Socorro ISD Educator Named Texas 2018 National Distinguished Principal

Mentoring Minds sponsors 2018 Texas NDP Award.

EL PASO, TX – In a surprise announcement, Principal Jennifer Parker will be named the Texas 2018 National Distinguished Principal (NDP) by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) at 11:30 am Thursday, May 3, at Purple Heart Elementary School. Parker will be awarded a check for $10,000 thanks to a generous donation from long-time TEPSA business partner Mentoring Minds. She will represent Texas at the National Distinguished Principals program sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in Washington, D.C. in October.

An innovative visionary, Parker thrives on life-long learning and consistently seeks creative ways to serve the needs of her students, staff and community. In 2015 Parker was selected to open Purple Heart Elementary, and her dream of leading a 21st century learning facility became a reality.

Another goal Parker has achieved is to show students that learning is a life-long adventure. Purple Heart’s motto “College Begins in Kindergarten” permeates throughout the campus with programs like TECH-E Stem and a partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso. Purple Heart hosts UTEP interns, and the university holds two classes per semester at the school with Purple Heart teachers hosting observations.

“Jennifer has demonstrated the ability to bring about large-scale change in complex environments and has done it with grace, patience, empathy, and love for the vocation of education about which she is passionate,” wrote Socorro ISD Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Lucia Borrego in her recommendation letter. “But most of all, she loves and believes in her students and teachers.”

Teachers at Purple Heart follow a Project Based Learning model that is wrapped around a strong academic framework. Student-centered, this philosophy is a dynamic classroom approach that gives students the opportunity to actively explore real-world challenges and problems. It is not uncommon to see firemen, dentists, architects, grocery store owners, professors and other professionals leading lessons.

Each grade level team is committed to implementing two Project Based Learning opportunities per year. These projects include working with community members and a real-world excursion to support program outcomes. This year students set a goal to improve literacy in their neighborhood. Using critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication, students established a Little Free Library. Set up outside the school, the Little Free Library is always open for all in the community to enjoy.

“Jennifer and her leadership team have put strong systems into place that provide safety nets for students as well as learning opportunities for the entire school community,” TEPSA Executive Director Harley Eckhart said. “She has a proven track record of motivating students to high levels of engagement and consistent academic gains.”

As a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports school, Parker values a safe learning environment that provides social and emotional learning. She has successfully implemented the program on four different campuses, and her team frequently presents at conferences. The program serves as a model for the entire region.

“Texas principals are doing outstanding work to spur student growth. Mentoring Minds is proud to highlight that work through our tradition of partnering with TEPSA to sponsor the Texas National Distinguished Principal. This year, we’re thrilled to highlight Jennifer as the visionary educator to represent our state,” Mentoring Minds CEO Shad Madsen said.

A principal for eight years, Parker served as principal at Lujan-Chavez Elementary from 2009-2014. She received her M.Ed. from the University of Texas at El Paso.

TEPSA received more than 100 nominations for the 2018 NDP award. After a rigorous reading process, in which applicants shared their educational philosophies and accomplishments both in and out of the classroom, a peer-review committee selected five finalists. These outstanding leaders then showcased their achievements during a school visit by a team of educators. Parker will receive her award Wednesday, June 13, during the TEPSA Summer Conference in Austin.


TEPSA, whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 5,800 members who direct the activities of more than 3 million PreK-8 school children. Learn more at

About the National Distinguished Principal Award Program

Sponsored by NAESP, The National Distinguished Principals program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. The program was established in 1984 to recognize and celebrate elementary and middle-level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character, and climate for the students, families, and staffs in their learning communities. Learn more at

About Mentoring Minds

Mentoring Minds is a K-12 publisher with a mission to put critical thinking at the center of the classroom in order to support student achievement and empower educators to teach to higher standards. Mentoring Minds’ award-winning, research-based resources are designed to be flexible for classroom needs, supporting technology integration and standards mastery for Math, ELAR, and Science. Mentoring Minds’ commitment to education extends beyond the classroom, as well. The company proudly sponsors groundbreaking administrators across the nation and supports community-based education initiatives through MindShare, an employee-driven grant program. For more information, call 800-585-5258 or visit