IDEA Walzem sets high expectations for every student and goes the extra mile to make sure every student realizes their own potential. Personalized learning, critical thinking skills, mastery of core subjects is our recipe for success.
Cristen Martens is a graduate of Texas State University at San Marcos with a B.B.A. in marketing and management. She also attended the University of Texas at San Antonio, receiving a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and would eventually return to her college alma mater to acquire her Superintendent certification.
Cristen has worked in the field of education for over 16 years, with 9 of those years serving as an instructional leader. She has led two turnaround Elementary campuses (Grades PK - 6) out of Year 2 Improvement Required status within one school year, along with receiving state Distinctions for Science and Closing the Achievement Gap. She joined IDEA in 2018, and at that time the campus’s state rating was a C-rating. The campus is currently an A-rated (94) school earning (4) distinction during the 21/22 SY in the following areas: Top 25% Comparative Academic Growth, Academic Achievement in English Language Arts, Top 25% Comparative Closing the Gap, and Postsecondary Readiness. She continues to lead the work of the Reading and Writing teams whose contributions increased outcomes for the campus’ overall performance in 2018, with the 5th grade Reading scores being the highest in the history of Walzem Academy at that time earning, 88% approaches, 45% meets and 21% masters. During the 21/22 SY the Reading team soared with 3-5 grades achieving academic achievement scores of 50+, and the scores also surpassed the state outcomes by 11+ points. Mrs. Martens is dedicated to IDEA’s mission - for ALL scholars to go through and to college, and is ready, willing, and able to serve our scholars on this journey. IDEA Public Schools is fully confident that Mrs. Martens will continue to serve our scholars at Walzem Academy at the level of excellence that will keep the school an ‘A” rated campus. Go Wolves!Continue Reading
Norma Mendoza was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. After graduating from Texas Woman’s University, she began her career at Grand Prairie High School, Texas. There she taught English classes and coached the dance team. Upon returning to her hometown, Mission, she continued to teach in underserved communities like La Joya Independent School District, and later at Pharr San Juan Alamo ISD (PSJA).
After several years with PSJA, she helped launch the College, Career and Technology Academy. This opportunity was one of her most rewarding experiences because she was witnessing the immediate impact of her work. Senior students who had repeatedly failed state exams were earning passing scores allowing them to finally earn high school diplomas. After beginning a family of her own, she sought better educational opportunities for her children, Raymond, and Tristan, which led her to join IDEA Public Schools. Norma was a founding teacher at IDEA Edinburg College Prep in 2011, and after two years, she supported the campus as a Grade Team Leader and Content Leader. In 2014-2015, she achieved “Teacher of the Year” status for the second time in her career. Earning her master’s in educational leadership from The University of St. Thomas supported her in her role as an Assistant Principal of Instruction (API). Throughout her four years as an API, she coached and managed teachers to achieve ambitious goals with their scholars. She has been instrumental in helping her campus acquire 7 out of 7 distinctions for three consecutive years, in addition to earning an overall “A” rating from the state. In 2018, IDEA Edinburg CP (College Prep) was recognized as “The Most Improved Campus of the Year.” As a Principal in Residence, she continued to lead at Edinburg CP from 2019-2020, then Tres Lagos College Preparatory in 2020-2021. At Tres Lagos, she initiated and established the Advanced Placement campus designation for its first rising ninth grade class. For the 2021-2022 school year, she accepted the opportunity to be one of the IDEA Virtual Academy Leaders. This program gave selected IDEA scholars the space to continue their academic journey from the safety of their homes. Now, with the culmination of Virtual Academy and her youngest son, Tristan, graduating from IDEA Edinburg CP and earning an acceptance to Texas A & M University, Ms. Mendoza looks forward to applying her 30 years of educational experiences as the proud principal of IDEA Walzem College Preparatory! She seeks this role to continue to fulfill IDEA’s vision and mission of “College for ALL” by achieving Small WINS for Big FUTURES!Continue Reading
Bonnibelle manages all recruitment, enrollment, and onboarding for all new families for IDEA Walzem (K-12). She is passionate about leading all campus operations to ensure the instructional team focuses on leading instruction for every Walzem Wolf.
As a first-generation college graduate from Kingsville, TX, Bonnibelle obtained her Bachelors’ Degree from St. Mary’s University. Throughout her undergraduate career, she served as a youth minister and volunteered for numerous outreach programs including San Antonio Youth Literacy as a reading buddy to support underserved schools. Bonnibelle earned her Master’s in Business Administration from University of the Incarnate Word where she found her calling to lead in operations. Bonnibelle first started at IDEA Walzem in 2016 as a Campus Operations Specialist, managing recess and lunch and supporting enrollment needs on campus. Later, she took on the role as Campus Business Clerk where she earned Campus Business Clerk of the Year and the District’s Campus Financial Management Award in 2018. Bonnibelle was promoted to Assistant Principal of Operations in 2019 and since then has worked diligently to cultivate a positive Operations Team on Campus to best serve the Walzem Team & Family. She is so proud to be a part of IDEA’s Team & Family and cannot wait to see what this year holds!Continue Reading