Dr. Abelardo Saavedra was named Superintendent of Schools in the South San Antonio Independent School District (SSAISD) on March 19, 2014 after serving three months as the interim chief.Motivated by a purpose to serve, Dr. Saavedra returned with the intention of being a positive force for change.
That urge to help transform South San schools and their respective neighborhoods was instrumental in Dr. Saavedra's decision to apply for the position full time. "Once it's in you, you want to continue," said Dr. Saavedra at the time. "Can you continue to make a difference in the lives of the children and the community?"
Dr. Saavedra touched thousands of lives during his distinguished 36-year career as teacher, principal, school district administrator and ultimately, as superintendent. At each stop, he left the campus, or the school district, better than he found it.
During his tenure as Superintendent of Schools in the Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD), the district received state and national recognition for its "Real World Academic Standards" in all grade levels. AUSA Today (April 18, 1997) article stated that CCISD's academic standards "are more rigorous than those adopted by the State of Texas and span every grade and subject starting with prekindergarten."
That success led Dr. Saavedra to accept the challenge to become Superintendent of Schools in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the largest school district in the state of Texas and the seventh-largest in the nation. Rolling up his sleeves, Dr. Saavedra implemented a value-added assessment program to measure the performance of students and teachers, leading to a meteoric rise in academic performance. The number of "Exemplary" schools rose from 6 in 2005 to a total of 84 by the time he retired in 2009, a 1400% increase. Upon his departure, almost three-fourths of the HISD campuses were rated "Exemplary" or "Recognized" in state accountability standards. There was also great progress in closing the achievement gap by minority students and children of poverty.
During retirement, Dr. Saavedra remained active in several non-profit boards, served as an education consultant to school districts throughout the state and the nation, and was a Clinical Professor on the faculty of the Department of Educational Administration and Human Resources at Texas A&M in College Station.
However, as most teachers would tell you, there is no such thing as a retired educator. Every day is a new opportunity to touch the future. For Dr. Saavedra, that meant returning with a desire to leave a lasting impact at SSAISD. "I see a lot of potential in the South San community," he said upon becoming the permanent Superintendent of Schools. "We're at a point where South San can be a great district."
Dr. Saavedra holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) and a Doctorate in School Administration from the University of Michigan. Dr. Saavedra is married to his wife, Myrna, and has two grown children.