Collaboration between EPISD and Legislators yields results

Last week, the Texas Legislature passed HB 218, a new  law that gives districts like EPISD the flexibility to hire English as a Second Language-certified teachers to teach in the dual language programs. The law now awaits a signature from Gov. Greg Abbott before it becomes official.

HB 218 is a key piece of legislation for EPISD as we continue to expand our dual-language programs at virtually every elementary school in the District.  Having the ability to place an ESL certified teacher in those classrooms instead of Spanish certified teacher will help us expand the program at a much quicker pace.  That’s because we have found that finding ESL certified teachers is much easier than finding Spanish certified ones.

I want to thank state Rep. Marisa Márquez and state Sen. José Rodríguez for spearheading this bill and getting it approved. The District worked closely with Rep. Márquez and Sen. Rodríguez to get the bill through. Their staffs were helpful and attentive every step of the way, especially when two of our academic experts — Mesita Elementary Principal Laila Farris and Director of Connecting Languages Eliza Simental — traveled to Austin to testify before the Senate Education Committee.

This bill is a great example of the renewed sense of collaboration that exists between EPISD and the El Paso delegation to the state legislature.  EPISD is a part of a larger community here in El Paso, and it is our goal to form partnerships that will help us reach our common goals.

Thank you teachers … and Teachers of the Year!

Our calendars are filled with many different holidays and celebration dates: from the important national days of commemoration or remembrance like Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day, to the irreverent and comical like Cheese Pizza Day and Tuba Day.

However, one holiday — holidays, actually — that need to be celebrated and respected in a much more broader way is National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 5) and National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8).

We are lucky in EPISD to count on the work of so many top-notch educators who have made it their life mission to provide the best-possible education to the 60,000 students who attend our schools on a daily basis.  Day-in and day-out, our teachers take it upon themselves to embrace the young minds of our District and impart on them the knowledge and skills they will need to become effective and productive members of their community.

Teacher appreciation day comes at a great time here in EPISD, too.  Just this weekend we gathered as a District to celebrate all of our campus teachers of the year, and to name two new district teachers of the year.

A panel of judges picked two excellent educators to represent EPISD in the Region 19 Teacher of the Year contest later this spring.  Park Elementary’s Summer Steele is the EPISD Elementary Teacher of the Year, while Jefferson’s John Gable is the Secondary Teacher of the Year.

I was heartened this weekend to hear them both speak so passionately about EPISD and about the children they serve.  Steele and Gable both spoke about the satisfaction that comes with working in a classroom.  I know I was not alone in leaving the venue on Friday feeling inspired and motivated to do even more on behalf our students and our community.

Good luck to Ms. Steele and Mr. Gable at the regional contest.  And thank you EPISD teachers, for being the backbone of our District.