HARLINGEN, RGV – When people find their “why” and know their purpose they live in that space and every day is about championing that work.

That was the message Harlingen CISD Superintendent Art Cavazos gave at an RGG Live event on Facebook with Rio Grande Guardian publisher Mark Hanna on Thursday.

“I have some great staff, great teachers, great leaders, incredible parents and great students. They know that our focus is to provide the students with the best opportunities possible,” Cavazos told the Rio Grande Guardian, after the livestream had finished. “Our work is not done. We have miles to go before we rest but we have the synergy and the encouragement and the appetite to continue to do great things.”

In his conversation with Hanna, Cavazos spoke about his school district’s strategic plan. Once the strategic plan was adopted, the HCISD board of trustees went to the electorate and asked for support for additional funds. Those funds have allowed the district to reinvent and refurbish every classroom.

“The strategic plan gave us an opportunity to create what we call a common language, a common language and a common purpose. When there is clarity in the purpose there is a passion and a drive to do the very best,” Cavazos said.

“Anchored on our strategic plan was our strategic financial plan, the tax ratification election. While it was not 100 percent of the community, we are going to be responsible users of the tax dollars. We are going to ensure that what we said we are going to do, we do – to make certain we move this district forward. It is about transforming every classroom in this public school system in Harlingen. And we are excited about it.”

In his interview afterwards, Cavazos spoke about his involvement with Educate Texas and RGV Focus.

“This is really a collaboration between the Higher Ed, Public Ed, and the community. To really look and study and do a deep dive into what are the matrixes that are going to move this region forward,” Cavazos said.

“As we identify the matrixes we realize that we are at the state level or above the state level in several of them. We still have a lot of work to do but (we can say) here’s what has happened. The collaboration has brought the right people to the table and created a synergy that did not exist before.”

Cavazos said what is critical is that conversations become movements and action plans.

“The work with that collaborative group is to look, deep dive, at what are the systems and structures that must change so that we create that momentum and get kids to be college and career ready. I will tell you that often times, in any organization, public school systems as well, the bureaucracies, we created them. It is really about identifying the proven practice and not pushing it down the same system but reinventing and redesigning the system to accommodate the proven practice, not the other way around. So, that has illuminated that space about how do we strategically and with scale bring things to the systemic approach.”

Cavazos said RGV Focus is working and creating a momentum. “We reap the benefit of those conversations. We become very go-focused. We become focused on what the purpose is and what the mission is. We do not let conversations end as conversations. We move them to action plans and change the way we are doing business. So that we are creating better systems, better approaches to educating our children. Reinventing, transforming school systems is not about do we want to do it. We have to do it because children are very different in how they learn now.”

Cavazos also said it was vital that the quality work of public education be championed.

“Our democracy is anchored on an educated population. There are about 5.3 million children in Texas and over 90 percent are educated in the public school systems. It is imperative and it is our responsibility to ensure that we are investing, re-inventing and transforming our public school systems,” Cavazos said.

“Anything different than that and we are putting at risk our democracy. We have heard often that Texas is a very strong state but goes Public Ed, goes Texas. It is important we all champion the work that goes on in public school systems to ensure that we are giving kids the very best opportunities to do great things. We want kids on the right side of the ledger as taxpayers, not tax users. We want them to be productive citizens.”

What's the secret to Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District's success? Let's find out from Superintendent of the Year Dr. Art Cavazos.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Thursday, August 31, 2017