Irene Chavez, Excel Academy Principal, Celebrates 40 Years as Educator

Ms. Irene Chavez and Dr. Brian T. Woods

On May 5, it was a full house at the Northside Activity Center as colleagues, family, friends, and students gathered to honor Irene Chavez, NISD Excel Academy principal, at her retirement reception.  Chavez began her career in 1974 for NISD as a bilingual teacher, worked with At-Risk, Migrant, and Parental Involvement programs as she continued to pursue her own education, earning a Master’s degree and later, a summer fellowship to teach in a bilingual program in Madrid, Spain.  Ms. Chavez worked for five years as a truancy officer and in 1986, spear-headed a “Stay in School” program by forming a partnership with local malls in the community to keep kids in school. This lead to a TEA grant in 1990 for a three-year Adult Education pilot program for at-risk high school seniors to ensure their graduation.  Chavez saw 77 graduates walk the stage at the completion of the first year.  Once the three-year pilot ended, NISD decided that the program offered “vital, necessary options” for students, explains Chavez, who was appointed principal of Challenge High School, later to be merged with Sunset High School and re-named Excel Academy. She was the first female high school principal in the district.  In June of 2013, Chavez was awarded LULAC’s “Principal of the Year” Award. After 40 years of service, Chavez is retiring.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods referred to Ms. Chavez as “the kind of person who lights up a room with her energy,” It is that same energy that fueled  her mission to never give up on  students who struggle to complete their high school education. “Now don’t think your job is done just because you’re retiring,” said Dr. Woods, who reminded Ms. Chavez that he looks forward to working with  her on various school district committees and having her input on the school district’s goal to provide our students the best education possible and to prepare them for a successful future. “What an honor it has been to work with such wonderful people in a school district that truly puts the needs of its students first, “said Ms. Chavez.