On National Teacher’s Day, I’d like to say ‘thank you’

EPISD is continuing Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations this week. Some schools celebrate the first week of May, while others celebrate this week. Either way, we can’t do enough to show teachers just how much they mean to us. So today, on National Teacher Day, I want to thank all of our 4,000 teachers and let them know that as the corner stone of our District, they are valued and appreciated.

Every day, principals, parents and administrators tell me stories about extraordinary work happening in our classrooms. I get to witness this when I visit schools and I have the privilege of stepping into a classroom. Teachers are leading the way in transforming EPISD into one of the premier school districts in the country.

From innovative teachers who find fun, impactful ways to reach students, to those educators who simply make a difference for being a big part of a kid’s life – our corps of teachers is second to none.

We have great examples of this throughout the District, too.

There’s Jill McGee at Mesita Elementary, who instills on her students the importance of learning in two languages and embracing the differences of students from different cultures. And we have Franklin High School’s Tom Davis, who makes it a point to come to most school board meetings and speak up on behalf of his students and fellow teachers.

Or there’s Pat Monroe at Burges High School, who for years has instilled in her journalism students the ethics and determination that it takes to turn a yearbook into a nationally recognized publication. And Saul Ramirez from Henderson Middle School, who turned his childhood passion for chess into a way of connecting with students in a way that is inspirational.

Of course, there are literally thousands of stories like these throughout our District and they all deserve recognition. Later this week, we will announce the winners of our Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year. These two individuals will represent EPISD and the 3,998 other teachers who work and thrive here.

And of course, they will represent the memory of Archie Duran, the Irvin High School teacher and coach who passed away last week as he was traveling back home from a track meet in Lubbock. His students and athletes spoke eloquently last week of the impact Coach Duran – and teachers everywhere in EPISD – have on their lives. It was a beautiful reminder that the work our teachers do matters.

So thank you EPISD teachers for being the foundation of the wonderful things happening in EPISD and El Paso. This community is sincerely grateful.

Community Comes Together to Honor A Hero

The El Paso Independent School District is in mourning after the passing of Coach Archie Duran, an Irvin High School educator who died early Sunday morning when the bus he and other track coaches and student athletes were riding was involved in a tragic accident.  Coach Duran was a beloved teacher and successful track and basketball coach who for more than a decade touched the lives of students and his fellow educators. His loss has been deeply felt by the Irvin, EPISD and El Paso communities.

As a District, we will continue to do everything we can to support not just the students and staff at Irvin, but also the Duran Family during these difficult times.  Coach’s wife, Maribel, is also a teacher in EPISD, and his children — daughters Ariana and Maribel Liseth, and son Archie — all either graduated from or are currently students in the District.  The Durans are truly an EPISD Family.

This tragedy has, however, brought us together. Students, teachers and administrators from every corner of El Paso have supported Irvin and the Durans. I want to especially thank the counselors at Irvin and from throughout the District who helped our students and teachers cope.

On Wednesday, the students and staff at Irvin organized a memorial for Coach Duran at the school’s Memorial Stadium.  Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects and share stories about the man who always wanted to make sure his students were having fun while learning and training.  This wonderful event really helped some of us cope with the loss of a great educator, friend and family member.

I extend my gratitude to the principals, administrators, student activities managers and teachers from schools all over EPISD for offering whatever support they could — from balloons and water to student and staff volunteers. Your love and support meant a lot to Irvin.

I also want to thank the many businesses, neighboring school districts and individuals who have helped us honor Coach Duran:

  • Texas Sen. José Rodríguez for honoring Coach Duran on the floor of the Senate.
  • The Canutillo ISD Board of Trustees and Administration for their acts of kindness toward Irvin and EPISD.
  • Tents & Events for donating tents for the memorial.
  • Whataburger an Subway on Montana for donating meals to Irvin students, teachers and community members
  • Clear Channel for donating space in three of their digital billboards to honor Coach Duran.
  • University Medical Center and Del Sol Medical Center for their continued care of students and coaches.
  • Socorro and Tornillo school districts for offering their guidance and counseling resources.
  • Ysleta ISD student activities managers for volunteering at the memorial

There are many, many more individuals and organizations who have helped Irvin cope with their loss.  On behalf of myself and the Board of Trustees, we are grateful for your support. EPISD is stronger because of partners like you.

May Coach Duran rest in peace. And may his memory live forever at EPISD.