EL CENTRO — The El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau welcomed teachers and educators from the El Centro Elementary School District with a continental breakfast and freebies Wednesday, August 14, at the Wilson Junior High School gym. The first day of school is Monday, August 19.
“The chamber does this because we really appreciate all that our teaching and administrative staff do for our kids,” said Anne Irigoyen president of the board of directors for El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau during an interview with The Desert Review.
And on a personal level, Irigoyen expressed her own conviction. “I have a strong passion for working with children. I think they are our future and someday they’ll take care of us.”
According to her, the chamber has hosted welcome back to school breakfasts for many years. Many chamber members — business owners, corporate officers, service organizations, banks and elected officials — donated school supplies which were offered to teachers and educators. Twenty-three chamber members set up booths at the event.
Irigoyen estimated the number of participants to be about 600; filling the gymnasium floor area as well as the bleachers.
ECESD’s website posted 5,400 students attending the following schools in the district: Imperial Valley Home School Academy, De Anza Magnet School, Desert Garden, Harding, Hedrick, Lincoln, McKinley, Martin Luther King, Washington, Sunflower, Kennedy Elementary and Wilson Jr. High School.
“Being appreciated gives you the energy to work with our most valuable resources — which are our kids. So, it is definitely very energizing to be appreciated,” said José Ureña, who is now in his third year as principal of McKinley Elementary School. He came to the Imperial Valley from San Luis, Arizona.
Ureña said among his many concerns for this school year, three are school safety, academic growth, and the weather.
According to Ureña, physical safety also includes emotional safety. “We are living in an era perceived to be violent and we really need to make sure that we take care of our kids.”
The district has invested in both physical safety and emotional safety of students by hiring a psychologist and counselors. “And currently at McKinley, we do have a full-time psychologist. So that is definitely very rewarding and very reassuring that our kids are going to be safe.”
According to Ureña, academic growth can be achieved. However, there has to be a definitive assurance to capture the children’s hearts so that they feel safe, both physically and emotionally, and that they are valued and appreciated. “And once we have that, then we can start building on the academics.”
“I’m worried about the weather,” Ureña said, referring to the first day of school Monday, Aug. 19, where temperatures will still be in the triple digits with a prediction of 109° and 114° the next day, according to The Weather Channel app.
“We going to make sure to keep the kids safe during their 45-minute lunchtime, and it’s the hottest time of the day,” said Ureña. Lunches are served indoors in the multipurpose room. However, the children go outdoors after lunch. “They love being outdoors.”
The “Welcome Back Teachers Breakfast,” was to help acquaint teachers with the community as well as to provide an opportunity for local businesses to be involved in the education of the Valley’s children.