Leadership in STEM Education with Principal Christian K. Parra at Harmony School of Excellence

little girl in yellow shirt playing with lego robot

We are proud to share this guest post by Christian K. Parra about her experience as Principal at Harmony School of Excellence, a Harmony Public Schools campus in San Antonio, Texas.

Where do you currently work as a school leader, and what do you like about your school?

I am currently the principal at Harmony School of Excellence and I enjoy working at our school because we allow our core values to drive us each and every day. We have high expectations, dedicated staff that works together and we have STEM for all.

What is the mission and vision at Harmony School of Excellence?

Our mission is to prepare each and every student for college and career by providing a safe, caring and collaborative atmosphere and a quality student-centered educational program with a strong emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Our vision is to lead our students from the classroom into the world as productive and responsible citizens.

What are you most proud of about Harmony School of Excellence?

We are proud to have great relationships with our Harmony families. Those relationships tend to develop when we (staff and teachers) make our home visits and they continue to strengthen throughout the year.

It’s important for our teachers, and staff, and that includes me, to get to know who our parents are AND for our scholars to know that we have a good relationship because we know that it takes all of us working together to ensure a great education through open communication and that begins with building a relationship.

Another thing that makes Harmony School of Excellence unique is that we’re leaders in STEM, and that means we engage students in STEM at an early age. It’s part of our school culture and it certainly helps build that foundation that prepares them for middle school.

We’re excited because we will be opening our Makerspace on October 5th, which will provide a dedicated space for our scholars to create, build and imagine all things STEM

At Harmony, how do you support flexibility and innovation in teaching and leading?

Our school focuses on encouraging teachers to lead and stay informed through professional learning and professional learning communities.  PLCs allow for teachers to meet as a team, take a deep dive into the state standards and discuss, share, and create Do Nows, Exit Tickets, etc.  that they believe will elevate rigor and increase student achievement.  This allows for teacher autonomy and ownership of their classrooms.

How does Harmony School of Excellence maintain a focus on high quality instruction and student achievement?

Our campus has an Instructional Leadership Team which is a team of campus administrators and teacher leaders, led by the principal, who collaborate to focus on the improvement of teaching and learning.  This team is engaged in Harmony Core4 which is lesson preparation, data driven instruction, observation feedback, and practice based professional learning.

What are some school traditions and things that you all do for fun?

Our scholars would say they participate in clubs of different kinds, and yes that is fun, but we also celebrate our scholars by providing them with festivals throughout the year. We have our annual fall festival that is open to the community and we have a spring festival that allows our scholars to play games, win prizes and have some carnival-type food, as well as spend time with their friends playing and enjoying themselves. The teachers and staff, along with our parents and PTO do a great job making it a fun time for all who attend.

Also, I heard about our Friday ATTEN-DANCE!

This is a way our elementary students are celebrated for not missing a day of school for that specific week. At the end of the week, and at the end of the day, the scholars  are invited into the hall to dance during the ATTEN-DANCE end of week Friday Celebration! Those scholars who didn’t miss a day of school are able to dance in the hallway for the duration of a song. The music is played over the intercom system and they all let loose. Teachers and staff join in and it is evidently a lot of fun.  We’re looking into starting that tradition again. I didn’t know about it!

What do you want potential charter school teachers to know about Harmony Public Schools? What do potential students and families need to know?

The advice that I have is if they haven’t heard about Harmony Public Schools or know who we are, I encourage them to visit our website and see what we are all about.

Excellence is the Harmony Public Schools standard and this is well demonstrated by Harmony students who are consistently exceeding state averages on Texas standardized tests.

In the 2018 School Year all Harmony campuses across Texas met or exceeded state standards on the annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam.

Harmony Public Schools has the proud tradition of competing and winning state, national, and international STEM competitions, state and national academic commendations, and competitive internships at high-ranking universities.

What are the benefits of school choice for students, families, and educators?

Some of the benefits are that school choice provides parents an alternative to traditional public schools. A charter public school, such as Harmony, is independently operated and can design elements of its own educational program. This allows for the charter school to enjoy enhanced autonomy.

Christian K. Parra, Principal, Harmony School of Excellence

Christian K. Parra, Principal, Harmony School of Excellence, San Antonio

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Christian K. Parra, Principal at Harmony School of Excellence, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on September 23, 2021 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Christian K. Parra joined Harmony Public School in 2014 and served in leadership roles as the K–5 Math District Instructional Coach and as the District Federal Programs coordinator. She was later selected to serve as the Principal Resident for the Harmony Public School’s South Texas District, and was shortly appointed to be the principal for Harmony School of Excellence in July 2021.

Ms. Parra earned a Master’s in Education Administration from Lamar University in Beaumont. Her goals for the HSE—SA campus include having a growth mindset and a positive outlook with a focus on following areas: emphasizing a caring and inclusive school environment; being child centered; equipping staff and faculty to embrace their own leadership and development; and collaborating with the community.

As a new principal for Harmony School of Excellence, Ms. Parra is looking forward to fostering relationships with her staff, scholars, their parents and the community.

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