H-E-B awarded the Roma Independent School District a $50,000 cash prize in a statewide initiative for educators earlier this month.
The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards presented over $400,000 in cash and grants to individuals and collective entities. Two principals, six teachers, two school districts, a public school board and an early childhood organization were among the recipients, according to an H-E-B news release. The program has given over $10 million to education since 2002. A panel made of school administrators, former winners and community leaders acted as judges for finalists.
Roma schools superintendent Carlos Guzman said the news came as a surprise but welcomed the additional funding and recognition.
“This means a lot because it validates all the hard work that the teachers, staff, bus drivers, custodians, everyone (is) doing and the success of the kids passing the exams and graduating and doing everything right,” Guzman said.
Administrators will consider input from employees to see where funds may be allocated, he said. He doesn’t want the administrative office to spend with a “top-down” mindset. Ideally, school principals can meet with their staff to collaborate and talk about what they might need.
“Each campus has unique needs… (we want to) allow more local control at the campuses and the different departments,” he said.
Guzman, who has been superintendent for five years for a district that serves over 6,000 students, said Roma ISD is gaining momentum as improvements are made.
The district has an elementary campus recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, a national program recognizing “school excellence” and another school as a nominee. Along with Roma High School ranked top 14% nationally and 13% in the state, the district has a lot going for it, Guzman added.
Professional development in faculty and staff is paying off, he said. Strong school board leadership, administrators and teachers along with good students led to this outcome.
“I think everything is just falling in place,” Guzman said.
Other Valley school districts were also honored in the ceremony.
PSJA ISD teacher Celena Miller received $10,000 for herself and $10,000 for the district as a winner in the Leadership category. Harlingen CISD elementary principal Irma Davis was also honored as a school principal, receiving $10,000 personally and $25,000 for the district.
“We’ve been improving tremendously. This award is the first of hopefully many to come,” Guzman said.