I’m really really rooting for this to work out well.
[Maria] Cortez used to teach at Burbank Elementary in the Houston Independent School District but agreed to follow her principal to a tough new assignment – and to transfer her daughter, too.
[Thurgood Marshall Elementary] was part of North Forest ISD in northeast Houston until the state shuttered the long-troubled district and ordered HISD to assume control this summer.
“We know about North Forest’s history, but I trust him,” she said of her principal, Hilarion Martinez. “I took the chance.”
Cortez was one of 11 staff members who followed Martinez from Burbank, which earned the state’s second-lowest grade before he became principal in 2011. For last school year, Burbank met the state’s standards and earned all possible honors in reading and math performance, and in overall progress.
Martinez said he is bringing his same philosophy to Marshall: hiring top-notch teachers, supporting them and instilling a no-excuses attitude. For starters, on Monday morning, he surprised his staff with cupcakes and cards that read, “Our Teachers are the icing on the cake! … Thank you for the positive impact you will have on our students, in our school, and our North Forest community.”
None of the old North Forest teachers returned to Marshall, which HISD converted from a pre-kindergarten campus to a full elementary school. The new staff mostly came from HISD, while a recruiting trip to California resulted in some hires.
Including Cortez, 11 employees enrolled their own children at Marshall.
“It says a lot when the teachers want to bring their kids here,” Martinez said, noting that he expected enrollment to top 800, with children returning from nearby schools in Aldine and Sheldon.
See here for the previous update. HISD spent a lot of money getting these schools into good physical shape. Getting the academics up to standard is the bigger challenge. After all that has gone on here, I wish for nothing but absolute success for the teachers, parents, staff, principals, and especially the students of the former North Forest schools.