Little district that could
Valley View recognized by H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards
PHARR— After nearing the finish line last year, the Valley View school district was among the winners of the 15th annual H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards held Friday evening.
Valley View Superintendent Rolando Ramirez accepted the award at this year’s awards ceremony in San Antonio, along with district administrators and the board of trustees. The district competed in the small school district category for districts of under 5,000 students, which came with a $50,000 prize.
“That’s part of our job, but when an outside organization recognizes the efforts of our students and staff, I couldn’t wait to get back home and share the news with everybody and validate their efforts and let them know that everything is possible,” Ramirez said.
After being selected finalist in 2015, Ramirez said he recalls the long walk from the stage, where he awaited the announcement along other finalists, back to his table after another district won the award. This time, he said, he was dreading that same walk, but to his surprise the district’s name was called even before he fully made his way to the podium.
“Last year when we didn’t get selected, it was a long walk back to the table,” Ramirez said. “This year … even before I could make it through to the stage they announced the winner and it was amazing. It was something else.”
The Texas-based grocery store chain has recognized educators since 2002 and given away more than $8 million over the years. At this year’s ceremony H-E-B CEO Charles Butt awarded a total of $430,000 to school districts, teachers and principals who were nominated by their peers and undergo a vetting process.
Other local school districts including Mission, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Hidalgo and IDEA Public Schools had teachers and principals as finalists this year.
Valley View received a seven-day visit from an H-E-B committee in March that toured the high school and middle school, Ramirez said, and meet with school officials, trustees and community members.
What the district wanted to showcase was the educational opportunities being awarded to every student, he said, including dual-enrollment and specialty programs such as the district’s medical minor. Another important focus is the rapport that the small school district has with every student and their parents who are also able to attend classes at the district, such as GED courses and computer literacy.
“This is a community where everybody knows one another and grew up together,” Ramirez said. “Being in a smaller setting you have the opportunity to greet the students in the morning and meet the parents. … That’s a plus in comparison to other districts.”
The district is expected to receive the monetary award in around two weeks, he said, and in the meantime they will discuss how to better distribute it among its eight schools so that students and staff can reap the rewards of their efforts.
“We want it to go back to our students and staff,” Ramirez said. “We are thinking different options. Dividing the money among our eight campuses and getting campus administration to meet with students and staff and decide what they want to do with the money. … They get to decide as long as the money goes back to students and staff.”
Posted: Monday, May 16, 2016 7:36 pm | Updated: 9:05 pm, Mon May 16, 2016.