Principals for a Day: Brownsville ISD touts mantra of steady improvement

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Porter Early College High School Principal Mary Solis, left, stands with Gloria M. Rincones, judge of the 445th state District Court, and interim Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez. Rincones served as Principal for a Day at Porter on Thursday. She and Chavez are Porter graduates. Solis graduated from Hanna. (Gary Long | The Brownsville Herald)

Brownsville ISD held its 31st annual Principal for a Day event on Thursday, hosting community members as celebrity principals in the morning and treating them to a snazzy luncheon afterward at the Ambassador Event Center.

“I always remember my teachers, my choir directors, my coaches, because they made a tremendous difference in my life,” interim Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez, a BISD graduate, former teacher and administrator who grew up and went to school in Southmost, said as he welcomed the group.

Chavez said Principal for a Day gives BISD “the opportunity to invite community members, community leaders, industry, lawyers, judges, just the entire community to come together and see the great and wonderful things that are happening in BISD.”

A former superintendent for the Harlingen, Corpus Christi and Round Rock school districts, Chavez said he was going off script a little when he asked former state Sen. Eddie Lucio to stand up be recognized, saying he was one of his teachers and coaches from back in the day.

From left, Benavides Elementary Principal Anabela Almanza stands with Porter Early College High School Principal Mary Solis, Gloria M. Rincones, judge of the 445th state District Court, interim Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez and Deputy Superintendent Nereida ‘Nellie’ Cantu. Rincones served as Principal for a Day at Porter on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. She and Chavez are Porter graduates. (Gary Long | The Brownsville Herald)

Then Chavez said BISD schools hold great promise.

“I describe the great school district as one that is strong in academics, and academics is first, but in addition to that, a district that has a tremendous fine arts program, and the third thing that enables that stool to be sturdy and strong is the PE athletic program,” he said.

“This morning I had the privilege of sending off regional competitors, both boys and girls, in swimming as well as wrestling. I hope you as principals for a day have a chance to see the great academics that we hold in our public schools, the great athletics and PE piece, as well as excellent fine arts,” he said.

“And let me tell you, we’re going to continue to work on improving those. Because that’s what it’s about. I told our staff that continuous improvement is the mantra that we’re going to continue to follow all the time. And so, we’re going to continue to get better and better as the years go along, and that’s a promise,” he said.

“But on the other side there are challenges that we face, and certainly budget is one of those challenges that we face this year,” he said, referencing a recent interview with The Brownsville Herald.

The Vela Middle School Golden Pride Dance Team performed at the 31st BISD Principal for a Day luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at the Ambassador Event Center. (Gary Long | The Brownsville Herald)

“One of the things that you’ll find out about me is I’m going to be very transparent about where we are and what our challenges are, and the reason that I believe that is because we need to come together as a community, work hand in hand and resolve those issues so we have a better district, a better Brownsville, a better community and that’s what it’s about,” he said.

Chavez, a former third-grade teacher, then assigned homework, telling each of the 54 principals for a day to talk to at least five people, more if they wish, and tell them about Brownsville’s public school district.

“Mention the great things you saw today and mention your support for public education and Brownsville ISD,” he said.

Chavez received his doctorate in 1989 from The University of Texas with a concentration in special education administration and his superintendent certification. His dissertation was on school finance, his lifelong interest, according to his resume posted on the BISD website.

“He believes in putting children first in any decision, continuous organizational improvement, teamwork, and treating everyone fairly and respectfully,” the resume states.


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct superintendent Jesus H. Chavez’s middle name.