Oscar Silva wanted to honor one of Humble ISD’s many exceptional teachers with an Amazon gift card. With three of his own children in Humble ISD schools, and a fourth who graduated from Atascocita High, he knows first-hand how outstanding Humble ISD’s teachers are.
He put together what he terms “… a little giveaway …” and asked parents to nominate a teacher they thought was awesome.
Silva has a unique platform. The Atascocita resident is one of three administrators for the Humble ISD Parents Page, a virtual group of more than 12,000 on Facebook, “…Where parents and teachers can easily connect. An invaluable tool of crowdsourced information for parents and a great way for teachers and staff to keep a pulse on parent concerns.”
“Some of the stories people posted were absolutely amazing,” he said. “The idea caught on and, thanks to parents, staff, our friends at The Tribune and another local business, we’ve now given away a total of $750 in Amazon gift cards among 10 different teachers.”
Quite a feat for a page organized and managed by volunteers.
“The group was started in May 2016 by my good friend, Mia Hoyt,” said Silva, “and, like many Facebook groups, was started around a specific cause. I thought the group had some good things happening and parents enjoyed connecting. I asked if I could help out and Mia allowed me to become an administrator.”
Humble ISD Parents now has three administrators, Silva, Hoyt and Kate Brown.
“Mia, Kate and I created the rules and make group-wide changes,” Silva explained. “Along with several volunteer moderators, we moderate the content and approve posts and group membership requests.”
The eight rules governing the page are simple, straight forward and an effort to serve the most parents and teachers in the best way possible. Members are removed if they repeatedly break these rules: Be respectful; Do not get personal; Threats will get a member removed; Agree to disagree; Be accurate; No promotions or spam; No profanity; and Respect everyone’s privacy.
“Being a part of our group requires mutual trust. Authentic, expressive discussion makes groups great but may also be sensitive and private,” Silva said. “What’s shared in the group should stay in the group. My role right now is to emphasize that we are all neighbors with the same goal, the safety and success of our children. Empathy can be a lost art and I try to be intentional about bringing it back.”
As for compliments about the page, Silva especially likes recognition that the administrators are trying to stay unbiased.
“Teachers seem to point that out more than parents,” he said, “but it is something I am very intentional about, so I really appreciate when it is acknowledged.”
Silva grew up in Harlingen in the Rio Grande Valley. He is the eldest of five, is a graduate of Harlingen High and moved to Atascocita in 2012. He has been married to Melissa for almost eight years and they are parents of “… four amazing children.”
When he is not peering at his laptop, he reads constantly, loves spending time with Melissa and the kids, spends time serving at his church, is trying to become an expert at smoking brisket, and is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.
“This is a good time to mention the disclaimer that, as an administrator of the page, I am not representing any employer,” he said. “I worked as a teaching assistant in a preschool program for children with disabilities, then managed RadioShack stores for several years, and now work for a bank.”
Silva has never logged the amount of time he spends as administrator but estimates he spends at least two hours throughout the day.
“The issues we deal with differ from season to season but, right now, it is getting kids and parents back to school safely amid the pandemic,” he said. “There is a pretty strong divide among parents regarding kids and teachers going back. One segment is concerned about COVID-19 and sincerely believes we should not have kids return at all. The other side considers the risks of not going back, which is multi-faceted and greater than the risk COVID presents to children. Of course, by the time you read this, the issue could be recovery from a hurricane.”
In a group of 12,000-plus, there are different world views and perspectives that clash but, with all those sometimes conflicting perspectives, Silva is “…so impressed by how many parents and teachers are willing to take time out of their day to help out their neighbors.”
He has seen questions answered. People helping with tech support. Donations – like his Amazon gift card giveaway. People connecting with each another.
“In a large group that is a microcosm of the community, it’s beautiful to see,” he said.
Silva, however, doesn’t envy the tough position Humble ISD trustees are in.
“From an outside perspective, it looks like they’re trying to make sure parents on both sides are taken care of and have the freedom to choose what’s best,” he said. “I don’t know if I could ask for anything better given the circumstances. I’ve been incredibly impressed by Dr. Fagen and the trustees and even more impressed by the school administrators doing their absolute best to take care of their students and teachers.”
As for the future of the page, Silva says the administrators are just trying to stay flexible and go where the group goes rather than controlling the agenda. As for his future, “… A few people have approached me about running for a school board position, and it is something I’ve considered,” he admitted, “but I really enjoy what I’m doing now and would rather support people much more capable than I am.”
Silva said the administrators “… try to limit membership to parents of Humble ISD students and Humble ISD staff.” To join, search for the Humble ISD Parents group on Facebook and request to become a member.