Esmeralda Rodríguez Quirós has been in charge of the management of the Tierrablanca Institute since last September. Originally from Guareña, this Language and Literature teacher combines her passion for reading with the management of the educational center, “an experience that all teachers should go through.”
Who is the director of IES Tierrablanca? How would she define herself as a person?
I consider myself a hard-working and organized person, even if sometimes it is within my own disorder. I love interacting with people and trying to help in any way I can.
What is your professional career?
Since I was little I wanted to be a teacher. In 2004 I started at the San Vicente de Alcántara institute and since then I have visited several towns in the province of Badajoz, including La Zarza in the first stage. I spent six years in Zalamea de la Serena.
Last year, I finally got the place I was looking for at the IES ‘Tierrablanca’. My intention is to continue here for many years.
Although you have only been in office for a short time, what assessment can you make of these first months at the helm?
The truth is that my arrival to the position was so sudden that I hardly had time to be aware of what it meant to accept this great challenge. They have been months of a lot of work and a lot of uncertainty because this year really is not a normal year like others. Everything has gone ahead thanks to my teammates who accompanied me in this little madness and with whom I agree in their enthusiasm for the project.
Furthermore, the former management team, the directors of the schools in our area of influence, the AMPA and the City Council have contributed to making the beginning of this adventure more bearable for us.
What main objectives did you set when taking office?
The fundamental objective is that the center works well, that there is a good climate of coexistence between all members of the educational community and that the students remember their time at the institute with affection.
What aspects of the center can be improved?
The degree of involvement of the students. You can also update some rules that reflect the evolution of the center, such as the use of mobile phones, for example, and evaluate all those proposals that come to us to improve it.
How many students are enrolled in this course?
Currently, we have 359 students, of which 251 belong to ESO, 72 to Baccalaureate and 36 to the Training Cycle.
Are there discipline problems at the center?
In an educational center there are always different moments of tension, but we normally try to quell them, especially from the Head of Studies, quickly so that the problems do not become more serious. We also have the support of the Social Educator and the Counselors who talk with the students to analyze their origin and try to find a solution.
How have both teachers and students responded to the COVID-19 health crisis?
At first we were all a little nervous. The situation was new, there was fear of infections, how the course was going to be developed, how long we were going to last in face-to-face teaching and, furthermore, the entire management team had changed. But I have to say that we have all done our part and the course has followed a trajectory close to normal, saving some positive cases to which, unfortunately, we are increasingly accustomed.
How do you see the coexistence between students from the three neighboring towns, Alange, La Zarza and Villagonzalo?
Coexistence is excellent. In fact, on most occasions, teachers do not identify students who are from different locations. I think this nuance is good for the unity of the center.
How does the decrease, widespread throughout the region, affect the institute’s enrollment?
It is quite noticeable if we look at the enrollment data from previous courses. It affects, above all, Baccalaureate electives. With few students we cannot take all the subjects that are asked of us and we are forced not to offer those that are less in demand, even if we do not like it.
What is the relationship between the center and the families like? Are parents more or less involved in their children’s education?
It is a shame that we cannot maintain more relationships with families due to the pandemic. Whenever we contact parents we have a quick response and there is noticeable action on their part to support our decisions.
Those responsible for the AMPA are also always solicitous when it comes to collaborating. This support always encourages the preparation of activities that promote the unity of the center.
What message would you send to parents?
I would send you a message of gratitude for that involvement that we perceived and that we talked about before. For us it is fundamental because it supports our work, which is to develop the different abilities of our students.
We are all part of the same community and, if we work together, our students’ results can improve at all levels.