Region One ESC executive director to retire, interim director named

HARLINGEN — As we enter the new year, this Valley-based education service center will soon be led with new leadership.

After serving nearly eight years as the Region One Education Service Center (ESC) Executive Director, Dr. Cornelio Gonzalez will retire at the end of January 2021.

Region One serves more than 400,000 students and educators in eight South Texas counties by assisting school districts in operating more efficiently and economically, improving student performance and implementing initiatives assigned by the legislature or commissioner of education.

Some of the counties include Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy and Starr.

According to a press release from Region One, Gonzalez has remained committed to his mission to provide support to students of all social groups and all Region One schools throughout this past year, so they may have access to opportunities to better their lives through education.

For Gonzalez, retiring was a difficult decision for him and his family, however, they decided that it was time for him to take a step back from his professional life and take time to spend with his family.

“During my time at the ESC, we have accomplished so much, bringing well deserved attention to the educators and students of the region,” he stated. “Whether it be by outperforming the state in the accountability system, initiating innovative programs to support learning for our students, or by supporting educators in the region through pioneering professional development opportunities, I am extremely proud of the work that we have achieved.”

During Gonzalez’s tenure at Region One, the ESC celebrated its 50th anniversary.

“He oversaw the transition to a Statewide A-F Accountability System in which Region One area students out-performed the state in almost all student groups and subject areas,” the press release states. “Dr. Gonzalez led the ESC during its most challenging period to date leading a major overhaul of professional development delivery and support of public and charter schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Gonzalez’s professional career in education began at Brownsville ISD, where he served as an English as a second language and English teacher at Simon Rivera High School.

He became assistant principal of Gladys Porter High School and later became the dean of instruction at the same campus.

Gonzalez also served as a Texas Education Agency Education Specialist in the Migrant Department and was a member of the U.S.-Mexico Bi-national Migrant Education Program.

“He is proud to have served as teacher, campus administrator, superintendent of schools and lately, as the Executive Director of Region One ESC where he has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of students and their families and has empowered thousands of educators to touch the future of our state and nation through the education of children,” the press release states.

According to the press release, major projects initiated by Gonzalez include the creation of the ORION internet network to provide support to all Region One school districts and charter schools, as well as the expansion of services and updates to ESC facilities in Brownsville, Laredo and Edinburg.

Gonzalez’s official retirement notification to the Region One Board of Directors was submitted and approved in Jan. 2020.

Incoming leadership

Eduardo Cancino

The board of directors named Dr. Eduardo Cancino the Interim Executive Director, which will become effective on Feb. 1.

Cancino was an educator for 32 years and is currently Region One’s Deputy Director for Division of Instructional Leadership, School Improvement and College Readiness Support.

“I am very humbled by the action of the Board to allow me the opportunity to serve as Interim Executive Director until the time that the position is filled,” Cancino stated. “Dr. Gonzalez has done an outstanding job as the leader of this educational agency and while we are sad to see him go, we are happy for him as he now embarks on a new chapter in his life. His legacy will remain with us forever.”

According to the press release, Cancino’s areas of expertise are focused in effective teacher development, curriculum alignment, data-driven improvement approaches, effective instructional and intervention approaches and large-scale systemic continuous improvement and transformational strategies.

“During his tenure as Deputy Director, Dr. Cancino has led his team in ongoing improvement efforts focused on providing quality support to educators in the Region One educational community,” the press release states.

The tentative start date for Region One’s new executive director is July 1, 2021.

During a Region One Board Meeting held on Nov. 17, 2020, the board of directors voted to extend the timeline for the search of the new executive director until the end of the 2020-2021 school year.

According to the press release, this was recommended by the Texas education commissioner.

“The extension would allow more candidates the opportunity to apply, suggesting that the current pandemic may pause interested candidates from leaving their school district mid-year,” the press release states.

ahernandez@valleystar.com