First-year principal wins admin of the year, credits Ron Clark

A 15-year veteran of Ector County ISD in Odessa, Texas, Erin Bueno has risen up through the ranks and recently finished her first year as principal of San Jacinto Elementary School. 

During that first year as principal, she was recognized by the district as the administrator of the year.

She taught fifth and sixth grade for 10 years and then assumed the role of instructional coach for an additional two years. After her roles in the classroom, she served as assistant principal at San Jacinto until the retirement of Principal Pam Walker.

According to Bueno, she started her leadership career receiving this award, and her goal is to end her leadership career at that level and receive the award more times throughout her life and throughout her career at Ector County ISD.

“A few years ago, San Jacinto was the lowest-performing campus in the district. We are now one of the top-performing campuses in the district and I think the biggest change is we started building relationships with our students and learning what they needed and adapting to them and we’ll continue that this year,” Bueno said.

The campus adopted strategies from the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. It was founded by former teacher, motivational speaker and author Ron Clark. Bueno said she was one of the first people from San Jacinto to attend the Ron Clark Academy four years ago when she was an assistant principal. 

“We knew we had to change. The campus had been IR (improvement required under state accountability standards) for several years before then, so we went to Ron Clark with a team and we kind of took things from Ron Clark, what we wanted to implement here …,” Bueno said.

Now that she’s won it, Bueno said she plans to maintain the benchmarks that got her there. Her goals for the campus are to continue working on building relationships with the students.

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