Superintendent to principals: academics is the key focus

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde had a message for principals at Austin ISD Tuesday: this year’s primary focus is on academics.

“The main thing has to stay the main thing,” she said. “Our kids must be academically prepared.”

Elizalde spoke to principals at their monthly meeting at the Performing Arts Center. She told principals to stay focused on academics after more than a year of the conversation around schools being dominated by COVID-19, which can easily distract administrators and campus staff. 

Her speech also touched on teacher support, building up student success, elevating all campuses, and self-care for principals, but she said instruction and academics have to be at the forefront for Austin ISD.

“There’s room at the top for every single school and principal. There’s no limit, we set the limit." - Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde

Elizalde said lots of components go into making students academically prepared.

“Do they need social-emotional learning? 100% yes. Do they need true culturally responsive, culturally relevant instruction and practices, 100%,” she said. “It’s not an either or, it’s a both and.”

She then went on to say that Austin ISD can’t succeed as a whole if even one school is failing.

“The solution is not to beat up on the failing school,” she said. “The solution is to work together so all schools are successful.”

Campus principals need to work together, whether they’re coming from schools surrounded by wealthy neighborhoods or not, Elizalde said.

“There’s room at the top for every single school and principal,” she said. “There’s no limit, we set the limit.”

Elizalde ended the address by emphasizing that the schools or programs succeed because of leadership.

“At the very very end, we know this to be true: The key to student success is a great school. The key to a great school is a great principal,” she said. “The key is you.”