Over the years, Margarita Acosta has served in a variety of capacities at Cameron Dual Language Elementary School and now she’ll be the principal.

Acosta just finished her 10th year with Ector County ISD. She started off as a teacher, became the dual language specialist and then assistant principal.

Jacob Bargas, who was principal, is moving on be the principal of Juan N. Seguin Elementary School in Grand Prairie ISD, according to its Facebook post.

“This is my home,” she said. “Cameron is my family. It’s my home. I’ve grown real close with a lot of the staff here. I’ve spent a decade with them and I feel really blessed to have that opportunity.”

Because she’s been at Cameron so long, Acosta has watched generations of students move through its hallways, so she knows the families well. The campus has about 600 students on average in grades prekindergarten through sixth. The school has 38 teachers total.

Acosta said she was humbled and honored by her selection.

“When I first started here, this was not where I thought I’d end up, but … I guess you could say it was a journey for me to start in the classroom, fall in love with the dual language program, fall in love with our kids, our staff and from there go on to the role of a dual language specialist, which is kind of like an instructional coach, and also helping teachers with the development of the program …,” Acosta said.

She was mentored by Bargas and former Assistant Principal Ana Estrada.

Acosta graduated in 1997 from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, which is considered a military academy because from there you can join the military.

After that, she moved back to El Paso and worked in the transportation industry. Her last job was as an industrial engineer.

She pursued an alternative certification in teaching and taught in El Paso for three years. Then she and her husband, Jesus, and two daughters moved to Odessa. Juliana is 21 and studying at University of Texas Permian Basin and Isabel is 17 and is at George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa.

“While I was here, I got my master’s in bilingual education from UTPB. After that, I went back for my principal certification,” Acosta said.

The encouragement of Bargas and Estrada prompted her to go for her principal certification.  When Estrada left, Acosta applied for the assistant principal position and got it.

“… I felt very lucky and blessed then just because I loved my campus so much and working with Mr. Bargas has been a great learning experience,” she added.

Acosta chose education because she wanted time with her daughters and being in the corporate world was not a good fit for that. While that was her initial reasoning, Acosta said she started to feel like education was her calling.

In her corporate job, she was intensely involved in training.

“… I guess it kind of transferred to the classroom and I just fell in love with working with students, especially our bilingual population,” she said.

Filling Bargas’ shoes will be a challenge. But she said she’s honored to keep representing Cameron and build on the foundation that Bargas established.

She doesn’t know whether to expect normal times like before COVID in the fall, but she is looking forward to seeing students’ faces, having parents on campus, having students collaborate and teachers being more at ease.

Acosta said being familiar with Cameron will help a lot because the parents are “awesome” and their support is tremendous.

“Any function we have, you could drive around our school. They’re parked all around the campus. There are no spots for anybody to get here. You’ll come in and you’ll see a packed cafeteria, or packed classrooms of parents just being here, being involved, being here for their students, participating in functions that we have that unfortunately we weren’t able to have that this school year. But that’s why I’m looking forward to that going back and opening the doors to our parents,” Acosta said.

She added that becoming campus chief is a joy, but it’s also bittersweet because the campus recently lost one of its students, Leo Hernandez.

Acosta said Hernandez got sick suddenly and died. A couple of years ago, 6-year-old twins Mia and Mya Coy were killed by an accused drunk driver. Another former student also was lost.

“It’s been difficult and all of these have always been parents that are very supportive, so we want to be there for them,” Acosta said.

The campus had Student Assistant Specialist counselors on hand for students, parents and teachers following the death of Hernandez, who was going into second grade, Acosta said.

“He was part of our Cameron family and he’s going to be missed dearly. He was a sweet little boy he loved to give hugs,” Acosta said.

She said her family is her support system, they are proud of her and behind her 100 percent.

“I couldn’t be here without them. All through switching careers, going back to school, getting my master’s, those hours and hours of work, getting certified. It’s been a trip for all of us. They’ve all been involved in it and they’ve all been supportive,” Acosta said.

Bargas said he is excited about the future of Cameron with Acosta leading the way.

“I think she’s had great experience with the campus … She knows the history of Cameron. She’s going to be able to take it to the next level and really accomplish big things,” Bargas said. “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen with Cameron in the future. … I am leaving knowing that it is in great hands moving forward. She’s going to be a phenomenal principal.”