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As the new superintendent of the Socorro Independent School District, I developed a transition plan based on clear goals and objectives to guide my work leading our strong school district. By working closely with our Board of Trustees, district leaders, faculty and staff, students, parents, and community as a whole, I firmly believed we could collaboratively take our district to the next level and ensure it became the best school system in the nation. Everything I have learned during my first 100 days has reaffirmed my belief that Team SISD can and will reach this goal. Our collective power and efforts have enabled us to be well on our way to “Achieving Success as a Team!”
The first phase of my transition was focused on engaging stakeholders in conversations regarding the strengths, needs, and challenges of SISD. On my first day at work, I hit the ground learning by meeting with our District’s Leadership Team, visiting five campuses, and conducting my first community meeting. Over the next nine days, I visited every school in the district and talked with our Board of Trustees, administrators, teachers, parents, and students. Since then, I’ve returned to many schools to continue my research with parents, employees, students, and other key stakeholders. I have also visited every department in our district and met with bus drivers, cafeteria workers, police officers, maintenance workers, and many other employee groups. Additionally, I have met with business and political leaders and employee organization leaders to gain diverse perspectives on how to move our district to the next level. The findings and outcomes of my “Listen and Learn” tour are detailed in my First 100 Days Report, which can be found on our district website.
As I visited campuses across our district, I’ve seen a high level of instructional rigor; student work displayed with pride; and facilities that are second to none. The high standards of excellence I’ve observed are a direct reflection of the strong leadership in SISD, which includes our campus principals, district support staff, and Board of Trustees. Not surprisingly, our board was named the 2012 Region 19 Board of the Year for their commitment to maintaining high standards of ethical leadership and student achievement.
During my first 100 days, I have also embarked on activities intended for the second phase of my plan. These activities include but are not limited to conducting ongoing reviews on the effectiveness of our support services, district/campus initiatives, and programs. As a team, we have analyzed a number of reports and challenged our staff to take a fresh approach to mining meaningful data in an effort to leave no child behind without academic growth. From attendance, discipline, safety, campus climate, and academic achievement to how we spend our money, our comprehensive review of data will reveal areas of strength as well as areas in need of additional support.
In the spring, the final phase of my transition plan will culminate in using the data we collected from Team SISD members and document reviews to develop our 2013 SISD Strategic Action Plan, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees and to the community. To ensure all members of the community are able to provide us with input for our district’s next steps, I have added a feedback link as well as a link to my email directly on our homepage. We will also conduct a Campus Climate Survey on January 2013 that will provide students, parents, and school employees with an opportunity to share their perspectives on school customer service, academic focus, and safety.
As I reflect on my first 100 days as a member of Team SISD, I remain humbled and thrilled by the opportunity to lead a remarkable school district. It is fitting this milestone in my tenure with the district falls in the midst of the holiday season. This year, I have added joining Team SISD to my list of reasons to be thankful. Every day, the nearly 7,000 employees of the Socorro Independent School District demonstrate their commitment to improving our students’ lives. As a consequence of their outstanding engagement efforts, SISD families and community members have expressed their unwavering interest and support in our students’ education. Even though we have a strong district, much work remains to be done to ensure all of our students graduate ready for the college and career of their choice. However, I am confident the strength of our collaboration will enable us to move our district forward and soar to new heights!
José Espinoza, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools