Education commissioner: Teachers 'pour love and skill' into children

Mike Morath makes visit to Early Elementary School

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath watches as Lisa Truax, a fifth-grade math teacher at Early Elementary School, works on a lesson with students ((from left) Aydin Griffin, Harper Thornberry, Ella Ledbetter, Jaime Lyon and Logan Jackson.

EARLY — Early Elementary School welcomed Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to the campus earlier this week, where Morath visited several classrooms and interacted with students and teachers.

Morath was accompanied by representatives of the Texas Education Agency, Education Service Center Region 15 in San Angelo and the Early school district.

The TEA is starting to resume regular visits to schools — a practice that had been suspended because of COVID.

“He’s actually just swinging through the area, wanting to visit some rural schools, and Early was on his list,” Early ISD superintendent Dr. Dewayne Wilkins said before Morath arrived on a rainy Tuesday morning.

“He knows we’re historically good, so he wanted to stop by and see what we’re doing. He’s never been here before. We’re very excited to have him.”

In classrooms, Morath visited with students and asked them about their schoolwork, and spoke with teachers.

Morath seemed impressed at what he saw and heard. In one classroom, Morath spent several minutes watching students working on a large interactive touchscreen, noting that classrooms only had blackboards when he attended school.

“We were very excited to be invited to see the experts here in Early plying their trade,” Morath said.

“The work that teachers do to pour love and skill into kids is amazing. Our teachers are brain surgeons. They are molding minds. But unlike actual neurosurgeons, they have 20 patients at a time instead of just one, and there is no anesthesia. So it’s a very, very difficult profession."

Morath said it had been "just remarkable" to visit classrooms and see children learning skills including math and literacy.

"That’s the reason we were here, to just watch and learn from what our schools are doing," Morath said. "Early has a very strong track record in growing literacy skills in kids and growing strong mathematics abilities. We saw that."

Morath said he reminds his TEA team that the agency doesn’t educate any children in its building in Austin.

“We have to get out in the schools and see what our educators, our practitioners, are doing on a day-to-day basis, and use that expertise to drive policy and support that we can do from Austin,” Morath said.

After Morath’s visit, Early Elementary School principal Julie Schafer said the school had previously been unable to have visitors because of COVID.

“So what better visitors to start opening our doors back up to than Mr. Morath and his group,” Schafer said. “It’s been a great visit.”