What in the world is a superintendent to do when it appears that all is as good as it can possibly be in their new school district? Dream, wonder and reach for the stars!
Together with our board of trustees, we began to think outside the box and to wonder, “Just how high can we go with student achievement?” and “What would a showplace school district have in place that would attract positive attention from across the State of Texas, if not the whole country?”
Now one year later, the board of trustees, faculty and I can definitely measure positive growth towards meeting the four Board/Superintendent Team Goals we established last February.
Specifically, our first goal states that the district will acquire and use new technologies to enhance our instructional program. We have already begun to purchase and implement advanced instructional technology for our classrooms, as well as technology devices and applications to enhance the communications infrastructure of the whole district. Through the leadership of our technology director, Leif Johnson, and our executive director of business and operations, Olivia Mixon, we put together a wish list of technology, that was integrated into a federal stimulus grant proposal and submitted to the Texas Education Agency. I am proud to tell you that Port Aransas ISD was awarded these funds in the amount of $163,000. We have applied for three federal stimulus grants this year, the funds of which are going directly towards supporting our instructional program. Our successful grant awards now total in excess of $300,000.
Our second district goal is to put together a package of strategies, techniques and tools to increase the positive image of the school district and basically, market PAISD. From designing and distributing professional business cards to all faculty members to assembling pictures and information for the new Port Aransas ISD Showcase Exhibit at the city’s civic center, we are moving toward meeting this goal. I also am currently exploring the possibility of leasing space on one of the electronic marquees at the Corpus Christi Airport to market Port Aransas ISD. Imagine a family flying into Corpus Christi one summer to spend their vacation at the beach. As they wait to pick up their bags on the carousel, a vibrant and colorful electronic advertisement catches their attention as it says, “Exemplary Schools, Exemplary District---Port Aransas Independent School District---We accept student transfers! Call 361-749-1200 for more information.” You know the rest - the parents decide that they want their children to go to a premier school district, so they relocate to our area in order to enroll their children in PAISD. Now that is marketing at its best!
We also have made progress towards meeting Goal 3 to develop our K-12 co- and extra curricular programs and make them more cohesive and systemic. Our athletic director, Steve Reaves, has worked with our coaches and physical education teachers to ensure that we begin to prepare our students for the different team and individual sports that we offer as a school district, as well as explore the possibilities of adding sports in the middle school. Our principals also have been busy planning for academic course connections between the different campuses. For example, we will be adding Spanish as an elementary course next year, and middle school will be expanding its Spanish I (high school credit) class to include more students.
Finally, our fourth goal is probably the most long-term, in that it deals with keeping our facilities top-notch and ready for any increases in enrollment throughout the next several years. More specific and immediate, though, is the fact that we are currently planning a high school renovation project to begin this summer. Although this is primarily a project that will deal with repairing the outside façade of the campus, we are working on a plan to ensure that all of our buildings are well-maintained and remain sound and attractive for many years to come.
Here’s to another new year of dreaming, wondering and reaching for the stars in Port Aransas ISD.