Poteet I.S.D. Superintendent Andy Castillo was all smiles, as he sat down and talked about the happenings within their 3A Atascosa County school district. With a little over 1,700 students enrolled currently, steady growth has resulted in a few growing pains. A team focused on a vision featuring students at the forefront, Castillo praises the small town atmosphere and sense of family for the success that occurs on a daily basis at Poteet I.S.D.
As I waited in the lobby at the Poteet I.S.D. Administration building to meet with Castillo, I noticed the “quote of the day” which was placed on a white board.
“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such,” stated Henry Miller.
After an hour conversation with Castillo, it was obvious that the entire district was focused on recognizing those “visions” allowing them to touch children’s lives through numerous interventions on a daily basis.
Meet Poteet I.S.D. Superintendent Andy Castillo- The Lubbock native arrived at Poteet I.S.D. seven years ago as he accepted the job of high school principal. Around four years later, he interviewed for the superintendent position and was awarded the position, which he has enjoyed every minute of.
The Texas Tech grad is now in his third year as the leader of the Atascosa County district known for playing the Aggie War-Hymn following a touchdown as well as observing what many joke as a National Holiday- The Poteet Strawberry Festival. Prior to Poteet I.S.D. Castillo spent a long stint at Lockhart I.S.D. before spending four years at Judson I.S.D. All in all, he has been in education for 17-years.
“We have a lot of good things going on at Poteet I.S.D. One thing I love about this district is the staff I have the honor of leading. I think it is a small town atmosphere that allows this district to gel. The team work concept is key and everyone knows everyone which I believe compliments the situation,” stated Superintendent Andy Castillo.
According to Castillo, the district’s success should also be credited to the leadership of two Assistant Superintendents’; Mrs. Janna Poth and Mrs. Tracie Moos.
Mrs. Janna Poth is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and has been with the district for ten years.
“We are very fortunate to have the curricular expertise that Janna Poth brings to Poteet
ISD. Her energy and innovation has our school district moving in the right direction. She has been instrumental in the implementation of our Dual Language Program and CScope, and she continues to lead our staff professional development.”
Mrs. Tracie Moos is in her third year with Poteet I.S.D. and is the Assistant Superintendent in charge of Business and Operations.
“Tracie does an outstanding job with our school budget. Her finance background coupled with her experience with grants makes her very valuable to Poteet ISD.”
During the regular scheduled January school board meeting, Castillo did receive an extension, which advances his contract until July of 2015.
“I declined a raise this school year. I didn’t feel it was fair to our staff, to honor a raise if they were not going to get a raise,” stated Superintendent Castillo.
According to Castillo, he receives an annual salary of $95,700, which does not include his health insurance and allowances for professional memberships as well as his cell phone.
Board President – Bonnie Horn Guerra
Poteet I.S.D. School Board President Bonnie Horn Guerra had plenty of positives to say about the Poteet I.S.D. Superintendent.
“Andy has done a great job. He has a good rapport with our school board. I am very happy with the direction he is leading our district. He has a good open door policy and has been great with our community and our city. I think great things will continue to happen at Poteet I.S.D.,” stated Mrs. Guerra.
A district on the move
At times in recent history Poteet I.S.D. has had a negative cloud over the district, but it has not prevented this district from moving forward and keeping their focus on the children of the community. Surrounded by a number of close school districts, Poteet has seen steady growth over the past few school years. Currently they have around 1,700 students, which are up from about 40 a year ago.
Last week McMullen County Superintendent stated that the “Oil Boom” was not to credit for their growth and Andy Castillo tended to agree.
“I do not think the “Oil Boom” has had much of an impact on us student wise. I don’t think it is to credit for our 40-student growth over the past school year,” Castillo stated.
Castillo credited a number of great programs within the district for helping achieve the vision of success within the district.
One of the programs that have been successful in the district is their “After School Program” which is available on all of their campuses.
“We offer a little bit of everything in the program. From kickboxing, to different sports as well as academic assistance. The program lasts two hours after every school day. Currently we are maxed out in numbers at our elementary campus and have seen increased numbers on our jr. high and high school campuses. This program helps us to target the “At-Risk” students to try and make sure we capitalize on the opportunities to help reach these students,” added Castillo.
This program was made possible thanks to a five year 5-million (1-million a year) dollar 21st Century Grant.
One of the other programs that the superintendent credited to growth was the Dual Language Program, which enters its 6th year.
“We are the only school district in Atascosa County to offer this program. We have children who are from Jourdanton and Pleasanton who attend school here because of this great program. Our children have the opportunity to be taught in both English and Spanish in the same setting. The whole thought behind the program is to teach dual language at an early age. This will allow kids to be open to learning,” stated Castillo.
According to Poteet I.S.D., they have one class in each grade level from kindergarten to 6th grade.
Poteet High School also has an advanced number of classes they are able to offer which include their “CATE Programs”. Some of the classes included in the CATE are EMT, CPR, OSHA and others.
P.H.S. also offers a number of dual credit classes like most area high schools which allow their students to rack up on college credits in advance, giving them a head start once they actually enter college.
Construction a possibility
With growth comes aging facilities, which has put the word “Construction” back in the realm of reality for Poteet I.S.D.
“Right now we have a bond committee which is meeting once again. We wanted to look at construction a few years ago, but it just didn’t pan out. They have begun to meet again every Wednesday and are looking at the needs of the district,” stated Mr. Castillo.
While Superintendent Andy Castillo wouldn’t pinpoint any one item of need in the district when it comes to construction, Board President Guerra did confirm one of the areas being looked at.
“Right now our facilities committee is made up of community members, staff members as well as a couple of board members. Our goal right now is to focus on the needs and wants of our district, which is growing out of some of our current facilities. I do know we need a sports complex. If you look at area towns, we are behind in that area. We have been meeting every Wednesday and things are going well,” stated Mrs. Guerra.
According to Guerra, there are between 20-25 members on the committee and they hope to present a proposal to the school board in March. They are currently aiming for a May 2012 election in which the community would get to vote on the issues at hand.
According to Superintendent Castillo, the last bond presented to the community was in the early 2000s and was the Poteet High School building.
As the spring of 2012 arrives, so do new standards from the state of Texas. With EOC and STARR on the horizon, Castillo is confident his staff and students will be prepared.
“We have a few programs in place which I believe will help these students be successful. It will be interesting to see the end of course exams come back to the high school, as this was an old practice years ago. STARR of course, is new and will be a challenge for all across the state,” stated Mr. Castillo.
With new standards arriving, spring sports on the deck and a dedicated staff in place, Poteet I.S.D. will continue to march forward as does the Aggie Marching Band during the half time of their football games.
“When things need to get done at this school district, it is great to see all of the staff willing to roll up their sleeves and make sure it happens. That is all part of the team work that helps make this school district a great one to be a part of,” Andy Castillo stated in closing.
NOTE: Our “State of the School District” series will continue next week as we will meet Pleasanton I.S.D.’s new Superintendent and see what is happening in the Pride of Eagle Land.