Sometimes, it takes an emergency to remind you just how critical every single employee in the El Paso Independent School District is. Take, for instance, the small fire in a classroom at Lamar Elementary on Monday afternoon. An electrical device malfunctioned causing the fire in the classroom to be severe enough to get the El Paso Fire Department on the scene. We are so thankful that the fire happened after students had gone home and few employees were on campus, so the only damage was material and no one was hurt.
The fire, smoke and water damage, however, did make it impossible for the Lamar to have classes on Tuesday and Administration decided then to cancel them. That decision was not an easy one to make, of course. As educators, we hate to interrupt the instructional calendar that can throw off the teaching and learning cycle that our students, teachers and parents are expecting.
Moreover, students in the fourth- and fifth-grade were scheduled to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, on Tuesday. Testing is an important part of the accountability system and we do not want to interfere with it. Thankfully, the state had allowed Wednesday to be a make-up day for these tests, and our students today are as ready as ever to tackle the STAAR.
But before classes and testing resumed, there was a group of men and women who worked tirelessly to clean the smoky, damp classrooms and left them – as one facilities administrator said onTuesday – better than they were before the fire.
I want to thank the custodians and maintenance crews that worked around the clock on Monday night and all day Tuesday to make sure Lamar was ready to welcome students on Wednesday. Their dedication to the children of EPISD is not often pointed out. But these employees are a critical part of our mission to provide the students of El Paso the best education we can possibly deliver.
I am proud to work along side with them. And I’m sure today, the Lamar community is proud as well to have them as allies in education.
Dr. Tom Miller