PAISD rocks in new school year

Published 11:34 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

The cheers of the crowds were nearly deafening Thursday morning in the Port Arthur High School gym. But the enthusiastic cheers didn’t come from any students; they came from impassioned adults as faculty and school staff gathered to kick off the new school year in style.

The Port Arthur Independent School District’s annual convocation served as an introduction for new teachers and staff and it was a social gathering for all PAISD employees.

Superintendent Mark Porterie opened ceremonies with a hearty good morning to the large crowd in attendance, referring to them at one point as “the best school district.”

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Porterie acknowledged the employees of PAISD, calling out the campuses, the maintenance crews, the media team, transportation workers, social workers, nutrition experts and, of course, the faculty. Each group — in color-coded t-shirts — responded with an energetic uproar.

PAISD faculty and staff rally forward with school spirit at the 2017 PAISD Convocation at Memorial High School. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

Porterie made special mention of the district’s accountability rating put out by the Texas Education Agency. Specifically, he lauded the fact that every single school in the district met state standard.

PAISD board president Donald Frank Sr. expressed gratitude for the district employees in attendance and likewise congratulated the district’s perfect state rating.

“Because of all your hard and diligent work, all schools in PAISD have met standard,” Frank said.

He went on to express hope for the district and its students because “we want every child to be the best they can be, and know that they will be because of you.”

Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Melvin Getwood led the crowd in a chant that expressed the district’s commitment to its charges.

“I am committed to delivering a high quality of instruction to all PAISD students,” he said.

Getwood announced the 2017-18 district-wide teachers of the year: Derrick Pete of Abraham Lincoln Middle School and assistant choir director with PAISD Lachelle Lavalais.

Lachelle Lavalais, assistant choir director with the district, sings during the musical selection of the 2017 PAISD Convocation. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

Porterie closed out the event on a note of energy, power and optimism.

“It feels good to stand here. It’s almost unbelievable,” he said. “Because we have fought for so long to get here.

“As educators, we give up a lot. As educators, our time is compromised and our families are sometimes compromised because we have to give so much to education.”

But, he said, the commitment is worth it.

“It’s a sacrifice (but) I will never regret in choosing education,” Porterie said.

Porterie once again touted the district’s TEA ratings, claiming that “education is freedom” and “education is opportunity.”

“We had to fight for it,” he said.

A PAISD student sings “Stop In The Name Of Love” during musical selection of the 2017 PAISD Convocation. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

In a closing note that drew very vocal support from those in attendance, Porterie said that in the next PAISD board meeting, the trustees would discuss the issue of proper compensation for all school employees.

“We’re talking about raising a first-year teacher’s salary from $43,000 to $47,000…” Porterie said. “That’s for zero years. Just think what it will be for those who have been here.”

Porterie added, “You not only deserve it, you’ve earned it.”