Priscilla Aguilar discovered education while in high school and hasn’t looked back.
She was a classroom teacher for 13 years, served as an assistant principal and was recently named principal of Carver Early Education Center. Her most recent assistant principal post was actually two because she split time between Carver and San Jacinto Elementary School.
The younger grades have always appealed to her because, “They’re just not as excited” and when they understand something there is that lightbulb moment.
A native Odessan, Aguilar went to Ross Elementary, Hood Junior High (now Wilson & Young Middle School) and Permian High School.
She started her degree path at Odeessa College and then went to University of Texas Permian Basin.
Aguilar earned a bachelor’s in family and child studies and a master’s in educational leadership, both from UTPB.
Getting into administration, she said, was kind of an accident.
“The opportunity came up again when I was at Gonzales (Elementary), and the district offered a program to pay. I was already teaching. I was, of course married and I have two daughters. And so I thought, what a great opportunity for them to see that I have a job, a household to maintain.”
Aguilar and her husband, Jesse, have two daughters, Alivia, who will turn 14 in July, and Alyzabeth, who just turned 12.
She added that she also wanted to be a role model for her daughters to show them that they have choices. Aguilar herself was also supported by her mother, who encouraged her to continue her education.
So she decided to go for it.
“And then opportunities kept presenting themselves for me to continue on with the just the positions in ECISD,” Aguilar said.
As principal of Carver, Aguilar will be replacing Sherry Palmer, who was the school chief for about 10 years.
“… We were sitting at the board meeting and I thought, What did I do? It is a totally different role and I have really big shoes to fill. Ms. Palmer was amazing in the early childhood (realm). Just everything from report cards she helped develop to curriculum, and she just knows everything forwards and backwards. But I think it’s a great opportunity, because I was really afraid of someone coming in that wasn’t dedicated to early childhood.”
The teachers also asked her if she was going to apply. Aguilar said she was unsure at first, but she wanted to make sure everyone was at ease with the person that followed Palmer.
“And then it just slowly, slowly, slowly … it just happened. And it was just again, another opportunity and another blessing that just came my way,” she said.
Aguilar is expecting 300 prekindergarten children this fall and close to 50 staff members.
Because she loved teaching, Aguilar said she feared she would miss the classroom when she became an administrator.
“… But being in the classroom as much as we are, I feel like I know the kids just as well. The relationships with parents are still there, so it was something that I had to adjust to. It’s a different type of relationship, but it’s still a meaningful one,” she added.
Aguilar plans to keep the programs that Palmer put in place that foster strong relationships with parents and help them advocate for their children successfully.
“My vision for Carver is to keep growing with our parents. A lot of our parents are young, and I think that (it’s) educating them as well as their child. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s not that they don’t want to be involved. I think that a lot of our parents don’t know how to be involved. They don’t know how to help their child at home…,” Aguilar said.
She added that parents go home from parent-teacher meetings with two or three activities that they can do at home to help strengthen their child’s learning capacity.
The skills can carry parents and students through their entire educational career.
Alicia Press, an Ector County ISD executive director of leadership, said Aguilar will be a great addition to the team of ECISD principals.
“She is a strong instructional leader with a heart for Odessa’s youngest learners. We are very fortunate to have her leading Carver,” Press said in a text message.