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.

Led by a graduate of the Trinity Education program and a member school of the Eastside Promise Neighborhood, Pershing has morphed failure into success. Through rigorous curriculum, high expectations, and a profound belief in every student Pershing has unleashed the tremendous potential of its student population. Our visit to Pershing reconstituted my thinning faith in the ability of struggling urban school districts to transform their crippled systems and to successfully educate all students no matter what baggage trails behind them as they enter school each morning (and I do mean each morning because nearly every classroom at Pershing proudly advertises its 100% attendance rate with a green flag hanging outside its door). If Pershing Elementary is indicative of the direction SAISD is heading then the City of San Antonio is poised to become a national force.