March 2024 Meeting

“Once a Buc, Always a Buc”: Identifying and Encouraging the Abilities and Aspirations of Girls

Principal of Miller High & Metro School of Design, Mrs. Sandy Salinas-DeLeon, enlightened our members about the programs, initiatives, and resources for 1,500 students — from 7th to 12th grades. Miller High School includes the Metro Prep for 7th and 8th grade students. In addition to Dual-Credit courses, Language Arts classes, and STEM offerings, students may engage their passion for music, art, and theatre and drama. Young Metro Prep students won the first-place award at Corpus Christi ISD’s UIL One Act Play, “The Great Pandemonium,” competing against five other middle schools in December 2021.

In 2021, Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon was selected principal of Miller, the oldest high school, originally named Corpus Christi High School. At 5 feet tall, slight, and soft-spoken, Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon leads her responsible staff with confidence, enthusiasm, respect, and collaborative efforts. Together, they oversee inventive efforts and events designed to address the needs and aspirations of students — for example, the TOP 50 and the Senior Signing Day.

TOP 50: At the beginning of each year, when the first ranking is announced, she and the staff invite the 10th, 11th and 12th grade TOP 50 students and their parents to a casual ceremony to present them with a “TOP 50” certificate. The ranking for each student is written on the corner of the backside of each certificate so the students know their actual rankings. Thus, students learn how close they may be to moving up in rank, and it provides them with another reason to try their best. Also, she and the staff describe scholarship opportunities based on ranking and Top 10% in class.

Senior Signing Day: In May, Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon and the staff host an unofficial Senior Signing for all of those who have been accepted to a college/university/military branch/or specific trade school. Banners for each university or organization decorate the gym. Each student signs a banner representing the organization, and banners remain displayed for all the student body. Representatives from colleges, universities, and military branches present gifts to the students.

Her own path from childhood in Eagle Pass, Texas, to her Miller High School leadership reveals challenges and achievements. She was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. However, soon her parents divorced, and she left Corpus Christi with her mother. After years of moving from city to city, they finally settled in Eagle Pass, Texas. Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon graduated from Eagle Pass High School.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Kinesiology, from Sul Ross State University in Alpine. Then, she returned to Eagle Pass where she taught for eight years at the campus named after her elementary principal, Ray H. Darr.  In eight years teaching, she taught at-risk, low socio-economic bilingual students. Many of her students were from migrant families that traveled every year, working in the fields from October to March. Often, in a class of 22, more than half of her students would withdraw to go work up North and would return in March to take state assessments.

In 1998, Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon moved to Corpus Christi, Texas. She taught at-risk, bilingual students at Gregory-Portland ISD. In 1999, while teaching classes full time and teaching GED twice weekly, she enrolled at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and earned a Masters in Educational Administration in 2000.

She taught at several CCISD schools and then served as an assistant principal and principal, for example, the new Cunningham at South Park.

She was named Educator of the Year 2008 by the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas.  In 2020 she was named Secondary Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary Principals.

Since 2021, Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon has supported a collaborative effort with our Branch to celebrate the accomplishments of 20 Miller High School senior girls, working with Kelly Gonzalez, Coordinator of our AAUW Community Outreach Committee; the Committee members; Miller Counselor Gerald Padilla; Cheryl Sanders, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Del Mar College; and the DMC AAUW students. Being recognized for their academic efforts, the girls embrace their enhanced identities as achievers. Parents delight in attending this celebratory gathering that honors their daughters and encourages and supports further aspirations.

Mrs. Salinas-DeLeon is married to Rene DeLeon, and they share a blended family, who are now young professional adults, and two grandchildren. Her daughter, Anna, her pride and joy, is in her final year at UT Austin and will graduate 2025. As empty nesters, she and her husband, Rene, spend time with their only fur baby, Lily Mae.

President Catherine Cox thanked Principal Sandy Salinas-DeLeon for her uplifting presentation and, quoting Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complimented her courage and achievements at Miller, saying, “Though she be little / She is Fierce.”

Story by: Dr. Diana Cardenas

Diana Cardenas, Program Vice President; Mrs. Sandy Salinas-DeLeon, speaker; Catherine Cox, AAUW Branch President.