AUSTIN, Texas - Dr. Stephanie Elizalde admits it’s an interesting time to become a superintendent in the middle of a pandemic.
However, she’s rolling up her sleeves and says she wants to hear from the community. “I think our goals during this era are going to have to first and foremost focus on health and safety,” said Elizalde.
Elizalde is Austin ISD’s first Latina Superintendent. She was welcomed in less than one month before the new school year started. A year unlike any other, the pandemic has shifted to virtual learning. Some school districts have opened their doors while others have created hybrid learning models.
Austin ISD pushed back their start date to allow for more time to prepare and finalize reopening plans.
“It’s going to be a balancing act which means there’s going to be a lot of wrong decisions and very few right decisions and I am going to have to do the best I can,” said Elizalde.
Austin ISD schools kicked off the first day of virtual school with some hiccups. The district’s Google Drive experienced an outage. Elizalde visited eight schools Tuesday via Zoom and one in person and said she was impressed by the teachers.
Elizalde was a teacher herself, an assistant principal and most recently Chief of Schools for Dallas ISD. The Texas native isn’t going to let the pandemic become an excuse to not reach academic goals. “In fact what we need to do is use this not an obstacle but an opportunity to do even better with the technology that we now have available so that we can serve our students in the best way possible,” Elizalde said.
Aside from academic outcomes, Elizalde is focused on equity making sure every student has the resources needed. As the new superintendent, Elizalde wants to rebuild relationships in the community. Back in November, the board of trustees voted to close several schools and families voiced their disappointment, saying they want to be heard and included in district decisions.
Under Elizalde's leadership, she says there will be transparency.
“We truly are in this together and we will get through it together and I want to thank them for their patience and understanding,” said Elizalde. “I know I’m not making decisions that everyone agrees with but we are making the ones that we think start with students.”
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