Superintendent Message

Recognizing principals, teachers and a new school

October 15, 2018

Dear SAISD Staff,

October is National Principals Month, and last week, our Trustees approved a proclamation honoring the contributions of our school principals and assistant principals. We are pleased to celebrate their accomplishments this month – and all year.

Our campus leaders set the academic tone for their schools and work collaboratively with teachers to develop and maintain high curriculum standards so that students can achieve. Under their leadership, the talents of our teachers shine, too.

Two SAISD teachers were recently lauded for their achievements, and I am proud to recognize them. Lanier High School teacher  Erin Gutierrez-Harbor was honored last week with a 2018 Humanities Texas Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Gutierrez-Harbor, who teaches world and U.S. history at Lanier, was presented the award by Senator José Menéndez. 

This year, more than 750 social studies and English language arts teachers were nominated for the Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award. Gutierrez-Harbor is one of only 12 teachers statewide selected for this honor.

In addition, Irving Middle School eighth-grade math teacher Adriana Abundis, a 2018 SAISD Distinguished Teacher of the Year, learned during a surprise visit to her school that she is the District’s recipient of a 2018 EXCEL Award, presented by KENS5 and Credit Human.

Abundis stresses the importance of a college education to her middle schoolers and leads by example – she is beginning work on her second master’s degree! Her two advanced degrees will be the result of her taking advantage of collaborative graduate programs between SAISD and two of our higher education partners – namely, Relay Graduate School of Education and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

In addition to these graduate degree programs, the Talent Management Department is now rolling out another new initiative for our teachers. The Special Education Promise Program aims to increase the number of special education teachers in the District, and applicants who are accepted into the program receive incentives. Current general education teachers who are certified, or who would like to become certified to teach special education, are eligible to apply. If interested, I encourage you to look into this opportunity.

In other new developments, last week H-E-B and the District announced milestones toward the launch of CAST Med High School. This will be the second CAST school in SAISD, and the third of five that H-E-B intends to create in the city. CAST Med will open in August 2019, and will add to the pipeline of much-needed doctors and researchers in San Antonio. H-E-B and its Chairman and CEO Charles Butt are donating $2 million to support startup costs and renovations to the future campus, which will be located at Brooks.

The District is honored to be selected for a second school in the CAST Schools network. Students will be able to pursue career pathways in biomedical research, medical professionals or public health professionals. However, the new high school will not duplicate existing health career programs within SAISD.

As a District, our list of achievements is continuing to grow, and we are past the tipping point on our way to accomplishing our five-year goals. However, while gaining momentum, our transformation is still in process.

Recently, a group of District leaders met to begin work on developing a tool that allows for a more holistic measure of our progress. The state accountability system is an important indicator, but we know that these test scores are only one measure of student success. This tool, called a school framework, will allow us to consider measures beyond state accountability.

As part of our conversation, we had a comprehensive discussion on how we can achieve our goals to increase student achievement by providing campuses more flexibility and autonomy. We want to create a culture where we ensure equity by supporting the unique needs of campuses, while also encouraging innovation throughout our schools, to create high-quality learning environments for all of our students.

The development of the school framework isn’t something quickly determined or developed. It is something that will take time and contemplation with multiple stakeholders, including our principals and teachers. It also will require that we provide schools with the necessary support, and with campus input, we will develop ways to do that.

You will hear more about this school framework and what it will look like as we continue to work with campus staff on its development.

And, finally, as a reminder, early voting for the Nov. 6 General Election begins a week from today on Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 2. During this period, those who are registered may vote at any location in the county. And, on Election Day, 45 District sites will be voting locations.

We all have a say on the issues that matter most to us and our families, including public education. Please learn about the candidates and issues on your ballots, and go cast a vote!

Sincerely,
Pedro