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Hays CISD Hires: Cullen ES Principal, Hays HS Head Football Coach, Chief Technology Officer

photos of staffHays CISD Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright announced Monday several high-level personnel decisions following approval from the Board of Trustees at its regular business meeting on January 22, 2024. Current Pfluger Elementary School Principal Elizabeth Lara was selected to become the first principal for Jim Cullen Elementary School, which will open in August. Mark Torres, current head football coach for Pebble Hills High School in El Paso, Texas, will become the athletic coordinator and head football coach for Hays High School. And, Alan Duerr, deputy chief technology officer for Hays CISD, has been promoted to chief technology officer. 

Elizabeth Lara – Cullen Elementary School 

Elizabeth Lara, who prior to serving as the principal of Pfluger Elementary, was an assistant principal at Lehman High School. She has a total of 13 years of experience as an educator, including nine within the Hays CISD family.  Before becoming a teacher, she spent the early 2000s in corporate management. She is a dedicated administrator who is skilled in supervising staff, establishing special programs, and creating a stimulating, safe, and motivating learning environment for students.

“Education was not my first career, but it is definitely the one that I am the most passionate about,” said Lara. “My goal as an administrator is to make a positive difference in the education of our students.”

Lara holds a Master in Education, Public School Administration, from Texas A&M University at College Station. She is also familiar with the International Baccalaureate program, which the district is considering piloting at a couple of schools including Jim Cullen Elementary.

Mark Torres – Hays High School Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach

Torres, who has worked for 21 years in education, began his career as a student health teacher in 2003 at Irving High School in El Paso, Texas. His years of teaching include both elementary and high school experience, all in the El Paso area. As a coach, he has worked in various positions in football and track, eventually earning him the head track coach position at Irvin High School in 2007. In 2008, he was named an assistant head football coach for the offensive line. Under his leadership in 2009, as the Austin High School (El Paso) defensive coordinator, that team made it to the state football playoffs. In 2015, Torres was named the athletic coordinator and head football coach for Pebble Hills High School, where he worked before being selected to lead the Hays High School program.

“Our family would like to thank God for putting us in a position to help Hays CISD, and Hays High School add to an already strong tradition of championship standards and excellence,” said Torres. “We will work tirelessly with our administration, student-athletes, and community to develop a program of character, commitment, and culture, for which we can all be proud.”

Torres holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a minor in secondary education from the University of Texas at El Paso. He also earned a Master of Education in Sports Administration from Concordia University. He serves on the Texas High School Coaches Association Board of Directors, has a number of championships to his credit, and, in 2017, was named the El Paso Times All City Coach of the Year.

Alan Duerr – Chief Technology Officer

Duerr has been a part of the Hays CISD technology department since the turn of the century. He began in 2001, as a district network coordinator. In 2008, he was named the director of network services and, in 2020, was promoted to deputy chief technology officer for the district. Before joining the Hays CISD team, Duerr had an impressive 18-year career in the private sector working at National Instruments and also the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the exceptional culture of success and achievement we have cultivated in the Hays CISD technology department,” said Duerr. “Under my leadership, the team will remain focused on customer service, using technology to its fullest capacity to enhance learning and activities in the classroom, cyber-security, and maximizing resources to get the best deal for our taxpayers.”

Duerr holds a number of prestigious technology industry certifications and an Associate’s Degree of Applied Sciences from Austin Community College. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1976 – 1980. And, in 2019, was named the Hays CISD Administrator of the Year.

“These promotions and new hires represent a continuing commitment in our district to attract and retain the highest quality of employees to serve our students and community,” said Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright. “Elizabeth, Mark, and Alan are all outstanding professionals in their fields and we are blessed to have them as part of the Hays CISD family.”