To start each week off right, Ector Middle School Principal Charles Quintela offers “Motivational Monday” with speakers from within the school and Ector County Independent School District.
The talks take place during all the lunch periods — about six times — and impact the whole student body of about 1,500 youngsters.
Coach William Iker, who gave a presentation May 7, said the teachers and administrators want to infuse a positive outlook into the students’ lives and offer ways to cope and different perspectives. It also gives campus faculty and administrators a chance to relate their own experiences to the students.
Quintela said his philosophy is that motivation is like a bath: “We need one every day.”
As a coach, Quintela said, Iker speaks to about 15 percent of the school population and Quintela wanted the rest of the students to hear what Iker had to say.
ECISD has eight campuses on improvement required status under state accountability regulations. Ector Middle School, Noel and Zavala elementary are in their fifth year. If the campuses don’t come off the list, they will face closure or the Texas Education Commissioner will appoint a board of managers over the whole district.
Iker said he was “going to talk to them about proving the community wrong because of the negative outlook on Ector right now.
We believe our student body has the ability to prove Ector County wrong, (that they have) the ability to go out there and exceed state standards on the STAAR,” he said. “We honestly believe that and we want our kids to believe that. We’re going to fill their heads with everything they need to hear — educational, motivational, inspirational — whatever it needs to be …”
Iker said the school is trying to make success second nature to students.
“We will show a video from YouTube, ‘Prove Them Wrong,’ then talk to them, deliver the message of ‘I can; I will; I must,’ trying to get them to internalize, to believe they can and they must be successful in life,” he said.
Seventh-graders Mikahel DeLeon, 13, and Jose Guerrero, 12, said the talks are encouraging.
“It helps me motivate myself inside the classroom to try better because whenever I try better, I get better grades. It makes my mom happy … It makes me feel like I’m bringing it out for my parents, my family,” DeLeon said.
DeLeon said the presentations also help the students see what other people went through to get where they are and how students like him can do even better.
“It’s helped me to improve in what I do because it’s just pushing me to where I need to go and where I want to go,” Guerrero said.
Quintela said he had motivational Fridays when he was at the Alternative Education Center to encourage students to leave on a good note at the end of the week and not get arrested or do drugs or “crazy stuff.”
“But here, I do it on Monday so we give them that motivation to have a great week, to be focused, be directed, to have that expectation laid out before them,” Quintela said.
He added that at first administrators were speaking to the students, but teachers are now participating.
“That makes a world of difference because they’re buying into the social-emotional component of what successful schools do. They create a culture that speaks of kids; it doesn’t speak of adults. Everything we’re trying to do is speaking to the kid, speaking of the kid and celebrating kids,” Quintela said.
Ector Middle School Coach William Iker speaks to students during lunch on Monday as part of Motivational Monday.
Ruth Campbell|Odessa American