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Long Time Educator Appointed To Serve As Donna ISD's Acting Superintendent

Long Time Educator Appointed To Serve as Donna ISD’s Acting Superintendent

The Donna Independent School District Board of Trustees has appointed Ms. Rebecca Castaneda as Acting Superintendent of Schools effective immediately. Castaneda, who currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Leadership was voted in at a regular board meeting July 27, 2021. She will take the reins as the district’s leader until a new superintendent is named.

Castaneda said she was honored and humbled over her appointment and thanked members of the board for delegating her the responsibility of leading the district, while the search for a new superintendent continues. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the Donna ISD Board of Trustees for the trust and confidence they have placed in me to serve as Acting Superintendent of Schools,” Castaneda said. “While my appointment is temporary, I want the Donna ISD community to know that as long as I’m here, I will serve the district to the best of my abilities and always put our students first as we move forward in making decisions.”

Castaneda’s experience with Donna ISD dates back 25 years. Her roles included teacher, curriculum specialist, assistant principal, and principal at the elementary level. While at Central Office, she served as Executive Director for Elementary overseeing principals, the Gifted and Talented Program and Library Services. She was also Director of Federal Programs.

As acting superintendent, Castaneda now has the task of transitioning all students back to 100 % in-person instruction, five days a week.  Her immediate goal is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students and staff. “The safety and well-being of students, teachers, and staff are our biggest priority,” Castaneda said. “With the guidance from TEA, CDC, and local health authorities, we have been collaborating with campus administration and working diligently behind the scenes for everyone’s safe return to school.”

Castaneda said she is excited that students are returning to the classroom for face-to-face learning and looks forward to hitting the ground running. “We have a lot of work ahead of us as educators when it comes to filling the academic gaps that students have been experiencing due to the pandemic,” said Castaneda. “Fortunately, we’re receiving ESSER funding from the federal government, which will allow us to put in place the necessary resources including hiring additional staff to support our students across the district. We need to make sure we do everything in our power to help our children not only recover from this learning loss but excel in all areas.”

Another key component the district will focus on this school year is the students’ social, emotional and mental health. “We know, this pandemic has presented many challenges to school-age children across the globe,” Castaneda said. “Children coping with mental health conditions have been especially vulnerable. So, to help our district prepare, we brought in the Capturing Kids’ Hearts Program to train our staff on how to identify and assist students who are in need of social and emotional support. We have also expanded our partnership with Communities in Schools, which will allow us to provide a professional social worker at all our 14 elementary campuses.”

While Castaneda admits this role will be a learning experience, she is up for the challenge. “I am confident that we will thrive through the challenges that lie ahead. For now, I can’t wait to see all our students interacting with our teachers in the classroom. It’s been a long time coming.”