DR. MARK PORTERIE — Port Arthur ISD honors our history while paving way for student growth

Published 12:34 am Saturday, February 5, 2022

February gives us an opportunity to recognize all of the things that make us proud and uplift our hearts.

During this month, we celebrate the TET holiday to welcome the Lunar New Year and recognize what happened in the former year. It is considered an important mark for changes, plans and progress.

At the same time, we also celebrate Black History Month, an annual recognition of countless achievements made by African Americans. There are several inventions created by African Americans that have made our lives much easier.

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Sarah Boone, an African American woman, was one of the first Black women in U.S. history to receive a patent when she made improvements to the original ironing board. Home security systems were co-invented by Mary Van Brittan Brown, a Black nurse, in 1966.

And we cannot forget about the three-light traffic signal, invented by an African American gentleman named Garrett Morgan in 1923. There are many more inventions we use everyday that can be attributed to African Americans.

Did you know February is also National Career and Technical Education Month? I’ll bet you didn’t know we have a CATE campus that sits next door to the Memorial High School auditorium. CATE houses over a dozen programs that teach career and technical skills, which are vital for real-world employment and success.

Students who enroll at CATE can potentially earn certifications and enter the workforce immediately after graduation. We have programs in cosmetology, hospitality, automotive technology, car repair, business management, health care, computer maintenance, construction, welding, audio/video and television production, and many more! We will be highlighting all of our programs on our social media platforms throughout the month.

Most of all, February is also associated with LOVE. This is the month where many across the world express their love for significant others, family and friends. February gives us an opportunity to appreciate things we often take for granted.

As the Superintendent of the Port Arthur Independent School District, I love and appreciate the diversity that makes up our district and community. In our city, we are fortunate to have many cultures to learn from and respect.

When our knowledge increases about the many cultures in our area, it helps us to be grateful for their contributions to our society. We can combine the best parts of our cultures to make great strides here at home.

Just like Valentine roses, our schools and facilities are beautiful. It gives us pleasure to know our employees and students are able to work and learn in safe and clean environments. I am appreciative of each employee in PAISD.

We have over 1,300 workers in our school district, and each individual brings their talents to the table in order to be able to assist in educating each of our 8,000 students. Our parents are amazing.

Even though we might not always agree, I can honestly say when this district has needed parental support, they have not hesitated to provide it. We have been through floods, hurricanes and now COVID; and each time, our parents have stood strong with us.

Two weeks ago, I had the most incredible experience at the Wheatley School of Early Childhood. I was asked to come and kickoff their celebration of Literacy Week and to read a book to the students.

My experience at Wheatley was one of my most exciting experiences that particular week. Our tiniest Titans, who are 3 and 4 year olds, are modeling discipline, honesty, intelligence and an overall great attitude. I commend the staff for what they are doing to teach and model excellence for every child.

As I travel to different campuses, I see the hard work and dedication of our staff. Our children are doing great and our teachers have not gone the extra mile but many extra miles!

With so much hatred and dissention in our world, it is great to be a part of the PAISD and the Port Arthur community. When I read and watch what is going on across America, I can only be thankful for where I am.

Yes, we have challenges, but when I need assistance, I am so happy to have so many I can call on who I know truly love and care about our community and our schools. I ask each of you to continue to look above the challenges of today and hold on to the hope of a better tomorrow.

We are better together than we are apart. We thank our community for the love it gives to PAISD.

Dr. Mark Porterie is superintendent of schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District. He can be reached at mporterie@paisd.org.