Monday, October 21, 2019
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20190917 CoffeewithCulberson

As part of the Sharyland school district’s open door policy, Donna Wernecke Elementary School Principal Lela Culberson gave parents a chance to meet with her.

Culberson hosted “Coffee with the Principal,” a Tuesday breakfast of coffee and pan dulce where Culberson listened to any concerns or questions parents had for the new school year. This was the first social gathering of its kind for Culberson since she became principal at Donna Wernecke in 2017.

“In any way you can communicate, most people prefer a face to face discussion,” Culberson said.

During the hour-long discussion, Culberson discussed several after-school activities available to students, safety initiatives the campus is taking and the district’s plan to provide students at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted recess.

The nearly two dozen parents in attendance, however, mostly focused on traffic concerns in the campus.

Donna Wernecke, located at 4500 W Dove Ave. in McAllen, is housed next to Sharyland North Junior High School.

Several parents pointed out that due to the large amount of students, traffic jams occur every morning and when school ends to pick up kids on the surrounding roads.

Rosie Mata, a mother of a 5th grade student at Donna Wernecke, said that since she lives two blocks from the school, she witnesses the traffic every day.

“Because of the traffic from N. Taylor and N. Bentsen Roads, which surround the campuses, it takes people so much time to get to their destinations, especially if they’re driving from Wernecke to pick up one kid and then driving next door to the junior high to pick up another one.” Mata said. “The concern is how traffic is being directed and that someone won’t pay attention and hit a car or someone.”

Culberson told Mata and other parents that the district is looking into the problem by talking with the city of McAllen to improve the flow of traffic in the area but couldn’t provide a definitive answer for how the campus will resolve the issue.

Despite the lack of an answer, Mata, and other parents, said that they felt satisfied with Culberson’s promise to look into the matter further.

“All of my concerns were so well responded,” Mata said. “It’s exciting to see how she’s getting involved with parents and giving us an opportunity to come in here and express our feelings, thoughts and ideas. I’m glad she’s doing things like this.”

Culberson praised parents for attending the event, adding that it was a crucial way to let her know what direction parents want out of their kid’s educations.

“It’s a team effort to get the kids where they need to be,” Culberson said. “I want to make sure I send the message of safety and security out so parents know they are welcome and their students are safe.”