BY Vicky Brito
BROWNSVILLE – Dr. Jude Benavides, associate professor of Multidisciplinary Sciences at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, served as Principal for the Day at Morningside Elementary School on Friday, at the invitation of the school’s regular principal, Jose H. Martinez.
“Dr. Benavides is the son of Arturo X. Benavides, which A. X. Benavides Elementary School is named after, and Mr. Benavides was my principal back in the day when I attended Canales Elementary,” Martinez said. “It’s nice how full circle this has come.”
Benavides’s family connection to education was one of the reasons he wanted to participate.
“My father was principal at Canales Elementary for many years and held many administrative positions, as well. This is my first time seeing what he did,” Benavides said.
Benavides, who specializes in the study of hydrology and water resources, started his own principal duties early, arriving at the elementary school at 7:15 a.m., one hour before classes started, to greet the first arriving students.
“It’s one of those characteristic things, thinking about what I know about Joe (Martinez) through the time we’ve known each other over the past three decades. It’s not surprising that he does this in the mornings,” Benavides said.
Martinez accompanied Benavides to visit every classroom, where students were given the opportunity to ask Benavides questions ranging from what water is made out of, to whether or not he wears ties.
“If I see a tie, I cut it off,” Benavides joked with a second-grade class.
One second-grader him how hail is formed.
“Hail has to be formed when there are layers of frozen and warm temperatures in the atmosphere forming layers of the hail unit,” Benavides said. “When hail lands on the ground, it looks like an onion with layers, and that determines how many layers of atmosphere it went through before landfall.”
Benavides encouraged the children to focus on their studies and pursue higher education in the future.
“Maybe, if you decide to stay close to home for college, you will be my student at UTRGV,” he told them.
Benavides, who has been with the university since 2005, said seeing the unique perspective of what a principal does gives him a much greater appreciation of the educational structure as a whole.
“Education has been instilled to me by my parents as very, very important from the beginning. It’s the key to everything,” Benavides said. “I think that’s the most important thing that we need to instill — the love and passion of learning.
“My dad would always say, ‘Education will never close a door for you, it will always open a door,’” Benavides said. “I think that is really one of the most important things.”
Principal for a Day started in 1992 and since then has helped hundreds of local leaders experience the joys and challenges of public school administration. Many of the guest principals, inspired by their experiences, have continued their involvement with BISD schools.