The Region One ESC named La Joya ISD Superintendent Alda T. Benavides the Superintendent of Year in an announcement last week highlighting the district’s drive to create a “college-going culture.”
“Among the sweeping innovations she has implemented within the district, the most profound is probably the most simple – the renaming of a school street that leads to all three Early College High Schools to College Drive reminding all students that high school is the first step,” states a news release from Region One Education Service Center.
La Joya Independent School Districts includes 36 campuses educating more than 29,000 students. Not only has Benavides served as the head of the district for nine years, she’s also a product of La Joya ISD.
Board Member Juan Jose Peña said Benavides sets a true example by putting staff and students first, and trustee Esperanza “Espie” Ochoa said Benavides’ leadership at the district has demonstrated equity versus equality.
“When we think of equality, we think of same, but in education we need to think of equity as being an equal to all because the dynamics and the needs are very different at each campus and department for the district,” Ochoa said.
She added, “It’s a great honor to have her selected as Region One Superintendent of the Year in her own alma mater. I am very proud of her as an educator and as a woman in leadership achieving this recognition.”
According to the nomination, Benavides has gotten involved with the community, creating the Parent Round Table and holding town hall meetings at all of the high schools. There are also Superintendent-Mayors’ Breakfast meetings twice a year, and the Anti Gang and Violence Task Force includes elected officials, law enforcement agencies parents and volunteers.
Among Benavides’ accomplishments with students, her nomination form lists the implementation of the Superintendent’s Student Round Table, the High School Advisory Pack and the Olweus Anti-bullying Program.
“The idea of involving students in the decision making process is an integral part of their personal and social development and reflects a successful student management philosophy,” the nomination form states.
Benavides has worked to support personnel, creating the Staff Development Center to be used year-round for professional training sessions, according to the nomination form, and initiated a teacher mentor program, dubbed Project Amigo.
According to the news release, honorees in the Superintendent of the Year Program, under the Texas Association of School Boards, have shown “dedication to improving educational quality, ability to build effective employee relations, and commitment to public involvement in education.”
Nominations from school boards were submitted to the Region One Education Service Center, and a committee of board members reviewed the nominees. Next, five finalists will be selected by a state committee and the Superintendent of the Year will be announced in October, states the news release.
“The La Joya ISD community should be extremely proud of Dr. Benavides for receiving this honor; it is recognition not only for Dr. Benavides as the district’s educational leader, but for the entirety of the La Joya community,” said Cornelio Gonzalez, executive director of the Region One Education Service Center, in the news release. “Dr. Benavides is a model educational leader who is worthy of this recognition and will represent our region well.”