Jackson Middle School has quite a record when it comes to achievements. Jackson holds the bragging rights of being the 3 time defending champion in the International C-Stem Challenge. The purpose of the CSTEM Challenge is to eliminate the barriers schools face in Communication, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through the formation of various clubs. What makes this recognition even more rewarding is that all these students are English Language Learners. These students don’t let their language barrier hold them back. In fact it just makes them work that much harder. Almost every day, these students stay after school to learn and improve upon various ongoing projects. This year’s award- winning activity consisted of discovering new and advanced ways of saving water. This is something they are all very passionate about. Student Natividad Leal shares, “The rewards to saving water are endless.”
The success of the students is due in large part to the leadership of their school. Assistant Principal Joseph Alva is one of the club’s sponsors. Alva wears many hats. Not only does he lead a school, he is also the bus coordinator, the Limited English Proficient (LEP) Coordinator, an Instructional Specialist, and the Robotics Club Sponsor. His favorite part of his job entails spending quality time with his students, by joining them in volunteer opportunities on weekends, such as cleaning up Mason Park. Alva says, “I want kids to know that not everything is about a test. Learning is also about surviving in the real world.” Alva is a Houston Native and, a product of Houston Independent School District, who strongly believes in giving back to the community.
Another Club Sponsor is 6th grade teacher, Zayda Miranda-Makany. She has been teaching in Houston ISD for 25 years. Makanay is originally from Nicaragua where she earned a degree in Accounting. When she came to the United States she earned another degree in Education. Her educational journey did not stop there, as she continued in her studies and graduated Cum Laude with a Masters in Technology and Curriculum. Her dedication to her students and education is very admirable. She also puts in long hours for the greater good of her students and community.
Science teacher, Luis Bastidas is another passionate individual who contributes greatly to the Robotics Club, as well as his students. As a former Chemical Engineer, he thinks it’s important to share his work experience. Bastidas states, “I want to give the kids the opportunity to create and apply science in real world situations.” Bastidas teaches his students how to be resourceful, all of the projects that the students build are formulated out of recycled materials. He also believes that this club gives the students life lessons such as group work, team building, dealing with struggles, and the importance of hard work.
Thanks to leaders such as Alva, Makanay, and Bastidas the youth of Jackson Middle School have the chance to grow in a positive direction. Their students have more than a school building to attend, they have a family that teaches them the importance of education and hard work.
Below is a link to the award winning presentation: