Marla M. Guerra, Ed.D., superintendent of South Texas Independent School District (STISD), has been named the recipient of the 2009 Texas “Excellence in Education” Award by AdvancED for her unparalleled leadership in promoting and advancing the quality of secondary education. Guerra will be recognized on March 20 at the 2009 AdvancED conference to be held in Chicago, Illinois.

AdvancED is the parent organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), and Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA).

The “Excellence in Education” Award was recently introduced to recognize one individual from each of the state NCA CASI and SACS CASI chapters for his/her achievements in education. Nominees were judged on their following contributions:

• Generating a common vision and mission for higher expectations among students, faculty, and the education community;

• Demonstrating a record of significant and distinguished contribution to the education profession;

• Providing a lasting positive impact on student learning;

• Serving as a role model and mentor for students and/or future generations of educators; and

• Demonstrating significant professional contribution to SACS CASI.

Known for her vision and leadership, Guerra inspires the faculty of STISD to raise the scholastic performance of Rio Grande Valley students. With a proven record of raising student scores on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and American College Test (ACT) tests and increasing participation in Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) and Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Guerra is exceptionally capable of setting tangible goals and developing strategic plans.

With a strong conviction that all students can succeed academically, Guerra promotes a culture of high expectations coupled with strong relationships.

“In education, one size does not fit all,” Guerra said. “It is important for the faculty to know each and every student, as each one has unique talents and abilities. We can help all students rise to the level that is necessary for college success if we connect with them and find the best ways to teach them.”

Under her tenure, all four STISD high schools have been listed in the U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best High Schools: The Top 100” list and named an Honor Roll School by the Texas Business & Education Coalition.

An educator of 33 years, Guerra has been the superintendent of STISD since October 2001. Before joining STISD, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg. Guerra spent 23 years of her professional career at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, where she served as a teacher, principal, district planning coordinator and district administrator.

Guerra received her Bachelor of Science from Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She went on to complete her Master of Arts at Pan American University (now the University of Texas-Pan American) in Edinburg and her Doctorate of Education at the University of Houston.

Guerra resides in Edinburg with her husband Joe. Her daughter Marcy is an obstetrician/gynecologist who practices in Edinburg and her son Aaron is a chiropractor who practices in McAllen. She has two grandchildren and is awaiting her third on March 6.