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Home | Tag Archives: SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School

Tag Archives: SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School

Hernando Middle School student wins national literacy award

Hugo Hernandez, a student at SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School, is one of only 16 students in the nation to win a prestigious 2019 180 Student Award from learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The 180 program recognizes children across the United States who have overcome significant obstacles to become thriving, successful learners.

“I’m very happy to have won,” Hernandez said. “I wasn’t good at reading but the Read 180 program helped me a lot, and now I can read very well.”

According to SISD officials,  medical condition hindered Hernandez’s ability to read at an early age. By the time he entered sixth-grade he had a reading score of zero. Despite his challenges, Hernandez was determined to thrive.

“I never doubted myself,” he said. “I knew that if I kept trying I would be able to read.”

Hernando Middle School reading teacher Brenda Rios said it was his perseverance that helped him succeed and win a System 44 award, one of the awards in the national Read 180 program.

“He came to my class basically a non-reader but doubled his score points in one year … that is remarkable!” Rios said. “He had a strong desire and drive in him that defied his challenges. He knew that where there is a will, there is a way.”

To celebrate his success, the school and Read 180 organization honored Hernandez with a surprise ceremony and breakfast with family and friends.

“I’m so happy about the progress Hugo has made from August to now,” said Laura Marrufo, Hernandez’s mother. “He has come a long way and this has helped him build his self-esteem. I’m grateful because I know this program and his teacher have played a big role in his success.”

Hernandez, who now has a reading score of 167, is passionate about helping others be effective readers.

“Hugo is sharing what he’s learned with struggling readers who are facing obstacles,” Rios said. “He is always seeking out books in the library, and in his free time, he reads to students with special needs.”

On the list of Hernandez’s favorite reads are the “Goosebumps” series.

“I’ve read three ‘Goosebumps’ books so far,” he said. “I need to read a lot because when I grow up I want to be a doctor, like my dad, and help a lot of people.”

Hernandez is the fourth student at his school to earn a national Read 180 award.

“Read 180 is a strong program that has done amazing things for our kids,” Rios said. “We also have a learning community of parents, our librarian, administrators and district staff who work together to help our students.”

15 Socorro ISD Counseling Programs Win State Awards

Fifteen Socorro Independent School District counseling teams are being recognized by the Lone Star State School Counselor Association (LSSSCA) for winning the 2017-2018 Lone Star Award.

The 15 SISD campuses were among the 32 counseling programs statewide that received the distinction. The Lone Star Award recognizes counseling teams for their effective school counseling programs that advocate for students.

“We are very proud of the 15 school counseling programs that received the Lone Star Bronze and Silver Awards,” said Tammy Mackeben, director of guidance and counseling. “This is a true testament to the quality counseling programs we have in Socorro ISD focusing on academic, career and social emotional needs of all students.”

Seven counseling teams earned a Silver Award and eight teams received a Bronze Award. The silver award recipients are Helen Ball, James P. Butler, Sgt. Roberto Ituarte elementary schools, Desert Wind and Paso del Norte K-8 schools, SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School and Montwood High School.

Bronze Award recipients are Chester E. Jordan, Hurshel Antwine, Lujan-Chavez and Purple Heart elementary schools, Bill Sybert and John Drugan K-8 schools, and Socorro and Capt. Water E. Clarke middle schools.

Next year, the association will create criteria for a Gold level award. The Lone Star Award is designed to progressively prepare school counselors to be recognized by the American School Counselors Association as Recognized ASCA Model Program winners. RAMP honors school counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level.

“Although the awards are exciting, the most important part of the recognition are the excellent services provided to Team SISD students,” Mackeben said.

The teams will be recognized at the 2nd annual School Counselor Conference Nov. 5-7, 2017 in Frisco, TX.

Hernando Middle School Student Earns National 180 Student Award for Reading

Spc. Rafael Hernando III Middle School student Kaitlyn Llanez has earned a prestigious 2017 180 Student Award, a national honor that recognizes 15 children who have overcome personal and academic challenges to achieve success in the classroom.

The Team SISD sixth grader conquered a terminal cancer diagnosis and a stuttering problem that severely impacted her learning and life, and has made great strides with reading and academic success.

“I am really proud of myself for getting this award,” Kaitlyn said. “I have become a better, stronger reader and feel more confident thanks to my teacher and the program. I enjoy and understand books now. It makes me feel good and happy.”

Now in its 11th year, the 180 award recognizes students, who, along with the help of their remarkable teachers, have made significant gains in their reading and math achievement and ultimately paving the way to college and career readiness.

“I couldn’t be prouder and I can’t think of another student who deserves it more,” said Brenda Rios, Hernando’s Reading 180 teacher, who nominated Kaitlyn. “She has worked so hard for it. She inspires me to come into class every day and be the best that I can be.”

Kaitlyn isn’t the first Hernando student to receive this award. Two other students were winners in 2014 and 2016. Both were in Rios’s class. Hernando is the only El Paso area school to have earned this achievement.

“Part of this competition was picking a child who has overcome great obstacles and done exceptional things despite those obstacles,” Rios said. “If you know your students, you know that a lot of them have back stories. As with my other two students who won, Kaitlyn’s story is what this competition is about.”

Kaitlyn was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that doctor’s deemed terminal, at the age of seven. The tumor’s size and location (in the stomach cavity and wrapped around several organs) made it inoperable and radiation also was not a solution. The only option – with a very low success rate – was chemotherapy. To everyone’s surprise, chemo worked, shrinking the tumor enough to allow surgery.

But her year-long battle put Kaitlyn way behind in her studies. It prevented her from attending school for more than a year.

“It was hard because I was always in the hospital,” Kaitlyn said, in her submission letter for the award. “I didn’t go back to school until the end of second grade. When other kids my age were learning to read, I was learning about chemotherapy, surgeries, needle sticks and low blood counts. I fell behind in reading and other classes. The other kids were at school every day while I was mostly at the hospital.”

After beating cancer and having 10 surgeries, Kaitlyn returned to school, but continued to struggle. She stuttered when asked to read, avoided the library and saw book fairs as a waste of time.

“I didn’t like to read because the only way I could read was going word for word,” she said. “I could not read in a complete sentence. I didn’t understand what the book or story was about. I would get upset. I was so far behind. I would attend book fairs and I would look at all the cool books, but I didn’t see the point in wasting my money on something I couldn’t understand.”

It was this school year that Kaitlyn was assigned to the Reading 180 class. She vowed to be a better student. The course turned her world around. Her strong sense of determination to succeed allowed Kaitlyn to build a strong reading foundation. She now loves reading.

“This class and the program have made such a difference,” said her mother, Diana Llanez. “It has taught her to find the meaning of words and put thoughts together so she is actually enjoying reading. She reads a lot. We go to the library all the time. She reads to other kids, too. I know that she also is a mentor to another student that also has medical issues.”

Kaitlyn has improved her reading level significantly. With Reading 180, Lexile points are used to measure a student’s reading ability. Kailyn has gained 324 Lexile points since school began. It is a remarkable improvement considering that on average a student her age and grade gains about 70 points.

“It is amazing,” Rios said. “But she has been working so very hard.”

Both her mom and Rios agreed that reading isn’t the only improvement. Kaitlyn’s self-confidence is drastically better.

“She has grown up so much this year that she is a different person,” Diana Llanez said. “She will be the first one to raise her hand to read. She has always had a positive outlook on everything. I love the heart that she has to do better and be better.”

Rios said the student who walked into the Reading 180 classroom at the beginning of this year is not the same person.

“As far as her personality and her self-confidence goes, it has been amazing to watch because I have seen her flourish,” Rios said. “I believe this class and this competition helped to show her who she really is and who she really could be. And I feel that the person she is, is an inspiration to not only the students, but to adults, the family and friends around her.”

For the confident Kaitlyn, the goal is to one day become a pediatric nurse for cancer patients. She knows what it feels like and hopes to make life a little easier for those youngsters dealing with cancer. As for reading, she realizes its importance.

“It is used in everything and everywhere,” she said. “I feel so proud that I became a better reader.”

Socorro ISD’s SPC Rafael Hernando III Middle School Named a Texas Schools to Watch Campus

SPC Rafael Hernando III Middle School has been designated a Texas Schools to Watch campus by the Texas Middle School Association (TMSA) for its high-performance, clear focus on academic growth, and ensuring every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education.

“I’m extremely proud of SPC Rafael Hernando III Middle School for earning this great honor,” said Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza. “Being named a Texas School to Watch campus, highlights the commitment to excellence in the Cavalier community. Hernando embodies what Team SISD is all about — offering students endless opportunities for academic success.”

The campus is one of seven Texas schools to be selected as a model by the TMSA. The school will be recognized at the association’s annual conference, where Hernando Middle School administrators will present strategies to other middle school educators throughout the state about their ongoing record of student achievement and the unique challenges of their student populations.

“This recognition truly validates our campus commitment to provide timely assistance and interventions so that all our scholars achieve at high levels. Moreover, it is wonderful to see the hard work and dedication of our amazing Cavalier teachers and instructional support team celebrated,” said Venessa Betancourt, Hernando Middle School Principal. “I am honored to work alongside with the best educators and scholars in West Texas and proud to represent Team SISD.”

The campus also was recognized for its strong leadership and highly effective staff that works together to improve curriculum and instruction for students and remains highly committed to assessment and accountability for continuous improvement.

SISD’s Hernando Middle, MECHS are finalists for national education award

Two Socorro Independent School District campuses – SPC. Rafael Hernando III Middle School and Mission Early College High School — are finalists for the 2016 National Excellence in Urban Education Awards.

The two schools are the only ones from the El Paso area chosen. They will compete with 20 other campuses chosen nationwide by the National Center for Urban School Transformation. Hernando and Mission Early College meet all the rigorous criteria for the award, including high achievement, arduous curriculum, excellent instruction and enthusiastic student engagement.

2015 National Education Award2“This is phenomenal recognition for Team SISD,” said SISD Superintendent José Espinoza. “To be two of 22 schools in the country to become finalists is testament to the outstanding work that is being accomplished by the faculty and staffs of the schools.”

Beginning in early January, each finalist will receive a site visit from an NCUST evaluation team of researchers and practitioners. The schools with the greatest evidence of the criteria will be named bronze, silver or gold winners.

“These schools are among the best urban schools in the nation,” said Dr. Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., the center’s executive director, in a press release.

This is not the first time a SISD school has been recognized for this award. In 2014, Escontrias Elementary was given a bronze award by the National Center for Urban School Transformation.

For more information visit

Author: Socorro ISD

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