OLFEN — The Olfen school district was recently named the Region 15 School Board of the Year as they continue to improve and build on that success.

Superintendent Gabriel Zamora praises the school board for their work.

“They have done a tremendous job and the school district has benefitted from their hard work,” Zamora said.

Region 15 is comprised of 43 school districts and winning the award for the region was no small feat. Zamora, who is also a First Sergeant, a senior non-commissioned officer in the National Guard, says that the school board encompasses leadership and excellence.

Olfen was the first district in the state to implement a four-day school week and it has proven to be a success. Students attend classes for the four days and if they have a poor grade on a report card or if they receive a progress report, they attend a fifth day to received additional instruction. It is hard to get a humble Zamora to talk about his work because he wants to only discuss the success of the board and his staff. His leadership ability is evident in both his manner and in the district posting its highest STARR scores ever. Olfen also graduated a senior class at the end of the 2017-18 year for the first time in their history.

One of the most impressive accomplishments is the school’s recent graduates heading off to their future with 30 college semester hours under their respective belts. It’s not just the immediate success of the students that he is vesting his time and energy in, it’s their future success as well. The courses are structured so that during their freshman year, the students take a college course on preparing for and how to study in college. After that, they study other courses from Western Texas College. They also received an official chapter in the Future Farmer’s of America. The teacher, Mr. Mark Pittman and several of his students went to Dallas to accept the honor.

Recently the school reclaimed some areas that had been used for storage so that they could accommodate more students. “We have doubled the attendance and doubled the finance,” Zamora said proudly. “It’s been a lot of hard work but well worth it,” he added. The school is focused on academics, from raising test scores to overall academic performance.

When Zamora became the superintendent the district was in an “improvement required” rating with the state, which significantly endangered its future. Had Zamora and the board not been able to overcome the difficulties, it could have resulted in the district being dissolved and the students having to attend other schools. Originally Zamora was the superintendent and principal but now, with the district improving and recent success, they were able to hire a principal so Zamora can concentrate on the hefty responsibility of running the district.

“As a superintendent, you have to set goals for the staff, set goals for the students, keep the school board updated, manage the finances and address concerns from parents,: said Zamora, who has even driven a bus to help out at times. It’s obvious that there are no small tasks in his book. “Every success is a building block for the next.”

The Olfen School Board members are President Tracy Grimes, Vice President Joan Fuchs, Secretary Kathy Halfmann, trustee J.B. Fuchs and trustee Tobias Correa. Together with the community, the school teachers, school board, staff and Zamora have forged a new era for the Olfen school district.