STAAR results came out recently and just as was projected Stewart Elementary moved out of “Improvement Required” status for the 2018-2019 school year, achieving an overall "B" score and receiving a distinction from TEA for the high level of student growth. When ‘struggling’ schools achieve success it is important to pause and recognize the passion, dedication and hard work done by so many.
A strong foundation was built by our former principal, Dr. Traci Smith, and assistant principal, Kristy Suarez. We continued to work hard last year under the strong leadership of Ms. St. Clair, Ms. Castaneda and Ms. Galinzoga. Our team of Implementation Specialists worked tirelessly to support our teachers and students.
At Stewart, we have always believed in our students; we knew they would rise to our high expectations.
Recognition is also due to the teachers. We all poured our heart and soul into the success of our campus. There are also the parents, grandparents, tios, tias and the countless others who our students depend on. And most importantly, our students. At Stewart, we have always believed in our students; we knew they would rise to our high expectations.
This success is all the more remarkable considering the environment of uncertainty and negativity that surrounded our campus this last spring. From the moment that Superintendent Martinez announced the district’s plan to hand over operation of Stewart to Democracy Prep in January, Stewart teachers, community members and students had to hear over and over about our “failing school.” In article after article, op-ed after op-ed, the sentiment was clear; that the district was making the “right choice” by choosing to bring Democracy Prep in rather than close the school.
There it was in black and white, Democracy Prep or closure. Why? Because no one was willing to entertain the possibility, even for a second, that Stewart could make it out of IR.
Here, our own Superintendent, our own Board, were betting against us. On March 19, the Board approved the Stewart-Democracy Prep contract, which was effectively a vote of ‘no confidence’ - no confidence in our teachers, no confidence in our students, no confidence in the Stewart community. Yet despite this lack of confidence, we did it.
This administration tried to bury the Stewart community, through their lack of transparency, their lack of compassion, and ultimately, their lack of faith.
For all of the other teachers, students and community members who may find themselves in similar circumstances in the future; my advice is to believe in yourselves, believe in your students, believe in your community. Believe - even if your own superintendent and school board do not.
I am reminded of a saying: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” This administration tried to bury the Stewart community, through their lack of transparency, their lack of compassion, and ultimately, their lack of faith. Despite this the Stewart seed took root and has grown.
Last year we saw our first blossoms.