A longtime educator and principal with Ector County ISD, Erin Bueno is ready to start a new position as an executive director of leadership with the district.

Bueno has worked for ECISD for 17 years, including serving as assistant principal of San Jacinto for four years and principal for three. Fallon McLane is the assistant principal.

In her new job, she will be one of five executive directors. Bueno is replacing Andrea Martin, who is retiring. Another executive director, Stacy Johnson, just started as superintendent at Banquete ISD.

Bueno, who officially starts July 1, will oversee nine campuses. Meanwhile, she will be having meetings downtown, closing out the year at San Jacinto and undergoing training.

“I think it was a time in my life to help the district in a different way. At San Jacinto, I’m able to help and lead this campus, but stepping into this role, I’ll be able to help the district and serve more campuses,” she said.

Bueno, who grew up in Pecos, earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities and a master’s in counseling and leadership from University of Texas Permian Basin.

She started off as a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Austin Montessori Elementary, moved into a campus curriculum facilitator spot, then up to an assistant principal and principal.

As an executive director of leadership, Bueno will have a mixture of early childhood, elementary and middle schools.

“Our biggest role is going to be coaching the principals. So our role is to help coach and support the principals lead their campuses. … We’re on campuses once a week. So my nine campuses, I will visit weekly. I will meet with the principals, do campus walk-throughs really focused on instruction,” Bueno said.

“We’ll go in and observe instruction and just try to better the school as a whole,” she added. “Different campuses have different needs, of course. At this time, we will look at the state accountability and we will look at the different programs that the different campuses are using. Some of the campuses are using Opportunity Culture and some of them are using RISE, which is going to be new this year …,” Bueno said.

RISE, which stands for Rapidly Improving School Effectiveness, is based on Dallas ISD’s ACE program. Because it has been successful, ACE (Accelerating School Excellence) has been contracted out to other districts.

The ECISD website says Opportunity Culture is “an innovative approach to staffing that multiplies the impact of highly effective teachers, thereby improving student performance.”

San Jacinto uses the Ron Clark strategies.

“The Ron Clark Academy is a model school with a vision to transform classrooms around the world by demonstrating transformative methods and techniques that are embraced and replicated everywhere,” its website said.

San Jacinto Elementary School’s principal Erin Bueno speaks about her time as an assistant principal and principal at San Jacinto Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Odessa. Bueno has been with Ector County Independent School District for 17 years and started off as a Montessori teacher at Austin Montessori Elementary. (Jacob Ford|Odessa American)

Bueno said her school did really well with that program.

“And I believe any program works if you have the right systems in place, and if you have the right support,” she said.

San Jacinto has 480 students.

One of the things Bueno will bring with her downtown is a relatively large collection of high heels, some of which sit on shelves in her office. She wears them to school, but exchanges them for something more comfortable then leaves them in her office, so when she goes to events she stops by the school to pick up the shoes she wants.

She will transition July 1, but it’s really going to be July 7 because the district is closed for the July 4 holiday.

During June, she will be attending meetings downtown and close out the year at SJ. There also will be training during the summer.

Bueno said she takes a little bit from each supervisor she has worked with. And she said she always reflects on what worked and what didn’t to improve.

“… It’s all about helping the principals see different things in different views and building that relationship with them … so that they trust me, and so that we can work together to make their school better. I am a very hands-on person, so I do think that’s a little bit different. … I like to be in on the action, so I love being in the classrooms. I love teaching kids, still … and so my approach will be a little bit different. I want to become part of all of those nine campuses; I want to be in there with their staff, and the teachers and students,” she said.

Bueno noted that the coaching aspect is crucial because as a principal you’re overwhelmed a lot of times with things coming from all departments.

“And so I think it is having that great support system and knowing that you have somebody else there will just make them better, which will, in return, make their campus better.”

Leaving San Jacinto is going to be difficult. Bueno said she told her staff on May 3 with mixed emotions.

“I’m excited to get started in this new opportunity that I’ve been given. Of course, it’s going to be a learning process (like) any new position. … It was a tough year, but we did well.”

She added that students did well on the Measure of Academic Progress and STAAR tests.

Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard, who supervises the executive directors, said Bueno is an outstanding instructional leader.

“She led San Jacinto to a B rating in 2019 after having been reconstituted several years before that when she came on board as an assistant principal working alongside Pam Walker (retired). Her instructional coaching background lends itself to coaching and supporting principals. What stands out when thinking about Erin is her drive, her high expectations for students, faculty, and staff, and her constant commitment to continuous improvement and excellence. She will be a strong addition to the leadership team in the role of principal supervisor,” Howard said in an email.

Bueno and her husband, Marcos, have two children and a Rottweiler.