Laredo ISD works toward creating a culture of supporting growth for its students, staff, and community. This year two LISD administrators earned their Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Liberty University in August. What makes this unique is that they are husband and wife, Lamar Middle School Principal, Dr. Eduardo E. Lopez, and Sabas Perez Early College High School Director Dr. Rocio Lopez.
The Lopez’s are both products of Laredo ISD. She is a graduate of Raymond and Tirza Martin High School, and he is a J.W. Nixon High School graduate. They both continued their education at Texas A&M International University where they met in class, married a few years later, and have two daughters. In 2004, he graduated from TAMIU with his Bachelor of Science in Biology and was hired at J.W. Nixon High School. Shortly afterward, she graduated from TAMIU with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and was hired at L.J. Christen Middle School.
Together they completed a master’s degree in Educational Administration, and both moved up within Laredo ISD to leadership roles. He moved from a teacher to assistant principal at Nixon H.S, and since 2018, he has been the principal at M.B. Lamar Middle School. She moved from teacher to Assistant Principal at F.S. Lara Academy, then Science Dean, and is now the Director of Sabas Perez Early College High School.
A few years ago, the Lopez’s decided to take the next step in their educational journey by seeking a doctoral degree They knew the journey of obtaining a master’s degree while being teachers, but this time it would be different because both were working in leadership roles and raising one child and another one on the way.
Their goal was to complete the doctorate in three years by following the university's recommended time frame but obtaining this goal would require three to four classes a semester. The goal became a plan of action as they wrote down the logistics of creating the time to do their doctoral work.
“The plan was created, requiring us to work a minimum of two hours every night after our little one went to sleep to do the needed work," said Rocio Lopez. "Saturday and Sunday would be one day for each of us. On Saturday, one of us would spend all day with our daughters feeding them, playing with them, and taking care of all their needs. At the same time, the other one worked on the coursework without interruption. On Sunday, the roles were reversed."
“Taking so many courses seemed nearly impossible, but we knew we could figure it out,” Eduardo Lopez said. “We have a great relationship where we support each other and strengthen each other. We knew that together everything was possible.”
The Lopez’s were often asked if having children and a demanding career while taking doctorate coursework was tough.
“Anything worth doing is going to be a challenge. We believe that having children during this journey was a blessing and that having children and a career required us to be structured and not procrastinate on completing the coursework,” said Eduardo Lopez. “Our strict schedule resulted in us sacrificing free time and recreational activities, but we knew this schedule wasn't forever. Having that structure and planning the pathway toward completion helped us greatly see the big picture."
After this long journey, they both looked back on the experience fondly.
“Finishing this seemingly impossible journey, showed us that having a plan with short and long-term goals made this impossible-looking task possible,” Rocio Lopez added. "We know our acquired knowledge will help us better serve our children as they go through their educational experiences and the community we serve."
“Earning this degree represents my love for learning. I've always enjoyed learning that had a purpose. I was so happy after all that hard work to earn an Ed.D.,” said Eduardo Lopez. “I got my Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction because my position within the educational field requires me to have deep knowledge in this area for us to be successful. The knowledge I acquired through my journey allows me to view curriculum and instruction in ways I may have never seen before. I grew as an individual, and I can bring my knowledge back to my campus and district. Getting this degree has helped me work towards making changes to help improve the education the students are receiving.”
“Ever since I was a child, I would pretend to have a little schoolhouse in my backyard and teach my younger cousins. As I grew up, my passion for learning and teaching increased. I have always had a thirst for knowledge and improving my craft has always been a goal of mine,” said Rocio Lopez. “My passion for learning has always been there and obtaining a doctoral degree has increased my love for learning. I am elated to be able to grow and develop as an individual so that I can assist my school community to be the best it can be.”
The Lopez’s journey to obtain a doctoral degree was challenging and they say the support that their family, friends, and coworkers gave them along the way was an integral part of them succeeding in reaching their goal.
“I would like to thank my family and friends who provided encouragement throughout the process. My parents were also there for me to provide words of encouragement during those hectic times,” said Eduardo Lopez. “I would also like to express my gratitude to Laredo ISD for creating a culture of supporting growth because that culture provided encouragement in many ways. LISD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Gerardo Cruz also supported and encouraged my endeavors of furthering my education, and LISD Director of Secondary Education, Mr. Jose Cerda provided encouragement during the last two semesters of my doctoral work.”
“I would like to thank my husband, two daughters, family, and friends for their continuous support throughout this incredible journey. My mom has always been a pillar of strength, and she has always provided me with the encouragement needed to go after all my goals. Unfortunately, my dad was not able to see me reach my goal, but I can imagine that he would have been proud,” said Rocio Lopez. “LISD faculty and administration have always been supportive of my endeavors as a student, teacher, assistant principal, science dean, and now as Director of Sabas Perez Early College High School. Therefore, I would like to thank Dr. Cruz, Mr. Cerda, and all my former/current supervisors for instilling an amazing culture of professional growth."
During his career with Laredo ISD, Dr. Lopez received the following awards, 2022 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award (Principal Finalist), The EdTech Leadership Award School Leadership 2022 (Finalist), 2021 Tech Edvocate Award: Best K-12 School Leader, District/Campus Administrator of the Year (TCEA 2021), LISD New Secondary Principal of the Year 2019, Digital Learning Administrator of the Year 2018-2019, and Laredo ISD Assistant Principal of the Year 2013. He has earned his certification in School Superintendent, Principal EC-12, Science 8-12, Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL), and Registered Texas School Business Administrator (RTSBA).
Dr. Rocio Lopez has received the Educator of the Year Award and Service Awards from educational organizations. She is certified in School Superintendent Certification, Principal EC-12, Science 4-8, Google Level 2 Certification, and Microsoft Innovative Educator.