- Midland Independent School District
New Scharbauer principal feels at home on campus
By Trevor Hawes
Iris Jiménez was helping a teacher prepare for STAAR testing at Scharbauer Elementary when she heard news that the campus would be hiring a new principal for the 2022-23 school year. She knew right away she would apply because Scharbauer already felt like home.
Jiménez became very familiar with Scharbauer last year when she was a director in the Office of Learning, Leading and Innovation. “I saw a lot of need at the campus, but I also saw a lot of potential,” she said. “So when the opportunity to become a principal opened up, I jumped at the chance.”
A 23-year veteran in education, Jiménez has many achievements. She holds a bachelor’s degree from UTEP, two master’s degrees from Sul Ross State University and is on the verge of receiving her third master’s from Sul Ross. She’s been a teacher, a principal and an administrator, joining Midland ISD last year. But so much success doesn’t mean the journey was easy.
Jiménez was born in Mexico and emigrated with her family to El Paso when she was six years old. She entered first grade without the ability to speak English, and she carries this experience with her today at Scharbauer Elementary.
“When I started at Scharbauer, I didn’t realize just how many families spoke Spanish,” Jiménez said. “I was once that young child in a new place who struggled because I didn’t speak the language, and the same was true for my parents. I understand this struggle firsthand, and I work to ease this challenge for our families.”
Jiménez sends parent communications in English and Spanish, and when she’s working with students, she speaks in both languages, as well. The feedback has been very positive. “Our parents — both English and Spanish speakers — say that bilingual communication has made Scharbauer a more inclusive, inviting and vibrant community,” she said. “That’s been my goal for Scharbauer, and we’re already well on our way not even a month into the new school year.”
Meeting parents where they’re at through language isn’t the only way Jiménez is supporting families. As part of her family-centered approach to school community, she is responding to families’ needs revealed in a recent survey.
“Our Spanish-speaking parents have asked how we can help them with ESL and civics lessons, and all of our parents want to learn about how they can keep their kids safe online and how to use technology so they can better assist their children,” she said.
Jiménez wants to support them with all of this, and Midland ISD’s new family outreach liaisons are helping make this possible. “I’m so glad to have a parent liaison on campus,” she said. “They are our home-to-school connection, and the liaison will play a critical role in making Scharbauer Elementary a place for the whole community, not just students and staff.”
It’s this team-oriented approach to education that has Jiménez confident that students, staff and parents together will lift Scharbauer to new heights and become a school not just for students, but for everyone.
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Trevor Hawes is a Communications Specialist at Midland ISD