New Burleson principal returns to ECISD

Newly named Burleson Elementary Principal Dora Flores stands next to a bulletin board with the school's motto this year, "Soar Like Never Before." She has served in ECISD previously and returned this year. (Ruth Campbell/Odessa American)

Burleson Elementary’s new principal Dora Flores is likely a familiar face to people in Ector County ISD.

Flores, who grew up in Hobbs, N.M., has been in education for 19 years. She started her administrative career at ECISD and then went to Midland for 10 years. She was the assistant principal at Rusk Elementary for four years and then the principal for the last six years.

She returned to Odessa because she thought it was time to come back home and serve the community that originally offered her a chance to be in an administrative role.

“Serving the students here at Burleson Elementary was the ideal place for me to come back,” Flores said.

Burleson’s current enrollment is 387 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, but she expects that will continue to increase as a lot of families haven’t finished enrolling yet. Last year, the enrollment was at 415 students.

There are two specialized units and they have two classrooms for deaf and hard of hearing students through the Regional Day School program, which serves students in Odessa and surrounding communities.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and her master’s in educational leadership, both from Texas Tech University. Flores worked in Lubbock as a teacher, instructional coach and completed her principal internship at one of the secondary campuses at Lubbock ISD.

Flores always wanted to go into education.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher. That’s where my heart and my passion is, in teaching,” she said.

Flores said elementary school is where her heart is.

“I feel that this is where we build the foundation and spark the imagination and the learning,” she added.

Interviewed before the first day of school, Flores said she was feeling great about the start of the year.

Their motto is “Soar Like Never Before.”

“I’m feeling great. My team and I are working nonstop. I have a fabulous assistant principal. We’re working to get all the routines and procedures in place, so I’m feeling great about it. It’s going to be a great year,” she said.

Flores said they have already determined their vision and mission for the year.

“It is to empower our scholars so they can be the best version of themselves. The way we are going to do this is by tracking our data from kinder through fifth grade, also by providing coaching and feedback to our teachers. We’re holding learning academies after school. … We also created a schedule to give us an extended professional learning communities time. This is additional planning time that we’re going to use to study the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), the learning standards to plan for mastery of the TEKS; also to build our teacher capacity, and of course follow up and monitor our data, because that’s one of the things that we’re going to be doing is closely monitoring and publicizing our data,” Flores said.

The data will drill down to each student and be stored and input digitally so they as a campus can access it no matter where they are.

Data by grade level will be posted in the hallways, so parents can see it.

“We want to be as transparent as possible, so that they can see our current standing and celebrate with us the growth that we make as we progress throughout the year,” Flores said.

She also will be sending out weekly communications to parents so they can stay abreast of what’s going on.

Flores added that she is most proud of the learning academies that they’re holding after school.

“That will be pre-planning and pre-teaching for what we will discuss and dissect during our professional learning communities, PLCs,” Flores said.

This is something that was done in Midland when she was there.

“We stored our data digitally and it’s always very convenient to be able to pull our data when we were engaged in our professional learning,” Flores said.

She added that she was looking forward to the school year. Staci Howell is her assistant principal and Flores said they bonded instantly.

“We have a lot of great staff members, but most importantly, my assistant principal and I we have been working closely, even before we reported for our contract day. I’m really excited about the things that we’re bringing together and the planning. We’re constantly planning, constantly communicating, to make sure that we have all of the tools and the data pieces in place so that our teachers can start off a successful year,” Flores said.

Chief of Schools Keeley Boyer noted that Flores has served as an assistant principal in ECISD several years ago.

“We are happy that she has chosen to return and lead Burleson,” Boyer said.