El Paso ISD is building on momentum

It is amazing what a difference two years can make.

As we head into the end of the first six weeks of the 2015-16 school year, I am heartened by how much our teachers, students and staff at El Paso Independent School District have accomplished in the last two years:

  • The Irvin and Franklin New Tech High programs are off to a wonderful start, giving our students another option to find unique and innovative learning opportunities that better prepare them for life after graduation.
  • We partnered with UTEP to open the Mesita Early Childhood Development Center at Vilas, where students from two neighborhoods came together to receive age-appropriate, research-based instruction that will kick off their educational career in the right way.
  • One of our very own, Jefferson High School’s John Gable, is busy preparing for the Texas Teacher of the Year interviews taking place in October. He is one of three state finalists in the secondary schools category.
  • And perhaps one of the largest achievements we have undertaken as a district – the distribution of nearly 17,000 laptops to every high-school student at EPISD – just wrapped up, giving our teachers and students a critical tool in our efforts to create active learners.

Our focus as a district today is centered on the education of our children and not the many distractions that plagued us in the past. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to mark the end of my second year at this amazing district. Better yet, we have seven new important partners in our efforts to strengthen our efforts to create even more student-centered programming.

The elected Board of Trustees is an asset to the district and an additional layer of support for our students, employees and neighbors. Their insight, expertise and foresight have helped us improve the priorities and initiatives that have made the start of this school year so successful. Their support and trust on projects like EPISD PowerUp will have long-lasting effects in our community.

EPISD PowerUp seeks to transform teaching and learning to create students who are active learners so that that become engaged participants in our community.

Soon, because of PowerUp, parents will visit schools where learning is happening in different and unconventional settings. Instruction could happen outside the four walls of a classroom, or in a virtual setting where ideas and assignments are shared among students and teachers at any time of the day — even outside of school.

PowerUp is not just a technology initiative, although technology is part of it.

What PowerUp does is give teachers the tools to be creative with their lessons … to go beyond memorization and into critical thought. We think this will help develop students who can solve problems in creative and innovative ways, which will make them better at handling life after high school.

As you can see, EPISD educators are working in concert to bring what we hope is a top-level education.

I’m thrilled to be talking about these initiatives to our school board, our parents and the civic leaders who take an interest in what is happening in our schools.

Certainly, talking about what our teachers and students are doing in the classroom is a more enjoyable conversation to have with the public than the type of conversations I was having two years ago when I first arrived in the district.

We are changing the culture of EPISD into one that values open dialogue, transparency, ethics and – above everything else – doing what is best for our students. In the last two years we have learned from past mistakes, and we have vowed to use those lessons to make EPISD a district in which we all can take pride.

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