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A rea Educators Attend Summer Institute ore than 350 teachers, administrators, community members and representatives from educational institutions gathered in early August for The Houston Annenberg Challenge’s Fondren Reforming Schools Summer Institute. During the three-day conference, educators shared practices, ideas, concerns and resources central to transforming schools into learner-centered, academically rich places of learning. Attendees from more than 85 different organizations and schools were able to choose from a series of workshops, round tables and small group discussions led by 72 different presenters. “The institute was very informative,” said one attendee. “It allowed me to enrich my knowledge and reflect with others. Home groups were excellent. I appreciate the chance to gain knowledge, and I’m motivated to return to my campus and share.”


Among the topics of discussion were: ■ Student Learning: Professional development centered on the different ways that children learn in core academic subjects like math, science and reading; on increasing awareness of how factors such as race, culture and

George Tennison from Olle Middle School and Charles Meissgeier from Furr High School during an FRSSI workshop.

modes of communication impact student learning; and on how to use data gathered from student work to gauge their mastery of a subject. ■ Authentic Pedagogy: Educators learned more about the effective strategies, skills, techniques and methods of teaching; how to increase the number of constant feedback mechanisms to determine if teaching methods are successful; and how to define the criteria for types of student work that can be used to determine subject mastery. ■ Organizational Structure: Participants learned leadership practices, decision-making processes and accountability formats that facilitate student learning, authentic pedagogy and whole school reform; ways that leadership can be distributed in less hierarchical ways in schools; and how to consciously make schools and school practices topics of inquiry on a daily basis.

Pedro Bermudez, an educational specialist in the Miami-Dade County public schools, discusses his presentation with Annenberg staff member Carol Ann Caveny.

■ External Support: Attendees learned how to connect schools and districts to an array of local, regional and national service providers; and how to broaden and deepen partnerships between schools and their supporting communities, families, organizations and businesses.

Summer Institute . . . continued on page 6

Established in January 1997 with funding from the Annenberg Foundation and local matching contributions, The Houston Annenberg Challenge is a $60 million, not-for-profit public, private partnership directing the largest single sum of money ever dedicated to public school reform in the Greater Houston area. The Challenge develops and funds school programs, professional development and leadership institutes to promote higher academic achievement by all students.

From the


chools traditionally have used a model of teaching where as many as 30 children work quietly at their seats. Houston Annenberg is working to see that this model gives way to one based on research that shows children learn better when they are actively involved in their schoolwork. It is no longer good enough for children to simply read about a subject to learn it. Today’s teachers must help children get inside the subject - be it spelling, algebra or physics - with hands on, interactive activities. To craft this customized learning for students, schools need three things: a professional learning community; data that focuses on student work; and ongoing assessment of instructional practices using that data to get better results for students.


Building a learning community that connects teaching to learning requires an investment in professional development. One tool is the Annenberg program called Critical Friends Group. This program creates a group of eight to 12 teachers and administrators who work together monthly to define and produce improved student achievement. As a group, the members establish student learning goals, help each other learn better teaching practices, look closely at student work and curriculum and identify school culture issues that affect student achievement. Each group chooses a coach who helps the group build the sense of trust it must have if the teachers are to work together. To date, Houston Annenberg has trained more than 300 Critical Friends Group “coaches.” We also are

HISD BEGINS $1.3 MILLION MATH INITIATIVE ExxonMobil Foundation and Houston Annenberg Challenge to Partner on Project The Houston Independent School District (HISD), ExxonMobil Foundation and The Houston Annenberg Challenge have launched a $1.3 million, three-year pilot project to identify, develop, and place K-5 mathematics specialists in the classroom. The project will work to improve student achievement in mathematics by strengthening teachers’ knowledge of mathematics and instructional methods. The project was announced at Foerster Elementary by Dr. Rod Paige, superintendent, HISD; Larry Marshall, president, HISD Board; Edward F. Ahnert, president, ExxonMobil Foundation; Hugh Hayes, deputy commissioner, Texas Education Agency, and Linda Clarke, executive director, The Houston Annenberg Challenge. “At ExxonMobil, we believe the best schools are distinguished by a passionate and unanimous focus on a single goal -- student learning. A vital component to advancing mathematics education in schools is a wellprepared, dedicated faculty,” said Edward F. Ahnert, ExxonMobil Foundation president. “Clearly, this Mathematics Initiative being implemented in HISD schools is a strong step in


strengthening teacher proficiency and ensuring academic success for the children of Houston.” “American students today lag behind their international counterparts in math and science,” said Linda Clarke, executive director, The Houston Annenberg Challenge. “It is no longer good enough for children to simply read about math and practice with worksheets. Today’s teachers must help children get inside the subject with hands-on, interactive activities so they are ready to succeed in a high-tech, global world.” In September, five specialists –who have been identified from HISD elementary teachers began work to assist in the design and implementation of a more innovative approach to math instruction, to team teaching and to providing professional development activities. The specialists also provide vital resources to teachers and work to increase parental involvement in the education process. The math specialists also have created the first Annenberg Critical Friends Group focused on mathematics. Critical Friends is a researchbased model for professional development in which members solidify student-learning goals, provide feedback to each other on teaching

bringing Critical Friends to our partner Project GRAD, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to high Linda Clarke school students. The more teachers know about how students learn, the more they know about the teaching methods that work, the more likely our children are to be prepared to work in a high-tech, fastpaced global economy.

THE MISSION Our mission at Quest High School in the Humble Independent School District is to provide a personalized learning experience for students in a working relationship with the community to create life-long learners and successful members of society. While many schools have similar mission statements, at Quest we allow students to live the statement through Service Learning. Our objective is to provide experiential learning that directly

Linda Clarke, Executive Director

practices, study how students learn and identify barriers to student achievement. “Our students live in a world where technological advances are being made on a daily basis,” said Dr. Rod Paige, superintendent, Houston Independent School District. “When these children enter the workforce, they will need math and science skills much different from those we employ today. Thanks to our friends at ExxonMobil and Houston Annenberg Challenge, HISD students will be prepared to meet tomorrow’s demands as well as compete with their international peers.” During the first year, the math specialist project will target third graders in the following elementary schools located in the Southwest District of HISD: Anderson, Argyle, Elrod, Foerster, Fondren, Halpin, Milne, and Red. Although the project is limited to HISD's Southwest District for the next three years, a mathematics specialist network has been created and extended to involve educators in Alief ISD, Fort Bend ISD, and the HISD East District. Funding for the three-year project will be provided by the three partners. ExxonMobil Foundation will contribute $500,000; HISD will contribute $621,000 and additional in-kind donations; and The Houston Annenberg Challenge will contribute $237,000. HISD will provide all funding once the project becomes self-sustaining.

From left to right: Dr. Marilyn Smith, Director of the Department for Service Learning, Corporation for National Service; Lawrence Kohn, Program Specialist at Quest; Lillie Olsen, Parent Volunteer; Dr. Cecilia Hawkins, Principal at Quest; Mitsy Stumpf, Program Assistant; and Kim Huseman, Service-Learning Coordinator. In the back row are Ted Sizer, Co-Chair National Service Learning Leader Schools Working Group; Nancy Sizer, Co-Chair National Service Learning Leader Schools Working Group; Senator Harris Wofford, Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National Service.

Service Learning at Quest High School: Living Our Mission by Lawrence Kohn and Kim Huseman focuses on the attributes of our mission statement and to ultimately improve schools by allowing students to learn to be good citizens. We want our students to see the world with a broader scope by integrating ongoing Service Learning into a four-year high school curriculum. Service Learning is part of the culture at Quest, it is integrated into our curriculum, and it is actively reflected upon by students and staff. THE HONOR The efforts of our program have not gone unnoticed. This spring, Quest submitted a 200page Service Learning portfolio to Texas Serve and Learn in Austin along with several other Texas schools. The purpose was to determine which Texas school’s portfolio would be forwarded to Washington, D.C., to be a National Service Learning Leader School candidate. In May, we were notified we had been chosen as one of 32 high schools in the United States to receive this distinction. In June, a delegation from Quest went to Washington and received the National Service Learning Leader School Award in the Kennedy Center. We also were honored with a

Congressional reception at which Thurgood Marshall, Jr. read a letter from President Clinton and Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford received us. THE FOCUS Aside from the overall honor, becoming a Leader School has responsibilities much like those we have as a Houston Annenberg Challenge Beacon School. We have developed a plan that will help other schools investigate and possibly begin service programs on their campuses. We also have already begun some efforts within our district to begin program implementation. We are honored and excited to be able to share what we have learned about the academic, social and civic benefits students experience through service. Houston Annenberg has supported our program in many ways. The Annenberg imperatives of size, isolation and teacher learning are all supported by service, and the association with Annenberg and its imperatives has allowed us to focus on our program using the following triadic structure:

Quest Project . . . continued on page 6


Ruby Payne

Recent statistics show that more than 73 percent of children in the Houston Independent School District receive free or reduced price lunches, the federal government’s indicator of school poverty. While the cause of poverty is often easy to pinpoint—the loss of a job, the death of a parent—its effects on school children are sometimes more difficult to predict. Ruby Payne, author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty, has spent almost 30 years studying poverty and its effects on families and children. At a recent seminar in The Houston Annenberg Challenge Distinguished Speaker Series, Payne shared her observations with Houston-area educators. AMONG THE HIGHLIGHTS OF HER RESEARCH ARE 10 KEY POINTS:

■ Poverty is relative. ■ Poverty occurs in all races and in all countries. ■ Economic class is a continuous line, not a clear-cut distinction. ■ Generational poverty and situational poverty are different. ■ Her work is based on patterns. All patterns have exceptions. ■ An individual brings with him/her the hidden rules of the class in which he/she was raised. ■ Schools and businesses operate from middle-class norms and use the hidden rules of the middle-class.

■ For students to be successful, educators must understand their hidden rules and teach them the rules that will make them successful at school and work. ■ We can neither excuse students nor scold them for not knowing; as educators we must teach them and provide support, insistence and expectations. ■ To move from poverty to middle class or middle class to wealth, an individual must give up relationships for achievement (at least for some period of time).

A native of Elkhart, Indiana, Payne has been a professional educator for 24 years. She has been a teacher and a department chairperson for a secondary school; an elementary school principal; a consultant and a central office administrator. She has a B.A. from Goshen College in Indiana, an M.A. from Western Michigan University and a Ph.D. from Loyola University. Most recently she was director of professional development for the Goose Creek Independent School District in Baytown.



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Rick Reese, president of WEDGE commercial property group, stands with Brandy Lee of Carver High School at the 2000 WEDGE International Tower Gala Art Auction. Lee won the top prize, a $5,000 scholarship. The event raised about $63,000 for scholarships in the six school districts associated with The Houston Annenberg Challenge. ( Photo by Thomas Nguyen)

Left to right, (standing), Linda Clarke, Houston Annenberg Challenge; Ed Ahnert, ExxonMobil Foundation and Larry Marshall, Houston ISD, gather with some of the third grade students from Foerster Elementary School who will benefit from the new pilot project to put math specialists in eight HISD elementary schools. (Photo by Tom Callins)


Warren Simmons of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University speaks at the Houston I.S.D. Central District Collaborative meeting.


Summer Institute . . . continued from page 1

“The Fondren Reforming Schools Summer Institute allowed our attendees to participate as a team in a community of learners to share ideas and practices and to examine student work,” said Linda Clarke, executive director of The Houston Annenberg Challenge. “I cannot think of a better way for teachers—the real heroes of society—to begin the new school year.”

Quest Project . . . continued from page 3

1. Size. We focus and refocus our efforts while asking hard questions about how service helps personalize the learning of our students. We all have a collective responsibility for helping students cultivate an awareness of how service benefits them and how they benefit the community. 2. Isolation. We have reflective dialogue concerning how service strengthens our ties to the community as we learn to serve and serve to learn. The awareness of having an active partnership with the community helps reduce isolation and aids in our Beaconing efforts. In addition, the role of Leader School will help reduce isolation. 3. Teacher Learning. Finally, as the facilitators at Quest help students reflect, visit service sites and interact with students concerning service, authentic learning occurs as we see our students obtain “habits of the heart” and grow and become more civicminded. They become citizens of Quest rather than tourists. Our motto at Quest is “Learning is a journey, not a destination.” Service Learning is one component that makes the journey and the mission so worthwhile. Lawrence Kohn and Kim Huseman are teachers at Quest High School.


Carnegie Corporation Awards $250,000 Grant to Houston


he summer started on a high note at The Houston Annenberg Challenge with the news that the Carnegie Corporation of New York had awarded the organization and Houston I.S.D. a $250,000 planning grant for high school reform. Nine other cities across the country also received planning grants, including Boston, Chattanooga-Hamilton County, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Portland, Providence, Sacramento, San Diego and Worcester.

The highly competitive planning grant, in which 21 cities were invited to submit applications, will allow The Houston Annenberg Challenge and Houston I.S.D. to focus on accelerating the change and improvement in the district’s 23 comprehensive high schools. Stephanie Lee of H.I.S.D. will serve as the project coordinator. “With this grant, we will be able to begin planning how to retool more Houston-area high schools into centers of learning that produce graduates able to solve complex problems and work in teams,” said Jonathan Day, chairman of the board of trustees of The Houston Annenberg Challenge. At the same time, Houston Annenberg is also devoting additional resources to Reagan High School. The Annenberg Board of Trustees selected Reagan as a pilot to develop a plan to restructure a large urban high school to enhance learning for students and provide the skills and knowledge they need for the 21st century. The planning group of Reagan faculty, parents, business and other community organizations was busy this summer developing the pilot project, which began implementation this fall. For the Carnegie grant, teams of parents, students, teachers and other community organizations will work at the school and citywide levels to redesign schools and raise expectations for student achievement. Their first symposium to begin planning was held in September at the University of Houston Hilton Hotel. “Every student in America is entitled to attend a good high school in order to be prepared for the world of the 21st century,” says Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. “They are owed a high performance education where much is offered and much is expected.” The grants awarded by Carnegie are the first phase of the corporation’s new long-term Schools for a New Society initiative to promote citywide reform of urban high schools. Upon completion of the strategic planning phase, five cities will be selected to receive an estimated $40 million in grants from the Carnegie Corporation for implementation of their plans. “Schools for a New Society presents us with the opportunity to focus specifically on achieving effective high schools for all Houston’s students,” says Rod Paige, superintendent of H.I.S.D. “We have a strong partnership of business, higher education, civic and community leadership working with our principals to ensure that every student can build the competence and gain the confidence needed for success.”

Easley Means Business at Bethune Academy W hen Annette Easley graduated from Sam

Houston State University, she went to work for Foley’s Department Stores eventually landing a job as an area sales manager. She enjoyed her work but she could not forget something her father told her as a young girl. “My father didn’t have the chance to get an education, and he always stressed the importance of education to my family,” says Easley, who is now the community liaison and parent coordinator at Bethune Academy, a Houston Annenberg Beacon School. “I come from a family of ten, and he encouraged each of us to become teachers. He didn’t think any job could be more rewarding.” So after 11 years in the business world, Easley left her corporate job and went to work as a special education teacher, earning an alternative certification. Then, she earned a master’s degree from Texas Southern University in mid-management. After eight years as a special education teacher, including more than two years at Bethune Academy, Easley was named to her current position a little more than two years ago. “There’s no doubt in my mind that teachers are capable of doing the kinds of things I do with the community and the parents,” says Easley. “But the money we’ve received from Annenberg allows our school to devote the resources of a full-time staff person to some out-of-the-classroom activities, leaving our teachers to focus on teaching the kids.” In her job, and in her role as Bethune’s Annenberg School Coordinator, Easley manages a myriad of activities. High on her priority list are several activities aimed at reducing isolation, one of Annenberg’s key

imperatives. Most activities fall into one of two categories: coordinating parent activities and increasing the involvement of the surrounding community.

Helms teacher Jennifer Day talks with Easley (center) and Helms Assistant Principal Gayle Carter.

Easley is responsible for coordinating all parent activities, from recruiting and organizing volunteers to managing the school’s P.T.A. group. Easley also distributes regular parent communications and organizes Bethune’s Family Nights, which provide strategies and tools to parents for helping their children learn at home. Easley also manages the school’s Parent Center, which provides brochures and other materials on a variety of subjects and social service programs. And, she helps organize a special computer literacy course for parents so they can keep up with the skills their children learn and use. The other half of her job—increasing community involvement—keeps Easley moving quickly. Often accompanied by Bethune Principal Barbara Trageser, Easley attends many breakfasts, luncheons and other meetings of organizations around the school. Her goal? To keep the community aware of the

School Coordinator Profile exciting things going on at Bethune and to recruit the involvement of additional volunteers and support for school programs. For instance, two of the school’s most visible projects are with the Acres Home Public Library and the Acres Home YMCA. Last year, as an incentive for good grades and good behavior, teachers coached basketball teams made up of Bethune students. According to Easley, the program was such a morale-booster for teachers and students that the school plans to extend the program to a football team this fall. And, the students do more than just perform well in athletics. Last year, Bethune received an award from Houston City Council for signing up more than 90% of their students and teachers for a Power Card from the Houston Public Library. Other community partnerships involve activities such as a mentoring program with the North Harris County Community College Carver Center; an education committee with the Greater Inwood Partnership; and activities with the Acres Home Chamber of Commerce, the West Area Acres Home Civic Club and the P.I.P. program with the Houston Police Department. A magnet school for math, science and fine arts, Bethune Academy is now the talk of the neighborhood. “It’s taken some time but we’re starting to see results, ” says Easley. “We have people moving back to our community that went to Bethune when they were children. Now, ‘the little neighborhood school’ is something they are very proud of and a school they want their own kids to attend. I guess my father was right. There’s not a more rewarding job.”

Annenberg Schools Present Research at Harvard Conference The work of the schools and educators involved in The Houston Annenberg Challenge continues to be recognized as “one of the most promising approaches to school reform in America,” according to recent attendees of a conference hosted by Harvard University. Earlier this year, a delegation of teachers from five Houston-area Beacon Schools, along with their Planning and Evaluation Consultant Dr. Cheryl J. Craig of Rice University and Cylette Willis of Rice University, presented their work at the invitation-only conference. The teachers from Bethune, Drew, Eisenhower, Helms and Lanier presented on the topic: “School Portfolio Development: Coming to Know Culture and Context through Reflective Practice.” Craig was one of the conference’s keynote speakers, presenting on “School Portfolio-Making: Developing Teacher Knowledge Through Cultivating Communities of Knowing.” Conference participants view the work of the Houston team as making a significant contribution to the national school reform conversation, particularly debates concerning the nature of teacher knowledge and the relationship between higher education and public school reform. Next year’s conference takes place in Ireland, and the Houston team has been invited to participate again. The portfolio work of the team is funded by The Houston Annenberg Challenge through a grant from the Brown Foundation.


1001 Fannin, Suite 2210 Houston, Texas 77002-6709 713-658-1881 fax 713-739-0166

Major Donors $20 Million The Annenberg Foundation

$50,000 - $99,999 Joe B. Foster Foundation

$10 Million Brown Foundation Houston Endowment Incorporated

$25,000 to $49,999 Ocean Energy

$250,000 -$499,999 Carnegie Corporation Cullen Foundation The Powell Foundation $100,000 - $249,999 Chase Bank Marion & Speros Martel Foundation John P. McGovern M.D. Foundation The Rockwell Foundation *Vinson & Elkins, LLP



$500,000 M. D. Anderson Foundation Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation ExxonMobil Foundation The Fondren Foundation


$500 to $24,999 Clayton Fund Jenard Gross Hobby Foundation *Houston Chronicle *Kennedy Wilson Properties Jack H. and William M. Light Charitable Trust Mr. J. Victor Samuels Samuels Foundation of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation Strake Foundation $1 - $499 Ralph M. and Clara P. Lewis

THE HOUSTON ANNENBERG CHALLENGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES Jonathan Day, Chairman Managing Partner Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton, LLP Andrea White, President Civic Volunteer Janice Dupuy, Secretary Consultant, NUCO BOARD MEMBERS Leonel Castillo Education Liaison, Mayor’s Office Joe B. Foster Chairman, President, & CEO Newfield Exploration Company Ann Friedman, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor, The University of Houston H. Devon Graham, Jr. R.E. Smith Interest Jenard Gross President, Gross Investments Linda P. Lay Real Estate Development Daniel Leff President & CEO, Enron Energy Services

Contributions to The Houston Annenberg Challenge are tax-deductible and are eligible for matching funds from The Annenberg Foundation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. * denotes in-kind contribution

Karol Musher, M.A., CCC-SLP Speech, Language and Learning Disorders Texas Children’s Hospital Maconda Brown O’Connor, Ph.D. President, Brown Foundation Harry Reasoner Managing Partner, Vinson & Elkins, LLP

SchoolWorks is published by: Houston Annenberg Challenge 1001 Fannin, Suite 2210 Houston, Tx 77002 713.658.1881 713.739.0166 (fax)

Executive Director: Linda Clarke Director of Programs: Michele Pola Director of Public Affairs: Nan Powers Varoga

J. Victor Samuels Chairman, Victory Packaging Nellie Carr Thorogood, Ph.D. Vice-Chancellor for Organizational Development & Institutional Renewal, North Harris Montgomery Community College District H. Michael Tyson Vice Chairman, Retired, Chase Bank Texas Rosie Zamora President, Telesurveys Research Associates


F A L L 2 0 0 0 V O L U M E 5 Among the topics of discussion were: s Student Learning: Professional development centered on the different wa...

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