Each year ProQuest sponsors the Distinguished School Administrators Award, honoring a school administrator who has made worthy contributions to the operations of an exemplary school library, and to advancing the role of the school library in the educational program. This year’s award recipient is the very deserving Dr. Arturo Cavazos for his support in transformation across the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.
Superintendent Cavazos was recently honored for his efforts to advance library services. Following is our interview with him.
How do you feel about receiving this honor as this year’s recipient of the Distinguished School Administrators Award for your worthy contributions to advancing the role of the school library in the educational program?
It’s an honor to be recognized by the American Association of School Libraries for the progress our Information Literacy Centers (ILCs) have made at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District. Our ILCs play an important role in shaping our students’ futures by providing them with the resources to succeed, and our teachers with the tools to create meaningful and relevant learning in the classroom.
Tell us a little about the impact you have made to provide students and teachers with the resources needed to enhance the learning that takes place in the classroom.
I’ve worked with our outstanding administrators, teachers, and staff to expand the duties of libraries and librarians so we can provide students and teachers with the resources needed to enhance the learning that takes place in the classroom. The impact has been so great that the libraries are now referred to as information literacy centers and librarians are now known as library media specialists.
Would you share some of your professional background and how you got to be Superintendent of Harlingen?
I began my career in education in 1987 as a math teacher, and since then have served as a counselor, principal, and director of secondary education in school districts across the Rio Grande Valley.
I joined HCISD in 2001 where I continued my efforts as the assistant superintendent for secondary education and deputy superintendent for transformation and school support. During my time as the deputy superintendent I had the privilege of working on several initiatives, some of which includes implementing our digital classroom initiative, dual language academies, campus internet cafes and transforming the libraries into information literacy centers.
In November 2013, I was named Superintendent of Schools and continue the desire to advance public education in our district. This includes collaborating with our learning community and city to develop the district's strategic plan, which will guide our initiatives and programs for the next three to five years.
What advice would you give to a fellow superintendent looking to advance the role of the school library?
Keep your students at the center of what you do each day. Our mission to provide educational excellence for all students, in order for us to fulfill this goal, everything must be designed with them in mind. Libraries are the largest learning spaces in your schools and should be utilized each and every day.
What do you see as the main issues facing educators today?
Our primary concern is keeping our students prepared for their futures in a changing society. The way we work, learn and collaborate with one another in real life situations changes every day. It is up to us as administrators and educators to adapt to those changes and develop rich learning opportunities that will prepare our students for global achievement.
What do you find most exciting about the future of education?
It’s exciting to witness education transform to reflect the way our society functions in a globalized economy. Our students and their needs are changing. We have to be willing to change to see how far it can take not only us as educators, but also our students, who are the future of our world.
Do you have further plans of advancing the role of the school library in the educational program?
Keeping early childhood literacy a focus for our school district, we plan to expand the availability of resources to encourage literacy. Research indicates that early literacy is a major factor in promoting success throughout students’ academic careers. We are focusing on offering new library service programs to provide students the tools they need for a strong educational foundation. Our district recently introduced the HCISD Book Mobile, which toured all of our elementary campuses and distributed books, for all grade levels, to students.
What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?
Words that I like to live by are to let your work speak for you, and to keep students at the core of your business.
Finally, what can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
My parents did not have a formal education, but believed that education was the way out of poverty and the hope for the next generation. They instilled this in me and my siblings as we progressed through schools, and studied to attain the highest degree possible. We carried our parents’ message to that end, and three of us received doctorate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, and currently serve in the position of Superintendent collectively impacting over 100,000 students in Texas.