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Team SISD students back in class, eager to learn and excel

Capt. Walter E. Clarke Middle
Loma Verde Elementary
Americas High School
More than 45,300 students in 47 schools across Team SISD were back in the classroom on Aug. 1 ready to tackle the new school year with endless opportunities to achieve academic success and prepare for college, careers and beyond.
Team SISD students are the first in the region to get back to school and they arrived eager to start the 2016-2017 school year off right. Parents and family members escorted their children to their classrooms and Team SISD educators happily greeted them.
“It was an exciting and amazing day in Team SISD! It was truly heartwarming to see so many smiling students, parents, teachers and principals,” said SISD Superintendent Dr. José Espinoza. “We welcome everyone back with open arms and we’re ready to get this school year going strong to continue taking Team SISD to the top of the charts.”
As Team SISD continues to grow in student population and welcomes an influx of new families to the district, it is proud to offer programs and resources to help students at all grade levels achieve success.
This year, Team SISD is offering for the first time free half-day universal Pre-Kindergarten to students that live in the district regardless if they meet state requirements for free pre-k.
“Pre-k opens all sorts of opportunities for our community,” said Norma Meyers, principal at O’Shea Keleher Elementary, the largest pre-k hub in Team SISD. “Research shows that the earlier students start their educational careers the more that they will benefit.”
Parent Thomas Hughes took his son Brighton Hughes to his first day of Pre-Kindergarten at Chester E. Jordan Elementary School.
“We’re excited. The school looks great inside and out and the teachers are very friendly,” Hughes said. “We came to an orientation on Saturday so that helped ease anxiety and made it easier to transition today. Brighton was excited, too.”
Team SISD also continues to provide more dual credit opportunities across the district so that high school students can be ahead when they get to college and potentially save thousands in college and university tuition.
“I’m in dual credit classes so I’m hoping to get my college credits and I’m hoping to get a higher GPA because I am number 11 right now in my class,” said Stephanie Granados, a junior at Pebble Hills High School. “The classes save a lot of money and time. I’m hoping to go to medical school so hopefully this will help me.”
The innovative WIN Academy is in its second year in Team SISD and six more schools were added to the program to help students who need more than a traditional school environment. Students in the WIN Academy get a digital learning device, extra instruction time, more hands-on learning and experiences, and a teacher that stays with them for more than one grade level.
“I feel very happy to be back in school,” said Janine Mendoza, fourth-grade student at Bill Sybert School. “Being in the WIN program is fun. I get to use a lot of technology and I like that I have the same teacher as last year.”
The new Rams Early College opened this year at Montwood High School. This school within a school is the district’s third early college program and offers students an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree and a high school diploma in a comprehensive high school environment.
“Rams Early College has been great so far,” said Ana Martinez, a freshman at Montwood High School. “I like that my teachers will expect a lot from me and that I will get to experience college while in high school.
The Sparta Business Academy also opened this school year at Pebble Hills High School. The district’s newest advanced academic academy will offer students a four-year program in business and finance with an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in collaboration with El Paso Community College, internships and other real-world experiences.
“The kids are extremely excited about being part of this new initiative,” said Raquel Gomez, Sparta Business Academy coordinator.  “The students are advocating for SBA themselves by telling other students about our academy.”
In addition, Team SISD will continue to prepare students for college and careers, provide the latest technology for students and staff to maximize teaching and learning, and maintain its state-of-the-art facilities so students can learn in a safe and supportive learning environment.
Students were happy to be back to take advantage of the endless opportunities in Team SISD.
“I’m super excited to be in school because I get to learn things I hadn’t learned before,” said Mikaela Soto-Ruiz, third-grade student at Benito Martinez. “I wanted to come back to school and learn new things in every subject.”
Luis Nava, a third-grade student at Elfida Chavez, echoed the sentiment of being eager to learn.
“Today is my first day of school,” Nava said. “I was nervous on my way here but now I’m happy…I like school a lot. I want to be a doctor and coming to school prepares me because I get to learn about math and science. I also get to make new friends.”

Strategic Direction: College and Career Readiness