Dr. Geraldo Cruz: Addressing Student Needs

I am Dr. Geraldo Cruz, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment with the Laredo Independent School District. My role involves supervising everyone involved in teaching and learning, including all 32 campuses, principals, assistant principals, central office staff, executive directors, directors, special program directors, and our instructional deans and coordinators.


Primarily, I focus on the big picture, looking at our curriculum and how we are addressing student needs, ensuring we provide opportunities for our students to grow and develop. One significant initiative we have undertaken is providing more dual enrollment opportunities. These are college-based courses that students can take as early as their freshman year, offering a variety of courses that count towards college graduation plans. This allows students to think about their career opportunities and make informed choices about their college careers.


I am proud to say that we are in our third year of the Early College program at J.W. Nixon High School, specifically the BIPS Early College, which focuses on Business, Industry, and Professional Services. This pathway allows students to gain experiences in the educational field and earn coursework. There is a lot of excitement about this program.


Before establishing an early college with an educational pathway, we had our first early college housed at TAMIU. The Garcia Early College High School was our first group of students to be part of the educational pathway and earn college credits. Before becoming an assistant superintendent, I was the principal at J.W. Nixon High School, where I hired one of the graduates from Garcia Early College High School. This young lady, at 21 years old, was teaching Algebra and Geometry, just a few years older than her students. She is still teaching and is a very dynamic teacher, exemplifying the success of growing our own educators.


We aim to provide relevant learning experiences, especially considering that Laredo is approximately 99% Hispanic and our school district is about 98% Hispanic with a high percentage of low socioeconomic status. We want our teachers to represent the population they teach, which is important. Living in Laredo feels like being in a large family, and we strive to emulate that in our classrooms. Having teachers who look like and share similar backgrounds with their students is beneficial.


Despite financial difficulties, we have support structures to give students opportunities to succeed. Families here love teachers and hold the education field in high esteem. We receive a good response from our students and parents, and as we continue with our programs, we recognize that education is the future.


Since the pandemic, the educational needs of our students have changed. Bridging what happens in public education with TAMIU ensures that teachers in preparation programs know what’s going on in the classroom. It’s more about social-emotional support and being tech-savvy. Textbooks are now online, and every student in our district has a laptop or Chromebook through our one-to-one initiative. Our teachers need to be well-prepared, and our students are being prepared by being exposed to technology. We are creating a two-way bridge: one going into higher education and another from higher education teacher prep programs down to our classrooms.

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