Meet the first Hispanic woman to become CEO of Spring ISD

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Dr. Lupita Hinojosa always knew that education would be important to her. But she didn’t know that she would eventually dedicate her life and career to the field. As a child of immigrant parents who had to overcome the barriers that exist for underserved communities, she lived through the problems and wanted to be part of the solutions. .

“I’m a first-generation Mexican-American. My parents are from Mexico, specifically Monterrey and San Luis. They came to the US as teenagers with green cards and worked in the fields or cleaned the house. “, she shared. “They come for a better life, not only for themselves but for the family they will create.”

Hinojosa was born and raised in San Benito, Texas. It wasn’t until first grade that she started learning English as a second language. As the oldest child in the family, she often interprets for her parents at PTO/PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences. She remembers that her father also communicated the importance of preserving her native language, encouraging her to read newspapers in Spanish to him.

She was an active student throughout elementary school, enrolling in honors classes and participating in many extracurricular activities. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Texas and worked as a lawyer.

“I wanted to be a lawyer so I could help people in the community, like my parents. My parents became US citizens and they went through the process without knowing what to do.” Hinojosa said. “Immigrant families are hard-working community members who are paying taxes, invested in their communities, but they don’t have access to any social services.”

Unable to afford a law degree, she turned to business and worked in retail for a few years. What sparked her interest in education was her experience volunteering to read at an elementary school to a group of Spanish-only students.

“I walked into that primary classroom and saw 22 kids who looked exactly like me. Eyes wide and scared, because they didn’t know English,” she recalls. “They looked at me and said, ‘Maestra, maestra. Usted habla como mi mamá. You speak like my mother. Your hair looks like my mother’s. You look like my mother.” Suddenly, those memories started flooding back. “

It was also 1989 when Hinojosa decided she wanted to become a teacher. She returned to school and was later hired for her first education job as a bilingual teacher at Durkee Elementary School. Since then, she has written a curriculum for classes with Spanish-speaking students. She has worked in a variety of positions including principal, assistant superintendent, and school service officer for Houston ISD.
Most recently, she was Spring ISD’s director of Innovation and Equity. She said 49% of students in the district are Hispanic and Latino and 44% are black. About 85% come from low-income families and 10% are learning English as their second language.

“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh my gosh, you have a challenging territory.’ What it is, is, ‘God, we have a diverse region, an area that we know and we understand.’ So as educators, as teachers, as principals, as administrators, we know that we must give special attention to the needs of each citizen. can make sure we’re serving them,” she said.

She highlighted the efforts the district has made to improve equity for all students, such as after-school programs for working parents and providing laptops for college students. COVID-19 pandemic. They also opened their first International Baccalaureate program and are bilingual schools from Beginner to Grade 8.

In her new role of superintendent, she plans to continue advancing Spring ISD’s plan that emphasizes six points: student outcomes, innovation, leadership, happiness, engagement, and work is equal to.

Hinojosa said it will also work to recover from the setbacks of the pandemic. She said they have lost thousands of students who are still homeschooling and are at home with their families. She hopes to bring their student population up from 33,000 to 40,000. She also hopes to re-establish connections and relationships within the district.

“The past few years have been very difficult. This pandemic has caused a lot of rifts in our community. Children who go to school should be excited because they will learn something. Teachers should find joy in passing on the message. Parents should be happy and reassured that they are putting their children in a good environment. “So I want people to be able to re-engage and reconnect with Spring. “

For stories across Houston’s diverse communities, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Dais Johnston

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