New superintendent starts work at Edcouch-Elsa

There’s a new superintendent in Edcouch-Elsa.

Dr. Gregory Rodriguez officially took the helm at Edcouch-Elsa ISD on Sept. 10 after being named lone finalist for the position by the board last month.

Rodriguez was selected from a pool of 29 applicants after a search conducted by law firm O’Hanlon, Demearth & Castillo with Daniel King and Abelardo Saaverda.

Rodriguez, a San Antonio native, most recently served as deputy superintendent with Waterbury Public Schools in Connecticut, a district of about 19,000. He said he decided to head back to Texas after losing family members during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he’s glad to be back home.

“The food is something that I really missed,” he said. “It’s good to get back to some real authentic Tex-Mex and Mexican food, but the people I think is the most important part of coming back to Texas. You’ve got the Texas hospitality, you’ve got people who are proud Texans and really love the mingling of cultures here in the border region, and that’s something I really did miss being in the Northeast.”

Rodriguez holds a Ph.D. in education from Texas State University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Houston Baptist University and has a resume that includes posts at both large and small districts.

He says he served in a variety of teaching and administrative positions in schools across Texas, New Mexico and Connecticut after completing his bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Southwest Texas State University.

“I graduated on a Saturday, went to work on a Monday in December of 1996,” he said. “Taught English language arts and Spanish at the high school and middle school levels.”

Planning for a return to campus and coping with the pandemic are likely to be among his first duties as the head of the district, Rodriguez said.

“Right now our first priority is ensuring that our transition back to school when students return is safe and healthy,” he said. “Our students and our staff, their safety is our number one priority, so we want to make sure our first focus is ensuring that when we return in person we have the appropriate PPE, the appropriate COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place and ensuring that we are able to pick up where we left off with distance learning.”

Rodriguez also hopes to close learning gaps at the district and boost Edcouch-Elsa’s state rating from a B to an A.

“I would like to see our district increase its academic performance on the state assessment and continue the tradition of our extracurricular activities being excellent,” he said. “We have state championship mariachi, national mariachi, we have a strong tradition and pride in our football program, we have many offerings in career and technical education. All of those things make Edcouch-Elsa a unique place and other districts don’t have the opportunity to offer that pride and tradition, so I want to improve on that.”