Harlingen Community Heroes

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Connecting students and public education with real-world knowledge, community collaboration rings true at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.

Last fall, the district began the second year of the Heroes for Harlingen CISD program. Designed to enhance the lives of students and their families by advancing the services offered to them, the program aims to increase community engagement in education through community campus visits, discussions with administration and building partnerships.

“The community partnerships that will further develop from Heroes for Harlingen CISD will enhance the teaching and learning that takes place in our classrooms by connecting our students with real-world knowledge,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “By giving our students an early insight in to the world they will enter after graduation, they will continue on their paths towards global achievement and better understand what is needed to be competitive and successful in any organization or institution.”

The initiative was kicked off with Dr. Cavazos during an informational session for prospective community partners in October. Individuals specializing in areas from business to medicine were present and eager to learn more about the program and what it has to offer.

“It’s a great idea to invite members of the community to come in and provide their perspectives on what they’ve experienced,” said Francisco Castellanos, owner of Chick-fil-a and member of the Harlingen Area Educational Foundation (HAEF). “When you see the district and community come together you feel a sense of responsibility that we are doing our part to offer endless opportunities for our students and school district.”

Potential partners have the option of participating in three different components of Heroes for Harlingen CISD.  Components of the program includes Ambassadors for Learning, a program that allows community partners to hold discussions with administrators at HCISD, Caring for Kids, which aims to identify the needs of students through community partnerships and Classroom Connections, which pairs local business leaders with teachers to share their real world experiences and classroom strategies.

After the initial meeting, Castellanos immediately knew the areas he’d like to get involved in and ways in which he hopes that he and Chick-fil-a’s participation can contribute to students.

“The two areas that I’m gravitating towards are Classroom Connections and Caring for Kids,” said Castellanos. “One of the things we hope to focus on through our participation is the importance of customer service. I think if we can share that skill with students they will walk away with the understanding of how it will be a differentiator for them in the market place. Their success won’t just fall on their degree, but ultimately the interpersonal relationships they develop. ”

Through the program, community partnerships and district collaboration continues throughout the year and allows the opportunity for community members to participate for consecutive years.

The program is part of the district’s strategic plan, which was created with the input of over 800 community members. The plan outlines district goals, as well as specific result statements that will shape the development and implementation of new programs, renovations at district facilities and integration of new technology.

Its design is expected to impact district initiatives and programs for the next three to five years.

To learn more about the Heroes for Harlingen program or find out how to get involved please visit www.hcisd.org/heroes.