Meet Our Team
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
Curriculum and Instruction Department
Norma Flores is the HB3 Reading Academies Cohort Leader for Mercedes ISD, where she provides our teachers instruction with a personalized touch. Mrs. Flores takes great pride in tailoring strategies to each teacher based on the support they need and the content they’re conveying to their students, inspiring teachers and students alike to rise above their potential through the trusting relationship she forms with them. Over the 28 years she’s spent with us, she’s taught 1st and 2nd grade students in a bilingual setting and 90/10 Bilingual Program, then becoming the Literacy Coach for MECC, teaching Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers through data in the area of reading. Her passion for enriching the achievement of MISD’s students helped her rise to Academic Coach, the success that followed leading to her position as Academic Facilitator for our district today, where she continues to support and coach teachers, making sure none of MISD’s students fall through the cracks. Mrs. Flores holds a Bachelor of Science with a minor in Bilingual Education from the University of Texas Pan-American.
Mrs. Evangelina Ortega Gracia serves Mercedes ISD as the Bilingual/ESL Director. Her responsibilities consist of overseeing compliance of the Title III, Part A Program. She supports the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Bilingual/ESL program. She collaborates with district/campus staff and parents to identify needs and establish goals to improve the success of our English Learners. She received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Learning and Development from The University of Texas in Austin in 1993 and a Master of Education in Elementary Education- Bilingual/Bicultural, as well as a Principal Certification from The University of Texas-Pan American in 2004. She has been in the education field for twenty-six years. Prior to becoming the Bilingual/ESL Director, she was a First-grade bilingual teacher for 10 years. Two of which were in Austin ISD and eight in Mercedes ISD. She has also served Mercedes ISD as a Literacy Coach, Assistant Principal and Principal. She is passionate about empowering bilingual children by meeting their unique needs and values the importance of bilingualism because “El que sabe dos idiomas vale por dos.”
The Mercedes ISD RLA department is committed to fostering the love of reading and writing to our students and community. It begins with the science of reading and preparing our students with a strong foundation of word knowledge and comprehension through instruction in foundational pre-reading and writing literacy skills. Our mission is to promote critical and creative thinkers through reflection of experiences and imagination. We strive to immerse ourselves in characters, stories and new knowledge through writing across the curriculum.
Deana S. Llanos serves as the Section 504/RtI/Dyslexia Coordinator for Mercedes ISD from PreK-12th grades. Deana was a Kindergarten Bilingual teacher, Reading Interventionist, and Math/Science Interventionist/ACE Site-Coordinator for the Mercedes Early Childhood Center before her current position. In 2005, she was chosen as the Teacher of the Year by Mercedes Early Childhood and the Elementary Teacher of the Year by Mercedes ISD. Ms. Deana S. Llanos has a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Early Childhood with an endorsement in Bilingual/ESL-Spanish and a Master in Education with Master Reading Teacher and a Reading Specialist certifications all of which she obtained from the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.
Ramon Mejia Jr. currently serves Mercedes I.S.D. as the Social Studies/ G.T. Coordinator. His primary role is working with social studies teachers and campus leaders in an effort to improve academic performance and curriculum development so as to reach district accountability goals. Mr. Mejia also provides additional support to campus administrators in overseeing the district’s compliance for the Gifted and Talented Program. Before joining Mercedes, he served 11 years at Valley View I.S.D. as a secondary social studies educator, lead teacher and assistant principal. A graduate of Mercedes High School, Mr. Mejia proudly served in the U.S. Navy, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Government from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg. His educational philosophy stems from the belief that an effective public education system is a great equalizer and an important safeguard for ensuring a just, equitable, and sustainable society
ACE/21st Century CLC
Marcos De Los Santos is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers – ACE Program Director that oversees the planning, implementation, management and evaluation of the Texas ACE Program at each campus in the school district. He prides himself in ensuring students from Kindergarten through 12th grade have access to high quality before and after school academic intervention programs that will assist in the districts overall goal of student academic achievement. In addition to student services, ACE provides parents of participating students a variety of intentional educational opportunities such as Child Development Courses, GED, Ingles Sin Barrera’s, Financial Education Courses, Nutritional Courses, Health Courses and Technology Courses, in the ACE Parental Learning Center and across all campuses. After proudly serving in the United States Army from 1998 - 2002, De Los Santos attended the University of Texas Pan American in the Fall of 2002 and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology in the Spring of 2005. After spending four years as a teacher and campus site coordinator, De Los Santos decided to pursue administration and was selected as the ACE District Coordinator for the 2009 school year. Since 2010 until present De Los Santos has written and has been awarded 4 grant cycles bringing a total of $18,678,413 to the students and staff of Mercedes Independent School District. De Los Santos has also represented the district and regional out-of-school time programs as a Region 1 representative for multiple cycles at the state level for out-of-school time programs and has represented and presented the Mercedes ACE Program at the Department of Education in Washington D.C.
Mr. Guy McKinney is the Director of Bands/Fine Arts for Mercedes ISD. He oversees all aspects of the music department, continuing to positively promote the MISD student musicians and their performing ensembles for both band and orchestra. Under his direction, the Mighty Tiger Marching Band and the Wind Ensemble have earned many UIL Superior Ratings. Guy is an active member of TMAA, having served as a judge for both UIL concert/sight reading evaluations in several regions and UIL solo and ensemble contest in Region 15. As an active member of TMEA, he has served as coordinator for internationally renowned conductors at our Region 28 honor band clinic and concerts. He has been published in BandWorld Magazine and served as a guest conductor for the Fulton County Honors’ Band in Ohio. Most recently he has organized the annual Queen City Marching Festival as well as the 76th Annual UIL Pigskin Jubilee here at Tiger stadium. Mr. McKinney earned his B.M.Ed. from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, graduating as Salutatorian of his class. He has also earned his MM from the American Band College of Southern Oregon University.
Delia Garcia serves Mercedes ISD as Director of Accounting. Her role entails supervising the operation of the district accounting, budgeting, accounts payable, state reporting, federal grant expenditure reporting, and district auditing. Mrs. Garcia holds an MBA from the University of Texas – Pan American and has over 16 years in school finance experience. She is a member of VASBO and is a member of Texas Association of School Business Officials.
Career & Technical Education Department
Ms. Deborah Rabel is an individual who has devoted her time and purpose to education. Ms. Rabel, is a proud graduate of Mercedes ISD, she graduated from Mercedes High School in 1999 and attended Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas where she pursued her passion for Agriculture by obtaining a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Animal Science. After graduating from Texas A&M University in December 2003, Ms. Rabel returned to her hometown of Mercedes, Texas, and became a substitute teacher for Mercedes ISD in the spring of 2004 and felt a calling to enter into the profession of education. Ms. Rabel was hired as a middle school science teacher at Veterans Middle School in Donna, Texas, and taught 7th and 8th-grade science for six years. In 2009, Ms. Rabel decided to pursue a graduate degree and obtained a Master’s of Education in Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University (GCU). In 2010, Ms. Rabel entered administration as a Dean of Instruction and became an assistant principal shortly thereafter. Ms. Rabel served as a middle school assistant principal for 5 years and a high school assistant principal for an additional 6 years. In 2017, Donna North High School earned a College and Career Readiness School Model designation (T-STEM) and Ms. Rabel was privileged to oversee the T-STEM Academy as its coordinator where she recruited the first-ever class of T-STEM students and had the honor to see them graduate from Donna North in 2021. The opportunity to return to her hometown became a realization when she returned to Mercedes High School as an Assistant Principal. The goal is to continue to strengthen the CTE Department and provide opportunities for all Mercedes ISD students to be college and career-ready.
Child Nutrition Services
Construction & Facilities Department
Federal Programs/Migrant Department
Lisa Cantu-Reyes is the Federal Programs Director for Mercedes ISD. Her role entails overseeing federal fiscal compliance of grants provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that includes: Title I, Part A, Title I, Part C, Title II, Title III and Title IV. In addition she oversees the College Ready, Career Set!-Gear Up Grant for current 7th grade students. She also oversees the Parent and Family Engagement Program for the district and prides herself in volunteering in her community. Mrs. Cantu-Reyes has a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Special Education and a Master in Bilingual Education with an endorsement in Gifted Education all of which she obtained from the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.
Mrs. Handy services students through the Title IV, Part A Grant, and the Migrant Education Program. Both roles require her to provide student support services that are supplemental to the those already provided by the schools. Mrs. Handy began her career as an educator in 1993 and has worked as a teacher in both elementary and middle school settings, with 23 years of experience as an academic and licensed professional counselor. She has served as an elementary and middle school counselor, a therapist in private practice as well as in the urgent care setting, screening adults for hospitalization. She has also worked in local school districts as an outside mental health agent, counseling students from Pre-K to 12th grade in various emotional areas of concern. A graduate of the University of Texas-Pan American, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in English. Continuing her education, she earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Guidance, ranked first in her class, and also earned a professional counseling license in 2000, also from UTPA.
Safe Schools Department
Ms. Veronica Y. Bustamante is the Mercedes ISD Head Nurse. Her role is to oversee the campus school nurses in the district and serve as a leader for all school health policies and programs. Ms. Bustamante is a certified registered nurse and has 9 years of nursing experience. She received her associate’s degree in nursing from South Texas College Nursing and Allied Health. Prior to joining MISD, Ms. Bustamante served as a charge nurse at Knapp Medical Center for 5 years specializing in Women’s Health and 1 year at Women’s Hospital at DHR as a gynecology nurse. She has also worked for Elite Cosmetic Surgery for 1 year as an OR nurse and was a health instructor for an alternative certification program for 2 years. After working for Mercedes ISD for 5 years as a campus school nurse, Ms. Bustamante decided to pursue her dream and continue to serve her community as the head nurse for Mercedes ISD. She has currently been in this position for one year. Ms. Bustamante is currently taking the role as a school nurse at two campuses. Other duties assigned are coordinating health education training to staff, providing staff wellness programs, coordinating with other entities for continuing education to school nurses, collaborating with our medical director, Dr. Bonilla, regarding doctors standing orders and medical procedures and ensuring health care practices comply with the laws relating to student health issues, conducting mandated health screenings and immunization data and reporting them to the Texas Department of State Health Services, serve as the nursing staff leader in student health advocacy, and promote preventive health practices. Ms. Bustamante is also involved with her community and serves on the ambulance board for the city of Mercedes and a Lions Club Member. Her goal for the MISD nursing department is to implement a high-quality comprehensive school health program within the philosophy and objectives established by Board and local policies.
Special Education Department
Dr. Dora Diana Rodriguez, Director of Special Education ServicesDr. Dora Diana Rodriguez is the Director of the Special Education Department at Mercedes I.S.D. She oversees the district's special education program to ensure the provision of needed services for special needs students. Dr. Rodriguez manages the district’s special education referral process and arranges for the completion of student assessments. As part of her role, she also makes recommendations regarding placement and program management for individual students with special needs. She also oversees the Hidalgo County Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a collaborative partnership between Hidalgo County Head Start (HCSHP) and Mercedes Independent School District (MISD) that provides special education services to children with special needs ages 3-4 years of age who are deemed eligible for early childhood education. Dr. Rodriguez graduated with her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2019. In 1995, she received her Masters of Education Degree as an Educational Diagnostician and also received her Principal certification. Before becoming the Mercedes Special Education Director, she was the Section 504 Coordinator at a nearby school district. Dr. Rodriguez also had the privilege of being appointed by the Texas Education Agency to an agency committee established by the Texas 82nd Legislature (SB 866) for the development of a plan for technology integration to accommodate students with Dyslexia. Here at Mercedes ISD, she has also served as an Educational Diagnostician. Her goal is to ensure that the children with disabilities at Mercedes ISD are well served and educated with strong foundational skills.
Rolando joined Mercedes ISD as the Director of Technology in 2006. In his role, he provides strategic planning, and operations for administrative and instructional initiatives, including data, voice and wireless networks, PEIMS, student and finance applications, and district public communications systems. Before joining Mercedes, he spent 13 years at Weslaco ISD as an educator, assistant principal, and instructional technology coordinator. A graduate of Weslaco High School, Rolando earned a Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a Master’s degree in administration from the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. He is a TASBO member and served on the district executive team. Rolando and the Technology staff are committed to helping educators, staff and community propel our students to achieve success in their academic goals.
Mr. Daniel Runnels is the Testing Coordinator/Data Analyst for Mercedes ISD. This role entails providing coordination of the Texas Student Assessment Program and data analysis tools that are implemented by Mercedes ISD. After the completion of several years in Business Management and Texas Higher Education, Daniel settled into his role at Mercedes ISD. His combined experience as an analyst in Texas Higher Education and MISD has provided expertise in online data analysis program implementation. These programs are used to provide concise reporting at all levels to assist with continuous school improvement. He additionally enjoys working with institutional strategic planning and state accountability tools that are used to guide instructional practices and lead toward successes at Mercedes ISD. Daniel holds a BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M-Kingsville and a M.A.Ed. in Instructional Technology from the University of Texas-Brownsville.
Jose Vasquez is the Instructional Technology Specialist for Mercedes ISD since 2014. He oversees the educational technology programs for K-12. His role consists of training and assisting teachers and staff in the integration of information technology tools and resources to support the core curriculum. In addition to integration, Mr. Vasquez assists in the development and support for digital content related projects, deployment of new classroom digital tools and resources, district content management, social media implementation and management, G Suite Administrator, and digital citizenship training and resource person for students and staff. He prides himself in helping others make technology a bit easier! Joey (preferred nickname) spent 5 years as a CTE Business Education Teacher. He taught various business and technology courses and was the Campus Technology Coordinator at Mercedes Junior High and Mercedes Early College Academy. Mr. Vasquez holds a BBA in Management from the University of Texas-Pan American and a Master of Education in Educational Technology Leadership from Lamar University. Joey holds a mid-management certificate and is a Google Level 1 and Level 2 Educator.
Mercedes Early Literacy Program
Mrs. Domitila T. Hernandez is the Mercedes Early Literacy Coordinator for Mercedes ISD. Her position focuses to improve the literacy performance of early readers and to support the Mercedes ISD mission statement. Mrs. Hernandez served 6 years as a 1st and 4th-grade teacher for Travis Elementary in Mercedes. She received her Master’s degree in Education and decided to venture out and work as an Early Childhood Coordinator at a Migrant Seasonal Head start. After working with Head start for 8 years, she came back to her roots to give back to her community and serve the children of Mercedes. She brought years of experience to her position and now works with the Memorandum of Understanding between Hidalgo County Head start and the Mercedes ISD Early Literacy Program. Her responsibilities as a coordinator to this collaboration requires providing office services by implementing organizational systems, procedures, and policies that help monitor literacy developments. She also maintains all required documents for attendance and ensures to maintain a professional relationship with students, colleagues, parents, interns, administrators and community members between the two agencies.
Mr. Adan Vallejo is the Transportation Director for Mercedes ISD. Throughout his thirty-one years of employment within the district he has attained experience working with the intricacies of personnel management, fleet operations, and student safety. He has earned numerous certifications which include Texas Engineering Extension Service-School Bus Trainer, School Bus Safety Inspector, Texas School Bus Driver Safety, CDL License PS Endorsements, DOT Medical Examiners, Texas Commission of Environmental Quality Fuel Operators License, Region One Special Needs, DOT-49 CFR, CPR, and Diesel Mechanic. His accreditations throughout the years have allowed him to gain experience in the areas of School Bus Air Brake Systems, School Bus Routing and Scheduling, School Bus Safety Inspections, Personnel Management, Evaluation of Transportation Operations, Budgeting, School Bus Accident and Investigations, TEA State Reporting, Transportation Roadmaps Compliance, and Accessing/Interpreting Driver Records. The mission of the Mercedes I.S.D. Transportation Department is "To ensure a safe and dependable school bus ride to and from school to all eligible students. Our department’s services ultimately support a positive learning experience for every student, every day, without exception. Our Route Operations goal is “To provide an efficient school bus ride on every trip. Our Fleet Operations goal is “To provide and maintain the vehicles necessary to support a safe bus ride on every trip.” Mr. Vallejo thrives to cultivate organizational success in the department through teamwork, attention to detail, and ability to be cost conscious while having an unwavering approach to student safety.