Leaders See Challenges and Find Solutions by Michael Paul Bonner

Michael Bonner

Guest post from LSAISD Class of 2015 participant Michael Paul Bonner with his thoughts on the December class of the 2015-2016 school year.  Paul lives in the San Antonio Independent School District and is a graduate of Jefferson High School

The December meeting was the fourth monthly session for our cohort, and while my feelings about the experience have overwhelmingly positive, I entered the library of Tafolla Middle School with a nagging sense of impatience. Mainly my feeling derived from the fact that, while we’d received dizzying array of information about many of the challenges facing the district along with info on some great successes, we hadn’t yet developed any action steps for our group to help SAISD. Given the impressive make-up of our cohort and the extremely aggressive and aspirational goals laid out by Superintendent Pedro Martinez (if you haven’t read the 5 year plan I’d encourage you to do so), I thought 3 sessions would be enough for us to have arrived at a few answers of how we plan to get involved in a concrete way. Did the organization have the necessary urgency given the importance of the task before us? Read More

The Best of Us. A Call to Action.


Guest post from LSAISD Class of 2015 participant Roxanna Montes-Bazaldua with her thoughts on the November class of the 2015-2016 school year.  Roxanna lives in the San Antonio Independent School District and is a graduate of Jefferson High School.

Our afternoon time was spent taking a deeper dive on the results of our Strength Finder themes. Our cohort was lead by Sally Robertson, together we discussed and reflected on our individual and collective strengths. Activities included a balance of writing activities and sharing our take aways about our strength themes—all providing an essence of both individual and team reflection. The group received several resources including my favorite… the color coded spreadsheet of our cohorts’ themes.


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Leaders see challenges and finds solutions by Dolores Valles


Guest post from LSAISD Class of 2015 participant Dolores Valles with her thoughts on the October class of the 2015-2016 school year.  Dolores lives in the San Antonio Independent School District and is the PTA President at Bonham Academy.

The leaders of SAISD began the day at the Claude Black Center located on the East side of San Antonio. This is my neighborhood and where I grew up so I felt at ease.  As the class began, Executive Director Durquia Guillen asked the class to think of a “safe zone.” This made me feel at ease to create a place where we would feel respected and without any harm for stating our opinions. Read More

Leaders have a Noble Purpose

Denise Ojeda

Guest post from LSAISD Class of 2015 participant Denise Ojeda with her thoughts on the first class of the 2015-2016 school year.  Denise lives in the San Antonio Independent School District.

The day’s session was kicked off by Durquia Guillen, LSAISD Executive Director sharing how the setting for our first meeting and the honorable Patti Radle, our first speaker, embody what individuals can do when they lead with a noble purpose.  Having never met Patti prior to today, I was most struck by the humility with which she speaks of Inner City Development’s rich history and accomplishments. She exudes a warmth and ease that belies the responsibility and influence she must carry as our district’s Board President.

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Leaders empower people by Colton Powell

Colton Powell

It is said that the turnaround of large school districts happens at the pace of a freighter reversing direction. It is apparent now that the San Antonio Independent School District is charting a new course. The February 13 session of Leadership SAISD focused on School Leadership and featured Dr. Shari Albright of Trinity University, SAISD Trustees, and a visit to Pershing Elementary. Dr. Albright began the day by speaking on the importance of rigorous teacher training while highlighting a new partnership between SAISD and Trinity to train effective school leaders. Following Dr. Albright’s presentation Trustees Olga Hernandez and Steve Lechlop spoke of the district’s vision for the future.

The Board of Directors for SAISD believes that as the district goes, so goes the city. The success or failure of one will undoubtedly affect the other – this is true, and for years the District’s struggles were reflected on Pine Street where neglected homes rest atop crumbling foundations, on side streets of West Commerce where years of disinvestment from the City were made abundantly clear with sparse sidewalks and roads in ruin. A diaspora of wealth coupled with a severe loss in population crippled the urban core and presented the District with premier challenges. But things have begun to change and the horizon is brighter now than at any other time in recent history. Read More

Leaders empower people by Laura Martinez

Laura Martinez

Guest post from LSAISD Class of 2014 participant Laura Martinez  with her thoughts on the January  class day on Leaders empower people. Laura lives in the San Antonio Independent School District 5.

In January, Leadership SAISD met to discuss the increasingly important topic of Parent Engagement. With the rigor of standardized tests, and the pressure to do well for both schools and students alike, many question whether education in the United States has been compromised as a result. In recent years many studies have correlated the outcomes of a child’s education to how involved their parents were in that education. The question then becomes just what does parent involvement look like? As a parent to a 1st grader, and 3 more children to follow in his footsteps this topic is right on target for me.

Our first guest speaker was Luis Perez, Director of Family and Parent Engagement for SAISD. Under his direction, SAISD has made great gains in getting parents more involved. The first step was admitting that they weren’t doing a very good job at it. They had to recognize that their schools weren’t always the friendliest, or most welcoming to parents. In order for parents to feel that they are the most influential person in their child’s education, they have to feel that the school recognizes that and treats them as such. They are in the process of training teachers, and administrators on how to have meaningful conversations with parents about their child’s education and what they can do to help. Each school has a parent liaison that is also being trained on how to interact with parents and to reach out on a more personal level. While he admits they have a long road ahead of them, at least they are taking steps in the right direction. He has in his office a model of what he hopes every campus will soon have available; a parent room. Each parent room must have 3 things: a kids corner, a college corner, and a resource center. In addition to this, the principal must come and engage with parents, not just give them tasks. All these efforts seem to be making a difference. The parent summit that used to attract 400 parents jumped to over 1000 parents with more expected this coming year. Knowing that SAISD has invested in a parent liaison for every school, and is genuinely trying to improve gives me hope that parents and schools will once again be team players. Read More

“Paying for Public Education” and “Fighting for Equality.”

Rosa GomezGuest post from LSAISD Class of 2014 participant Rosa Gomez with her thoughts on the December class day on Leaders persist and persevere. Rosa lives in the San Antonio Independent School District 6.

Persistence and perseverance wasn’t only the class theme in December but also eloquently described the life’s work of our guest speakers. From our class learning about school finance and equality in schools to an energetic conversation about our own path of persistence, we certainly experienced LSAISD’s vision of informing and transforming one conversation at a time. Read More

Leaders See Challenges and Find Solutions

leo (1)Guest post from LSAISD Class of 2014 participant Eleonore Lee, with her thoughts on the November class day on Leaders persist and persevere. Eleonore is an adjunct professor who lives in District 1.

Today’s session looked at understanding advocacy and the role it plays today, and understanding the social, political and economic drivers that inform today’s SAISD geography. We began the day with welcomes and introductions to both LSAISD board members & alums that joined us today. It was a pleasure to have them join us, they were able to give us great input over the course of the day. This was followed by small group icebreakers, providing us further opportunity to speak as small groups, to get to know each other and forge bonds.

Let me begin with by far my favorite presentation of the journey. Our final speaker for this session was Dr. Christine Drennon, Urban Studies Professor at Trinity University. By sharing historical and geographic facts, and asking the right questions, we discovered many long-existing problems that one might not realize existed, let alone had so much impact on the current situation. We began by looking at the distribution of resources and how it affects student outcomes. As with any good inquiry (or lesson) we began with many questions: Read More

Leadership SAISD Gets Member Fired Up

Barbie Leal-Hallam

Today marked the first session of Leadership SAISD’s 2014-2015 class. Eager to be on time, meet my new classmates and settle into the historic Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center where we were to kick it all off, I rushed to the city’s west side at 9 am. The topic of noble leadership had intrigued me since last week when the agenda was released and judging by the email addresses included in the chain, I knew I would be in good company to engage in meaningful conversation over exactly what that meant to each participant.   Read More