La Joya : Superintendent Dr. Alda Benavides

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LATINO ED: What is your vision for your school district?
DR. BENAVIDES: My vision for La Joya ISD is that it continues to excel so that we can retain the reputation that we have of being a progressive District and ensuring that every staff member performs at an optimum level so that we may improve the quality of services to our 29,000 plus students. Additionally, my goals are that every student becomes a successful reader, that we bring every dropout back to school and that we graduate all our students college and career ready.
LATINO ED: What inspires, motivates, and drives you? What are you most passionate about?

DR. BENAVIDES: My drive and motivation is to constantly be reflecting and improving what we are doing to service our students and that we reflect to see what else can be done. The challenges that we face as a district, high numbers of low socio-economic students, high mobility of families plus high numbers of English Language Learners is what motivates me; I know that we can get our schools and our students to be just as competitive as any other school or student.
Leadership has and continues to be the thing I am most passionate about. It’s building capacity for our principals so that they can be the best instructional leaders that they can be plus allowing other potential leaders the opportunity to grow into a leadership position. We presently have two academies, the Future Leaders Academy made up of one teacher per campus that aspires to be a leader. The other academy is the New Principals’ Academy to assist new principals in their new roles as instructional leaders.
LATINO ED: Have there been cuts to your district’s state funding in recent years? If so, what impact are these cuts having on your district?

DR. BENAVIDES: Because we have an excellent Business Office, the cuts in state funding have helped us in being creative in our budget planning so that we do not hurt instruction. With this as a primary goal, we continue to provide the resources needed to get the job done.

LATINO ED: What, in your opinion, are your school district’s greatest assets? What is unique about your district that sets it apart from others in the Rio Grande Valley? DR. BENAVIDES: One of the greatest impacts to our District will be the challenges to ensure that all our students get the one-to-one counseling necessary for them to get the correct advisement for all the endorsements that will be required. Additionally, our Career and Technical Education Program will be impacted due to all the endorsements and the learning paths under each endorsement. It calls for us to re-evaluate our counseling services and our Career and Technical Education Program and find ways to improve these services for our students.

LATINO ED: What, in your opinion, are your school district’s greatest assets? What is unique about your district that sets it apart from others in the Rio Grande Valley? DR. BENAVIDES: Our greatest asset as a District is our staff. La Joya ISD has an excellent group of committed and dedicated individuals that work diligently every day to service our students. We could not be successful if it wasn’t for our staff from the maintenance, cafeteria or transportation staff to the clerical and professional staff. Our people are our greatest asset.
The uniqueness of our District is our children. Many come from very humble beginnings and have to overcome great challenges and barriers in order to stay in school. However, our kids do not see these obstacles as a hindrance; they are just as committed and dedicated as any other children across the State of Texas.

LATINO ED: Charter Schools appear to be spreading throughout the region. What impact are these schools having on your school district, if any?
DR. BENAVIDES: Charter schools have impacted our District. Many of our students and their parents have chosen to attend our neighboring charter schools. However, we use this data to evaluate how we can improve our schools so we become the school of choice for all students. Increasing our opportunities for our students and ensuring that we prepare our students adequately will help our students in our schools.

LATINO ED: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as superintendent?
DR. BENAVIDES: The accomplishments as a Superintendent have been many, among the top accomplishments are the following:Teaching Site in our District to make college a reality for our students and the entire community and increasing our dual enrollment numbers at each of high schools.

LATINO ED: What are your biggest worries as superintendent?
DR. BENAVIDES: My biggest worry as a superintendent is to ensure all our students and staff are safe and that our students who leave our District are not well prepared to be successful in life.

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