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G-PISD Assistant Superintendent Velma Soliz-Garcia took to the podium during the Portland Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday with Heroes luncheon last month and thanked the faculty and staff for their years of service and honored the students for braving the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Portland Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday with Heroes luncheon, San Patricio County residents and city officials came together to honor those who keep our citizens, and their children, safe.

For the second year in a row, Assistant Superintendent  Velma Soliz-Garcia took the podium and soon announced this would be her last.

She has been named the lone finalist for the superintendent position at Flour Bluff ISD and took her position Jan. 4.

“So there’s been quite a few posts on social media along with a couple of comments,” Soliz-Garcia said, talking about her leaving G-PISD. “And one funny comment that was posted was a girl who said, ‘Do something with that hair.’

“Okay, that’s not too bad, I can take that,” she laughed. “But we’ve been a little busy the past nine months. And that was the last thing on my list of priorities.”

She said that on the top of that list was making sure the kids were safe, and that teachers had everything they needed in order to survive during the first pandemic they ever had to face in education.

Along with thanking the school board, food service workers and custodial staff armed with spray pumps mounted to their backs who she said, “Look like Ghostbusters because they are always at the ready to go spray down in between classes.”

She also recognized teachers as “the people who had the biggest challenge because nine months ago, their world was turned upside down. 

“These are people who love to have the children right in front of them every day and when we had to tell them that the kids couldn’t come in, it was the biggest shock to their system, because that’s our job, as educators,  to have our kiddos right beside us. And we can see in their faces that they’re learning.”

She said it took 72 hours to flip their system  from a face-to-face direct instruction to a virtual platform. 

“What we knew was that we had to keep teaching and we had to make sure that our kids were learning, “Soliz-Garcia said. “And that’s what our teachers did. They took everything in stride. And it was difficult at times, but when we were able to come back face-to-face, they were ready, and they wanted the kids to come back.”

She said that one of the main things that made all of this possible was the support of the city staff and officials and the support of the community.

She also thanked former Superintendent Dr. Paul Clore for his 19 years of service and new Superintendent Dr. Michelle Cavazos for allowing her to leave the district knowing the kids would be in great hands.

“I do also want to remind you about the greatest heroes in our community – our students,” Soliz-Garcia said. “If anybody’s world has changed, it has been theirs.

“Whether they’re 5 or they’re 15, their lives have completely changed. As adults, we’ve lived life and we’ve had the fun, we’ve had the joy, we’ve had the dances, we’ve had the hugs and the kisses and all of that. 

“Some of our kids will not get that for a while.

“So we have to remember that they are the greatest heroes and they’re the ones that are experiencing the biggest change.” 



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