Board Candidate Melissa Castillo plans for a better Corsicana Independent School District

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Melissa Castillo regularly serves the Corsicana community. From ringing a bell for the Salvation Army’s red kettles to running for Place 7 on Corsicana Independent School District Board of Trustees. While voting won’t take place until May 7’s general election, Castillo already has community-minded goals for the position.

Melissa Castillo is running for Place 7 on Corsicana Independent School District Board of Trustees. – Courtesy photo

“People had asked what my thoughts were for serving on the school board,” Castillo said. “I didn’t think about the campaign part, I was like ‘Oh yeah, this would be a great opportunity’,” Castillo said. ” I think one of the biggest things for me coming into the school board would be able to collaborate with the people on the board, work together, and of course the main goal is to have children be successful in their education.”

Castillo wants to keep students engaged in wanting to attend school, and ensure successful transitions into secondary education, whether it’s a four-year college, a certification program with hands-on training.

“I think that’s really important for our community to thrive, Castillo said. “Those are some of the key points I want to focus on.”

With COVID-19 changing the way classes have been run in the last few years, Castillo recognizes the additional challenges to the learning environment, from behaviors in the classroom, additional stresses for students and faculty, safety requirements, and not having enough staff or substitute teachers.

For Castillo, having access to the latest in technology in the school’s learning centers is also important.

“That’s just always key if we’re ever going to get ahead and get our kids ready academically to transition into life after high school,” Castillo said.

With Corsicana High School’s current building nearing 50 years of operation, keeping the school building’s structure up to date is also an important goal for her.

“Putting everything into perspective, and having to decide what are the necessities, it’s important for our kids to be able to go to school, but if were not up to date on the code of what we need to accommodate our children or we have foundational issues, plumbing issues, they’re not going to be able to go to school,” Castillo said. “They’re going to have to be transported to a different school, and that’s just going to be more chaos.

A lifelong resident of Navarro County, Castillo’s family settled in Corsicana generations ago. Originally, her grandfather harvested cotton around the small town of Donna, nearly 500 miles south of Corsicana. During one trip, the family car broke down in Rice with no means of returning home, so the family decided to settle locally.

Growing up, Castillo attended Corsicana Independent School district until seventh grade, before moving to Eureka, where she graduated from Mildred High School.

Currently, Castillo works with Voice, a nonprofit organization that began in Navarro County in 1992. The group teaches healthy living skills, including how to avoid substance abuse, setting goals, and having healthy relationships. She has been a part of their team for the last twelve and a half years, initially starting as a prevention specialist, and now serving as Deputy Director of Programs.

“I just think it’s important to give back to your community, Castillo said. “For me to be a positive role model for the children and community to say if she did it, I can do it too. And just pave the way to get behind me to take my place.”

In her spare time, she does volunteer work around town, spends time working out, and raises her teenage son.

“It’s a great town to raise your kids in,” Castillo said of Corsicana.

“If I’m elected, when I’m elected, the one thing I’m looking forward to, and can be seen from me is I have a willingness to work with everyone from the community,” said Castillo. “From partners, to stakeholders, to parents, and teachers, the one part I feel Corsicana can work on is working together. The school’s success is the community’s success.”

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