January 24, 2024 600 PM
PRESIDIO — At last week’s meeting, the Presidio ISD Board of Trustees marked a change in leadership at Presidio Elementary School. New Principal Yvette DeAnda gave her first official presentation to the board, detailing a few priorities and policy changes for the remainder of the school year.
On Thursday, December 21 — just as staff and students were headed into winter break — former Principal Joe Andy Mendoza was contacted by Interim Superintendent Carmen Rubner and notified that he would be reassigned to the position of “attendance administrator” at Presidio High School.
Technically speaking, Mendoza’s title had been “substitute administrator” — though he had carried out duties expected of the school’s leader. Rubner explained that he had been given that title because he was certified in Arizona as an administrator but had not yet been re-certified in Texas when he was hired at Presidio ISD.
DeAnda — who had previously served as principal at Presidio Elementary for 10 years — came out of a three-and-a-half year retirement to assume the post. Rubner told the Presidio International that the swap was in the best interest of the staff and students. “It’s a positive thing for the high school to have attendance and truancy being addressed, and it’s a positive thing to have a certified administrator at the elementary school,” she said.
At Wednesday’s meeting, DeAnda told attendees that she had already made a few changes: shifting screen time for students to the afternoon, contacting parents as soon as possible about disciplinary issues and trying to carve out more time in the day for “pull-out” instruction for English-language acquisition students and those with special needs.
In an effort to provide more individualized instruction, Presidio Elementary students use a computer program called Mind Play that adapts to students’ abilities in math and reading. Under Mendoza’s leadership, students used the app in two smaller blocks a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
DeAnda opted to shift all student screen time to the afternoon in order to kick off the day with face-to-face instruction. She hoped that the switch would challenge teachers to flex their creative muscles and shift student focus back to the physical classroom. “We’re hoping that we’ll have more student engagement, more learning, more teacher-student interaction,” she said.
She also told the board that she had implemented her tried-and-true “discipline cycle” that she had honed over decades as a teacher and administrator. DeAnda said that she believed that it was important to contact parents as soon as possible when disciplinary issues popped up, in hopes of lessening the burden on teachers. “I’ve worked for the district for so long as an administrator — I’ve learned that the style I’ve implemented has always worked,” she said.
Another goal of DeAnda’s was making room for more one-on-one instruction with English-language acquisition and special needs students. She said she had been experimenting with shifting the schedule around so that paraprofessionals — known more informally as teacher’s aides or assistants — could have more time to focus on content that these groups of students might find tougher than others.
Outside the classroom, DeAnda wanted to encourage teachers to voice their opinions and feel comfortable talking to her about their concerns. She told the board that she deeply valued their perspectives. “I’m not in the classroom — I’m not in their shoes,” she said.
She wanted parents and teachers alike to know that her door is always open. “It’s kind of crazy because they’ve been through so many changes in our district,” she said. “But I hope they’re patient, and if they have any questions, I hope they do come and ask.”