Winter 2023 ATPE News

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IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE SAVINGS The temperature may be falling, but prices are on the rise. Thankfully, this holiday season you can use your exclusive ATPE member discounts to save money on vacations, lodging, and gifts for the family. So whether you are shopping for a friend or treating yourself this holiday season, head over to and explore a smorgasbord of offers and products, including: Exclusive savings from our easy-to-use Discount & Rewards Marketplace. Shop over 10,000 brands you know and love while earning 2%-20% cash back on nearly all purchases. Up to 30% off the everyday public web price of Lenovo’s entire product line. Take advantage of great deals on everything you need for your office and home, including all laptops, tablets, desktops, all-in-ones, workstations, servers, and accessories. Free annual hearing screenings and discounts on hearing aids through Hear in America, including 12 months with no interest and 35–70% off MSRP on hearing aids from all manufacturers. 40% off car rentals and up to 65% off room rates at over 800,000 lodging options worldwide through HotelPlanner. Plus, members and their families can source and book group lodging for official events, as well as personal needs, such as weddings and family reunions. And much more!


ATPE News The official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators

State Officers

Jayne Serna. . . . . . . . . . . . . . President, Leander (13) Jason Forbis. . . . . . . . Vice President, Midway (12) Jerrica Liggins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secretary, Paris (8) Eli Rodriguez . . . Treasurer, Cypress-Fairbanks (4) Stacey Ward. . . . . . . . . Past President, Humble (4)

Board of Directors

Twila Figueroa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . McAllen (1) Adriane Taylor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Corpus Christi (2) Sean Douglas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cuero (3) Jay Guerrero. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cypress-Fairbanks (4) Christy Skinner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lumberton (5) Donna Ward. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Willis (6) Teresa Millard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Woden (7) Abby Rogers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Paris (8) Denise Sanders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vernon (9) Wanda Bailey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mesquite (10) Christopher Adams. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crowley (11) Christina Flores. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Riesel (12) Stephanie Stoebe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Round Rock (13) Leslie Ward. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Merkel (14) Betty Gail Wood-Rush. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Early (15) Sherry Boyd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Spearman (16) Abigail Ramford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lamesa (17) Gail Campos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Big Spring (18) Robert Zamora. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Clint (19) Laura Herrera. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . North East (20)

ATPE News Staff

David George. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor John Kilpper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Art Director Michael Spurlin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Associate Editor Jack Densmore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Associate Editor Jennifer Price. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Digital Editor Marjorie Parker. . . . . . . . . . . Contributing Designer Kate Johanns. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Director ATPE News (ISSN 0279-6260) is published quarterly in fall, winter, spring, and summer. Published by the Association of Texas Professional Educators, 305 E. Huntland Drive, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78752-3792. Advertising rates may be obtained by contacting 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 2023 in USA by the Association of Texas Professional Educators ISSN ©ATPE 2023 0279-6260 305 E. Huntland Dr., Ste. 300 Austin, TX 78752-3792 (800) 777-ATPE (2873) |


TPE’s member services team is expanding! We are adding two new membership specialists to cover our vast state more efficiently and to provide better member support. That brings our total to 10 membership specialists. To accommodate our two new team members, we are making some changes to the territories that each of our membership specialists serve. In most cases, this will require us to establish a territory that does not follow the traditional education service center boundary lines, which in turn allows us to better shape each membership recruitment area to the geographic and population differences in each area of Texas. These TO ACCOMMODATE OUR changes will help us visit more campuses and make contact with more NEW TEAM MEMBERS, members and potential members. WE ARE MAKING SOME A map of the new membership reCHANGES TO THE cruitment areas can be found on page TERRITORIES THAT EACH 32 of this issue. OF OUR MEMBERSHIP This change in our member service and recruitment structure does not SPECIALISTS SERVE. change ATPE’s governance structure. THESE CHANGES We continue to be composed of 20 WILL HELP US VISIT regions that share boundaries with MORE CAMPUSES AND the 20 education service centers. Each region will continue to elect a MAKE CONTACT WITH representative to serve alongside the MORE MEMBERS AND five elected state officers on our board POTENTIAL MEMBERS. of directors. The only difference now is that each region’s members may be supported by anywhere from one to even three membership specialists, depending on the overlapping boundaries of those territories. We are excited about the new additions to our team, and we will continue to look for innovative ways to advocate for the profession and to provide the products and services you need to inspire student success.

Shannon Holmes, Ed.D. ATPE Executive Director


Contents ATPE NEWS | Winter 2023, Volume 44, Number 2



On the Cover

Texas Schools vs. Mother Nature: An Ongoing Battle


TEA Takeovers: How Much Power Is Too Much?

Texas’ climate is the perfect melting pot for almost every natural disaster on Earth, and extreme weather events can strike at any time of year. Although severe weather might be unavoidable, Texas schools can do a great deal to prepare for these extreme conditions.

As lawmakers fuel the culture war with education in the crosshairs, one issue that has come to the forefront—in parallel with a tense series of legislative sessions in 2023—is seizure of local control via a takeover by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).



The 2023 South Texas Visual Impairment Sports Palooza was designed to introduce popular sports to visually impaired students and give them the same opportunities to participate in physical activities as their counterparts, but it accomplished so much more.

What does classroom inclusion look like? And how do you make a diverse group of students feel welcome in your classroom? We put Dr. Shawn Bailey, an ATPE member in Midway (12) ISD, and Alicia Hinkle, an ATPE member in Irving ISD, on the “Hot Seat” to get some answers.

Piercing the Veil: Creating Opportunities for Students with Visual Impairments


Classroom Inclusion: Making Students Feel Welcome

EVERYTHING ELSE 6 Calendar 8 Regional Roundup 10 Your Ally

Big Changes in Store for Instructional Materials Thanks to HB 1605


11 PAC Honor Roll 13 Your Voice

Another Special Session, Another Push for Vouchers

SPECIAL SECTIONS 12 Fed Up? It’s Time to Show Up

ATPE members can work together to make a difference by donating to ATPE-PAC to help elect state leaders who support public education.

26 In Your Neighborhood

Join us as we visit ATPE “neighborhoods” all over Texas to get an inside look at what volunteers are doing to recruit, retain, and rejoice with their fellow ATPE members.

Photo courtesy of Waller ATPE; Illustration by John Kilpper

of Waller  Members ATPE hosted a drive-thru membership recruitment event at a local Sonic restaurant.

THE ATPE VISION The Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) supports the state’s largest community of educators who are dedicated to elevating public education in Texas.

28 Your ATPE

Home and Auto Insurance Discounts I Become an ATPE Rep for Your Campus I ATPE Member Discount for SXSW EDU I Gen ATPE Program I 2023-24 ATPE Award Nominations

35 Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Michelle Jeffrey, a testing facilitator in Katy ISD and a finalist for ATPE’s 2022-23 Campus Rep of the Year Award in the category for local units with 1,001-plus members.

THE ATPE MISSION ATPE advocates for educators and delivers affordable, high-quality products and services that give members the peace of mind needed to inspire student success.




DEC. 1 Nomination deadline: Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year, Floyd Trimble Local Unit of the Year, and Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year awards

Black History Month


Application deadline: Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year, Floyd Trimble Local Unit of the Year, and Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year awards


National School Counseling Week



Nomination deadline: Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year, Floyd Trimble Local Unit of the Year, and Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year awards




Special Education Day


State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) meeting


Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Board of Trustees meeting

School Board Appreciation Month

State office reopens after winter break


State office closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan. 31–Feb. 2


National School Resource Officer Day

State Board of Education meeting




Last day to join ATPE as a 2023-24 professional, associate, or administrator member

TRS Board of Trustees meeting ATPE Board of Directors meeting

Feb. 26–March 1

Texas Public Schools Week

Dec. 18–Jan. 1

Join ATPE today! The last day to join ATPE as a 2023-24 professional, associate, or administrator member is Jan. 31.

Learn more and join us today at


© Productions

State office closed for winter break


Join ATPE members from around the state for professional learning, volunteer training, networking, and the 44th annual meeting of the ATPE House of Delegates.





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










Gulf of Mexic


From Across the State riendswood ISD Introduces 1 FTherapeutic Education Center

Thanks to a $1.3 million grant, Friendswood ISD has established the Therapeutic Education Center (TEC). This initiative is aimed at helping students with disabilities who also face behavioral challenges in traditional classroom settings. The TEC will provide a tailored educational experience and offers specialized programs, expert staff, and a nurturing environment. The facility will be shared with Pearland and Alvin ISDs.



Seven Ysleta ISD Schools Receive Purple Star Designations

Photos courtesy of Friendswood ISD, Ysleta ISD, Lindale ISD, © Michael Flippo/Adobe Stock, © Stock



Purple Star designations show that a school has

made an impactful commitment to supporting milLouisiana

itary families and students. Seven schools in Ysleta ISD received this designation. The district also started the HERO Military Program earlier this year to make it easier for military families to enroll. “Our military families have chosen an honorable path of service that presents a specific set of challenges and opportunities for their children, including having to relocate and transition to new cities, homes, and schools,” Ysleta ISD Superintendent Dr. Xavier De La Torre said.

indale ISD Launches Firefighter 3 LCertification Program

Lindale ISD has partnered with the Lindale Fire Department and Tyler Junior College to offer a dual credit firefighter certification program. The program focuses on training students to respond to emergency situations. Students will be able to earn

24 hours of college credit and a Texas Commission on Fire Protection basic firefighter certification. The district is covering all costs associated with the program, including tuition, fees, textbooks, uniform, and gear rentals. “This program will give students the opportunity to graduate high school with a state certification in structural firefighting,” Tyler Junior College instructor Jeff Akin said.

rving ISD Offering 4 IFree Breakfast and Lunch

for All Students

For the 2023-24 school year, students in Irving ISD will enjoy free breakfast and lunch regardless of their ability to pay and without the need for a meal application. Previously, this benefit applied only to pre-K-8 students, and high school students had to qualify through a meal benefits application. The free meals are a part of the Community Eligibility Provision program by the United States Department of Agriculture.

el Valle ISD Elementary 5 DSchool Students Receive

Free School Supplies

Elementary school students in Del Valle ISD received free school supply kits thanks to the nonprofit organization TEXAS YES Project. Since 2018, the nonprofit has worked with Del Valle ISD to provide these kits for students in grades K–5. “We want to ensure that every student has the same starting point and that everyone gets the same amount of school supplies, so no one is left out,” TEXAS YES Project Program Director Marissa Moreno said.



Big Changes in Store for Instructional Materials Thanks to HB 1605

L BY LANCE CAIN ATPE Managing Attorney

esson planning: You either love it or hate it. Some educators feel overburdened with excessive lesson-planning requirements, while other educators feel their freedom and creativity are stifled by district- or campus-mandated content. Texas educators will almost certainly have differing opinions about House Bill (HB) 1605 as it goes into effect. According to the bill analysis produced by the Texas Legislative Council, this new law passed during the regular session of the 88th Legislature seeks to “relieve teachers of certain duties relating to material development” and “improve quality of classroom instructional materials, help ease teachers’ workloads, and ensure curriculum transparency for parents.” Because HB 1605 is new and substantially changes how instructional materials are handled under the Texas Education Code (TEC), it is difficult to accurately predict its impact. But we can discuss timelines and its potential effects. HB 1605 purports to return control over instructional materials to the State Board of Education (SBOE). It allows TEA to purchase instructional materials directly from vendors and, in turn, make them available to school districts. It expands the TEC definition of “instructional material” to include lesson plans, answer keys, and other materials used by teachers, as well as materials used by administrators to support instruction. Use of TEA-purchased instructional materials is optional for school districts, but there’s a financial incentive for doing so. A substantial part of HB 1605 is creation of a new Online Repository for Open Education Resource (OER) Instructional Material. OER instructional materials are either owned by the State of Texas, in the public domain, or considered “free use” under intellectual property laws. HB 1605 requires TEA to obtain or develop OER instructional materials in certain courses and grade levels. These materials

will be reviewed and, if approved, made available to school districts through an OER repository website, which will allow for individual comments and feedback TEA can consider in updating and improving the material. Educator preparation programs must train participants on use of the OER instructional materials included on the SBOE’s list of approved instructional materials.

WHEN WILL THIS ROLL OUT? TEA guidance outlines a fairly long rollout for relevant instructional materials under HB 1605. The remainder of 2023 will be spent discussing the new SBOE Instructional Materials Review and Adoption (IMRA). In 2024, the IMRA process will begin in the first content areas, and later that year, the SBOE will begin to adopt materials. The goal is for school districts to have access to SBOEapproved materials for the 2025-26 school year. WHAT WILL BE REQUIRED OF EDUCATORS? School districts may enter into supplemental agreements with a teacher to prepare initial lesson plans or instructional materials if that is a not a normal part of the teacher’s anticipated duties. If a foundation curriculum course teacher (English language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies) has not entered into such an agreement, they generally may not be required to spend their planning and preparation time creating such content. IMMUNITY PROVISIONS Classroom teachers who exclusively use district-approved SBOE instructional materials are immune from terminations, nonrenewals, and actions taken against their certificates by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC). The immunity only applies to alleged violations of continued on page 31

The legal information provided here is accurate as of the date of publication. It is provided here for informative purposes only. Individual legal situations vary greatly, and readers needing individual legal advice should consult directly with an attorney. Please note: Rights based on the Texas Education Code may not apply to all. Many Texas Education Code provisions do not apply to public charter schools, and public school districts may have opted out of individual provisions through a District of Innovation plan. Eligible ATPE members may contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department. 10 ATPE NEWS


Thank you for your investment in Texas public education. The following ATPE members donated $50 or more to the ATPE Political Action Committee (ATPE-PAC) from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2023.

Midway (12) Jason Forbis Julie Powers Mission Maria Trevino Nacogdoches Roya Dinbali Katherine Whitbeck J York Navasota Susan Ambrus Cecelia LaCoure

Abilene Tonja Gray

Burleson Crystal Hammill

Alief Barbara Lebold

Cameron Christopher Douglas Suellen Lumbreras

Alvin Ron Fitzwater Amarillo Nancy Fowler Jamie Mariscal Nedra McGee Rayanne McGee Maria Morado Michael Renteria Shane Whitten Austin Elizabeth Abrahams Cathryn Harris Axtell Christina Taylor Azle Melissa Moore Ballinger Darlene Kelly Bandera Donald Milner Yvette Milner Beaumont Suellen Ener Patrice Rabalais Birdville Janet Erlinger Sally Frye Tiffany Gygi Teri Naya Bloomington Mandy Vahrenkamp Boerne Ona Beth Day Mariah Ingram Richard Wiggins Brooks Academies of Texas Veronica Ruiz

Denton Jessica Campos Aleisha Fuller-Moore Lori Wolf

Hawley Tommie Hicks Desirie House Amber McKinney

Desoto Mary Stricker

Houston Erroll Franklin

Dickinson Diane Nix Early Betty Wood-Rush

Humble Erika Mitcham Gayle Sampley Stacey Ward

Comal Calvin Greene

Ector County Ashley Debusk Bridget Loffler

Hurst-EulessBedford Susan Samson

Community Wendy Smith

Edinburg Elias Lozano

IDEA Public Schools Abigail Baiza

Connally Courtney Jones

Falls City Phyllis Jarzombek

Copperas Cove Michele Cox

Ferris Leslie Bukowski Meredith Malloy

International Leadership of Texas Samantha Whitbeck

Canyon Kristina Clark Clint Robert Zamora Coleman Sarah Beal

Corsicana Julleen Bottoms Raquel Rivera Brooke Roberts Suzanne Waldrip Crosby Julie Jackson

Fort Worth Betty Berndt Steve Pokluda Frisco Sondra Lewis

Cuero Sean Douglas

Galena Park Sharon Dixon Lynn Nutt

Cypress-Fairbanks Alyssa Rodriguez Eli Rodriguez Karina Torres

Georgetown Christie Smith Greg Vidal Cheryl Zalk

Dallas Felicia Robinson Maria Slette

Gladewater County Line Kimberly Dolese

Deer Park Lindsey Rodriguez

Hale Center Brenda Bryan Sharon Ginn

Del Valle Cristela Rocha

Harlandale Jennifer Hill

Irving Alicia Hinkle Connie Kilday Kelley Walker

La Academia de Estrellas Deborah Pleasant La Joya Jesus Garza Hilda Martinez Norma Veja La Mesa Abigail Ramford Lazbuddie Denise Parham

North East Yolanda Capetillo

Leander Mary Cathrine Dorney Jayne Serna Jennifer Wilson

North Lamar Shelia Slider

Lewisville Karen Hames Tara Linz Angela Murphy Lubbock Cynthyna Haveman Magnolia Sonia Wolfrom

Karnes City Cathy Stolle

Mansfield Tonia Chaney

Katy Ollie Kendrick Dedra Robertson

McAllen Twila Figueroa Daisy Palomo Belinda Rosa

Killeen Julie Fife Eileen Walcik Melissa Walcik Ron Walcik Klein Marsi Thomas Krum Tanya Gray Betty Plunkett

Nocona Shelby Martinez-Perez Traci Morrison North Central Texas College Patti Gibbs

Jim Ned Nicole Fuller

Keller Jeffery Pool

New Waverly Gidget Belinoski-Bailey

Merkel Leslie Ward Mesquite Dani Boepple Kimberly Davis Kristie Hernandez Vickie Rabb-Wiggins Erika Tate Cindy Vasquez Erin Young Midland Michelle Adams Mary Crisp Joshua Kendrick

Northside (20) William Barton Laura Campbell David de la Garza Olney Dale Lovett Becky Spurlock Panther Creek Candace Beal Paris Deann Lee Jerrica Liggins Abby Rogers

Tamara Mace Stephanie Stoebe San Angelo April Harrington San Antonio Byron Hildebrand San Elizario Eduardo Sierra San Isidro Nicole Marquez Silverton Clyde Parham Spearman Sherry Boyd Rhonda Smith Texas City Gayla Rhoads Tyler Eddie Hill Waco Magdalena Campos Maria Hernandez Cynthia Hudson Weslaco Homero Colunga Hector Cruz Juan Guajardo Fatima Saldaña Craig Weart Westwood Kathryn Hightower Wichita Falls Belinda Wolf Willis Michael Robinson Windham Sandra Bounds Jennifer Lorenz

Pasadena Jennifer Edwards

Woden Teresa Millard

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Dora Melendez

ATPE Staff Amanda Bernstein Ginger Franks Shannon Holmes Kate Johanns Jennifer Price Kelly Shipman

Plano Ayanna Briggs Jessica Brown Katy Matthews Lindsay Robinson Roma Ana Ramos

Retired Amada Hernandez

Rosebud-Lott Beverly Bredemeyer Round Rock Erin Campbell CaRita Forte

Invest in the ATPE-PAC today! It is easy to make a one-time or monthly recurring donation at ATPE-PAC solicits contributions only from members, employees, and their families. Participation in ATPE-PAC is voluntary. ATPE NEWS 11


IT’S TIME TO SHOW UP Donate to ATPE-PAC to Help Elect State Leaders Who Support Public Education

“I want to make sure we provide a carrot to make sure this legislation [vouchers] gets passed. Once [education savings accounts] are passed, I will put on the legislative agenda full funding for public education, including teacher pay raises for teachers across the state.” —GOV. GREG ABBOTT, OCT. 12, 2023

“Texas made great strides this year to remove woke agendas from our classrooms …” —GOV. GREG ABBOTT, AUG. 29, 2023

“Our schools are for education, not indoctrination.” —GOV. GREG ABBOTT, MARCH 21, 2023

“Parents have the right to shield their children from obscene content used in schools.” —GOV. GREG ABBOTT, NOV. 1, 2021

Are you mad that a potential pay raise is being held hostage for the sake of politics? Are you tired of being told what to teach, only to hear next that you’re “indoctrinating” children? Are you offended by the assertion that you’re pushing “obscene content”? Are you furious that your classroom is being used as a political pawn? Are you fed up? If so, it’s time to show up. Although no educator could likely contribute enough money on their own to influence the outcome of a political race, ATPE members can work together to make a difference by donating to the ATPE Political Action Committee (ATPE-PAC). ATPE-PAC makes campaign contributions to officeholders/ candidates who support public education, students, and educators. If every ATPE member gave just $5 a month to ATPE-PAC—less than the cost of a large latte—ATPE-PAC

would have more than $5 million in its coffers, making it one of the top PACs in Texas. When a PAC has that level of resources, candidates and officeholders take notice. ATPE-PAC has already established a proven record of success. During the 2022 election cycle, candidates receiving ATPE-PAC contributions won or advanced in 85% of their races. Yet only less than 15% of ATPE members have ever donated to ATPE-PAC. Imagine what we could do if the percentage of participating members increased by 10% or even 20%! “Every dollar counts for the PAC,” says Twila Figueroa, Region 1 ATPE director and a member of the ATPE-PAC Hall of Fame. “It’s your profession. These people make all our policies. It’s important that we understand that and try to influence them for the betterment of the education of our students and for our own well-being as an educator.”

ARE YOU READY TO SHOW UP? Sign in to to donate today.

ATPE-PAC solicits donations only from ATPE members, employees, and their families. Participation in ATPE-PAC is voluntary, and members may contribute any amount or nothing at all without affecting their ATPE membership status, rights, or benefits. Do not distribute this page using school resources. 12 ATPE NEWS


Another Special Session, Another Push for Vouchers

W BY MONTY EXTER ATPE Governmental Relations Director

here are we after the third called (not so) special session? The short answer— exactly where we were before it began. It has been clear since before the beginning of the 88th regular session back in January that Gov. Greg Abbott’s primary, if not only, education goal is to pass private school vouchers. Nothing in the 11 months since the 88th Legislature began its tenure has changed that. If anything, it has simply become clearer that he is uninterested in supporting the 5.4 million students being educated in Texas public schools or the educators teaching them. Abbott really cares about delivering for his mega-donors on the voucher issue, but why do we—public education advocates—care so much about vouchers? To answer that, let’s explore their impact on three groups: kids who would receive them, the public education community, and taxpayers.

VOUCHER RECIPIENTS First, let’s acknowledge that voucher recipients would themselves break down into two groups, something voucher proponents rarely acknowledge. The first and larger group, based on how vouchers have rolled out in other states, are families who already have their kids in private schools. For these folks, nothing really changes except they would now get a taxpayer-funded check from the government for $10,000 per kid. The second group are families using a voucher to switch educational settings. Between price and lack of available seats and selectivity, these kids—by and large—would not be attending the same schools as the first group. Again, based on similar programs in other states, new low-quality vendors tend to pop up charging the exact amount of the voucher after a program passes. Students tend not to stay at these voucher schools very long, and the schools themselves tend to shut down—often within the first three years. THE PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMUNITY Whether they choose to stay in public schools, were denied by their private school of choice, or

returned to public schools, children educated in their local public school will have fewer resources as a result of voucher spending. This would be true for all public schools regardless of the varying impact a voucher might have on district enrollment. Under the proposed voucher program, the potential biennial cost of vouchers for current private and home-school students would be at least $6 billion out of the state budget. The drop in public school resources will be compounded for districts that also experience enrollment decline.

TAXPAYERS The real genius of the founders of Texas was allowing the local communities that pay for public education to have a real say in the cultural aspects of the education they are paying for through locally elected trustees of local independent school districts. But what about parental choice? One of the great things about America is that we protect individual rights even when they conflict with community values. That’s why we don’t now—and have never— forced parents to educate their kids in public schools. If parents wish to seek out a private school setting or home school, they can. What is un-American is forcing the taxpaying community—in this case through vouchers—to fund an individual’s choice to use an educational setting that includes indoctrination potentially contrary to the community’s values. That is a move toward taxation without representation—the very issue that sparked the creation of our country to begin with. Despite vouchers having negative impacts on voucher recipients, the public education community, and taxpayers at large, the governor has, at taxpayer expense, called the Legislature back for a fourth special session to continue to bully a voucher program into existence here in Texas. The men and women of the Texas Legislature who have repeatedly told him “no” need to hear from you that you support them. If you have not contacted your legislators yet, now is the time. You can contact them in as little as two minutes through ATPE’s Advocacy Central.






Over the past few years, Texas has seen its share of extreme weather events, and the impact they have had on schools is no less severe. BY JACK DENSMORE


n Texas, severe weather comes in many forms—raging hurricanes smashing into the coastline, extreme heat and drought, wildfires, winter storms, tornadoes, and flash flooding. As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute. Summer 2023 ranked as the second hottest on record—just below 2011. The average summer temperature for this year was 85.3 degrees, which is 4 degrees above the average temperature for the 20th century, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as Texas State University climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. Texas schools have dealt with copious severe weather events in just the past few years, with the most recent challenge being extreme heat/drought.

TEXAS SCHOOLS VS. EXTREME HEAT/DROUGHT On top of the higher-than-average temperatures, Texas also experienced a significant drought in 2023, with 81.9% of the state feeling its effects in late September, especially in Central and East Texas. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 41.2% of Texas was in a moderate or severe drought in September. The heat takes a toll on air conditioning units. Around the time school started this year, Austin ISD faced air conditioning issues at McCallum High School and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy. Thankfully, these issues were fixed quickly. In November 2022, Austin voters approved a $412 million bond to improve air conditioning among other critical needs, such as life safety systems, plumbing, etc. McCallum is one campus targeted for improvements by the bond. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, problems are not isolated to Austin ISD. Tyler ISD has faced similar challenges as well. “We have had some HVAC units fail [that] were fixed quickly,” Tyler ISD Supervisor of Maintenance Services Robert Grant says. “While [they were] being repaired, we brought portable units and fans to keep students and staff cool. In some cases, students were relocated to a portion of the campus, such as the library, that did have air conditioning.” AC issues extend beyond Texas. In 2020, the Government Accountability Office reported that an estimated 36,000 schools nationwide need to have HVAC systems upgrades or replacements. This amounts to about 41% of school districts across the country. The heat not only disrupts the classroom but also sports and extracurricular activities. Several school districts have had to delay the start times of football games because of the heat, including Tyler, Rusk, and Leander ISDs. Leander ISD also had to change its recesses to combat the heat. Under the Leander ISD Health Services Hot Weather


Guidelines, temperatures over 100 degrees prompt recess to be moved indoors. But while the Texas summer heat will always be a challenge for school districts, the past few years have also brought the polar opposite: severe winter weather.

property when you have power lines down in water,” Henson says. To prepare for future winter storms after “We didn’t Uri, a bond was passed in November 2022 want any student or to upgrade Marlin ISD schools, including any employee coming on infrastructure upgrades for both extreme property when you have heat and cold situations, such as replacing TEXAS SCHOOLS VS. EXTREME HVAC units and upgrading piping. The dispower lines down in water.” WINTER WEATHER trict is currently looking for ways to track —Darryl Henson, Winter storms are now infamous in Texas and monitor when pipes burst. Marlin ISD superintendent after Winter Storm Uri in 2021 and Winter “We’re going to use those funds to be very Storm Mara in 2023, both named by the proactive knowing that weather in Texas is very National Weather Service. unpredictable,” Henson says. School in Marlin ISD was canceled for five days after Winter Storm Uri affected many across the state, Winter Storm Mara because the area was without power, including Arlington ISD, which had seven schools unable to which also affected the district’s food supply. open. This included an elementary school with broken overhead “It was all of our food reserves,” Marlin ISD Superintendent sprinklers that flooded classrooms, according to ABC13. Darryl Henson says. “We get food deliveries weekly, and any In 2022, another winter storm caused school closings in food that we had stored for the upcoming week in the refrigerDallas and parts of Central Texas. For many superintendents, ator and freezer space was now not good. That’s not only milk. it’s not a matter of if Texas will experience a winter storm but That is all your cold storage items, to include your vegetables, when during the season it will happen. lettuce, and carrots.” Trees throughout Marlin froze, and many fell over due to the TEXAS SCHOOLS VS. NATURAL DISASTERS ice, which resulted in electrical poles being damaged or knocked Wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flash flooding plague over as well. The elementary and middle school campuses in school districts across the state. Marlin ISD were directly out of power, with about 700 students Wildfires can be tricky, as they can be either natural or unable to return to school. man-made. Droughts often lead to dead grass and crops, and “We didn’t want any student or any employee coming on simply parking a car in long dead grass on the side of the road is

TASB’S TIPS TO PREVENT SEVERE WEATHER DAMAGE IN SCHOOLS In 1974, the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Risk Management Fund was created, which—among other things—helps provide coverage for public schools in cases of severe weather. TASB also provides seasonal recommendations for school districts to follow, including developing a severe weather annex as part of the district’s emergency operations plan (EOP). Joanie Arrott, assistant director of risk solutions for TASB Risk Management Services, explains: “Your annex identifies specific severe weather risks the district might face and documents how you will protect your staff, students, community, and property.”

According to Arrott, TASB suggests school districts prepare for extreme winter weather by: • Covering exterior water faucets and pipes with insulation. • Inspecting, cleaning, and repairing HVAC systems. • Testing backup power supplies and reviewing emergency shut-off procedures for sprinkler systems. • Ensuring exterior doors safely close and are secured.

Throughout the winter season, it is recommended that districts: • Keep roofs, eaves, and awnings clear of any snow or ice. 16 ATPE NEWS

• Check roofs and ceilings for any loose shingles. • Keep boilers running at 50 degrees or higher, if possible. • Protect fire sprinkler systems against burst pipes. • Repair leaky doors, windows, and cracks. • Prohibit staff from using space heaters.

When severe winter weather is forecasted, it is recommended that districts: • Open doors to sink cabinets and other areas with pipes to allow warm air to circulate. • Consider shutting off water to facilities and draining pipes—but remember, this could prevent your fire sprinkler system from working. Check with the system manufacturer or installer, and note that some districts might need fire marshal approval to shut off water. • Move or elevate items you want to protect from water damage, such as computers, hard-copy records, books, and electronic equipment. • Designate someone to regularly check property for broken or leaky pipes during periods with freezing temperatures.

enough to spark the next big wildfire. Lightning is also a culprit, field and ripping the roof off of the home dugout. The tornado but man-made causes—including cigarette butts and firemoved through the student parking lot, hurling debris of all works—can be just as dangerous. kinds before wrapping around the building and damaging the Lefors ISD experienced a scare in September as a wildfire school’s roof. It then turned its attention to a geometry and conerupted in Gray County. Students were evacuated to Pampa, struction storage building project and picked up the building. and at one point what was deemed the “Thut Hill Fire” burned “It picked it up and made it look like popsicle sticks,” Miller said. an estimated 1,295 acres at 80% containment. However, all “We never found the roof. There’s no telling where the roof is at.” students and staff were safe. The tornado cost the school about $450,000 in roof repairs Winona ISD had one of the closest calls possible when a and $200,000 in damages to other buildings. Luckily, there tornado touched down on the Winona High School campus at were no injuries. the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. The tornado was an Coastal school districts face the threat of one of the most deEF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. This clocks the tornado as structive weather events on Earth: the hurricane. Hurricanes can having 86-110 mph wind speeds. Winona also sits in the middle bring an “all of the above” situation combining flash flooding, of Tornado Alley. tornadoes, power outages, electrical fires, and damaging winds. “We’ve seen quite a few [tornadoes] around us in Winona, Lindale, This year, Texas has only experienced a tropical storm, which did and Canton over the last 10 years,” Winona ISD Superintendent cause some school closures and delays, but in previous years, hurDamenion Miller says. “They’ve been hit pretty hard on ricanes left a devastating impact. According to the Save the a regular basis, but this made approximately two Children charity organization, Hurricane Harvey caused years in a row that the area was affected.” a total of $125 billion in destruction overall with “It picked it up It was a normal day with no forecasted nearly 3 million children living in a disaster-deand made it look like storms, Miller says, until the district’s clared county and 1.4 million children missing at grounds crew spotted the tornado forming least one week of school due to the hurricane. popsicle sticks. We never in the sky and radioed the situation to the found the roof. There’s district’s police chief. The school was imPREPARING FOR THE UNPREDICTABLE no telling where the mediately placed in a tornado lockdown Although little can be done to prevent roof is at.” with students curling up in the hallways these extreme events from happening, school —Damenion Miller, waiting for the danger to pass. districts are doing their best to upgrade their Winona ISD In the meantime, the tornado swept first buildings’ infrastructure and lessen the damage, superintendent through the school’s greenhouse and a storage much like in Marlin. continued on page 31 building before making its way to the baseball

In the case of extreme heat, TASB recommends that districts: • Use a data source to monitor soil moisture risks in the area so you know when to take steps to protect buildings from settling. • Water the ground around buildings to ensure minimal settling of foundations. • Consider commercial rain collection systems or graywater collection to ensure adequate water supply when water restrictions are enforced.

In the case of a hurricane, a quick response is necessary: • Initiate your emergency operations plan. • Board up windows. • Turn propane tanks off to reduce the risk of explosion. • Secure or remove equipment and other loose outdoor property that could become dangerous projectiles. • Turn refrigerators and freezers to the coldest settings to keep food from spoiling. • Move or elevate items you want to protect from water damage, including computers, hard-copy records, books, and electronic equipment. • Move buses and other vehicles to higher ground when possible.

A school district can make all the necessary preparations, but Mother Nature can still cause great property damage and loss. “Losses related to severe weather are driving property coverage costs to historic highs and putting additional pressure on budget-strapped schools,” Arrott says. When preparing for severe weather, Arrott highly recommends that school districts make sure their facilities’ roofs are the best they can be. “The process starts with purchasing the right roofs,” Arrott says. “The Texas Education Code requires districts to reduce their energy consumption by 5% annually. Thin roofs can help achieve that goal, but we urge districts to also consider whether their roofs will stand up to the climate in their region.” According to Arrott, Texas leads the country in hail events, and thus choosing hail-resistant roofs can help districts avoid unbudgeted expenses and operational disruptions from having to make repairs or replacements. “From there, we want districts to commit to a roof preventative maintenance plan that includes at least two annual inspections,” Arrott said. “Spring and fall are good times to inspect roofs ahead of changing weather. We also recommend districts inspect roofs after severe weather and construction projects on-site or nearby. Before anyone accesses school roofs, make sure they have the training and equipment to do the job safely.” ATPE NEWS 17





IMPAIRMENTS How one South Texas community is working together to provide unique and inclusive experiences for their students. BY DAVID GEORGE



n Sept. 15, Region 1 Education Service Center (ESC) and Weslaco ISD held a unique sporting event for students who are visually impaired and/or blind. The 2023 South Texas Visual Impairment Sports Palooza was designed to introduce popular sports to these students and give them a chance to participate in physical activities that would normally be inaccessible to those with limited vision. Although the event focused on serving students, Region 1 ESC and Weslaco ISD also invited coaches, parents, teachers, and directors to give them a chance to see what resources were available to students who are visually impaired and how they could adapt certain sports to cater to their needs. Susie Andrews is one of the event’s organizers, and she proposed the idea after learning about a similar event in Irving called the Blind Sports Extravaganza put together by Region 10 ESC and the Lions Club. Looking to share the same opportunities with students in her local area, Andrews worked tirelessly to create something special. Over the past 34 years, Andrews has been a special education teacher, a general education teacher, and a teacher for students with visual impairment. In her second year at the Region 1 ESC, she serves as a special education specialist for visual impairments. However, Andrews still chooses to teach, as well as work as a Texas Tech University supervisor for new teachers. “The best part of this job is that I’m still getting to work with kids—even if it’s indirectly,” Andrews says. “My goal has been to try to help teachers help their students and to be able to bring them together for these expanded core curriculum events.” Andrews had previously worked with a student who was completely blind for the past six years, and she points to that relationship as a huge part of her motivation. “He is an outstanding kid, but I would notice that he would often get left out and be on the sidelines,” Andrews says. “So I want to do everything I can to change that.”

Photos courtesy of Weslaco ISD

A HOLE IN ONE The 2023 South Texas Visual Impairment Sports Palooza incorporated a slew of modified sporting events, such as “beep baseball,” where the ball is larger than a regulation baseball and also makes a beeping sound whenever it is thrown so competitors can use the sound to locate and hit it in the air. “It was so much fun to just watch that,” Andrews says. “It’s the simple things. Some of them had never even really thrown a ball, and they were getting to throw them to each other. Even family members joined in on some of the games.”

Susie Andrews, the Sports Palooza coordinator, poses with a former student after receiving his medal.

A similar concept was used for a soccer game. The ball had bells in it so participants could hear it coming and, in turn, be able to kick it. Noises were made near each goal so they could hear where to kick the ball. Other events included an adapted obstacle course, a version of badminton with enlarged rackets known as “bashminton,” and even blind tennis, consisting of a smaller net and a ball with bells in it. “It was just so much fun to watch the kids really getting into it,” Andrews says. “They were doing basic things at first, such as bouncing balls on their rackets, and after a while, some of them really got into it to figure out what they could do.” The palooza even featured a young man from Vanguard Academy who recently went to Europe to compete in blind tennis at the international level who came to help teach the kids. “He just graduated this past year, and when I reached out to him, he was so excited because he is visually impaired and understands how important inclusion can be for visually impaired students,” Andrews says. “He also knows how limited activities can be in school.” Andrews says she knows of many more sports for the visually impaired—even archery—that could be incorporated into events like this one.


Zac, Texas Adaptive Play Initiative member, teaches a student to catch a beep baseball at the 2023 South Texas Visual Impairment Sports Palooza.

In a general education setting, many visually impaired students do not receive the same opportunities to participate in physical activities as their counterparts. ATPE NEWS 19

“This is partially because teachers get a little apprehensive,” Andrews says. “And sometimes the kids themselves feel like they just can’t do it. We just wanted the kids to have an opportunity to work with other kids because they are often the only one who’s visually impaired on their campus, so it’s nice for them to be able to meet other kids who are like them.” At Region 1 ESC, Andrews has been putting together expanded core curriculum (ECC) events for students and their coaches from all over the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and the Brooks County area. She worked closely with Weslaco ISD and the district’s adaptive PE coach, who had attended the Blind Sports Extravaganza and wanted to incorporate what he had learned into the Sports Palooza. “I was really grateful, of course,” Andrews says. “And between me, him, and some of our staff, it became a team effort to begin the research to put this together. The Texas Adaptive Play Initiative (TAPI) really helped us out with the three major events: the beep baseball, the blind soccer, and the goalball.” Last year, Andrews and her team put together a talent show they called VI’s Got Talent. Again, her ex-student was the motivation. “I remember taking him to the Texas School for the Blind for the first time ever, and while he was there, they had

“It makes me so happy because now people are excited about helping our kids, and that’s been the best part of it,” Andrews says. “We even received help from a gentleman by the name of Cody Colchado, a 33-time world champion in powerlifting who was just inducted into the United States Association of Blind Athletes Hall of Fame. He was a big help, and it really did become a team effort. Once people heard what we were doing, they were very enthusiastic.” A student practices kicking a soccer ball with bells into the net.

him in the dorms where there was a piano,” Andrews says. “He started fiddling with the piano, and by the end of the weekend he had taught himself how to play it just by listening. He later taught himself to play the accordion, and he’s been learning guitar as well.” This gave Andrews the idea to showcase the many talents of visually impaired students in her region. Twentysix students participated in the event with a combination of dancing, singing, playing instruments, and even performing comedy. “They had a great time, and it brought them out of their shell because a lot of them were very shy,” Andrews says. “It went so well that this coming year, we’re going to have VI’s Got Talent Season 2.” Andrews acknowledges that the Sports Palooza and the talent show were group efforts that would not have been possible without the help of so many people, including: her team at Region 1; TAPI; Weslaco ISD, which provided the venue as well as custodians and an athletic trainer; grocery store H-E-B, which donated $1,500 in gift cards for the food; volunteers from the local university who were students for adaptive PE; the Edinburg Lions Club; and ATPE Membership Specialist Roger Gutierrez, who volunteered as a judge for the talent show and donated tables and chairs for the sports event.

(Above) A student proudly shows off her medal from the Sports Palooza. (Right) A University of Texas Rio Grande Valley student helps another student navigate an obstacle course with her white safety cane.


LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD The Sports Palooza saw 60 students and over 100 adults participate, and if it weren’t for the heat, Andrews is convinced those numbers would have been higher. For the coaches in attendance, Andrews handed out modified balls for them to take back to their districts to use with their students. “Part of it is inclusion, and part of it is the knowledge of what to do,” Andrews says. “For example, the coaches that came to the palooza are going to know what to do, but eventually their kids will go to another campus. Will the next coach have the same knowledge? That’s the hard part.” But it isn’t just a lack of knowledge that holds students and coaches back. Andrews explains that it is also fear. “Of course, we want to keep visually impaired students safe,” Andrews says. “But we do have parents who are afraid to let their kids get involved. They are afraid their child will fall or get hit by a continued on page 31

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*The Educators Professional Liability Insurance Policy is underwritten by the National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA., with $5.46 billion in net surplus and more than $21.9 billion in total admitted assets as of Dec. 31, 2022. 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 Chapter 2201. 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 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.**Staff attorney services are provided separate from the Educators Professional Liability Insurance Program.



s lawmakers fuel the culture war with education in the crosshairs, one issue that has come to the forefront— in parallel with a tense series of legislative sessions in 2023—is the seizure of local control via a takeover by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). TEA’s latest takeover target is the largest school district in the state and the eighth largest in the U.S. In March 2023, TEA announced it would take over Houston ISD, following years of litigation between the district and agency. The saga began back in 2019 when TEA announced a plan to take over HISD—by replacing its elected school board with a TEA appointed board—due to “the repeated low academic performance of Wheatley High School,“ just one campus among over 270 in a district, which serves nearly 200,000 Houston schoolchildren. A court injunction held off this action, and in that time frame, many of the board members serving in 2019 stepped off the board and Wheatley’s rating improved, but TEA pressed forward with the plan. How is it possible for one school’s performance to determine the fate of an entire district? House Bill (HB) 1842, which was signed into law in 2015, allows for the commissioner of education to take over a district if it has a single campus that has failed to meet state accountability ratings for two consecutive years; the alternative is to close the underperforming campus. Schools and districts were not rated in 2019-20 or 2020-21 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although HISD received an overall accountability rating of B from TEA in 2019 and 2022, the highest aggregate rating the district could receive under current law, Mike Morath, Texas’ education commissioner, was able to invoke HB 1842 in spite of the district’s overall rating. Morath’s letter notifying HISD of the TEA takeover points not only to academic performance issues but also to misconduct by previous trustees—including alleged violations of the Open Meetings Act and Texas procurement law. However, Morath acknowledged the board’s progress since the initial attempt to take over. Ultimately, his reasoning called out “prior academic performance issues,” despite Wheatley’s improvement from 2019 to 2022 from an F to a C rating. In June, Superintendent Millard House II was replaced by Mike Miles, and the entire locally elected school board was ousted 22 ATPE NEWS

and replaced with appointed members. Miles previously served as Dallas ISD’s superintendent for three years, as well as superintendent of two school districts in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also founded Third Future Schools, a charter network with campuses in Colorado, Texas, and Louisiana. Upon his appointment as superintendent, Miles rolled out his New Education System (NES), which promises to “provide resources and support to dramatically improve outcomes” for students in about 30 priority school across HISD. The NES also promises higher salaries, more support for teachers, and an innovative staffing model, according to HISD; however, confusion and concern arose after some educators were offered pay raises for the 2023-24 school year, only to be sent revised, lower offers later. HISD employees have spoken out to the media, often anonymously, about what they call a “bait-and-switch.” For some educators, notifications of pay cuts came after the district’s resignation deadline. Protests against the takeover have followed, and after feeling unheard and shut down in board meetings and town halls, community members have taken to social media, city streets, and even sporting events to voice their anger.

Perhaps the most glaring issue of the takeover—aside from the concern for pay cuts, layoffs, reassignments, library closures, and loss of essential services—is the way TEA was able to seize control of a democratically elected school board in spite of the district’s overall favorable accountability ratings. ATPE Executive Director Shannon Holmes told ABC13 in June: “Most notably, we don’t have any locally elected school board members anymore, so I am not sure where local accountability comes into place for voters.” Houston ATPE President Mike Holton echoes this sentiment. He says that even months into the takeover, there is little buyin. In speaking with fellow Houston ATPE members, Holton predicts a significant fallout that will only be seen in the coming months: “I think the real attrition rates will tell the tale. HISD is telling them to embrace the NES or be reassigned. Some are just happy to have jobs, but a lot of teachers—even those who have been around for 20-25 years—are just waiting for their year of service to come up so they can retire or move on.”

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF TEA INTERVENTION Although Houston ISD is not the first district TEA has taken over, it has made national headlines and become part of a bigger conversation. Previous takeovers had often been triggered by allegations of misconduct, including cheating and financial malfeasance. North Forest ISD in northeast Houston received a TEA accreditation status of “Not Accredited-Revoked” for the 2011-12 academic year. Robert Scott, the TEA commissioner at the time, cited long-standing “performance issues and operational concerns for decades.” The district was annexed by Houston ISD in July 2012. El Paso ISD, with an enrollment of approximately 50,000, was previously the largest district to be taken over by TEA. EPISD faced a cheating scandal involving the manipulation of standardized test scores, after which TEA took over in 2012 and appointed a board of managers to address the district’s academic and administrative issues. At the time, the takeover called into question ways in which the pressures of the state standardized testing system were impacting public education. The agency returned local control to the district six years later when it met state standards. TEA can also issue less severe interventions—including monitoring and conservatorships. Austin ISD is one example of the former; AISD and TEA agreed in September 2023 to have two monitors oversee and report to TEA the district’s handling of special education services. As of this writing, 15 districts other than HISD have been taken over by TEA. Five districts settled in court or did not proceed with a board of managers, four districts were closed and absorbed by neighboring districts, four had local control restored after meeting state standards, and two are still under TEA control.

HOW MUCH CONTROL IS TOO MUCH? As the future of public education becomes more dire in the face of multi-pronged attacks—in the form of privatization, book

bans, and overall seizure of local control—state takeover of a district with HISD’s circumstances sets a dangerous precedent. The circumstances surrounding the HISD takeover—in a nutshell, targeting a presently improving campus for its previous record—may raise the question of whether it’s really about the kids. Regardless, a disparity in treatment of public vs. charter schools deserves a closer look. During his tenure, Morath has extended grace on at least 17 occasions to underperforming charter networks looking to expand. In October, The Texas Tribune pointed out this unequal application of authority. When asked about the inconsistency, TEA issued a statement saying that when charter school expansions require a waiver for not meeting state standards, “the agency conducts a thorough review that includes assessing the ‘entire portfolio of campuses’”—a privilege not afforded to Houston ISD. Another sign that indicates an abuse and overreach of state power is TEA’s treatment of accountability ratings, making acceptable performance unattainable for some districts and campuses. In August 2023, seven school districts filed suit against TEA, stating Morath is “retroactively changing the rules in a way that will arbitrarily lower performance ratings for many school districts and campuses even though their performance improved [under the rubric established at the time students were tested].” In some cases, the suit claims, an A rating could fall to a D rating under the new standards. Considering Wheatley High School had improved—and it only takes one campus falling short to trigger TEA intervention—district officials have become increasingly fearful of their fates, and the number of plaintiffs in the aforementioned suit has ballooned to 100 since the lawsuit was originally filed. Even if a district or campus were to achieve acceptable scores under the revised system, the lawsuit illustrates the potential snowball effect of lower performance ratings, including declines in enrollment and a subsequent decrease in school funding, which is tied to average daily attendance. This attempt to artificially manufacture and then dismantle “failing” school systems suspiciously runs parallel to an ongoing fight to get vouchers passed in Texas. Multiple special sessions have been called following this year’s legislative session, and Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly vowed to pass a voucher bill despite Democrats’ and rural Republicans’ pushback. The governor’s vocal disdain toward public education is nothing new, and his feelings about Houston ISD have been evident for at least the past four years. One of his tweets from January 2019 reads: “What a joke. HISD leadership is a disaster. Their self-centered ineptitude has failed the children they are supposed to educate ...” Eroding confidence in the public schools that educate over 5.5 million schoolchildren and moving the goalposts for maintaining compliance with state standards is a convenient avenue for taking over additional districts across the state, usurping the authority of democratically elected school boards and pointing to a “failed” public education system as justification for vouchers and privatization. ATPE NEWS 23



hat does classroom inclusion look like? How do you make a diverse group of students feel welcome in your classroom? Is there more than one right way? Let’s put Dr. Shawn Bailey, an ATPE member in Midway (12) ISD, and Alicia Hinkle, an ATPE member in Irving ISD, on the “Hot Seat” to get some answers. Bailey: For educators, the “Hot Seat” simply means “the position of a person who carries full responsibility for something, including facing criticism or being answerable for decisions or actions.” The way we make students feel in our classroom matters. The first several weeks of a new school year are always filled with policies and procedures to establish norms for optimal learning opportunities. As teachers, we create seating charts and quickly learn who demands our undivided attention to help us make meaningful connections, build trust, and create a safe environment for all students to live in over the next 10 months. Over several class periods, a single classroom can hold a different vibe and personality because of the people in it. To establish a rapport that results in a learning partnership, students need to see the teacher as someone they can relate to—hence the “Hot Seat.” 24 ATPE NEWS

I remember the first time I introduced the “Hot Seat” to a group of middle school students. They took it as an opportunity to “roast” me. As a new teacher, I was mortified, but the feedback was helpful. I was unsure of how inclusion was supposed to look, how to make every student feel welcome, and if there was a “right” way that I was missing. Therefore, I asked the students to inform me about my approach to teaching and how it was serving them as learners. Students provided feedback on what I was doing well and what I could improve upon. The students and I would evaluate my progress over several grading periods, and by the end of the year their feedback would indicate if I had listened to what mattered to them. Positive, healthy relationships with my students became very important to me, so I began researching and reading books on how to connect with my students authentically. Kids can tell if you fake it. Students will respect you more when you fumble and are honest with them. Let’s be REAL.

WHAT DOES CLASSROOM INCLUSION LOOK LIKE? Bailey: The adage “fake it ’til you make it” never worked for me. My journey was more like “failing forward” and learning from all of the pain-filled mistakes. Don’t be afraid of a challenge. That’s why my becoming the student and allowing the students to become the teacher has worked so well for me. The “Hot Seat” spearheads the vulnerability students seldom get to see from their teacher. In addition, it teaches individuals how to think critically about their learning styles and needs. In the Bailey classroom, inclusion looks like safety and laughter while learning. I laugh a lot, for a variety of reasons. Students feel


This article is a companion piece to a virtual session presented by Bailey and Hinkle as part of the Gen ATPE program, which aims to provide special learning opportunities for ATPE members ages 30 and younger. Any ATPE member may earn one hour of continuing professional education (CPE) credit by viewing the archived webinar in the ATPE Professional Learning Portal.

comfortable laughing at me and with me. No two days or classroom experiences are ever the same, and for that I am thankful.

my response to what matters to them and the learning in our shared space over the school year says, “That’s important.”



Bailey: “Kidwatching” is a great way to observe and learn about your students. This practice was introduced by education professor Yetta Goodman and encourages teachers to select two or three students to actively watch and monitor how you, the teacher, respond and interact with the student. As I became aware of my own biases and worldviews, I was able to pinpoint and target reflectively the importance of building those positive relationships. The “Hot Seat” means carrying full responsibility for my actions, thoughts, and words as an educator. Reviewing the feedback and progressing proactively forward provided students with visual, authentic change in my manners and approach to their learning needs, and the observable shift let them know that their comments mattered to me. My students teach me how to be a better teacher. The positive interaction, even when corrective to maintain structure, makes students feel safe and welcome. We all need the safety of boundaries and limits. Inclusion in the classroom is a whole-person method of teaching and learning that encourages diversity and gives all students the same chance to learn. In an inclusive classroom, kids from different backgrounds, with additional abilities, and with different needs all learn together. Individualized support is a big part of this learning setting, where teachers work closely together to tailor instruction and curriculum to meet the needs of each student. The main goal is to create an atmosphere of acceptance and respect where every student feels valued and included and where parents are actively involved in their children’s education. To reach these goals, inclusive classrooms place a high value on teacher collaboration, professional development, and a commitment to teaching methods that are flexible and tools that are easy to use. The focus is not just on physical presence but also on creating an inclusive culture that gives all students, no matter what their needs or backgrounds are, the same educational chances.

Hinkle: Managing biases and triggers is a vital component of being a successful and equitable educator, and it begins with self-awareness and deliberate contemplation. To keep biases in check, teachers must be aware of their own preconceptions, assumptions, and prejudices. This self-awareness is an important first step. It enables educators to identify biases that may be influencing their behaviors, decisions, or relationships with students. Biases, if acknowledged, can be addressed through constant learning and personal development. Teachers can actively seek professional development activities that emphasize cultural competency, diversity, and equity in education. Educators become more equipped to face and minimize biases by broadening their knowledge and understanding of diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. Furthermore, keeping open lines of contact with colleagues, mentors, and even students can assist teachers in keeping their biases under control. Seeking feedback and alternative viewpoints on teaching practices can provide significant insights into areas where biases may be influencing the classroom environment. Avoid scholarly segregation on campuses and within classrooms, and overcome that biased mindset with open communication and receptiveness. At Irving ISD’s MacArthur High School in Region 10, the mission “is to ensure learning for all by providing an equitable, collaborative, student-centered environment.” Our mission statement should guide our learning while fostering a sense of acceptance and acknowledgment. The emphasis is on “all”—not just Advanced Placement, GT, and honors students but every student. Moreover, mindfulness is essential for managing triggers and biases. When educators find themselves in circumstances where prejudices may be present, pausing to reflect can be extremely beneficial. This pause allows teachers to respond deliberately rather than impulsively, giving them time to assess how their actions will affect their students and the learning environment. Becoming a culturally responsive educator fundamentally entails cultivating self-awareness, engaging in ongoing learning, modifying instructional materials, and promoting an environment of open and inclusive communication. By actively and intentionally addressing one’s prejudices and triggers, educators can establish an inclusive learning environment that fosters a sense of value and respect for every student, boosting their overall educational experience.

IS THERE MORE THAN ONE RIGHT WAY? Bailey: Positive engagement with our teachers looks different from classroom to classroom, campus to campus, and district to district. The teacher on the “Hot Seat” makes you aware of student needs. Empowering your students to become the teacher and you the student is a great way to grow and assess your classroom culture. There has never been a “one way fits all” approach to growing as a teacher and connecting with students. Classroom inclusion is about being Ready, Respectful, and Responsible as a teacher, seeking the good of the whole class. At least that’s how it’s done in Midway ISD (12).

STUDENT SURVEY Bailey: Allowing your students to put you on the “Hot Seat” a few times over the school year is a great way for you and your students to both grow and bond in an inclusive, welcoming classroom. What my students think of my teaching matters to me. Therefore, their direct input and reflective review of

Shawn Bailey, Ed.D., is an eighth grade reading and language arts teacher in Midway (12) ISD. Alicia Hinkle teaches student leadership and AP Macroeconomics/AP Government at Irving ISD’s MacArthur High School. She is a former African American studies teacher/curriculum writer.


ATPE invites you to join us as we visit “neighborhoods” all over Texas. Get an inside look at what ATPE volunteers across the state are doing to recruit, retain, and rejoice with their fellow ATPE members!

In Your Neighborhood: ATPE Stories from Your Communities


Region 7 ATPE & Nacogdoches ATPE Region 7 ATPE and Nacogdoches ATPE officers met with Texas State Rep. Travis Clardy (R–Nacogdoches) Aug. 30 to discuss public school priorities.

Region 11 ATPE Region 11 ATPE members and officers met in September at Chicken and Pickle in Grapevine. Attendees ate, discussed ATPE business, won door prizes, and played some of the games on site, including pickleball.

Odessa ATPE & Midland ATPE Volunteers from Odessa ATPE and Midland ATPE joined forces to recruit new members at multiple events aimed at new teachers.

Katy ATPE Volunteers from Katy ATPE recruited new members at the first in-person Katy ISD new-teacher orientation held in several years due to the pandemic.

Waller ATPE Members of Waller ATPE hosted a drive-thru membership recruitment event at a local Sonic restaurant. Both members and nonmembers who attended received a free tea or soft drink while nonmembers also received a recruiting packet.



Save Money on Your Home and Auto Insurance ATPE is proud to partner with Farmers Insurance to provide access to cost-saving tools, such as Farmers Insurance Choice and Farmers GroupSelect. As an ATPE member, you could enjoy the convenience of having all your policies with one provider. Select customers switched and saved hundreds on average by bundling home and auto insurance, so get your free quote today! Farmers Insurance Choice provides you with options all in one place so you can choose policies that best meet your needs and budget. It’s easy to compare, shop, and tailor policies to meet your specific needs.

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Become an ATPE Rep for Your Campus An ATPE campus representative is a lifeline for new and current members to keep them informed of membership benefits, legislative matters, and issues that impact educators every day. This volunteer role offers a rewarding opportunity to connect with colleagues as you spread the word about ATPE and grow the association. Campus reps serve as the voice of ATPE on their campuses and can work in districts with or without ATPE local units. 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 us at QUINCY LUPER, Keller ISD


YOUR ATPE Photo © Gorodenkoff Productions OU/Adobe Stock

ATPE Member Discount for SXSW EDU ATPE and SXSW EDU are once again partnering to provide ATPE members with a discounted rate of up to 50% off the walk-up rate for SXSW EDU 2024 and SXSW badges. SXSW EDU 2024 will take place March 4–7 in Austin and feature four days of compelling sessions, in-depth workshops, engaging learning experiences, mentorship, film screenings, startup events, policy discussions, competitions, exhibition, networking, and so much more. As an added benefit, many of these sessions qualify for CPE credit, redeemable through the ATPE Professional Learning Portal! We’re excited to help as many ATPE members attend SXSW EDU as possible, and we encourage you to take advantage of this benefit. There is no minimum, maximum, or immediate purchase necessary, but you must be an active ATPE member. To receive your discounted rate, complete the request form at (login required). Instructions for redeeming this exclusive ATPE member benefit will be listed in the description. To take advantage of this offer, eligible ATPE members should complete the form no later than Feb. 23, 2024. For questions about logging in to your ATPE member account, contact or call (800) 777-2873.

Age 30 or Younger? Don’t Miss Out on Gen ATPE One of ATPE’s newest programs, Gen ATPE, offers special programming and networking opportunities specifically for educators ages 30 or younger. No additional application or fee is required, but to receive notification of Gen ATPE events, your member profile must include your birthdate indicating that you are currently age 30 or younger. To add your birthdate, log in to your Member Account at, then navigate to “My Profile.” Add your birthday under “Profile Information,” and click Save!

Photo by Tico Mendoza



2023-24 ATPE Awards Season CHARLES PICKITT EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR AWARDS The Charles Pickitt Educator of the Year Awards are presented in five categories: Administrator, Associate, Elementary Teacher, Secondary Teacher, and Special Services Educator. Each recipient will receive $5,000. Dec. 1, 2023, is the nomination deadline, and nominees must submit completed applications by Feb. 1, 2024. Self-nominations are not allowed. DOUG ROGERS CAMPUS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE YEAR AWARDS The Doug Rogers Campus Representative of the Year Awards recognize volunteers in four local unit/ISD categories: 1–200 members, 201–500 members, 501–1,000 members, and 1,001+ members. Local units may nominate one or more campus representatives. Each winner will receive $1,000. Dec. 1, 2023, is the nomination deadline. Self-nominations are not allowed. Feb. 1, 2024, is the application deadline.

Submit Your Nominations by Dec. 1! Do you know an educator that is doing an outstanding job? Every year, ATPE recognizes outstanding Texas educators, ATPE leaders, and friends of Texas public schools. 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 Local Unit of the Year, or nominate an outstanding ATPE volunteer for Campus Representative of the Year. Visit for full details, nomination forms, and applications.

FLOYD TRIMBLE LOCAL UNIT OF THE YEAR AWARDS The Floyd Trimble Local Unit of the Year Awards honor exceptional local units in five categories: 1–200 members, 201–500 members, 501–1,000 members, 1,001+ members, and university local units. Each winning local unit will receive a check for $1,000. Dec. 1, 2023, is the nomination deadline. Self-nominations are allowed. Feb. 1, 2024, is the application deadline.



continued from page 10—Your Ally

continued from page 20—Piercing the Veil

the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and only if the teacher follows the SBOE materials with fidelity.

ball. But we all fall, and we all hurt ourselves sometimes. That’s how we learn.” Andrews would like to start a new tradition at Region One ESC by holding the sports palooza every year and giving students not only something fun to look forward to but also a goal to work toward throughout the year.

PARENTAL REVIEW HB 1605 requires school districts to allow for parental review of instructional materials, either in person or through an online portal that includes most instructional materials. However, a classroom teacher may not be required to submit instructional materials they developed to the portal. LOCAL REVIEW School districts may review a foundation-curriculum course teacher’s instructional materials to determine whether they correspond with district-adopted materials and meet grade-level standards. Once this review process is initiated, the teacher may not be required to spend more than 30 minutes on a single review unless a longer review is unavoidable. Further, a review should not occur more than once per year, subject, or grade level. More information should become available as implementation of HB 1605’s requirements proceed. Some teachers may not be affected at all. Whether you find the new requirements helpful or detrimental will depend on your preferences and your district’s requirements. Either way, big changes are in store. continued from page 17—Texas Schools vs. Mother Nature

Although school districts aim to provide that level of preparation, Miller shares another tip for educators to be prepared in a severe weather event. “We now have operation stations located in our safe environments,” Miller said. “All of our manuals, all of anything you would need to start communication, is in that location and in your office. So, it’s going to be in that location where you must shelter in place because you will not have time and you will not be able to move once you go into lockdown.” Emergencies can develop rapidly, so educators and schools need to have plans in place and employees trained to quickly respond to such situations. outlines several emergency preparation resources, including a guide for developing emergency operations plans (EOPs). In the case of a tornado, there are a lot of moving parts when enacting an EOP, and they all have to happen within that 90-second response time. This includes moving students to a secure area, including those who have disabilities or functional needs. In the ongoing battle between Texas schools and severe weather, routinely performing drills and exercises are important for both students and staff to stay prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store. “So you had better be ready,” Miller said. “Basically, it comes down to this: you have a minute and a half to get into position.”

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD Fifteen districts attended the 2023 South Texas Visual Impairment Sports Palooza, including Brownsville, San Benito, Rio Hondo, Santa Rosa, Raymondville, Weslaco, Mission, Edinburg, McAllen, Idea, Brooks County, Zapata, Sharyland, Triumph Public HS, and Harlingen ISDs. Andrews recalls receiving positive feedback from parents at the event expressing their gratitude for what they felt was a unique and valuable experience for their kids. After the event, she asked each district in attendance which activity their students enjoyed the most and made sure to provide them with resources, including balls or rackets, to take to back to their schools. “One of the teachers came up to me and told me that she had a student who did not want to come,” Andrews says. “He thought it was going to be like PE, and he hates that class. But once he figured out this was totally different, he really got into it. His favorite activity was tennis, so his parents told his teacher they were going to start playing tennis as a family with the special balls.” The coaches who attended told Andrews they were interested in sharing these activities with all of their students. One volleyball coach was so impressed that she planned to get blindfolds for her students who are not visually impaired and have them practice by just listening for the ball. She told Andrews that she felt that not only could it improve their game, but also it would increase awareness for the visually impaired. “We’re really just trying to get the kids out there and doing different things because there is so much struggle to learn— stuff that doesn’t come automatically to them,” Andrews says. “A lot of stuff we learn comes from visually taking in information. We see how people react to things, how they behave, and how they socialize—making eye contact and so forth.” Andrews is currently putting together a winter gala where visually impaired students can socialize, participate in team building activities, and dance. She and her team are always looking for creative ways to encourage independence and interaction within the visually impaired community. “The event was mostly designed to educate, but just seeing the smiles and watching the expressions on the kids’ faces change as they began playing, it turned out to be a great time for everyone,” Andrews says. “It was just awesome how it came together.”



ATPE’s 10 dedicated membership specialists support ATPE’s members and volunteers in their local communities across the state.

Jeff Vega

Diane Pokluda

Panhandle West


DFW Metro West


Eduardo Sierra

Joseph Cruz

West Texas

DFW Metro East




Mary Jane Waits



• Hill Country

Yvette Milner

Roger Gutierrez

South Texas

Central Texas

Amber Tomas

Gulf Coast

 NOT SURE WHOM TO CONTACT? Visit to find out. 32 ATPE NEWS


Ginger Franks

Piney Woods

Cynthia Villalovos Bayou

Round of Applause Let’s give a round of applause to our ATPE members all around the state who go above and beyond.

The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) announced in September that six outstanding educators from across Texas were chosen as finalists in the 2024 Texas Teacher of the Year program, including the following ATPE members:

•D r. Isela Russell, Wellington Elementary School, Lewisville ISD •T aniece Thompson-Smith, Stafford Elementary School, Abilene ISD Nine ATPE members were also recognized as 2024 Texas Regional Teachers of the Year: •R egion 3: Lindsay Ferrell, Howell Middle School, Victoria ISD • Region 4: •S usan Mitchell, Groves Elementary School, Humble ISD •R honda Perez, Joe Frank Campbell Learning Center, Channelview ISD •R egion 5: Cheryl Spangler, Dishman Elementary School, Beaumont ISD •R egion 8: Amanda LaRue, Paris High School, Paris ISD

•R egion 15: Veronica Stapper, Glenmore Elementary School, San Angelo ISD •R egion 16: Kelley Jo Ashlock, Friona High School, Friona ISD •R egion 17: Tara Espindola, Upland Heights Elementary School, Frenship ISD •R egion 19: Adrian Stevens, Sageland MicroSociety Elementary School, Ysleta ISD The Texas Teachers of the Year were recognized at a ceremony in Round Rock Oct. 20. Taniece Thompson-Smith was named Texas’ Elementary Teacher of the Year, and she will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Congratulations to the 40 regional Teachers of the Year for representing excellence in Texas public education!

•S usan Mitchell, Groves Elementary • L isa Cruz, Maplebrook Elementary •M ary Canavan, Oak Forest Elementary • Lucy Hernandez, Park Lakes Elementary • J ennifer Eakin, Pine Forest Elementary •P aul Touchstone, Willow Creek Elementary •A my Hays, Woodland Hills Elementary


Pedro Tovar, a teacher at McMichael Middle School, was ranked fourth among 6,000 English as a Second Language teachers in Texas. Tovar was recognized at a Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) event in October.


Samantha Montaño, a 1990 graduate of Lewisville High School, was recently inducted into her alma mater’s Hall of Fame. Montaño and two other alumni were recognized at the district’s homecoming parade and in a ceremony during halftime at Lewisville High School’s homecoming game in October.

San Antonio

Dominique Roose, an eighth grade history teacher at Folks Middle School in Northside (20) ISD, received KENS 5’s EXCEL award. KENS 5 and Credit Human presented Roose with a $1,000 check at a pep rally in September.


The following elementary teachers were honored during an Humble ISD board meeting in October. Each teacher was chosen by their peers to represent their respective campuses for the 2023-24 school year. •C ristina Doyle, Atascocita Springs Elementary •R achelle Thomas, Deerwood Elementary •B riana Edwards, Eagle Springs Elementary


Alexandria Hurst, a second grade teacher at Irvin Elementary School, received the 2023 Jean Coleman Award for Excellence in Reading Education, along with a $250 award from the Coleman family.


Terry Farley, a special education teacher at Boshears Center for Exceptional Programs, was named Tyler ISD’s Teacher of the Month in September.

Do you want to recognize a fellow ATPE member in the

 next issue of ATPE News? Contact us at! ATPE NEWS 33

Why Is ATPE the No. 1 Choice of Texas Educators?

“Because I feel comfortable and confident with ATPE in my corner.” —LAURA HERRERA prekindergarten teacher, North East

No matter where you are in your career as an educator, there’s a place for you in

“Because ATPE is a great value.”

the Association of Texas Professional Educators. As the state’s largest community of educators, ATPE opens


doors for members, helping

paraprofessional and coach, Ingleside

them navigate the profession they love, become leaders among their peers, and advocate for their students.

“Because we’re a community of educators who share ideals and beliefs.” —SAGE CAVAZOS first-grade dual language teacher, La Vega

Learn more and join us today at



he thousands of ATPE volunteers across Texas are the backbone of this association. Their hard work and dedication allow ATPE to serve the state’s largest community of educators. In this ongoing ATPE News series, we spotlight volunteers who set a great example of service for their fellow educators. NEXT UP: MICHELLE JEFFREY, a testing facilitator in Katy ISD and a finalist for ATPE’s 2022-23 Campus Rep of the Year Award in the category for local units with 1,001-plus members.

ADVICE FOR GETTING INVOLVED Jeffrey is in her 23rd year in education and has been a member of ATPE for nearly all of that time. This is her fourth year as an ATPE campus representative, a volunteer role she took on after the campus representative who recruited her switched campuses. “The campus representative who was here is actually a friend, and she asked me,” Jeffrey recalls. “She convinced me to do it. I love talking to people, so it was a natural fit. Plus, I had already been a new teacher mentor. I worked with the new teachers to give them advice during their first year. Being an ATPE campus rep is very similar. I get to meet new people and help them.” Jeffrey has advice for those who want to volunteer but haven’t been personally recruited the way she was. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Jeffrey suggests. “Start with your local campus representative and ask questions. Then get to know the people on your campus. After that, it’s as simple as getting that information out there. As people come to you, just give them more information. Give them everything you can possibly think of.” A PERSONAL TOUCH TO RECRUITING When Jeffrey is recruiting, she aims to employ a personalized approach. Her process begins with introducing herself to the new educators each year. “I like to host a new-teacher orientation at the beginning of each year where I welcome all the new teachers,” she explains.

“I go by their rooms, and I talk to them one-on-one and let them know who I am, what I do on the campus, and that I am their ATPE rep. I answer any questions they have and share recruiting materials.” This allows Jeffrey to have conversations with each colleague, which allows her to get to know them on a personal level and craft a specific pitch tailed to them. “I can talk to someone and say ATPE can help you in this specific way. Oh, you have little children? Guess what? ATPE has deals on hotels and vacations and other ways to save money. I want them to understand that it doesn’t just help them, but also it can be good for their family.” MAINTAINING VISIBILITY Aside from personal interactions, Jeffrey believes it is important to maintain a visible ATPE presence on her campus. “I have a permanent display down in our teachers’ lounge that has all the materials that they need,” she says. “It has my name attached to it with my room number so they can find me if they have questions. I’ll put little goodies out to entice them to come by the display and look to see what’s new. They’ll see the pencils sitting out, and they’ll come over and read what I have put out. Then they will come by my room to ask me about ATPE. “Then I make sure that they know about all the districtwide get-togethers that we have. I want to see them get out there to meet other people. Often, they don’t realize the number of teachers who are also ATPE members.”

I like to host a newteacher orientation at the beginning of each year where I welcome all the new teachers. I go by their rooms, and I talk to them one-onone and let them know who I am, what I do on the campus, and that I am their ATPE rep.” —Michelle Jeffrey, testing facilitator in Katy ISD and a finalist for ATPE’s 2022-23 Campus Rep of the Year Award in the category for local units with 1,001-plus members

IN BECOMING AN ATPE VOLUNTEER? Reach out to ATPE’s  INTERESTED Volunteer Program Coordinator at ATPE NEWS 35

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