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Gallegos is a great educator - Odessa American: Letters To Editor

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Gallegos is a great educator

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Posted: Friday, July 20, 2007 12:00 am

I’m a teacher at ECISD’s Hood Junior High School. Before arriving in Odessa in June of 2006, I spent four years working for Joseph Gallegos in the Sierra Blanca ISD. It was during our original interview in March of 2001 that he outlined four basic tasks he wanted done in addition to the teaching position:

>> Administer the newly awarded Technology Infrastructure (TIF) grant for the district and oversee the purchase and installation of as many computers possible with the grant funding.

>> Organize and further develop our academically supported career pathways program including any and all articulation agreements with local post-graduate institutions.

>> Create and develop a technology plan to meeting both ours and state mandated needs

including all reports to TEA and the TIF boards.

>> Formulate and develop a comprehensive K-12 school counseling program.

Gallegos had already single-handedly applied and Sierra Blanca ISD had been awarded a $250,000 TIF grant prior to my coming on board. He then additionally applied for SBISD and garnered additional supportive grants. When added to the TIF award, they totaled $380,000.

I had marginal experience in setting up a computer networks, but had worked for several years administering grants. With Gallegos’ guidance, we developed a five-year plan to see the daunting task through.

Working as a team, we completed the task in two and a half years for the school and community!

The district already had two academically supported and documented career pathways — agriculture-related sciences and law enforcement. But they had not been developed into viable, ongoing plans resulting in certification or post secondary degree plans.

Along with these two pathways we further developed three additional pathways. Gallegos later signed agreements with El Paso Community College, Western Technical Institute, University of Texas at El Paso and Sul Ross State University.

We networked two 20-computer labs and 11 community kiosks and then began the two-year training program.

The students’ technical development proved to be overwhelming. Most of these at-risk, low SES students had no experience with computers.

With the new computer systems and the training started, we could use a much wider variety of Internet-based educational programming that impacted the learning of all K-12 students.

A few weeks before the start of the 2003 school year, Gallegos handed me a draft of the new district handbook and told me to learn it.

Upon opening it, I noticed there was now to be an in-depth school counseling program. With his direction and support, we were able to install a K-12 counseling program that immediately helped the senior class. We only had 13 seniors that year, but all of them graduated and all enrolled for the fall semester at the colleges of their choice. Each had qualified for college taking the SAT and accumulated many scholarships. We totaled more than $68,000 in scholarships that year. Two of the seniors were awarded complete scholarships to their chosen universities.

There were many other instances of dynamic leadership during this period, but most cannot be documented with empirical data.

I can say that, prior to his arrival at Sierra Blanca ISD, the district was perennially low performing and was on the verge of TEA intervention.

From 2001 to 2005, I observed a total turn-around with the students of Sierra Blanca going from a TEA district rating of perennial underachieving to a rating of recognized for the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 school years.

I once was teaching students about what makes a responsible adult and was asked the meaning of integrity. After thinking about the term I told them: “It’s doing the right thing, for the right reasons at the right time.”

In my 18 years of teaching experience I have not encountered a person who exhibited this definition more clearly. Joe Gallegos, in my opinion, is the consummate educator; educating students, teachers and administrators.

Clifton Golden

Odessa

Odessa, TX

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