BIG WELCOME: Community pulls out the stops for new ECISD teachers

Topping off its best recruiting year in more than a decade, Ector County ISD welcomed about 450 new teachers to the district Monday.

The Teacher Welcome Event, held at the Odessa Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, is organized by the Odessa Chamber of Commerce. Vendors, welcome signs, mascots and cheerleaders marked the occasion, along with prize drawings, food and plenty of swag.

Superintendent Scott Muri said there were “450-ish” teachers who were either brand new to the district or teachers who have taught elsewhere.

“We’ve had the best recruiting year in over 10 years, so we’ll have a great start to the school year because of that,” Muri said.

He said the recruiting success is a result of a combination of factors such as ECISD’s investment in talent, which is part of its strategic plan, pay raises, the Teacher Incentive Allotment and Opportunity Culture.

“It is a healthy culture,” Muri said.

He added that you retain people when you have good leadership at the campus level.

It is also a diverse group of teachers this year with ECISD recruiting from 16 different countries. Muri said it’s a win for students when they can interact with different cultures.

Yizel Armendariz gathers the swag she received at the Teacher Welcome Event at the Marriott Monday. She will be teaching at Goliad Elementary. (Ruth Campbell | Odessa American)

“We’re excited about these new folks,” Muri said.

Odessa Chamber President and CEO Renee Earls said one thing that’s new this year is they had everyone go to eat and get signed up or receive stickers which will make them eligible for bigger prizes.

“They’re getting tons of stuff,” Earls said.

Criselda DelMundo will be teaching special education at Pease Elementary School.

“I joined the teacher exchange program,” said DelMundo, who is from the Philippines.

She said Odessa is small, but the community is good.

“I especially like the community for teachers. They’re very warm and they welcomed us and I’m very happy to be here,” DelMundo said.

Mackinzie Johnson will be teaching third grade (all subjects) at Dowling Elementary School.

“I love the kids and I knew teaching would be the right choice for me. ECISD has great kids,” Johnson said.

Janet Romero will be teaching first through third grade at Austin Montessori Magnet. She previously taught at Crane Elementary School.

Romero said she was drawn to ECISD because of better pay, more work opportunities and more teacher resources as far as training and professional development.

Romero added that she is looking forward to the first day of school.

“It will be a little hectic, but I am forward to it,” she said.

Alicia Vaughn will be teaching at the Alternative Education Center and Crystal Ireland will be teaching third grade math at Ireland Elementary.

Vaughn was a long-term sub for ECISD previously.

“I like the atmosphere. That’s why I’m going to the AEC. I find I work well with students who struggle in school or have discipline problems,” she said.

Villa said she has always wanted to work where she is from. She said the pay and support she will get drew her to teach here.

Both are looking forward to the first day of school and they appreciated the welcome event.

“This is amazing. This is great how the community comes together and shows support for the new teachers in the district,” Vaughn said.

Villa said it feels like Christmas. She added that it felt like a parade with the cheerleaders.

Yizel Armendariz is a first-year teacher from Odessa. She will be teaching third grade bilingual at Goliad Elementary.

She added that the event was awesome.

“It’s like we’re little kids again,” Armendariz said.