Research shows us that the greatest impact on student learning is the relationship between a student and an educator. It’s not something you can force from the top down. It’s not something you can measure with a test. As a district, we focus on recruiting and hiring people who are passionate and dedicated, people whose greatest joy is seeing your children succeed. Just as we do with our students, we give our educators the resources and tools they need to succeed, then we step back and watch them soar.
At San Angelo, we are proud to say that all 2000 of our educators and staff members are making the difference.
Carl Dethloff, Superintendent, San Angelo ISD
“My job is my life and the kids know that.”
Five years ago, Joey Ashbrook left Coppell ISD, a marching band powerhouse, to embark on a new adventure in San Angelo.
When he took over, the band had around 180 students. Today, the band is 418 members strong and went to the state marching band competition for the first time in 33 years. When the Mighty Bobcat Band takes the field on Friday nights, the crowd goes wild.
“These are the hardest-working kids I have ever been around. I don’t treat them like children, I treat them like young adults,” he says.
Even though the band works hard to be great, at the end of the day they’re a family. If someone is in need, everyone helps out.
“For me, coach is the greatest term of endearment I could bestow on someone.”
San Angelo ISD alumnus Ben Lyons has come full circle. As a young athlete, he idolized his coaches. Now that he’s standing in their shoes, he strives to be a role model for his students.
“I owe a lot about the man I am today to my coaches, and it wasn’t necessarily about how to block or tackle, it was about pushing myself and finding my limits, being able to overcome adversity,” he says.Ben loves that his students come from all walks of life, yet come together as a team on the field or at a powerlifting competition. He doesn’t think of teaching and coaching as a job, it’s an opportunity to influence kids.
“I love science. When I’m excited, they’re excited. I don’t really lecture, it’s all about hands-on learning.”
When Macy first started teaching, she recalls being terrified that her students wouldn’t learn all the content. Pretty quickly, she realized teaching was less about content and more about relationships. Once she has earned her students’ love and trust, the learning comes easily.
“My students really pull at my heart. Half of them call me Mom,” she says.
In Macy’s classroom, students learn through playing games and doing projects such as Alien Offspring, where they learn about genetic traits by creating an alien child.At San Angelo ISD, teachers like Macy Smithson make the difference.
“Mariachi is for everybody. Music is universal, there are no boundaries. It’s all about how you feel it.”
When Rosendo Ramos rebooted the mariachi program three years ago, he had 20 students. Today that number is 90 and climbing.
With mariachi, students don’t just learn an instrument, they learn a culture. Mariachi is rooted in Mexico, but the music attracts students from all backgrounds who want to learn how to translate their emotions into music and to perform with confidence.“We stay very busy performing around the community and it’s awesome. In San Angelo, we don’t have many mariachis so people really enjoy it,” he says.
"What do you want your legend to be? I ask my students this question every year. I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference in students’ lives."
When Julie came to San Angelo 10 years ago, she had a grand vision of where she wanted the speech and debate team to be. Today, Central’s program is ranked among the top 5 percent of schools in the nation and they have fielded state and national champions.
“It far exceeds what I could have imagined,” she says.
No matter what kind of background a student comes from, they can find a home in Julie’s classroom and a platform where they can shine.
“It’s super important that every single kid finds a niche, a place they can belong,” she says.
“You have to capture their hearts before you capture their brains.”
For Brandon Ligon, being an educator is all about relationships. During his tenure as an assistant principal at Lee Middle School, he earned students’ trust by constantly talking with them and stopping in the hall to share a laugh or a fist bump. Now assistant principal at Reagan Elementary, Brandon is making connections with a whole new group of students in San Angelo ISD.
A product of San Angelo ISD schools, Brandon is now a rising leader within the district.
A former teacher himself, Brandon knows what makes an educator great – patience and passion for the job.
“I always ask my teachers, ‘Would you enjoy sitting in your class if you were a child?’” Brandon says. “I even like my faculty meetings to be fun. If we are not up and laughing, people start to pull out their phones.”
As someone who has been a student, a teacher and a leader at San Angelo ISD, Brandon sees one constant: People truly care about the kids.
“We have some great teachers. There is so much potential and so much growth,” he says.