Education leaders experienced the best of EPISD last week

This past weekend, EPISD played host to dozens of national education leaders from urban centers as far away as Boston and San Francisco who participated in three days of meetings, workshops and even a movie screening, all having to do with the future of public education in America’s largest cities.

The boards of both the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents and the national Council of Great City Schools held meetings in El Paso as part of an invitation from EPISD to visit our wonderful district and our city. I am honored to represent EPISD on both organizations and was happy to have welcomed these leaders to our amazing city.

The Texas Urban Council – which is made up of the largest urban districts in the state – organized a series of workshops for superintendents and administrators, all of whom share similar challenges. EPISD was well represented in these workshops that touched on issues such as advanced academics, dual language, human resources, strategic planning and state legislation impacting schools, specifically focusing on the upcoming 2017 session.

As part of the Great City Schools, and the Texas Urban Council visit, EPISD helped organize a half-day Texas Tribune symposium on urban education at the University of Texas at El Paso. The symposium on Friday featured a keynote conversation with new Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, as well as sessions lead by education experts and the superintendents of large districts like Cleveland Metropolitan, Austin, Houston, and Kansas City Public Schools.

Hundreds of people attended the symposium. In fact, the Texas Tribune event was officially sold out, which is not a common occurrence.

The three-day visit by the urban educators ended on Saturday with leadership meetings and a screening of the award-winning education documentary “Most Likely To Succeed” at the beautiful El Paso High School auditorium. Hundreds of people – from community leaders, parents and students to teachers and principals – joined us to watch the thought provoking film.

As you can see, the week was filled with events meant to discuss the future of teaching and learning in schools that serve large urban centers like El Paso. The conversations we had during the three days were enlightening and helped us consider and discuss options as we move forward in our efforts to close achievement gaps and create better opportunities for our students.

I was heartened by the response El Paso had to the visit. Many educators and administrators participated in one or more of the events that were organized this week, and nothing made me prouder than to have superintendents from throughout the state and the country compliment the level of discourse happening in our city and school district. More than once this week I was approached by leaders from the largest districts in the country and told that we had a top-notch staff and a progressive, innovative school district.

I couldn’t agree more. What this weekend showed education leaders in cities like Houston, Dallas, Milwaukee, Washington and San Francisco is that El Paso is at the forefront of change in education. This week introduced our school district as a leader in supporting students and driving innovation and as an entity that will be setting trends.

Thanks again to each and every EPISD staffer who made this week a reality. Because of your hard work, dozens of educators will travel back to all corners of our country impressed by the hospitality of our city and the quality of teaching and learning in our district.

Way to go EPISD! We are EPISD!

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