help and support of each other we overcame every single obstacle that came our way.”

The scholarship will help Magallanes pursue a degree in the medical field and specialize in oncology. Her dream is to treat patients with cancer. She wants to help them fight and survive, like she did.

“I’m still in shock that I won…I didn’t think I would get it,” she said. “SISD is a wonderful district and ever since I moved over here I’ve had so many opportunities.”

Madison Ochoa

Madison L. Ochoa from Mission Early College High School

“My diagnosis of an eye disease at birth was not only a label but a life sentence that only grew worse during my first year of high school. However, it never stopped me from doing anything that I have ever wanted to try or accomplish, no matter the difficulty.”

Ochoa has done more with less despite being visually impaired. She is a proud Mission Early College High School graduate who loves to volunteer in her school and community.

“I managed to break the stereotype,” she said. “I earned an associate’s degree in December 2017. I’ve joined clubs, and I’m in dance. I am above the roof grateful for Dr. Espinoza! He is an amazing person looking after the welfare of students and their education, and we need more people like him.”

Rafael Ortega

Rafael Ortega from Montwood High School

“Many doors have been closed because of my national origin and status in this country. I have faced very real obstacles throughout my life, but I do not let them stop me. Instead, I look for opportunities. I did not let a simple lack of citizenship hinder my path to greatness.”

Ortega was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M at College Station, and the University of Southern California. He plans to study aerospace engineering.

“I think it’s amazing that the district looks out for its students and makes sure we succeed at the high school level and in college,” Ortega said.

Cheryl Marina Gutierrez

Cheryl Marina Gutierrez from Pebble Hills High School

“I went on a mission trip to Nicaragua to help those in need. Though selling and getting rid of my belongings may mean having less for myself, it means there is an ample amount more for the children I am able to serve in Nicaragua. I chose new habits to bless the less fortunate. I am blessed twofold in the end.”

Gutierrez will major in communication at the University of Texas at Austin. She hopes to become a news anchor and sports journalist.

“I am really thankful that the district is giving me money and helping me pay for college,” she said. “It’s really hard for middle class students to get financial aid, and I know UT Austin is really expensive. This will help me a lot. It’s $1,000 I don’t have to pay out of my own pocket.”

 Veronica Denise Alvarado

Veronica Denise Alvarado from Socorro High School

“Nothing could lessen the value of what or who I am, nor what I had or was given. My family and I continue to struggle in certain aspects, doing more with less and we will prevail and conquer this life with the strongest foundation made up of heart, perseverance and commitment.”

Alvarado is the first in her family to leave town and go to college. The senior will study biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“I am very surprised and happy that my story touched people’s hearts and gave me this opportunity,” she said. “This is a big deal for me.”

Simon Ubanda

Simon Ubanda from Socorro Middle School

Ubanda is a pioneer student of Team SISD’s WIN Academy which provides students who struggle in a traditional education setting more learning time and support.

“Being in WIN was difficult at first,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t belong there, and I didn’t want to be there; but, with time, I saw it was benefiting me and that it was for the best.”

Ubanda was awarded the $5,000 scholarship for being a model WIN Academy student who, Works hard, has an “I can do it’ attitude, and Never gives up.

“I’ve gone through a lot of things in the past, but I’m excited to see what I will do in the future. I want to stay in El Paso, go to UTEP and become a firefighter. I won’t let anyone down!”

Ubanda’s WIN teacher, Isabel Ramirez, was filled with joy when she heard the news.

“As a teacher, this is what you dream about for every student,” Ramirez said. “Simon was a struggling learner but the WIN program helped him fill in those gaps and now he is performing like everyone else. To see this happen to a student who has been through so much is exciting. We know he is going to make it. And now, he is able to see that everyone believes in him, not just us.”

Socorro ISD Volunteers Celebrated for Outstanding Service, Support

The work, dedication and service that SISD’s 8,000-plus volunteers and parent volunteers gave during the 2017-2018 school year was recognized at the annual spring SISD Volunteer Recognition and Awards Luncheon.

“Our volunteer program is one that sets our district apart from the others,” Superintendent José Espinoza, Ed.D. said. “Every year, I reflect on how lucky we are to have so many volunteers at all of our schools. It keeps growing and getting better and better. We thank you.”

Superintendent Espinoza, the SISD Board of Trustees, the cabinet, principals, teachers and staff district-wide attended the event at ESC Region 19 Head Start Multi-Purpose Center.

In 2017-2018, SISD volunteers worked some 111,700 service hours valued at more than $2.9 million. They helped in numerous ways, including monitoring to ensure students were safe at lunch and recess and helping create fundraisers for different needs.

They also worked alongside faculty and staff to enhance and enrich the educational opportunities provided to SISD students.

“We honor these exceptional volunteers, celebrating the power of the individuals that spark change and improve the lives of our students,” said Rachel Tarango, SISD coordinator of the parent volunteer program.

The recognition event honored the Campus Volunteers of the Year and also honored several individuals and organizations for their outstanding service.

The District Elementary Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Yolanda Marquez from Robert Rojas Elementary School. Marquez was chosen for her tireless work at the school, including organizing the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances, promoting a safe social environment, and helping with the perfect attendance program.

“I really like helping the community,” Marquez said. “It brings me happiness and satisfaction. To see those students smiling is the best feeling.”

The District Secondary Volunteer of the Year was Steven Kelley from Montwood High School. Kelley, who began volunteering when his children started high school, was honored because he helped balance the band booster budgets, cooked and grilled at all band functions, and was always there to help with the band set up.

“It was all about the kids,” Kelley said. “I truly enjoyed myself.”

The Youth Volunteer of the Year went to Omar Bustillos from Col. John O. Ensor Middle School. He led the principal’s advisory committee, created a birthday club, and went above and beyond for faculty and staff, such as surprising teachers with hot chocolate and cookies.

Moises Alvarez from Mission Ridge Elementary School won the Military Volunteer of the Year. Alvarez assisted with campus activities, donated heaters and Christmas trees and gifts to Mission Ridge families, and helped the counselor with student activities on a regular basis.

The Healthier Team SISD award was given to the Hurshel Antwine Elementary School Football Friday program. The program encouraged parents to participate in athletic activities with their children creating stronger bonds and communication.

The Top Five Parent Organization winners were Wrangler Round-Up from Sierra Vista Elementary School, Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary School Knights PTA, Loma Verde Elementary School decorating committee, the Montwood High School Ram Band and A-Team Boosters, and the Lujan-Chavez Elementary School volunteer program.

Gallery of photos from event courtesy SISD.

SISD, Army Band Partnership Unites Students, Soldiers to Strengthen Music Education

The 1st Armored Division Band from Fort Bliss performed for Socorro Independent School District students recently as part of a partnership between the Socorro Independent School District fine arts program and the Army band to support music programs in the district.

The collaboration among SISD music educators and Army band members is designed to assist and inspire students at all grade levels.

The ensemble’s recent interactive learning performances allowed SISD students to learn new techniques and gain feedback that will enhance their development as musicians.

“We are very fortunate to have this partnership,” said Janet Lynch, instrumental music specialist in SISD.  “This is a unique opportunity for all of our elementary, middle and high school students. Having our military come work in our schools is a true testament that we are a united community.”

Students were inspired by the performances of the talented musicians who are certified instructors and soldiers in the United States Army.

“Seeing the soldiers play was beautiful and exciting,” said Jacquelyn Reyes, a first-grader at James P. Butler Elementary School. “One of the cool things they showed us was the different sounds the instruments can make. After seeing them play, I want to learn how to play the trumpet.”

Fort Bliss band members said community outreach is an important part of their mission as mentors because it helps students hone their skills and become better musicians. 

“We came to perform and explain to the kids what we do as musicians in the Army,” said Sgt. Justin Maybree, a trumpet player who has been in the U.S. Army since 2009. “Army bands are the face of the Army, and by being here we get to tell the Army’s story. This is very important to us and its important that we support music education in schools, too.”

Teachers also enjoyed the instruction time with the Fort Bliss band.

“Any extra help or input we can get for our students is always welcomed,” said Megan Acosta, band director at William D. Slider Middle School. “I was excited to have them bring their expertise here and help out our kiddos. They gave them direction, new ideas, and with their assistance our band was able to place at a recent competition.”

Click here to view more photos of the event, courtesy SISD.

Purple Heart Elementary Principal Honored as Texas 2018 National Distinguished Principal

Purple Heart Elementary principal Jennifer Parker was named the Texas 2018 National Distinguished Principal by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).

Parker was chosen for her commitment to lifelong learning and consistently seeking creative ways to serve the needs of her students, staff and community.

“She is an incredible leader,” said Superintendent José Espinoza. “There are hundreds of elementary principals in Texas, so it was awesome when Ms. Parker was named a top five finalist. But now she is No. 1 in the state. That is double awesome.”

In early April, Parker and the district learned she was chosen one of five Texas finalists for the distinguished award. Shortly after, a team of educators visited Purple Heart Elementary to observe Parker in action taking on her daily work with students and staff.

In a surprise ceremony, including district administrators, TEPSA officials, Purple Heart teachers and students, Parker learned she was Texas’s top elementary principal. She next will travel in October to Washington, D.C. and be honored alongside other national winners.

“This award validates all the work we do as educators,” Parker said. “We have a big charge today in preparing students academically. When they walk in the doors, I want everybody to feel this is their home. I want it to be engaging. I want it to be motivating. I want it to be challenging. The bottom line is when they walk in these doors, we are preparing them to be our future. And I take that responsibility very seriously.”

Parker, an educator for more than 20 years, took on the role of principal for the new Purple Heart Elementary School in September 2015. It fulfilled her lifelong dream to begin implementing her innovative vision, making the elementary school a leading 21st century learning facility.

Many of her out-of-the box methods cited by TEPSA, include the Tech-E program, a collaborative with the University of Texas at El Paso, to help students develop skills in (STEAM) Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, and another partnership with UTEP that utilizes Purple Heart as a teaching campus for the university’s student teachers.

Her creative and innovative approach is apparent in Purple Heart Elementary classrooms. The teachers follow a Project Based Learning model, a dynamic classroom approach that gives students the opportunity to actively explore real-world challenges and problems. Each year, every grade must complete two projects, such as working with community members and a real-world excursion to support program outcomes.

“Jennifer and her leadership team have put strong systems into place that provide safety nets for students as well as learning opportunities for the entire school community,” said TEPSA Executive Director Harley Eckhart. “She has a proven track record of motivating students to high levels of engagement and consistent academic gains.”

Those who work for Parker are not surprised she is receiving national recognition. Their loyalty to her is so strong because of her belief, dedication and support of her team and her students.

“For me, she has always been the principal of the year,” said Christina Luna Castaños, the 2017 SISD Elementary Teacher of the Year and the new State Compensatory Education Intervention (SCEI) coach at Purple Heart Elementary. “She is the innovator of our district. She brings in many ideas that our district has used. She loves children and believes in all of her students and teachers. She shows and teaches us to always do whatever is best for kids no matter what.”

One of her former students, Stephanie Flores, an El Dorado High School junior, said Parker made a huge difference in her life. Her long-term goal is to be an attorney, something she would have never considered without her former principal.

“Ms. Parker always pushed me to be the best I could be,” Flores said. “She encouraged me to keep my mind set on what I want to do with my life. I am so proud of her for receiving this award. Of all the people I know, she deserves it the most.”

Metamorphosis: Trash to Treasure II Showcases Creative Art, Environmental Conservation

El Dorado High School students and their art teacher continue to raise awareness about environmental conservation through their community project, It’s Your World, and the art contest and exhibit Metamorphosis: Art to Treasure II.

It’s Your World, now a non-profit organization, allows students, community members and local organizations to take part in desert clean ups to turn the trash into art. The group gathered with students, parents, teachers and community members at the El Paso Museum of Art to exhibit the more than 450 pieces of art work made from recycled material, recently.

“We have seen a great response from the community,” Printz said. “People are making art work, the desert is being cleaned up and animals are being helped. Although we have different agendas, we work together to become stronger to make a difference in our community.”

“This is an amazing art contest,” said Kaylee Estrada, senior at Americas High School. “It’s great to give back to the community in this manner. This is our home town, and we want to make sure that it is here for generations to come.”

In addition to viewing beautiful art work, guests also learned how to properly recycle. It’s Your World members also gave attendees an aluminum straw that is durable and eco-friendly.

“Experts predict there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2025,” Printz said. “If straws and plastic forks don’t get recycled they will end up in the landfill where it will take them more than 400 years to break down into the environment.”

Thanks to the progressive efforts of El Dorado students and their teacher, community members are being conscious about every-day practices.

“Making people become more aware about how we affect the world through our art has been a great experience,” said Rodolfo Gonzalez, senior at El Dorado High School. “I’ve definitely learned a lot in this project.”

Administrators at El Dorado say they were proud to see the accumulation of a years’ worth of work at the exhibit.

“I am proud of our students for hosting this for a second year,” said Lorena Sandoval, an assistant principal at El Dorado High School. “They work tirelessly for our school and for our environment.”

The exhibit was on display from April 21 through May 13. Proceeds from the art sales went to the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition and MuttLove organizations.

To view photos from the event, click here.

Socorro ISD’s ‘Pre-K Registration Day’ Sets District Record

The numbers are in and a record 1,222 pre-k students were registered at elementary schools during the Socorro Independent School District’s Pre-Kindergarten registration.

District officials share that the number is a 26 percent increase from last year, and they mark the registration push as “highly successful.” Currently, about 1,900 children are in SISD’s pre-k program.

“We are proud that we had a very good turnout,” said Marivel Macias, assistant superintendent of administrative services at SISD. “All the campuses were elated at the numbers. Early childhood education is key and here we are looking at all these future SISD scholars. This was a true team effort.”

The district is still registering students for free half-day Pre-K to all students who live in the district and will be four years old by Sept. 1, 2018, regardless if they don’t meet state requirements.

Last year, SISD introduced full-day Pre-K classes across the district. The classes are based on a first-come, first serve basis. They are free to those who qualify based on economic, language, homeless or military (active) requirements as established by the state.

Families, who do not qualify for free all-day Pre-K, can enroll their children in a free half-day and tuition-based for the other half. The tuition is $181.68 per month for a 10-month school year.

By registering early, parents of pre-k students are at an advantage and soon will be receiving more information about the upcoming school year, she said.

“They can learn about what uniforms they need and other information,” Macias said. “They are ahead of the game.”

Photo courtesy SISD

At Escontrias Early Childhood Center, parents and future students were not only greeted with an organized, efficient registration system, but the school had the Socorro High School mariachis and cheerleaders, Socorro Middle drumline and free hot dogs and chips for everyone.

“We wanted to make this a great experience for the parents,” said Belinda Calderon, school counselor. “We wanted to show them we care. Every single teacher is here today. We want parents to know their kids are important to us that is why we are all here.”

Jaime and Veronica Moran were at Escontrias to register their son, Jaime Daniel. They sat enjoying the mariachis and the food.

“This is our favorite school,” Veronica Moran said. “We feel comfortable bringing our son here.”

Elvia Gomez, mother of Leo Serrano, 4, agreed. This will be her third child to attend Escontrias. She likes the teachers and administration, calling them good, polite and helpful. Her son is so excited about attending school, she had to buy him a Spiderman backpack two months ago.

“I had other choices,” said Gomez, who works for another district. “I didn’t have to bring him here. I wanted to. This is the best choice.”

The Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary staff were registering their new students at Pebble Hills High School. More than 50 families of pre-k

Photo courtesy SISD

students showed up to register. Parents were excited to have their children start their education in a new school. Carrasco will open its doors on July 30, the first day of the 2018-2019 school year.

“There was no question where my son was going to go to school,” said Jose Sifuentes, as he registered his four-year-old son, Romeo. “SISD is the best in the city. They are great at educating students. That is what I wanted for him.”

Those kind of words are what make Carrasco principal Jesse Sepulveda excited about the upcoming school year. His pre-k registration went smoothly and he is looking forward to showing students and their parents the state-of-the-art school with a capacity for 800 students.

“We have met some amazing parents,” Sepulveda said. “Everyone has said they are looking forward to the first day of school.”

Three-year-old Elizabeth Leon knows her colors, can count past 20 and has been read to since before she was born. In late July, she will be starting pre-k classes at Carrasco. Patricia Leon, her mother, is a big SISD proponent.

“I want the best for her that is why I am here,” said Patricia Leon. “It’s so wonderful that she will get to go to a new school. The principal and his staff has been so helpful. They have helped us at every step. She’s already very bright, but I know my daughter will be prepared for college.”

SISD has designated the following schools to serve as the home campus for Pre-K students from other schools:

  • O’Shea Keleher will serve pre-k students from O’Shea Keleher, Bill Sybert, Jane A. Hambric, Benito Martinez, Helen Ball and Elfida P. Chavez.
  • Myrtle Cooper will serve pre-k students from Myrtle Cooper, John Drugan, Vista del Sol, Sierra Vista and Loma Verde.
  • Horizon Heights will serve pre-k students from Horizon Heights and Dr. Sue Shook.
  • Mission Ridge will serve pre-k students from Mission Ridge and Desert Wind.
  • Hurshel Antwine will serve pre-k students from Hurshel Antwine, Paso del Norte and Sgt. Roberto Ituarte.
  • Chester E. Jordan will serve pre-k students from Chester E. Jordan, and James P. Butler.
  • Robert R. Rojas will serve pre-k students from Robert R. Rojas and Ernesto Serna School.
  • SGT. Jose F. Carrasco will serve pre-k students from SGT. Jose F. Carrasco and Lujan-Chavez.

If parents need more information regarding registration or other questions about Team SISD’s Pre-K, they may contact their neighborhood elementary campus.

The registration day was held on April 7.

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