• July 20, 2019

New Wilson & Young principal finds calling in education - Odessa American: ECISD

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New Wilson & Young principal finds calling in education

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 2:20 pm

At first, Anthony Garcia, the new principal at Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School had no intention of making his living in education. He thought he might make his living as an auto body technician, but after his older brother nudged him into college, he found his calling.

Initially, Garcia went to South Plains College in Levelland and then earned a bachelor of arts and sciences with a minor in education from Texas Tech University. He took a master’s in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin University online. His brother teaches at a community college in Albuquerque.

“I’m extremely excited to have Mr. Garcia as the new principal of Wilson & Young. I believe he has the qualities to be a successful principal in this district. He is innovative and ready to put the students first,” Executive Director of Secondary Education Roberto Cedillo said in an email.

Garcia has been with Ector County Independent School District for eight years. He started at Crockett Middle School as a special education inclusion teacher/coach for four years. He moved to Lubbock for three years and taught special education.

His plan was to be a head basketball coach, but his experience on an at-risk campus prompted him to enroll in a leadership program.

“I felt I had more to offer than just the classroom, that I had that capability of helping others; helping others grow. That’s when I decided to go into leadership, and from that point on, I got my master’s in leadership from Stephen F. Austin. There were some opportunities here in Odessa, so I came back to Odessa worked at Odessa High School under (former OHS principal) Dr. (Gregory) Nelson for two years and (Mauricio) Marquez for one and I transferred to Crockett last year,” Garcia said.

Nelson is now assistant superintendent for human resources at ECISD and Marquez is the principal at OHS. Garcia started the year as an assistant principal at Crockett and was hired at Wilson and Young in May.

“I am truly excited for Anthony, as well as for Wilson & Young Middle School. Anthony is a tireless champion for kids,” Nelson said. “I had the pleasure of working with him for several years at Odessa High School and often received calls and letters from parents praising his professionalism and problem-solving capacity.”

“Mr. Garcia understands processes necessary for building relationships and important in establishing a positive culture geared toward effective teaching and learning. I am confident he will be fully engaged, that he will work collaboratively with the students, staff and parent communities, and I know he is there for the right reason, and that is doing what is needed the students and community he will serve,” Nelson added.

Garcia said he’s very glad he took his brother’s advice.

“Whenever I got my bachelor’s degree, he’s one of the ones that I really thanked him a lot for that, because if it wasn’t for his push, I probably wouldn’t have made it to that. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do those kinds of things because I was unaware of those kinds of things,” Garcia said.

Growing up in a single-parent home in Abilene, the goal was to get a high school diploma and find a job.

“It wasn’t about extending your education. It wasn’t about get a high school diploma and go to college. I didn’t even consider that until he (his brother) bought it to my attention and it was the best thing I ever did,” Garcia said.

“Advanced education is key. … I push education. I talk to kids about education, what they want to do with their lives. If they’re not interested in going to college, maybe some kind of trade school or finding something that they like to do and getting certified in that area and going for that dream because, like I said, some kind of education some kind of trade skill is key now,” he added.

There are three things he’s focused on at Wilson & Young this year:

>> Excellence. “I want my staff and my students to walk in thinking about excellence every day. Are we going to be able to achieve it excellence every day? No, but we can strive for it.

>> Another objective is focusing on the community. “I want them to focus on the people on the campus, our parents, our staff, what we have going on but I also want to focus on our stakeholders — the people outside the campus that includes parents as well,” Garcia said.

The campus is named for Alfred “Mac” Wilson and Marvin “Rex” Young, who graduated within two years of each other from Odessa High School and Permian High School, respectively. After graduating, both went to Vietnam and both men died within seven months of each other sacrificing themselves to save their fellow soldiers, an Odessa American article said.

Wilson was a Marine who died after he threw himself on top of an enemy grenade to save the lives of those around him. Young, a soldier in the Army, rescued several men while under enemy fire, but suffered fatal wounds in the process. Both are buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

“We have some veterans that are invested in this campus. I’ve met with some recently. I would like to have more involvement with the veterans because this is a very honorable campus and it holds heroic men. After talking to some of the men, you can see how passionate they are about the name of the school and the campus and I want to be able to go forward with that passion and make this a distinguished campus of honor and excellence,” Garcia added.

The third objective is growth, because growth of staff, teachers and even the principal ultimately helps students.

“I want my teachers to grow. I want this campus to grow. I want to spotlight this campus. I want people to see the good things that are happening here at Wilson & Young …,” Garcia said.

This year, Garcia said he’s expecting about 1,200 students. He is supposed to have 66 teachers, but is about 15 short.

“The number was greater, but me and my administrative team have really taken charge, filling positions with highly qualified teachers, people that are going to be great for the campus. I’ve been able to reach out to other parts of Texas and get some people to come on board,” Garcia said.

Through the years, he said he has gotten good advice from all the administrators he’s worked for — Nelson, Marquez and Maribel Aranda, principal at Crockett.

“Dr. Nelson, he’s the one that gave me my first opportunity. All of the administrators gave me good advice, but Dr. Nelson gave me the opportunity to become an assistant principal, and through his guidance I learned what it takes to run a campus because he gave me that opportunity to do those things,” Garcia said.

Marquez, he said, helped instill leadership skills in Garcia.

“… He was always encouraging on helping advance your career and stepping into leadership. He always encouraged those things whenever we talked about it. Maribel Aranda from Crockett, she’s the one that helped me learn a lot more about curriculum and understand certain processes like PLC processes with curriculum and stuff like that,” he said.

PLCs are professional learning communities where teachers collaborate.

Garcia has two children, Alyssa, who attends Blinn College, and Ace, who attends Nimitz Middle School. He recently married Melissa Bozkurt, a counselor at Crockett.

“I love what I do,” Garcia said. “Every day I come in, I’m ready to go. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not excited to come to work. I love seeing the kids. I love working with staff. I enjoy helping adults grow educationally and find ways that I can help better their teaching. I really enjoy what I do. I don’t think there’s anything else that I would want to do,” he said.

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