The education component of the South by Southwest family of conferences, known as SXSWedu, kicks off March 6 and will include four days of speakers and panelist discussions, in-depth workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings and business opportunities. Dr. Paul Cruz, superintendent for Austin ISD, spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about the three events he is most excited to attend.

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz helped lead a session at SXSWedu on March 9. Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz attended last year's SXSWedu conference.[/caption]

Learning Spaces to Catalyze Socioeconomic Growth

  • Tue., March 7. 2-3 p.m. JW Marriott, Salon B

  • This session will look at recent efforts in Chicago, Orlando, Florida, and Brownsville, Texas, to create successful learning spaces by considering population data, economic conditions, job forecasting, health outcomes, public transit and sustainability. Speakers Timothy Swanson, city design practice leader with CannonDesign, and Tony Martinez, mayor of Brownsville, will reveal how multidisciplinary design thinking can result in schools that shape future leaders while improving health, advancing socio-economic conditions and strengthening cities.

  • Superintendent Cruz said: "As Austin ISD reinvents urban education, we recognize the strong role that facilities play. Learning spaces should inspire creativity and collaboration, and this session is an additional opportunity for me to learn about ideas being implemented at schools throughout the country."

How Restorative Justice Can Impact Your Community!

  • Wed., March 8. 11 a.m.-noon. JW Marriott, Salon A

  • This four-speaker panel discussion will examine how restorative justice practices impact social-emotional learning, or SEL, and a student's academic ability. Restorative justice practices have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an effective alternative to traditional punitive practices and have shown to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline. These practices involve repairing communities rather than focusing on the individual.

  • Superintendent Cruz said: "Our district has done great work—and we must do more—in moving from a punitive-based discipline model to a relationship-based model. This panel will be a good place to learn about new ways to support our kids."

Special music performance

  • Tue., March 7. 11:10-11:40 a.m. Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 4

  • AISD students from Kealing Middle School's Rock Orchestra will perform during this special SXSWedu musical event.

  • Superintendent Cruz said: "I love seeing our amazingly talented students in action, and I can’t wait to cheer them on at this performance!"