Students at San Antonio Elementary School are getting a new and experienced administrator. Kim Sanchez enthusiastically introduced herself to a crowded lunchroom filled with parents and students on July 6 at Meet the Principal Night.
Sanchez most recently hails from Rotan and, as an Army brat as a child, has had the opportunity to be educated in several schools, including Texas, Georgia, and even overseas in the Department of Defense school system in Germany.
While she’s certainly seen the world, Sanchez brought all those experiences to fruition in New Mexico.
“I went to college here in New Mexico. I’ve been in the education business all of my years (21) in education here in New Mexico. So, I’m familiar with all of the things New Mexico does that are different than other states,” Sanchez said.
Before the meeting and after it was finished, parents had the opportunity to make suggestions on several topics with Post-It notes allowing them to make suggestions or ask questions.
Sanchez answered several questions in front of the crowd on a variety of topics, including changes that had been made about Parent-Teacher Organization meeting times, a community garden, field trips, class sizes, whether some classes would be combined and more. Current plans call for fourth and fifth grades to be combined.
“I hope that you’ve taken the opportunity, and if you haven’t, it’s not too late to seize the opportunity to put your ideas, feedback and thoughts on our posters. We will compile all that information, send it back out, and take it to our staff with thoughts about what we can do to meet your needs — to meet your student’s needs. To make this school a part of the hub of your community, and so I’m looking forward to that work,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez comes to San Antonio Elementary when the school’s student population numbers 61 students (there may be some later registrations) with the idea of having one teacher per grade.
The idea of combining grades didn’t sit well with some parents, and school board president Dave Hicks was glad to see that kind of feedback from the community, saying wants to get kids back into the public school system.
“We are here to find out what the students need the most. San Antonio is one of our outer schools. In the past, it has been very successful. Since COVID hit, we’ve kind of lost some of our normal population of students, and we’re really trying to kind of figure out what kind of moves we need to make here to get people excited about and begin coming back. You know, there’s been a lot of parents that have found comfort in homeschooling, which is great, but you still don’t quite get the social environment kids need,” Hicks said.
Hicks has a vested interest in San Antonio because it is his hometown and part of why he’s been a four-year school board member.
“We don’t expect to be perfect, but we do want constant evolution. We have to understand the concerns before we can make moves to fix things right. This is one of those good old-fashioned small-town hall meeting toward throwing it out on the table. If you’ve got a problem, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about potential solutions. Let’s figure out how to move forward and make this school a staple of this little town like it’s been in the past. The San Antonio residents for generations are very, very proud of the school,” Hicks said.
One parent’s concern was about data compiled from student test scores and what Sanchez thought about using that information.
“This sheet that you have is it is a snapshot of one moment in time for individual kids, and we know as educators that there’s so much more to a child’s learning and so much more to them as a little person growing into a big person than that one data point,” Sanchez said, “This data gives us an indication of how our school is doing, but it’s not the whole picture.”
Sanchez admitted she was a little nervous about meeting many new people all at once, but she has hopes parents came away with a positive feeling about the start of her tenure.
“I hope their takeaway is that they know a principal who listens. That to their school is a place where their students are safe and cared for and that the future is bright for students in San Antonio,” Sanchez said.