From a Harlingen Consolidated ISD student to HCISD’s lead storyteller, Shane Strubhart is another testament to a world-class educational system in the Rio Grande Valley. As the Harlingen CISD director of public relations and community engagement, he rarely has time to tell his story when he has the tales of Harlingen’s 20,000-plus students and staff walking through the halls of its 29 campuses. “Our biggest challenge as a department is being able to tell everyone’s story,” Stubhart said. “I know that in every classroom and department there is great work being done, and our ability to tell their story is limited to time and space.”
Strubhart’s story began at Bonham Elementary, which was under the leadership of current HCISD board member Mrs. Verna Young. After graduating from San Benito and earning a degree at Texas State Technical College, he worked for the Office of the Attorney General in Austin before joining Dell Computers. But he knew he wanted to return home and raise his son in the Rio Grande Valley. “Before I could fully commit to the transition, I wanted to ensure I joined an organization that had some of the same core values as Dell. Places that valued their employees and really drove innovation and creativity. HCISD represented those values and more, so I set my sites on working for the Harlingen school district,” Strubhart said.
Upon returning home, Strubhart worked as a computer technician for HCISD while attending The University of Texas Brownsville. After earning his Masters in Educational Leadership, he transitioned to the position of assistant principal at Harlingen South.
Today, in his role as HCISD’s chief storyteller, he finds his greatest joy in returning to the classrooms and visiting the teachers and students. “As a former teacher, I can truly appreciate the work they do,” Strubhart said. “I view teachers much like a sports fan admires an amazing athlete. To watch a great teacher who’s honed their craft is an incredible site to see. The impact they have is immeasurable, and being able to highlight the great work they do is very rewarding for me.”
Strubhart then has the privilege to share those stories with the local newspapers and television stations; to produce photos and video for the department’s website and KHGN Cable 17; to assist district staff members with presentations and public speaking; and to supervise KHGN’s team.
While he is often focused on the present, Strubhart is excited about Harlingen CISD’s future. “With the help of many community members (HCISD) just completed our strategic plan, which will help guide our work for the next three to five years. In that plan are some exciting changes coming for our district,” he said. “Community partnerships, early literacy programs, new recruitment methods, innovative learning spaces, more schools of choice, and a focus on customer service are just a few of some exciting things I’m going to be in involved with.”
One of those new schools will be the Harlingen School of Health Professions, which will open in fall 2014. The school will offer all pre-AP and AP-level coursework that will prepare students for college, and future acceptance into medical schools.
Strubhart said, “I’m proud of many things that we’ve done as a district. Our students are top performers at the state and national levels. We’ve been very efficient with taxpayer dollars, which has allowed us to provide exceptional services and choices for our parents. Our board of trustees and superintendent are very supportive and help us drive innovation. Lastly, our teachers and administrators are some of the best in the state.”
An educational journey that began in the Rio Grande Valley, has woven its way back home. Strubhart continues to writes a storyline that details Harlingen CISD’s victories, and is working to develop a future that will have a positive impact on students just starting to write their HCISD story. “I’m so fortunate to have been born and raised here in the Valley,” he said. “Having traveled all over the country, I can honestly say there is no other place quite like our tropical paradise.”