Our People Make the Difference

What do we mean when we say, “Our people make the difference?”

Research shows us that the greatest impact on student learning is the relationship between a student and an educator. It’s not something you can force from the top down. It’s not something you can measure with a test. As a district, we focus on recruiting and hiring people who are passionate and dedicated, people whose greatest joy is seeing your children succeed. Just as we do with our students, we give our educators the resources and tools they need to succeed, then we step back and watch them soar.

At San Angelo, we are proud to say that all 2000 of our educators and staff members are making the difference.

Carl Dethloff, Superintendent, San Angelo ISD

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People Who Make the Difference

Meet Joey Ashbrook

Band director at Central High School

“My job is my life and the kids know that.”

Five years ago, Joey Ashbrook left Coppell ISD, a marching band powerhouse, to embark on a new adventure in San Angelo.

When he took over, the band had around 180 students. Today, the band is 418 members strong and went to the state marching band competition for the first time in 33 years. When the Mighty Bobcat Band takes the field on Friday nights, the crowd goes wild.

“These are the hardest-working kids I have ever been around. I don’t treat them like children, I treat them like young adults,” he says.

Even though the band works hard to be great, at the end of the day they’re a family. If someone is in need, everyone helps out.

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Meet Ben Lyons

Math teacher and powerlifting and football coach at Lake View High School

“For me, coach is the greatest term of endearment I could bestow on someone.”

San Angelo ISD alumnus Ben Lyons has come full circle. As a young athlete, he idolized his coaches. Now that he’s standing in their shoes, he strives to be a role model for his students.

“I owe a lot about the man I am today to my coaches, and it wasn’t necessarily about how to block or tackle, it was about pushing myself and finding my limits, being able to overcome adversity,” he says.

Ben loves that his students come from all walks of life, yet come together as a team on the field or at a powerlifting competition. He doesn’t think of teaching and coaching as a job, it’s an opportunity to influence kids.

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Meet Macy Smithson

Fifth grade science teacher at Fort Concho Elementary

“I love science. When I’m excited, they’re excited. I don’t really lecture, it’s all about hands-on learning.”

When Macy first started teaching, she recalls being terrified that her students wouldn’t learn all the content. Pretty quickly, she realized teaching was less about content and more about relationships. Once she has earned her students’ love and trust, the learning comes easily.

“My students really pull at my heart. Half of them call me Mom,” she says.

In Macy’s classroom, students learn through playing games and doing projects such as Alien Offspring, where they learn about genetic traits by creating an alien child.

At San Angelo ISD, teachers like Macy Smithson make the difference.

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Meet Rosendo Ramos

Mariachi director at Lincoln Middle School

“Mariachi is for everybody. Music is universal, there are no boundaries. It’s all about how you feel it.”

When Rosendo Ramos rebooted the mariachi program three years ago, he had 20 students. Today that number is 90 and climbing.

With mariachi, students don’t just learn an instrument, they learn a culture. Mariachi is rooted in Mexico, but the music attracts students from all backgrounds who want to learn how to translate their emotions into music and to perform with confidence.

“We stay very busy performing around the community and it’s awesome. In San Angelo, we don’t have many mariachis so people really enjoy it,” he says.

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Meet Julie Schniers

Speech and debate coach at Central High School

"What do you want your legend to be? I ask my students this question every year. I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference in students’ lives."

When Julie came to San Angelo 10 years ago, she had a grand vision of where she wanted the speech and debate team to be. Today, Central’s program is ranked among the top 5 percent of schools in the nation and they have fielded state and national champions.

“It far exceeds what I could have imagined,” she says.

No matter what kind of background a student comes from, they can find a home in Julie’s classroom and a platform where they can shine.

“It’s super important that every single kid finds a niche, a place they can belong,” she says.

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Meet Brandon Ligon

Assistant principal at Lee Middle School

“Most people think that my role is mostly about discipline, but it’s really about giving kids the tools to make better choices.”

Whether he’s in the cafeteria or in the hallway, Brandon Ligon is constantly talking to kids, giving them high fives and fist bumps and making connections.

“Once they know me and trust me, they tell me things,” he says.

Brandon knows middle schools is hard. Students are struggling to figure out who they are and are easily influenced by their friends. He tries to steer them in the right direction.

“I feel like I have been successful when I watch my kids apply something we have been talking about and see the positive benefit,” he says.

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