Presidio ISD Not Letting Adversity Interfere with Excellence

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

PRESIDIO--You can learn a lot about people by spending time with them.  NewsWest 9 spent an entire day with administrators, teachers and students at Presidio ISD.  If there's one thing they're ready to take head on, it's the challenge to rise to the top.

"We're a very poor school district, the 4th poorest in the state of Texas.  When you have to make due, you get really good at making due," Dennis McEntire, PISD Superintendent of Schools, said.

With an average enrollment of 1,300 to 1,500 students, the emphasis is learning at all of Presidio's three campuses.

"Presidio is on a very serious path to excellence and rigor of instruction curriculum.  Our kids are taking it seriously, our teachers are taking it seriously.  We're high performing, all the way across on every campus, right now," McEntire said.

PISD is proud of its close to 100 percent graduation rate and almost non-existent drop our rate.  They're especially proud to be recognized by the Texas Education Agency.

According to Curriculum Director Judith Pardo, "We've had a high retention of the staff and it's because of the hard work that we have put in and we all really want to make sure we work as a team.  It's not the elementary, it's not the middle school, it's not the high school, it's the district."

The flood disaster in September of 2008 caused major damage to school campuses.  But Superintendent McEntire says the potential was far worse than the reality.  Amid all the hardship, Presidio achieved it's first recognized status, that same year.

"Really and honestly, the elementary getting recognized that year, out of that flood time and out of that disaster time, just set the challenge for everybody else," McEntire said.

The district has also embraced the local culture and offering students chances to excel in several different areas.  They call it an enrichment program.  Programs include rocketry, robotics, ballet folklorico and more.  Every one with scholarship opportunities for college.

Pardo says focusing on the students personalities doesn't hurt, "That's going to really bring out their skills.  So, if they have that self worth and they know that they can do it, they achieve and they are able to reach the goals that we have set for them. "

Presidio ISD faces the same problems and issues as other districts.  Being on the border poses issues of it's own.  But in all, the Blue Devils do what they have to do to make sure they get the job done.

"The hope for us is what walks across the graduation stage in May.  We want a kid that's able to compete on a global stage, toe to toe, with anyone in the world.  That's our goal," McEntire said.

Locally raised money pays for laptops for incoming freshman to use all through high school.  As of last year, graduating seniors get to keep their laptops for college.

Also, a good percentage of their current teaching staff is made up of former Presidio graduates.