Page 1

How to make your vote count PAGE 15

New program inspires students, builds connections PAGE 16

The rules on cameras in the classroom PAGE 14







Don’t let the holiday season drain your wallet. Use your ATPE membership to take advantage of these discounts and SAVE! •S  hop at the Azigo online shopping mall, an exclusive shopping experience for members. Earn cash back simply by shopping at your favorite stores, such as Kohl’s, Target, Nordstorm, and more.

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Visit for more information!

•U  se the ATPE Visa Signature® credit card, the only card that donates money back to ATPE programs with every purchase. There’s no annual fee and you can earn 5,000 bonus reward points after your first purchase!



The official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators

State Officers Carl Garner. . . . . . . . . . . President, Mesquite (10) Byron Hildebrand. . . . Vice President, San Antonio (20) Tonja Gray. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secretary, Abilene (14) Jimmy Lee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Treasurer, Paris (8) Julleen Bottoms. . . . . Past President, Corsicana (12)

Board of Directors Hector Cruz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Weslaco (1) Cesarea Germain. . . . . . . . . . . . Corpus Christi (2) Cathy Stolle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Karnes City (3) Eli Rodriguez . . . . . . . . . . . Cypress-Fairbanks (4) Suellen Ener. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beaumont (5) Charles Lindsey II. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Magnolia (6) Kim Dolese. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nacogdoches (7) Frankie Jarrell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Paris (8) Dale Lovett. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Olney (9) Meredith Malloy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ferris (10) Karen Hames. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lewisville (11) Jason Forbis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midway (12) Christie Smith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Pflugerville (13) Desirie Ries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hawley (14) Jose Delgado. . . . . . . . . . . San Felipe-Del Rio (15) Dawn Riley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amarillo (16) Brenda Bryan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hale Center (17) Bridget Loffler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Odessa (18) Rudy Romero. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Clint (19) Tina Briones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . San Antonio (20)

ATPE Staff Gary G. Godsey. . . . . . . . . . . . . Executive Director Alan Bookman. . . . . . Deputy Executive Director

ATPE News Staff Gary G. Godsey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Executive Editor Elaine Acker. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor John Kilpper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Art Director Leslie Trahan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Managing Editor Erica Fos. . . . . . . . . . . . . Senior Graphic Designer Sarah Gray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Associate Editor Jean Schlitzkus. . . . . . . . . . . . . Contributing Editor ATPE News contains legislative advertising contracted for by Gary G. Godsey, Executive Director, Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Dr., Ste. 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792, representing ATPE. ATPE News (ISSN 0279-6260) is published quarterly in fall, winter, spring, and summer. Subscription rates: for members of the association, $3.32 per year (included in membership dues); non-members, $10 per year. Extra copies $1.25 each. Published by the Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792. Periodical postage paid at Austin, Texas, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ATPE News, 305 E. Huntland Dr., #300, Austin, TX 78752-3792. Advertising rates may be obtained by sending a written request to the above address. Opinions expressed in this publication represent the attitude of the contributor whose name appears with the article and are not necessarily the official policy of ATPE. ATPE reserves the right to refuse advertising contrary to its purpose. Copyright 2017 in USA by the Association of Texas Professional Educators


t’s been a tough year. ATPE members fought hard during a grueling legislative session that targeted public school educators and their students. We had a taxing House of Delegates at our annual summit. And this fall, when classes should have been starting across the state, Hurricane Harvey dealt our coastal members a brutal blow. I wish I could say the road ahead was clear now. But it’s not. Another election season is just around the corner. Primaries are in March, and if we want to avoid another year of playing defense at the legislature, we need to take action now. What can you do? • Register to vote. Make sure your friends and colleagues are registered to vote, too. • Research the candidates. Go to to learn which candidates are likely to support public schools, educators, and students. This fall, we’ll be posting information on all the candidates running for the state legislature, State Board of Education, governor, and lieutenant governor, including their responses to our candidate survey and the voting records of incumbent legislators. • Make a commitment. Take the educator’s oath to vote in 2018 at our coalition website, Consider joining the Texans for Public Education Facebook group for educators who have pledged to block-vote in support of public education in 2018. • Finally—VOTE. Encourage your friends to vote. Share the research you’ve done with your colleagues. Drive your fellow educators to the polls if they need a ride. I know you’ve worked hard this year, and I know you’re tired. But we can’t give up just yet. Now’s the time to rally around each other and do everything in our power to support public education and the children of Texas.

Gary Godsey ATPE Executive Director

ISSN © ATPE 2013 0279-6260 USPS 578-050 305 E. Huntland Dr., Ste. 300 Austin, TX 78752-3792 (800) 777-ATPE (2873) |


Contents ATPE NEWS | Winter 2017, Volume 38, Number 2





One elementary school’s new extracurricular program is bringing together students, teachers, and the entire community.

Principal Marla Sullivan explains how to build positive school relationships.

Texas educators share insights into how fine arts can enrich the lives of students.

Unexpected Connections

Cultivating School Change

On the Cover

The Lone Star State of the Arts




8 Regional Roundup 10 Know and Tell

Make health and wellness front and center on your campus.

12 Spotlight

Mesquite ISD’s superintendent wants to see teachers get the respect they deserve.

14 Your Ally

Find out what Texas law says about cameras in the classroom.

15 Your Voice

Tired of the Texas legislature? Primaries are coming soon!


28 Members Speak

A former paralegal explains why she chose ATPE.

30 Family Album 32 ATPE News

ATPE award deadlines • SXSW EDU • Become an ATPE campus representative

36 PAC Honor Roll 43 Brain Break





14–15 18–29

Nominate them for an ATPE award!

TRS Board of Trustees meeting

State office closed for winter break

State office closed for New Year’s Day


State office closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day



Find out more at

January 1


29–Feb. 2

State Board of Education meetings


Last day to join ATPE as an associate, professional, or administrator member

February 1


DEADLINE to register to vote in the primary elections

NOMINATION DEADLINE: ATPE Educator of the Year Awards



ATPE Board of Directors meeting

Early voting begins



March 2

Application & entry deadlines: Educator of the Year, Local Unit of the Year, and Campus Representative of the Year; Early voting ends



SXSW EDU Conference and Festival; Texas Public Schools Week

Primary election day


DEADLINE: State officer and proposed bylaws amendments and resolutions due to state office

State office closed for Good Friday

Join Texas’s Largest and Most Trusted Educator Group Today Sixth-grade math teacher Mariah Robinson has been an ATPE member since 2013. “If you told me 10 years ago that I was going to be a teacher, I would’ve laughed, but I love every minute of it. I look forward to every day. I want my kids to leave a little bit better than they came in, and I tell them that weekly. I hope that they will learn how to be a little more compassionate or how to respect someone else’s opinion that differs from theirs. I want them to know that they can be successful. I want them to be as good of a person as they can possibly be—whatever that looks like for them. In this day and age, whether you did something or not, you can be accused of it, and you need to protect yourself. That became a given for me—I’m not going without insurance. I insure everything else, I’ve got to insure my career.*”

When you join ATPE, you’ll get: • • • •

Access to our top-notch legal team Liability insurance and employment rights defense coverage* Influence at the Capitol Outstanding benefits and resources

Join online at Professional, associate, and administrator categories remain open through Jan. 31, 2018. *Eligibility, terms, and exclusions apply.




here are more than a thousand school districts in Texas and each one has success stories. Regional Roundup highlights some of the achievements happening in our public schools. When something special happens in your school district, let us know! Send news to




6 2



1 4



Gulf of Mexic 3 SAN BENITO


From Across the State 1 Rivals unite after Harvey  

After Hurricane Harvey devastated Kingwood High School, possibly closing it for the entire year, rival high school Summer Creek opened its doors. To keep students together and retain the school’s identity, all 2,782 students were welcomed at Summer Creek. Now more than 5,000 students share the campus. An Open House, with hotdogs, handmade welcome signs, and personal tours, kicked off the unification.


ahead for Clint 2 FISDull STEAM preschoolers  

Photos courtesy of Humble ISD, Clint ISD, San Benito ISD, Navarro ISD, River Road ISD, and Grace Garcia, The Flare



More than 600 preschoolers in Clint ISD are getting an early start on their future careers. For the second year, Clint ISD is focusing their preschool program on STEAM concepts—science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Teachers use relatable things like stories and fairytales to help students understand the concepts and explore hands-on projects, coding, and robotics. Last year, the district hosted a robotics competition—the first in the region.



School lessons beyond the chess board


While second-grade teacher Lilia Nezzer is not new to developing after-school programs, it’s her chess program at Sullivan Elementary School that’s cemented her impact. Lilia’s program intuitively includes special needs students and tackles more than the game’s strategies. Students learn patience and social skills and have overcome obstacles to succeed locally, regionally, and statewide. The program has helped instill a “can do” attitude in the students.

avarro ISD adopts hurricane4 Ndamaged district  

When Navarro ISD staff realized the small town of Refugio needed assistance after Hurricane Harvey, they put together a special care package of goods, cash, and gift cards to deliver to the town’s school district. Navarro even took the extra step of “adopting” Refugio ISD to extend a helping hand for the long term. Several Navarro student organizations also collected items for Refugio students.

5 New trade program for students

  Amarillo is giving River Road ISD students more alternatives to the traditional college path. The district’s new vocational training project offers cosmetology, welding, and nursing assistant certification courses. Students will graduate high school with the same licensing that a person graduating from junior college receives—with no debt. About 60 students are enrolled in the program, and the district aims to expand it.

eminars help students 6 Snarrow focus  

Deciding on a career can be difficult, so Kilgore College created a program to help students better understand the fields they’re interested in. The Day in the Life seminars feature professionals from a variety of occupations who speak to students about what a career in policing, nursing, or counseling is really like. Students get a firm grasp on the career that may suit them, so they can focus on the requirements needed to pursue it.





t Colonial Hills Elementary in North East ISD, we set a goal to ensure that all children have access to a healthy school environment where they can learn and flourish. We hoped that the children would use their gained knowledge in future endeavors. But positive changes take time. If your school wants to become a “healthy school,” you need to be patient and get the entire school community involved. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Here’s a breakdown of what our school did to achieve healthy school status.

sure the community is 1 Make behind you.

We first took a survey to find out if our school community was interested in our goal. We surveyed parents, teachers, students, and other community partners. We received an overwhelmingly positive response.

lishing two committees. The first committee, the Wellness/Garden Committee, had a representative from every grade level, a nurse, nutrition personnel, an administrator, parents, and community partners. The second committee, the Legacy 10 ATPE NEWS

Photos courtesy of North East ISD

and create a plan. 2 Organize For us, this meant estab-

Students in North East ISD work on their school garden.

Kids School Health Advisory Council (KSHAC), was made up of 12 third to fifth graders who developed their own ways to promote health and wellness on campus. These students helped organize and maintain the school community garden, participated in fitness and health morning announcements, and assisted with the annual health fair and family fitness nights. for partner 3 Search organizations.

Next, we got involved with several free health and fitness organizations, such as Fuel Up to Play 60; San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council; Action for Healthy Kids; Active Schools; Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance; and Jump Rope and Hoops for Heart. These types of organizations are filled with resources to start a journey toward a healthy school.

the changes. 4 Implement While increasing the minutes

in physical education from 135 to 150 a week was significant, the most impactful change our school made involved healthy meals, snacks, and beverages. We sent a letter home to parents and then posted on our school website (on

the main page, parent section, and student section), stating that Colonial Hills Elementary School is a “healthy school.” Another effective change our school made was ensuring all foods served and sold to staff at staff meetings, school-sponsored staff events, and in the staff lounge also met the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. Additionally, we created a school garden. We believe that our garden has had a direct impact on students’ wellness, nutrition, and confidence. Our students are more than test scores. The garden has brought our campus together and allowed our community and stakeholders to be a part of our school. It has always been our intent to create lasting habits that will carry our students through school and beyond.

Pitts has been teaching elementary physical Ú Terri education/health for 14 years. She was the 2010 Judson ISD Educator of the Year; the 2014 Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Elementary PE Teacher of the Year; the 2015 Trinity Prize (Excellence in Education) Teacher for her campus; and a finalist for ATPE Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Read the full article on the ATPE Blog at ATPE NEWS 11



The Visionary

r. David Vroonland knew early on that his success hinged on a commitment to learning and the involvement of a supportive community. His childhood was difficult—born to a teenaged mother, Vroonland grew up in foster care families who struggled to make ends meet. At age 10, he was finally adopted by a family with high expectations for him. Vroonland realized that education was the surest route away from a life of more hardship. As the superintendent of Mesquite ISD and ATPE’s 2016-17 Administrator of the Year, Vroonland believes teachers are unsung heroes. But he hopes to change that. In less than three years at Mesquite ISD, Vroonland has developed an innovative program to elevate educators through a combination of support, career advancement opportunities, and financial incentives. He’s also spearheaded a city-wide literacy awareness campaign called #ReadPlayTalk. ATPE News sat down with Vroonland to find out more about #ReadPlayTalk and the Excellence Teaching Incentive Program, through which classroom teachers can increase their salaries by up to $12,000 annually.




How has your childhood impacted your work in public education?

I think there are three essential things that are vital for students who are in situations like mine. One is that they have to feel love—and teachers are incredible at that. Love isn’t just a warm arm around the shoulder. It’s feeling joy, feeling that people believe in you, feeling connected, and feeling encouraged. The other thing that I think is important is that children from those backgrounds have to believe in something bigger than themselves. Then, the most crucial thing—Thomas Jefferson said the purpose of general education was “to enable every man to determine for himself that which will secure or endanger their freedom.” Because I was born in this country, the circumstances of my birth did not dictate my outcome because public education was there.

How would you describe your role as superintendent?

I think my primary role is to grow people and to help put in place systems that will allow people to develop their own processes and uniquely different ways of working. I believe in decentralizing systems and focusing on people’s capacity development— from teachers to administrators. The way to excellence is not through compliance but through capacity development.

How do you view your administration’s relationship with the teachers in your district?

When you’re just implementing a program, you become a compliance officer as a teacher. You’re basically just implementing somebody else’s idea. I think that devalues the teacher. Teachers are instructional leaders, and they need to be treated as such and expected to perform as such. My hope is that teachers in Mesquite are feeling valued, listened to, and respected. We’ve said forever that teachers are the most important people on the ground, but

I’m not sure we’ve actually treated them that way. We create curricula, we buy programs, but we don’t really work on their development as professionals. We could do a whole lot more than we have done to respect our teachers and build their capacity to truly be the owner of their classroom.

What does the Excellence Teaching Incentive Program (ETIP) entail?

The ETIP program is designed to help teachers grow professionally and to dramatically increase their income. Rather than offering a bonus for performance on a test, we don’t talk about the test. Our focus is on developing their capacities around differentiation, formative assessment, and literacy. They need to be able to respond quickly to what they’re seeing and nimbly change what they do. The only way to do that is to build their capacity. To be really good at something, you need to spend a lot of time learning, practicing, and collaborating with peers over what works and what doesn’t. ETIP is designed to keep teachers in the classroom, give them opportunities to change titles, and fiscally impact them in a positive way. Teachers in this district could potentially earn $12,000 more annually.

What does the #ReadPlayTalk program entail?

We’re trying to overcome the 30-million word gap—that children in poverty hear 30 million fewer words than children from higher income families by the time they are four years old. We started a #ReadPlayTalk campaign that has been massive. Businesses are engaged in it, churches are engaged in it. It engages the community, whoever that is, in reading, playing, and talking every day to their children. Those three things will likely result in children being on grade level when they get to us at kindergarten. That’s not a little thing in the scheme of children’s learning.

The ETIP Program LEVEL I Salary Increase:


Requirements: • completion of an 18-hour (college hours) program • demonstrated growth Title: Classroom Scholar

LEVEL II Salary Increase:

$2,000 Additional

Requirements: • master’s degree • value added at the campus level Title: Campus Scholar

LEVEL III Salary Increase:

$5,000 Additional

Requirements: • doctorate degree • value added at the district level Title: District Scholar



Cameras in the Classroom


lmost no one, including educators, likes to be recorded. But cameras have continued to proliferate in schools and many public areas. Once reserved solely for cafeterias, halls, and gyms, they are even starting to enter classrooms.


The General Rules

Anyone can be captured on video anytime unless there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is a gray area as to what that means, but generally, common sense prevails. For instance, cameras are not allowed in restrooms or changing areas. In contrast, since there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a classroom shared with students, there is no general legal prohibition on cameras there. The Texas Education Code does, however, prohibit a school district or district employee from recording, or by policy authorizing the recording of, a student’s image or voice without prior parental consent unless the recording is for safety, related to curricular or extracurricular activities, or related to regular classroom instruction. So,

understood that the cameras were for safety. So, no parent permission is required.

Cameras Recording Classroom Instruction

Some districts allow students to record their teachers’ instruction to review later or for their absent classmates. The legality of this use of cameras was upheld by the commissioner of education in 2014. Again, there was no general expectation of privacy in the classroom. The commissioner also determined that even though other students would likely be captured in these recordings, no parental permission is required. This is because these recordings are related to regular classroom instruction.

Cameras Recording Classroom Instruction for Teacher Evaluations

Some appraisers have included a recording of a teacher’s instruction as one component of the teacher’s evaluation process. This practice has not been reviewed by the commissioner of education. While, again, there is no expectation of privacy in the classroom, serious questions exist as to whether the practice would violate the Texas Education Code. Unlike recording for the student’s use in studying, which the commissioner has approved, the recording As cameras become more common in schools, educators for a teacher evaluation has no dineed to know what the rules are regarding their usage. rect relationship to the instruction ATPE’s managing attorney explains what you need to know itself. Recording for teacher evaluabout five common uses of cameras in the classroom. ation purposes also does not relate to safety or a cocurricular or extracurricular activity. Therefore, we believe it is questionable whether the Education Code puts a practical restriction on it is permissible to use cameras for teacher evaluwhen cameras can be used in many situations— ations when students are present, unless parental only when the parents of a student who will be permission is obtained. recorded allow it.

At a glance

Cameras in Public Areas

Cameras have long existed in public areas, like hallways and the cafeteria. Since cameras are used to record what happens (and particularly to make a record that can be reviewed if an incident, such as a student fight, occurs), it has long been

Educators’ Use of Cameras

On occasion, an educator will think it wise to record a student to document misbehavior. Educators should be cautious about doing so because of the requirement for prior parental permission. While it may be possible for the educator to claim that the recording fell into the exception continued on page 40



March Is the New November


hances are good that the legislators who On the home page, click on will represent you in the 86th Texas “Search for Candidates.” This will take you to a Legislature will not be chosen next page where you can find your Senate, House, and November. Thanks to a combination of gerry- State Board of Education candidates. Enter your mandering and some natural geographic divides, address, and each candidate running for a seat in Texas, with rare exception, does NOT have a com- your district will populate at the bottom of the petitive general election—not for House, Senate, page. Click on a candidate’s name to access his or statewide races. or her profile. Profiles include candidates’ voting If that’s true, you might ask, why do candi- records, answers to the ATPE candidate survey, dates spend hundreds of thousands, sometimes education-related endorsements, and when posmillions, of dollars on races? The answer is that sible, additional notes about the candidate. On they don’t—not in November anyway. The ma- this page, you will also find links to the candidate’s jority of candidates spend their time and money website and Facebook pages as well as any contact in January and February, in the race they know information we have been able to collect. will get them elected—the primary! On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, elections for governor, lieutenant Check Your Voter Registration governor, and members of the 86th legislature will Thankfully, checking your voter registration largely be decided. This is why is easy, too. Just go to the it is vital that educators vote Texas Secretary of State’s in the primary. “Am I Registered?” web Before you take to the polls, page ( https://teamrv-mvp. you should pick your prima- TO MAKE YOUR VOTE TRULY, learn about the candidates’, enter one COUNT, IT’S IMPORTANT TO stances on education issues, of three simple sets of inVOTE IN THE PRIMARY OF and ensure that your voter formation, and hit submit. registration is complete and YOUR DISTRICT’S DOMINANT The site will pull up your up to date. voter registration data and PARTY, REGARDLESS OF confirm your voter status YOUR PERSONAL POLITICS. Pick Your Primary and your name and address THERE IS SIMPLY FAR TOO To make your vote truly information. If you have count, it’s important to vote in moved within the same MUCH AT STAKE TO USE the primary of your district’s county, you can update your YOUR PRIMARY VOTE ON dominant party, regardless address by simply clicking A CANDIDATE WHO IS of your personal politics. You the “change your address” UNOPPOSED IN MARCH can then vote for the party of link. If you have moved to your preference in November, a new county, or if your OR DOOMED TO LOSE IN when the general election voter status is not listed as NOVEMBER BECAUSE THEIR rolls around. There is simply active, then you will need DISTRICT IS STACKED IN far too much at stake to use to complete and submit THEIR OPPONENT’S FAVOR. your primary vote on a cana voter registration form. didate who is unopposed in You can complete your votMarch or doomed to lose in November because er registration on the Secretary of State’s “Voter their district is stacked in their opponent’s favor. Registration” web page ( https://webservices.sos. After you fill out the Learn about the Candidates web form, you will need to print it and drop it in ATPE has made learning about candi- the mail. Feb. 5 is the last day to register before the dates’ stances on public education easy with March election. continued on page 40 ATPE NEWS 15

How one elementary school’s morning workshops bring together students, teachers, and the entire community by L ESL IE TRAHAN | Photographs by JEAN SCHLITZKUS

t’s Tuesday morning at Lake Dallas Elementary. School doesn’t start for almost an hour, but students are already pouring through the doors, eager to begin their day. Some kids race to the playground for a soccer lesson with two high school students. Others head to the kitchen to make cookies with the school counselor. And a third group files into the technology classroom, where a chemistry teacher is waiting to teach them guitar. What’s going on before the bell? These students are part of an innovative extracurricular program that allows them to explore their interests and exposes them to new hobbies and skills. Community members and school staff work together to develop, plan, coordinate, and host these weekly morning workshops. If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. An idea like this takes the time and dedication of a committed volunteer corps—along with a lot of community involvement. And winning the support of Dan Rather and his grandson Martin doesn’t hurt either. 16 ATPE NEWS

A Winning Idea

More than 200 ideas were submitted for the Rather Prize in 2016-17, the year Lake Dallas Elementary’s Katie Landaverde won. Her idea was simple—teachers, community members, and high school students would teach short morning workshops designed to help students explore a new hobby or interest. Landaverde, the school’s technology integration specialist since 2015, had the idea when she was brainstorming ways to make her students’ mornings more productive. At the same time, she noticed that many of her colleagues had hidden talents they never shared with students. The two thoughts seemed to be natural answers to one another. Landaverde took the idea straight to her principal, Dr. Jennifer Perry. Perry loved the concept because it both created an opportunity for students to explore new interests and gave teachers a creative way to connect with students and share their skills. “Even if it’s for a week within the school year, if you can do something you enjoy and bring that to everyone else, it makes your time and work a little more positive,” says Perry.

Lake Dallas Elementary’s Katie Landaverde won the Rather Prize for her unique idea to host morning workshops that allow students to explore new interests.

About the Rather Prize The Rather Prize, founded in 2015 by legendary journalist Dan Rather and his grandson Martin, awards $10,000 to the best idea supporting Texas public schools. Public school educators and students from across the state can submit ideas. An advisory board, made up of the Rathers, representatives from Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership (which partners with the program), and other education leaders

across the state, works alongside a team of Rice University students and volunteers to select the top 10 finalists. Ideas are judged based on their ease of use and scalability, or how readily they could be applied to different types of schools. The 10 finalists move into a public voting round, and the idea with the most votes at the end of the voting period wins $10,000 and the support of Rice University students and faculty.

Learn more at


The two knew they had a great idea on their hands, but they also knew implementation would be challenging and costly. When they heard about the Rather Prize, they decided to submit their plan. When their idea was selected by the Rather Prize advisory board as one of the top 10 finalists and moved into the public voting round, Landaverde and Perry, along with the rest of Lake Dallas ISD, celebrated. “Lake Dallas ISD has five campuses, and all five rallied around the idea, which meant the whole community rallied around it,” Perry recalls. The community’s enthusiasm paid off. Approximately 35,000 public votes were cast in the final round, and in March of 2017, the Rathers announced Landaverde’s idea as the winner. Landaverde and Perry, along with their district administrators, joined Dan and Martin Rather on stage at SXSW EDU in Austin to accept their award.

Making the Idea a Reality

Even though they had the vigorous support of their community during voting, Landaverde and Perry knew they needed more than enthusiasm to make the project a success. They needed staff members from Lake Dallas Elementary to help coordinate the program, volunteers to commit to teaching a class, and parents to support their children and the school during this new endeavor. They didn’t struggle for long. “It’s amazing to see so many people rally around an idea,” says Landaverde. But it wasn’t just the Lake Dallas community that stepped up to support them. Dan and Martin Rather, along with a team from Rice University, helped implement and promote the project and provided logistical support. They also helped Landaverde find additional financial backing so Lake Dallas could continue to offer the program in future years. After collaborating with the rest of their campus and the Rather Prize team, Landaverde and


Perry took a few key steps. First, they created a volunTo read more about teer committee made up of how to implement 10 staff members to run the morning workshops program. Committee memlike the Rather bers were assigned to help with the daily operations Project at your of the workshops, including school, see our getting students to the corblog post at rect classrooms and helping volunteers develop their RatherProject. lessons. Second, they solicited the help of Lake Dallas High School students who were studying to be teachers. They hoped these students would be willing to run workshops and teach their peers how to plan a class. Third, they promoted the program in every school in their district and throughout the community. They issued challenges to other schools to encourage involvement and actively sought volunteers from the local community college as well. After a summer of hard work, Landaverde and Perry eagerly unveiled their program to the community and the students.

Teaching the Right Chords

Gerardo Castillo is a high school chemistry teacher in Lake Dallas. He never thought he’d be teaching guitar to elementary students, but after hearing Landaverde’s

speech about the Rather Project at a professional development workshop, he felt inspired to volunteer. Castillo submitted his proposal to the Rather Project team and was eagerly accepted as a mentor. The Rather Project bought guitars and set up a time and space for the workshop. On the fourth week of the program, Castillo arrived at Lake Dallas Elementary ready to meet his new pupils. “I was a little anxious,” Castillo remembers, “but I was also excited to get out there and share some of the things I’d been working on.” Mentors are required to specify what they’ll be teaching in each of their 30-minute sessions. Practiced teachers like Castillo know how to break each day into learning objectives, but community members who don’t have teaching experience sometimes need guidance on how to structure their lessons. “The volunteer vetting process is not as much about their talents as it is about making sure they have lessons planned out,” says Landaverde. “We ask to see a list of what they’re planning to do with kids each day before they go into the classroom.” Castillo agrees that skill level isn’t the most important component for volunteer success. “It’s more important to have fun than to show off. After all, I’m doing this for the benefit of the kids and not for myself. And if the kids have fun, they will want to keep playing.” What makes for a successful mentor is a willingness to teach, a solid plan, and the ability to relate to the students. Castillo knew he had the first two, but after years of working with teenagers, he was apprehensive about teaching elementary-age students. “I feared the worst,” says Castillo, “but I surprised myself by how well I connected with the kids.” During the course of the week, the students learned to play three songs and Castillo gained a new perspective on himself in the classroom. When the workshop was over, Landaverde emailed Castillo to confirm that his classes had been a success. The kids were excited by what they

had learned. Castillo is excited, too. The workshops gave him a new appreciation of his own musical abilities. “After the week was over, I felt motivated to practice guitar a lot more,” says Castillo. “The kids inspired me to work harder as a musician.” Would he consider teaching guitar for the Rather Project again? Absolutely. But, being a chemistry teacher, Castillo wants to inspire a love for science in younger students as well. “Next time,” says Castillo, “I think I’d like to do a slime lab.”

Teaching the Field

Landaverde also has future educators on her team. Gina Minassian runs Ready, Set, Teach!, a field-based program for future educators at Lake Dallas High School. When she heard about the Rather Project, she knew immediately how she could help. Minassian approached her students about getting involved. “Right away I had volunteers,” Minassian recalls. The Ready, Set, Teach! students, along with Minassian, were invited to a planning meeting with Martin Rather in the spring before the program began. Minassian’s future educators immediately signed up to teach classes on soccer, dance, and hockey and to host a healthy breakfast workshop. Students from Ready, Set, Teach! serve as mentors and help prepare their fellow high school students to teach and lead their own lessons. Students develop their own workshop ideas, plan the activities, and submit their proposals to the Rather Project. “I am just there to help guide them through the process,” says Minassian. “The students step up to the challenge and coordinate the whole thing.” The Rather Project exceeded Minassian’s expectations both for her students and for the community. “It’s great to see so many people willing to come in and do workshops— not only our high school students, but also teachers, continued on page 40




THE IMPACT OF POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL How building positive relationships and setting high expectations supported change in a public school with high mobility and high poverty. BY M A R LA SULLI VAN , PRI N CI PAL AT WI LLI A MS/LE DGE R E LE ME NTA RY SC HO O L IN CO PPE RA S COV E ISD


Photos courtesy of Copperas Cove ISD


s a 28-year public edutaught (and modeled) using a uniform lesson plan during cation veteran, I believe the first six weeks of the school year and then reviewed in the benefits of public as needed throughout the year. Additionally, we creeducation. No other ated a token economy system to reward students who profession has as much meet expectations. “Hoot loot” can be exchanged for potential to prizes and other incentives. impact the Since 2012, discipline referrals have future of our country for generations declined significantly each year, with BUILDING to come. In 2017, we are educating a more than 60 percent decrease in toTRUST children for careers that have yet tal referrals. Teachers feel empowered to be created, using technology to set and hold high expectations, and that is outdated almost as soon as students want to meet them. Students It takes effort to build trust it is purchased. are recognized and rewarded for sucwithin an organization. Open In the words of my campus speech cesses, both academically and behavcommunication, shared values pathologist, Laura Peterson, “Public iorally. Parents are partners in the school can be many things for children; process and are invited to attend all and beliefs, high visibility, and primarily, it’s a place for us to teach celebrations. transparency are important them (how) to learn and to create a deA student teacher in our kindergarwhen a leader is striving to sire to learn. If that means giving them ten team recently asked her students make changes. Collaborative food, clothing, love, hugs, or building to write a sentence about what it decision-making and self-esteem, then that’s what we do.” means to be an OWL. Answers ranged stakeholder buy in Copperas Cove ISD serves more than from “being nice to everyone” and 8,000 students, many of whom are “being a good friend,” to “following are essential. closely connected to our neighboring the rules.” One kindergarten student military base, Fort Hood. Our commuwrote, “Being an OWL means family.” nity is growing, yet highly mobile, and is very supportThese answers from our youngest students speak ive of its school system. Local businesses and commuvolumes about our school and the culture we have built. nity members provide countless hours of volunteer support and take pride in our academic and athletic Relationships Matter achievements. Relationships are the heart of public education. In short, Copperas Cove ISD takes pride in educating Positive relationships among all groups create an the whole child. energetic and exciting environment and establish a strong foundation for learning. The OWLS Family In support of this goal, we have intentionally inBefore I officially joined the Williams/Ledger camcreased our number of after-school clubs. Clubs help pus as principal in 2012, I met with existing leaders our students feel like they belong and support relato establish open communication and get a sense of tionships among students. In five years, we have gone the school’s culture. I asked these leaders to identify from six to 25 different student clubs. the best thing about their campus, and they all said, We have also worked hard to keep our teachers. “the people.” I also asked them what they would like Increased high-stakes testing and accountability to improve, and they all mentioned student behavior. measures, heightened paperwork demands, ongoing My counselors proposed the idea of recognizing one changes in legislation, shifting family dynamics, and a student in each classroom per week as an Outstanding changing economy all contribute to teacher burnout. Williams Ledger Student (OWLS). They developed a In Copperas Cove, mobility is also a factor. Many of nomination process and designed a button that stuour teachers are military spouses who are not in the dents could wear during their week. We quickly realarea very long. ized that the S could also stand for “staff”; thus, OWLS With so many factors outside my control, I believe became the new “logo” for Williams/Ledger. it is important to take care of the factors within my I also established a Positive Behavior Initiatives and control. Teachers, like students, need to feel loved, apSupports team that created behavioral expectations preciated, and validated; they need to be recognized for all common areas. We posted these expectations in for the amazing things they do every day. I send them hallways using common language. They were explicitly postcards, leave them notes, and keep a never-ending ATPE NEWS 21

Volunteers support Williams/Ledger Elementary during Read Across America Week (left) and Pink Out Your School (right). After being covered in more than 3,000 pink ribbons, the school was named the winner of the contest to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

supply of chocolate in my office (and my office door is OPEN). I am on a first-name basis with my staff; I know them as people. These little things contribute to our teacher retention. When teachers come to our campus, they make a long-term commitment to our students and our vision.

Parent & Community Partners

Prior to 2012, parent volunteers were not a visible presence at Williams/Ledger. Now, however, our parent volunteer coordinators offer biweekly volunteer training and orientation sessions. Our parent-teacher organization is an active group, generating additional funds for special projects around the campus. As of May 2017, our parent and community volunteers had donated 2,300 hours of service to Williams/Ledger Elementary. During the 2015-16 school year, as part of the Parent Advisory Council, a parent suggested that the school do more to acknowledge high-achieving students; thus, “Sweets with Sullivan” was born. Each six-week period, A-honor roll students are treated to homemade

LEADERSHIP CHOICES To be a positive and effective leader, you have to make the following choices every day: • Be fully present: It’s imperative that my staff and students see me in the hallways and in the classrooms. • Put people first, paperwork last: Unless there is a pressing deadline, paperwork waits until everyone else goes home. • Be responsive: If a parent, student, or staff member needs my time, I make it happen. • Acknowledge a job well done. • Choose to make each day better than the last. 22 ATPE NEWS

cookies and juice and receive a spirit stick from me. To date, I have baked 98 dozen chocolate chip cookies! Each year, our campus celebrates Read Across America. This year, we had 26 guest readers. During our annual College & Career Awareness and Career Day event, 22 community businesses presented their careers to our student body. Whether it’s helping out in the office, working at the book fair or other special events, or selling popcorn and pickles, these parent and community members are PRESENT and making a difference!

Growing Leaders

Each year, new teachers are welcomed into the Williams/Ledger family. During my five years as principal at Williams/Ledger, I have watched my staff grow in a variety of ways. Their hearts are larger; they are not afraid to take risks. The Williams/Ledger campus team has truly embraced a growth mindset, including the concept that true growth occurs outside our comfort zone. I am equally proud that many of my OWL staff members have begun to pursue their own personal growth by starting graduate courses and pursuing careers in curriculum and instruction or educational leadership. Through the development of positive relationships, Williams/Ledger is growing leaders among both students and staff—one of the highest callings of public education. We are producing leaders who will shape the future of our nation. Marla Sullivan is in her sixth year as principal at Williams/Ledger Elementary School. This is her 28th year in public education. Mrs. Sullivan holds a bachelor of music education from Baylor University, a master of education from the University of Texas at Austin, and her mid-management certification from Tarleton State University.







The movement of a paintbrush,

plucking the string of an electric guitar, or singing alongside your classmates—the arts provide an escape, an expression, and an education. Art, in its many forms, transcends students’ preexisting knowledge and allows them to connect to other subjects in different, more freeing ways. Although viewed by some as fun and easy courses with little to no homework, fine arts courses provide students with valuable skills and experiences. From teamwork to time management, high-level thinking and self-confidence, educators across Texas understand that the arts spark something extra in their students. ATPE asked Texas teachers to share their stories of how fine arts has enriched the lives of their students, their schools, and their communities. ATPE NEWS 23

School of Rock ”My school services around 500 students, with approximately 75 percent on free or reduced-cost lunch. Little Kids Rock is an innovative new kind of music education funded in part by donations. When the opportunity came for me to apply to become a Little Kids Rock teacher, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. What I discovered was that this program changed the way I thought about how I teach students music. After attending the eight-hour workshop, I was sold. For attending, my students received over $3,000 worth of instruments FREE! We have started the program for third through sixth graders in music class. The program is easy and effective, and the students are in LOVE. Imagine a child’s face when they get to slip an electric guitar around their neck and are immediately successful at making it sound ‘right’! Our package included six acoustic guitars, an electric bass, two electric guitars, a drum set, two keyboards, and a new PA system. The excitement on my students’ faces when they walk in and see these brand-new, shiny instruments has had an awesome effect on my desire to teach! I am so excited and proud to begin this program! I now have a campaign to try to get another six guitars and six ukuleles for a more one-on-one approach with my students.” For more information on Little Kids Rock, visit To read more about Julia’s campaign, visit project/little-kids-rock-music-instruments.

Art by the Numbers 5.5


BILLION The arts generate $5.5 billion annually for Texas’s economy.


1/15 Texas’s creative sector employs 1 in 15 Texans.



MILLION The arts contribute nearly $343.7 million in state sales tax revenue.

15% Students who complete more arts classes have up to a 15% higher pass rate on standardized tests.

Photos courtesy of Julia Turner

Julia Turner is an ATPE member who teaches at Short Elementary in Arlington ISD

Sounds of Joy Beth Shier is an ATPE member and music teacher at the Academy at Carrie F. Thomas Elementary in Birdville ISD ”The fine arts are a place for students to be creative and find their voice. When students participate in the fine arts, they learn so many life skills—working together for a common goal, teamwork, how to handle success and failure, work ethic, and how to produce their best work for an audience. I love it when my shy students with self-proclaimed ‘stage fright’ learn to overcome, shine on the stage, find their voice, and gain the confidence to do anything they put their mind to!”

Photos courtesy of Beth Shier

Read the mission statement Beth Shier's student's wrote:  e, the musicians of ACFT, believe that music makes W people happy and it can make the world a better place. We believe that our music class is a place to learn about making music, singing, instruments, and musicians. We need to learn music, both now and for our future. To do this, we will listen attentively, we will practice our music, participate in class, and make music together. We will work together and communicate with our classmates. We will be kind to each other and show respect. We will always give our best effort.

Students, from kindergarten to fifth grade, getting to know each other, working together, reviewing, learning, singing, creating their music class mission statement, and filling the music room with joy.

Numbers taken from the “2017 State of the Arts Report” by Texas Cultural Trust,


WEEK High school students enrolled in arts courses attend 1 additional week of school.

9/10 Of Texas parents support increased funding for the arts in their schools.

89% Of Texas parents believe that art and music electives are as important as athletics.

92% Of Texas parents have a positive opinion of arts education.


Art of West Texas Laurel Holman is an ATPE member and teaches art classes at Presidio High School in Presidio ISD “We really have such talented kids here in Presidio in the arts— dance, music, theater, and of course the visual arts! I tell my kids that believe it or not, they use art every day in their lives. Many students tell me that they have no artistic talent, so I make a promise to them that in some form or fashion, they actually DO have some hidden artistic talent! I want my classroom to be a place of creating, having fun while learning, and self-expression, and a place where they can escape and relax. We do have a lot of fun, we laugh, and I also learn so much from them. I do love my students. We have the best kids down here in this dusty, west Texas border town.”

These are some of the photos entered in various art competitions.


Photos courtesy of Laurel Holman

“Our Comic Con assignment is one that really grabs the interest of the students and is a great way to start off the year! The students learn about grid enlargements, and since we are so isolated in far west Texas, the kids get to experience a Comic Con for the first time! The Fort Worth Art Competition is for my more advanced students and is also a competition that the students enter every year.”

Artful Connections Teachers from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in Houston ISD share what the arts mean to them “Artistic expression is a vital part of being human. The arts express, nurture, and heal our connection to each other and the universe.” —Stephen Crawford, Instrumental Department Chair “I think the fine arts are important to our students because it gives them the opportunity to express their individuality in a medium that does not restrict one’s thinking with predetermined conventions. When a student is painting, dancing, or improvising on their saxophone, creative thought is allowed to move in any direction that might touch on science, math, or literature. When students are encouraged to create visually, in dance or music, they gain a sense of confidence that supports their learning across all subjects.” —Tim Glover, Visual Arts Faculty

Photos courtesy of HSPVA (The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Houston) and Lynn Lane

“Have you ever seen how passion can transform a classroom—how you can suddenly give life to a subject, which a child may have always believed was mundane, merely by making a connection to their art, their passion, their life? I have seen this, felt it, lived it. Let me be clear: If you take money away from what they love to learn, you doom them to muddle through a vaguely blurred and monotone education landscape rather than one that is filled with vibrant and vivid connection.” —Vicky Hauptman-Bryan, English Department Chair “I am proud of the fact that the arts are a transformative subject that could propel a student to go to college and gain a higher education. Often, the arts are viewed as a free-form subject. However, the arts are a great tool to teach time management, multitasking, higher-level thinking, problem-solving, and organization. Our students find their identity and pinpoint goals that have the potential to change the world.” —David Waddell, Visual Arts Department Chair



I Stand by ATPE because They Stood by Me

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never thought I would be an educator. No way was I ever going back to school. I hated most of my time as a student in high school. The only highlights included being part of the newspaper and yearbook staff and competing on the debate team. Fast forward to six months after high school graduation. I was involved in a head-on car collision and spent about 12 weeks in a wheelchair and a year in physical therapy. A two-year lawsuit taught me the ins and outs of the legal system, insurance rules, medical records coding, case law, and enough legal jargon to make your head spin.



That marked the beginning of my first career. In the legal gives me peace of mind. Three years into my teaching career, field, I found a place that was black and white, right and wrong. I had to call on ATPE for assistance with a grievance, followed I earned an associate of applied science degree and worked as a by a few more grievances on my campus. I know each case is paralegal before deciding to get a bachelor’s degree in legal ad- different, but every ATPE member I’ve spoken to who needministration. I worked full time and went ed legal assistance has said that they were to school four nights a week. I rode the bus happy with the way their issue was handled from League City to downtown Houston and, most of all, they were able to manage every day until I got my degree. Eight years it with less STRESS. My attorney and I later, I was the paralegal and assistant to worked together to resolve the issues, and I know each case is different, I went on my way with a great career. Had the managing partner of a law firm. But but every ATPE member I’ve I gone with another group, like some of my I also felt like I had reached the ceiling. I knew I did not want to go to law school, so I spoken to who needed legal coworkers did, I believe I would not have started looking at options. had the outcome I did. assistance has said that they Because of my law background, I decided That was seven years and two districts were happy with the way ago, and I am thankful every day that ATPE to get certified to teach special education. I their issue was handled and, has had my back throughout my career. pursued my alternative certification, taught for three years, and eventually completed I am an avid ATPE supporter, volunteer, most of all, they were able to my master’s degree. Being a teacher was and team member. I am proud to supmanage it with less STRESS. sometimes difficult, but I know it was the port ATPE and our members as a local best decision I ever made. In my first year, I unit officer, a member of the Legislative taught three different subjects in a resource setting on a fifth- Committee, a member of the Political Action Committee, and and sixth-grade campus. After doing that, I felt like I could do a participant in ATPE at the Capitol and in local events. anything! I learned so much from my special education teamI truly believe ATPE is the best educators’ professional orgamates, and to this day, I still consider them family. nization in the state. When I heard representatives from the different teacher groups speak on campus, I knew I would choose ATPE. With my background in law, I knew that access to an attorney—and not just a representative with little or no legal training—was what I wanted. Why would I waste time with a group that couldn’t help me? Why would I pay dues to an organization that isn’t member governed and doesn’t offer the kind of coverage and guaranteed benefits that ATPE offers? It didn’t make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on an out-of-state union, as opposed to an in-state professional association. I look at my ATPE employment defense membership benefits in the same way I look at home or auto insurance. You never want to have to use it, but if you do, you have it. That

Paula Franklin is the special education instructional specialist at Galveston ISD. She is also the secretary of the Galveston ATPE local unit.



OUR FAMILY ALBUM SHOWCASES ATPE MEMBERS WORKING, COLLABORATING, AND HAVING FUN ACROSS THE STATE. Are you or someone you know featured on these pages? If not, send us a photo for the next issue! You can send a high-quality photo to Don’t forget to include the names of the people in the photo and tell us what event was taking place.

REGION 4 Dickinson members Lisa Cook, president, and Elaine Cates, treasurer, hold up a $1,500 check donated by Mesquite members to be used for hurricane relief.


Northside (20) ATPE welcomes new members from Folks Middle School.

REGION 6 Ginger Franks and Charles Lindsey II share a laugh at the Region 6 Connect Event.

REGION 16 Yolanda Capetillo (left), Region 16 secretary, and Andy Sanchez (right) recruit for ATPE during a campus visit at Lamar Elementary.


Jennifer LeWinter, Katy Matthews, Rebecca Bottin, and Kaki Spronz get ready for their monthly trash pickup duty to keep their community beautiful!

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Grady, Janet Godfrey, Teresa Griffin, Stephanie Stoebe, Chana Jones, and ATPE staff.


REGION 13 REGION 2 Robstown ATPE President Carlos de la Garza shows off his classroom décor.


Round Rock ATPE members and fellow educators believe “every child deserves Region 18Stephanie members Stoebe, set up anTasha ATPEMaggart, booth during a solid connection.” Anita Oliver, group a Fourth of July festival in Big Spring, Left facilitator Kristina Peters from New America, Irma Bauer, andTexas. Colleen right: Angelita and Manuel Sosa, Stephanie Vazquez work on ways toto find solutions to students’ home internet connectivity Laplante, Crystal Aguirre, and Gail Adlesperger. issues as part of a project they started at the Teach to Lead Summit.

REGION 4 Katy members participate in We Are Katy–Rebuilding One Classroom at a Time by donating, collecting, sorting, and delivering books to the teachers of Creech Elementary after Hurricane Harvey.

REGION 18 Stanton local officers, along with various high school organizations, assist with a donation drive for hurricane relief.

REGION 11 Tarleton ATPE members enjoy their first University Connect meeting.

REGION 12 Members of University of Mary Hardin-Baylor ATPE attend their first meeting of the school year.







hrough our awards and grants, ATPE recognizes outstanding Texas educators. Consider applying for an ATPE award or nominating a fellow ATPE member or local unit. Recognize a colleague who changes lives and inspires excellence by nominating them for an ATPE Educator of the Year Award. Highlight the work of your local unit by applying for a Local Unit of the Year Award. Nominate outstanding ATPE volunteers for a Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Award. Find out more about ATPE awards at




Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year Awards are presented in five categories: Administrator, Associate, Elementary Teacher, Secondary Teacher, and Special Services Educator. Recipients each receive $5,000. Feb. 1, 2018, is the nomination deadline, and nominees must submit completed applications by March 2, 2018. Self-nominations are not accepted. Find more information and a nomination form at

The Local Unit of the Year Awards honor exceptional local units in four categories: 1–200 members, 201–500 members, 501-plus members, and university local units. Each winning local unit will receive a check for $1,000. March 2, 2018, is the application/nomination deadline for the Local Unit of the Year Awards. Self-nominations are allowed. Find more information and an application/nomination form at

The Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Awards recognize volunteers in three categories: 1–200 members, 201–500 members, and 501-plus members. Local units may nominate one or more campus representatives. Each winner will receive $1,000, and their local units will each receive $250 for future local unit activities. March 2, 2018, is the nomination deadline for the Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Awards. Self-nominations are not accepted. Find more information and a nomination form at Campus-Rep-of-Year.


Email or call the ATPE state office at (800) 777-ATPE (2873).

ATTEND, LEARN, INSPIRE, AND EARN CPE! On March 5–8, 2018, education professionals from around the world will convene at SXSW EDU Conference & Festival in Austin. Make plans to attend now and be a part of this innovative event that aims to foster and empower a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. Plus, ATPE is partnering with SXSW EDU to certify selected sessions for CPE credits. That means you can earn valuable credits while enjoying inspiring sessions, interactive workshops, hands-on learning experiences, film screenings, and performances. To register to attend SXSW EDU, go to


HEY, NEW EDUCATORS! Have you checked out ATPE’s online guide for new educators yet? ATPE’s free download, Your First Classroom, is a valuable “quick start” guide for new educators. It includes important tips on topics like: • Preparing for (and succeeding on!) your first day • Setting performance expectations • Effective classroom management • Time-savers for the classroom • Communicating with parents

Volunteer as a Campus Rep and MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

• Preparing for a substitute • Professional responsibilities • Public education law • Special education and Section 504

Our members are the bedrock of our association, and volunteer leaders help solidify that foundation. Ever wondered how you can get more involved with ATPE and increase your impact as an educator? Become a campus representative! We have members on many campuses across the state, and we’re looking for more volunteers who are ready to lead. Campus reps can work in a district with or without an ATPE local unit, and they serve as the voice of ATPE on their campuses. We’ll provide the training, resources, and networks to ensure you can truly make a difference in the lives of Texas educators and students. INTERESTED? Contact ATPE’s volunteer program coordinator, Anna Belle Burleson, at

Visit to download this essential resource.



ATPE is the preeminent public educator association in Texas and makes a difference in the lives of educators and schoolchildren. In partnership with all stakeholders, we are committed to providing every child an equal opportunity to receive an exemplary public education.


ATPE SUMMIT July 11-13, 2018 | Sheraton Dallas

ATPE Summit hits the road in 2018!

Photo courtesy of DCVB

This year, we’re doing things differently. You won’t want to miss it!



Attendees will have two free evenings to explore Dallas or participate in an ATPEsponsored activity!

We’ll be in a new city, at a new venue, with new things to do!


Celebrate the accomplishments of your fellow educators and ATPE volunteers at our closing awards luncheon, hosted by Joel Zeff.


Our annual House of Delegates meeting will occur on the second day of the event. Vote on proposed bylaws and elect your 2018-19 state officers!




The following ATPE members donated $50 or more to ATPE’s Political Action Committee (ATPE-PAC) from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2017. Abilene Tonja Gray

Keri Minier Ginny Welch

Amarillo Lori Grimes Debra Perry Michael Renteria Kristel Sexton Shane Whitten

Clear Creek Ryan Nassif

Andrews Tina Hardarson Arlington Jo Kelley Carole Lemonds Austin Elizabeth Abrahams Marcia McNeil Axtell Lynn Burleigh Stacey Dieterich Ballinger Darlene Kelly Bastrop Chris Hansen Big Spring Stephanie Laplante Russell Mullins Birdville William Monty Blooming Grove Marietta Reed Boerne Margie Hastings Teri Nail Richard Wiggins Jeri Willis

Columbia-Brazoria Bess Simple Columbus Deborah Petrosky Copperas Cove Inge Clark Corpus Christi Cesarea Germain Barbara Ruiz Corsicana Julleen Bottoms Crowley Steve Pokluda Cypress-Fairbanks Stephanie Bailey Rebecca Keels Ginger Picone

Forney Patsy Dobbs Jean Rotering Wendy Smith

Krum Brandi Claiborne Julie Nabors Betty Plunkett

Fort Worth Dominic Perez Grapevine-Colleyville Kelley Walker Groesbeck Liz McDaniel Hale Center Brenda Bryan Harlandale Jennifer Hill Nancy Tom Houston Gail Hall Humble James Ellis Allan Griffin Gayle Sampley

Nocona Patti Gibbs

Spring Branch Shawn Mustain

La Joya Vangie Garza Norma Vega

North East Ygnacia Capetillo Linda Kallies Olga Rubio Jacqueline Walsh

Stanton Teresa Griffin

Leander Jayne Serna Jeannette Whitt

North Lamar Merita Head Shelia Slider

Temple Joan Caughlin

Lockney Sam Moore

Northside (20) Yonne Avina David de la Garza Madonna Felan Bobbye Patton Audree Wood

Lone Star College— Cypress-Fairbanks Nicole Smith McAllen Twila Figueroa MaElena Ingram Maria Ines Trevino

Dallas Deborah Pleasant Dianne Reed Floyd Trimble

Huntsville Johanna Ullrich Hurst-Euless-Bedford Christopher Adams

Mesquite Donnetta Allen Carol Davies Michele Garner Jennifer Grady Jennifer Keltner Cynthia Rowden

DeSoto Laurencio Arroyo

Ingram Chris Moralez

Midway (12) Jason Forbis

Duncanville Jill Schoonover

Irving Bernadette Jackson Connie Kilday Kristin Kilday Gary Schepf

Millsap Deann Lee

Jacksboro Kristi Daws Jean Henderson

Nacogdoches Kimberly Dolese Katherine Whitbeck

Keller Jacquline Price

Navasota Sue Ambrus Jessica McHale

Edinburg Benjamin Lozano Ennis Merry Creager Nathan Moye

Brackett Carmen Chambers Mary Jane Garcia

Falls City Phyllis Jarzombek Patricia Startz

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Stefani Johnson

Ferris Meredith Malloy

Killeen Melissa Walcik Ron Walcik Sharon Woody

Monahans-WickettPyote Vicki Greenfield

New Caney Brenda Lynch

Odessa Olga Garza Joshua Kendrick Olney Dale Lovett Sam Spurlock

Pineywoods Kevin Harrell Dorothy Franks Thomas Franks

Pflugerville Pamela Brown-Ledet Daniel McMinn-Reyna Gregory Vidal

Pittsburg Gay Cooley Plano Lindsay Beattie Bill Freeman Andra Harris Katy Matthews Dennise Schuler San Antonio Byron Hildebrand

Tarleton State University Marissa Maas

Tyler Betty Berndt Waco Patty Reneau Jane Sykes Maria Elena Tovar Weslaco Hector Cruz Westwood Linda Moran Whiteface Cindy Chapman Willis Donna Ward Windham Consolidated Sandra Bounds Woden Bernard Franks Malinda Holzapfel Teresa Millard At Large Deryl Elms David Hedgpeth Dawn Riley Sandra Rosinbaum Leslie Ward ATPE Staff Ginger Franks Kate Kuhlmann Jean Schlitzkus

Spearman Sherry Boyd

INVEST IN ATPE-PAC TODAY AT ATPE.ORG/PAC-DONATE It’s easy to set up recurring monthly or quarterly donations online! 36 ATPE NEWS


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• Complete your coursework 100% online around your schedule • Support from a local university representative who facilitates all university resources from enrollment through graduation • Estimate the total cost of your degree with our Net Price Calculator

For more information, please visit or call 855-428-1772

Important policy information is available in the University Policy Handbook at The information printed in this material is accurate as of April 2017. For the most up-to-date information about admission requirements, tuition, scholarships and more, visit For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program and other important information, please visit our website at Please note, not all GCU programs are available in all states and in all learning modalities. Program availability is contingent on student enrollment. Grand Canyon University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (800-621-7440; GCU, while reserving its lawful rights in light of its Christian mission, is committed to maintaining an academic environment that is free from unlawful discrimination. Further detail on GCU’s Non-Discrimination policies can be found at 17COEE0071

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P ROT E CT I N G YO U ATPE values honesty. We want you to understand the superior protection your membership affords you. That’s why we think it is important to provide you with the details of your insurance policy. Not every organization is transparent about their policy, but we’re proud of the protection we offer. We think you deserve to know exactly what you’re getting for your membership.

•U  p to $8 million per claim and aggregate in liability insurance, including a $2 million limit for civil rights claims plus defense costs •U  p to $20,000 aggregate for employment rights defense with a $10,000 per-claim limit, win or lose •A  dditional $5,000 per claim for favorable-outcome certification and termination claims •U  p to $15,000 aggregate for criminal defense •U  p to $5,000 per claim for bail bond reimbursement •U  p to $10,000 aggregate for successful appeals beyond the school board or commissioner of education In addition to the above insured benefits, ATPE’s staff attorneys are available to assist eligible members with professional concerns. View the details of the insurance policy at For assistance, members must call (800) 777-2873. For more information, visit protection.


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*The Educators Professional Liability Insurance Policy is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA., with almost $6 billion in net surplus and more than $26 billion in total admitted assets as of Dec. 31, 2016. The insurer may not be subject to all insurance laws and regulations of this state. The foregoing notice is provided pursuant to Texas Insurance Code Article 21.54. ALL COVERAGE IS SUBJECT TO THE EXPRESS TERMS OF THE MASTER LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY ISSUED TO ATPE AND KEPT ON FILE AT THE ATPE STATE OFFICE. Coverage applies to an insured’s activities within his/her professional capacity and does not apply to activities that predate the coverage period. View the complete details of the insurance policy at Eligibility for ATPE membership benefits is contingent upon ATPE’s receipt of the entire annual membership dues amount for your appropriate membership category. A disruption in payments to an authorized payment plan may result in discontinuation of such benefits, including cancellation of insurance coverage for the entire membership year retroactive to Aug. 1 or your membership date. ATPE reserves the right to determine eligibility for the appropriate membership category. The membership year runs from Aug. 1 – July 31. Note: Effective Aug. 1, 2017, individuals who are employed as superintendents, assistant/deputy/area superintendents, and principals whose position requires certification by the State Board of Educator Certification must join or renew membership in the new Administrator category. The insured benefits and staff attorney services are provided through separate programs.

United States Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation 1. Publication Title: ATPE News 2. Publication Number: 578-050 3. Filing Date: September 21, 2017 4. Issue Frequency: Quarterly (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 4 6. Annual Subscription Price: $10.00 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin (Travis), Texas 78752-3792 Contact Person: Leslie Trahan Telephone: (512) 467-0071 8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office or Publisher: 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin (Travis), Texas 78752-3792 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Addresses of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor: Publisher: Gary G. Godsey, 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin (Travis), Texas 78752-3792 Editor: Elaine Acker, 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin (Travis), Texas 78752-3792 Managing Editor: Leslie Trahan, 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin (Travis), Texas 78752-3792 10. Owner: Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin (Travis), Texas 78752-3792 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees and Other Security Holders Owning or Holding 1 Percent or More of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities: None 12. Tax Status: The purpose, function and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes Has Not Changed During Preceding 12 Months. 13. Publication Title: ATPE News

14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: Fall 2017 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months a. Total Number of Copies: 103,157 b. Paid Circulation (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541: 100,134 (2) Mailed In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541: 0 (3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: 0 (4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS: 0 c. Total Paid Distribution: 100,134 d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (1) Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: 1,319 (2) Free or Nominal Rate In-County Copies Included on PS Form 3541: 0 (3) Free or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS: 1,373 (4) Free or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail: 12 e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 2,704 f. Total Distribution: 102,838 g. Copies not Distributed: 319 h. Total: 103,157 i. Percent Paid: 97.37% No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date a. Total Number of Copies: 108,085 b. Paid Circulation (1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541: 105,297

(2) M  ailed In-County Paid Subscriptions Stated on PS Form 3541: 0 (3) P  aid Distribution Outside the Mails Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Paid Distribution Outside USPS: 0 (4) P  aid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS: 0 c. Total Paid Distribution: 105,297 d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution (5) F ree or Nominal Rate Outside-County Copies included on PS Form 3541: 1,474 (6) F ree or Nominal Rate In-County Copies Included on PS Form 3541: 0 (7) F ree or Nominal Rate Copies Mailed at Other Classes Through the USPS: 808 (8) F ree or Nominal Rate Distribution Outside the Mail: 17 e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution: 2,299 f. Total Distribution: 107,596 g. Copies not Distributed: 489 h. Total: 108,085 i. Percent Paid: 97.86% 16. Total circulation DOES NOT include electronic copies. 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership: Required. Will be printed in the Winter 2017 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Date: Elaine Acker, Marketing and Communications Director, September 21, 2017 I certify that all information furnished in this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits materials or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/ or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).



continued from page 14

for safety, this is far from an ironclad shield. Educators should also know what local policies may exist. A local district can prohibit or restrict recordings even if the Education Code does not.

Cameras in Special Education

In 2015, the Texas legislature passed a law requiring public school districts to place cameras in self-contained special education settings upon request by a parent or district staff member. The law was amended in 2017 after the Texas attorney general gave the original legislation a far more expansive interpretation than the legislature intended. As of this writing, we are waiting for the commissioner of education to draft rules to implement the new law’s requirements. See the ATPE blog post at for more specifics on cameras in special education. continued from page 15

Now that you are registered to vote, are educated about the candidates, and understand the importance of voting in the primary, you are ready to join hundreds of thousands of your fellow educators in exercising your right to vote. It is up to you to determine who will be making decisions about your profession and the resources you will have to educate the kids in your classrooms next session. Early voting runs from Feb. 20 to March 2, and Election Day is March 6. Vote smart. Vote early. Vote education. The success of 5.2 million Texas schoolchildren depends on you.

But Minassian is most impressed with how her students have handled the challenge. The skills and connections these future educators gain from being involved in the workshops and teaching their fellow students how to present to a class of younger kids has been invaluable. “The students have a sense of pride and ownership in the workshops,” says Minassian. “It is theirs from the beginning, and they do everything to make it the best it can be for the participants.”

Ripple Effects

It’s a month into the program, and Landaverde and Perry are pleased with the results so far. They have coordinated three workshops and about 40 students per week. The excitement of students and volunteers is palpable. And parents are enthusiastic, too. Perry is impressed by how many have shown interest in the program. The Rather Project has given them a new way to be involved in the school. For Landaverde, the best part is seeing unexpected sides of her students. “Students have been surprised by the activities they enjoy and the things they have been able to create,” says Landaverde. “It’s incredible to see them in action doing what they love.” To Perry, though, it’s the connections that make this program so special. “The Rather Project has brought a lot of positive conversations into places that are unexpected,” says Perry. “The positive unintended consequences continue to ripple out.” A soccer game, a dash of cookies, and a few guitar lessons—an unexpected recipe for building a community.

continued from page 19

professors, and community members,” she says. “There is a lot of teamwork and collaboration from the faculty and staff at Lake Dallas Elementary to make sure the workshops are successful for everyone involved.”

Lake Dallas Elementary would like to recognize Dr. Gayle Stinson and Dr. Kristi Strickland for their support in helping the Rather Project get off the ground. Without their help, this program would not have been possible.

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Can you identify these famous Texas landmarks?













hinking about a getaway? Welcome to Brain Break, the section featuring games, quizzes, and fascinating factoids. This issue, we’re testing your familiarity with Texas landscapes and monuments. Look at these photos of famous Texas landmarks. Can you identify them all? Take a photo of your answers and email by Jan. 5 to be entered into a drawing for an ATPE-branded prize. To see the answer key, head to the ATPE Blog at BrainBreak. Good luck!



Big Bend National Park

Port Isabel Lighthouse

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

The Eiffel Tower of Paris, Texas

Cadillac Ranch

Pleasure Pier

Hamilton Pool Preserve

San Jacinto Monument

The Alamo

Fort Worth Stockyards

Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza ATPE NEWS 43

Association of Texas Professional Educators 305 E. Huntland Dr., Ste. 300 Austin, TX 78752-3792

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Winter 2017 ATPE News  

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