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Supplement to The Huntsville Item

Invested Committed AND

July 28, 2013

Dear Reader: The idea behind this special publication is to celebrate our friends and neighbors and their contributions to Huntsville and Walker County. Their dedication to helping others is inspiring, and each of them is committed to making a difference in our community. I know that there are people and businesses who work tirelessly every day to make our town just a little bit better or our students just a little bit stronger. Today we pay a small tribute to some of our citizens and organizations doing just that. Imagine what we could accomplish in a year if we all became invested in the community and committed to helping each other. As Helen Keller said, ‘Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.’ — Rita Haldeman, Publisher


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Kaye Boehning

‘We believe in creating a place where each child is respected and nurtured in the highest quality environment with the most developmentally appropriate practices.’ — Kaye Boehning Director, Tomorrow’s Promise

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Sheresa Fair, a teacher at Tomorrow’s Promise Montessori School, works with students Hayden Chambers, left, and James Beard.

Tomorrow’s Promise Montessori school investing in youth through early education By L.A. SoLomon

Tomorrow's Promise Montessori School is a nonprofit education organization providing programs for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old. The private education school is in its 16th year, having begun in 1997 and serves Huntsville and surrounding towns. The teachers receive training from the worldrenowned Houston Montessori Center. Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori was an Italian physician and educator from 1870 through 1952. Tomorrow’s Promise bases its educational mission on this noted humanitarian and devout Roman Catholic best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name. Her educational method is in use today in public and private schools throughout the world. Kaye Boehning, school founder and director, says the school has the child’s best interest at heart. “We believe in creating a place where each child is respected and nurtured in the highest quality environment with the most developmentally appropriate practices. Parents are partners enhancing all aspects of the program. We use a variety of teaching methods until each child has experienced success within our well rounded curriculum.” Boehning said. Boehning acquired her master’s in education and initially worked as an educator in Enid, Okla., at a Montessori school. Based on what she learned there and what her son, who was in public school, was learning at that time, the Montessori way seemed like a much better alternative and teaching method. “Research has shown that 50 percent of everything an adult knows was learned by age 4 and 80 percent was learned by age 8 when the brain begins to cement itself. Hence, it is easier for a child to learn a second language than an adult,” Boehning said. The school believes it provides leverage for a child's immense extraordinary learning abilities in the early years of life. Montessori offers placement testing and requirements surge above the standard that the state of Texas scholastic testing institutes. Texas testing is ranked on a worldwide average as a grade of “D.” Boehning wants to stress that “this is unacceptable and that sadly there are schools in the district that are not even meeting up to standards.” The school is producing a quality education that allows students a leg up in reading and com-

Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori was an Italian physician and educator from 1870 through 1952. Tomorrow’s Promise bases its educational mission on this noted humanitarian and devout Roman Catholic best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name. prehension. “We did a press release in the spring about our test scores because we’ve got first graders testing out at third grade levels, our sixth grader tested out at a 12th grade level with reading and comprehension” Boehning said. Tomorrow’s Promise offers year-round enrollment and is open five days a week from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. With 190 students and 30 teaching professionals, the school has expanded quite handsomely over the years, but still offers a 12 to 2 student/teacher ratio. Offering breakfast and lunch, which are included in tuition, the school incorporates cutting-edge teaching techniques such as; the handson “touch” learning approach. The school is different from the public domain, but yet affordable to parents seeking daycare with an advanced educational opportunity. Tomorrow’s Promise offers limited work scholarships for parents, where they can volunteer to

work at the school (cleaning dishes, lawn maintenance, etc.) in exchange for tuition discounts. Crystal Hill, a mother of a 3-year-old boy who attends the school, is a student at Sam Houston State University, who has been given the opportunity to work off her tuition at the school. Hill finds the learning environment so beneficial that she trades her clerical services to provide the education she believes is best suited for her son. “The reason why I don’t keep my son at home and save money on daycare is because my son is three years old and he can write his name. I had underestimated him entirely.” Hill said. She credits the school for her son’s excelled learning and capabilities. The Montessori school offers tuition assistance and partners with Workforce Solutions, a statebased program to aid in employment opportunities. Workforce Solutions also helps with costs. The school’s tuition rates start at $425 per month per child. A tour of the educational institution yields a structured environment that includes field trips to many different area locales along with essential and fun learning tools. Boehning has three sons, ages 18, 21, and 24. The oldest, a Texas A&M honors graduate, works as an educator at the school. The middle child is a senior at SHSU, and the youngest, a freshman at the college. The students participate in creative activities such as play writing and performances for the parents, along with physical fitness games and programs. The school heavily relies on fundraisers to meet costs that tuition just simply does not cover. Presiding over 200 students is a joy for Boehning, who said: “When you see the light bulb go on in the kid’s head when they get it, or you have a parent that thanks you for taking a child that was kicked out of another school and helping them.” “And I love my job. I don’t look at it as work. Montessori said children’s work is to become like us, so we call the materials they use work. We don’t demean it by saying ‘play with this.’ So, as adults, we should enjoy our work, we should have a fun life. This is not work to me.” Tomorrow’s Promise The Montessori School, 2817 Old Houston Road, is now accepting new students. For more information call (936) 435-0303 or visit http://www.tomorrowspromise.info.


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Paul Davidhizar

“You can see God’s character in all the curriculum and we try to prepare children to be able to defend their faith and articulate their ideas.” — Paul Davidhizar Headmaster, Alpha Omega Academy

Headmaster Paul Davidhizar congratulates an Alpha Omega Academy graduate as she accepts her diploma. Alpha Omega Academy is a non-denominational Christian school with a mission of providing a classical education.

Alpha Omega Academy in Huntsville provides classical Christian education By L.A. SoLomon

Headmaster Paul Davidhizar says they are looking forward to another year at Alpha Omega Academy. The Alpha Omega Academy School is accepting students for the 2013-2014 school year that begins on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The learning environment services grades K12 and offers a Classical Christian Educations. The school started in 1997 with only 27 students and four staff members, and today has grown to 345 students 45 staff members. The name ‘Alpha Omega ‘comes from the Bible and the book of Revelations meaning ‘the beginning and the end.’ Davidhizar said the mission of the school is to “provide a classical Christian education and to partner with parents to train Christian leaders.” A non-denominational environment, Davidhizar said the focus is on the children. “Few desires in life are as strong as those we have for our children. At Alpha Omega Academy, we have searched far and wide for the type of education we want for them.” The children must meet the state criteria for health standards and vaccinations, and the school offers academic testing to place children in the appropriate grade level. “Students who are not in the appropriate grade tend to struggle, and we do not want to put them in a situation where they would be unsuccessful.” Davidhizar explains. Dedicated to success of the individual, the academy is committed to ‘imparting truth to students from the foundation of the Christian world view through the highest levels of intellectual rigor in many fields of study.’ Each day there is a Bible study class incorporated into the eight-hour school day. Admissions standards dictate enrollment to students of any race to

Headmaster Paul Davidhizar poses with Alpha Omega Academy’s Class of 2012. all rights, privileges programs and activities. The standards are not designed to be exclusive, but to avoid programming any student for failure. The academy strives to provide a challenging academic environment, but believes that students with extreme limitations will not benefit. The school is not equipped to meet special needs students. Davidhizar began his career when the school first started and has a teaching background from the public school system. Paul has a Master’s degree in education and business administration. He developed an outdoor education program for Forest Glenn camp in Huntsville, and managed the facility. “My wife and I were homeschooling our children and looking for a Christian education for our children, so we enrolled them here. They wanted me to apply for Headmaster/Administrator, and I did.” Married 33 years to wife Nancy,

who is a teacher at the academy; the couple has three children, all graduates of Alpha Omega. Expecting a second grandchild in two weeks has made for a busy summer. “Emphasizing the way God’s principles and word is infused in life. You can see God’s character in all the curriculum and we try to prepare children to be able to defend their faith and articulate their ideas both in written and in oral fashion. We do a lot of presentations and the seniors due a thesis of defense presentation. We want our kids to be life-long learners and realize their true growth potential.” Davidhizar says. The Academy promotes summer camp programs through Forest Glenn and Carolina Creek, and advocates for the day camps throughout the community. The school day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m., and is a nonprofit organization. Alpha Omega Academy is an accredited member of

The Association of Christian Schools International, (ACSI), and (ACCS) The Association of Classical Christian Schools. There is no registration deadline, and there is still room for student enrollment. “It’s wrong to compartmentalize our faith to just a certain time of day or to a certain subject, so we try to incorporate Gods ‘word throughout the school day. Our quest for knowledge begins and ends with Christ.” says Davidhizar. The school’s principles involve a disciplined and structured learning environment that encourages parent involvement that respects the natural stages of a child’s learning abilities and builds upon those stages; teaching the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric of each discipline. The academy has proved itself in turning out successful, solid members of society such as; missionary Mark Denman, a graduate of the school and currently a student at Sam Houston State University. Davidhizar said, “I think that one of the reasons we have been successful is because of our commitment to a strong academic program, a rigorous education, and teaching kids how to learn as well as how to grow in their faith with a balance. I think we have been an asset to the community and provided that alternative to parents who wish for their children to have a Christian education.” Davidhizar says “the staff is wonderfully committed to the students and the school, doing everything they can to help nurture, teach, and train the children.” For more information on tuition and tuition assistance programs, contact Alpha Omega Academy or Sandra Loll at: (936) 438-8833 or visit the school’s website at: www.alphaomegaacademy.org. Alpha Omega Academy is located at 3891 Highway 30.


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Morris Johnson

“I am a humanitarian because I am just in sympathy with people who are less fortunate than others. ”

— Morris Johnson, Former principal, HISD

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The retired principal of Sam Houston Elementary, Morris V. Johnson is a 39-year veteran of HISD.

Retired HISD principal gives back By L.A. SoLomon

Morris V. Johnson is keeping busy since his retirement in 2002 after decades of dedication and work in the Huntsville area. As the principal of Samuel Walker Elementary school in the Huntsville Independent School District, Mr. Johnson served 16 years and is proud of the fact that he knew every one of his students by name. “I cherish the 39 years that I have spent with the kids in this district. That was the most gratifying experience in my life working with the kids in the Huntsville Independent School District. Right now, I’m seeing the fruits of my labor,” Johnson said. Johnson 73, served on a political action committee set up by HISD to help educate voters on the need for passage of a $65.5 million bond issue that would have funded improvements to HISD facilities and construction of a new middle school and fine arts center. Voters turned down the measure in a May election. Johnson continues his quest to partner with dynamic leaders in the community to make the area the best it can be. He is enjoying watching the school district he called home for so many years flourish. His hopes are to bring the youth here and keep them here, making them assets through employment toward the betterment of the community. He currently serves as vice president on the board of Huntsville Memorial Hospital and sits on the Board of Directors of First Financial Bank. Johnson has also served as head football coach and teacher at Huntsville High School A former quarterback, and educator, Johnson has 50 years of established credentials in giving back to the community. He also has longevity in his marriage to wife Blossie, with whom he shares a daughter. With several board memberships and affiliations to his credit, he also serves as the budget committee chairman and is a member of the deacon board at Missionary Baptist Church. The driving force behind his charitable nature and service to the community comes from his childhood. “I never knew what service was until I was a little boy. My mother raised four boys and four girls and I say that in the community. Teachers, good citizens, along with deacons in the church, taught me that to be a leader. You have to be a servant first.” Johnson said. Johnson said he only wants to give back what has been given to him. As business chairman of Tri-County Mental Health and Mental Retardation, serving Walker, Montgomery and Liberty counties, Johnson said he doesn’t believe “mental health” can be easily defined. “In other words, for some reason people can be schizophrenic or suffer mental illness disorders, and they need assistance; that’s what we do. We really can’t define ‘mental health’ and the state can’t either. We just deal with it in the best possible way” Johnson said.

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Morris V. Johnson serves on the boards of HMH and Tri-County MHMR.

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Morris Johnson’s duties as a elementary school principal at least once included pig kissing for the amusement of students as this photo from the late 1990s shows. Involvement including medication and referrals to mental hospitals such as the one in Cypress Creek are just some of the services M.H.M.R. provides. The program, which is state and federally funded, is headed by all volunteer board members and relies heavily on the commitment of selfless volunteers in the community.

Financial contributions come from local, state, and federal agencies, including county annual contributions. With apartment communities flourishing for those with mental illness, and efforts of the Community Mental Health program to aid those individual’s to get on their feet and become independent; Johnson is grounded in his quest. “I am a humanitarian because I am just in sympathy with people who are less fortunate than others. So, I give of my time and my effort, and of whatever financial resources I have. I believe everybody deserves a chance, and usually when they fall on hard times it’s because of a choice or a condition,” Johnson said. The First Missionary Baptist church sees its share of transient individual’s and people in need. Johnson said it’s best to say busy so he doesn’t drive his wife crazy, and laughs. With 50 years of service to the community and a 50-year marriage, Johnson found his way to Huntsville and he and his wife settled here. He continues to give to the community and tri-county area on a daily basis and said, “I am anchored here in Huntsville. I intended initially to use the town as a stepping stone, but because of the people in this town, their closeness and caring way they work together; as a radical it changed my whole attitude.” For more information on mental health services in the Tri-County area call: (936) 291-5800 or visit their web site at: www.tcmhmrs.org.


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Kim McAuliffe

“If you don’t have these quality of life programs and good things for people to do to keep them busy, then the crime rates go up because kids get into trouble when there’s no other thing to do.” — Kim McAuliffe, Coordinator, Main Street Program

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The Downtown Farmer’s Market, held during the sumer months and featuring produce from local growers, is one of the attractions sponsored by the city’s Main Street Program, coordinated by Kim McAuliffe. McAuliffe has accepted the job of downtown manager for the city of Hutto, a suburb of Austin.

Main Street coordinator made success of Huntsville’s downtown square her passion By L.A. SoLomon

The downtown revitalization program Main Street is doing its share to revamp the city of Huntsville, all while holding on to history. Main Street Program Coordinator Kim McAuliffe has made this her passion. “(This has been) a nationwide-effort through the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We began in 2001. Texas was one of the first states to start the Main Street program and we now have 84 Texas Main Street Cities,” McAuliffe said. McAuliffe is leaving the city of Huntsville for a new position in the Central Texas city of Hutto, a suburb of Austin, where she will serve as downtown manager. City Manager Matt Benoit said soon after McAuliffe’s resignation was announced that he doesn’t believe the downtown Main Street Program will be eliminated without its director. But the ability to fund the program is something to consider in replacing McAuliffe. “I think the City Council sees some great value in having a Main Street Program and an emphasis in business retention and recruitment in the downtown area,” Benoit said. “The difficulty becomes, along with a lot of city services we provide, every time you have a vacant position you’ve got to take a long look at the service you’re providing and figure out if you can continue. “I’m sure there is going to be something. I don’t think that that program and that service is going to go away. But I think in the budget process, it is going to become very clear.” Community and Economic Development Director Aron Kulhavy worked closely with McAuliffe since October, when the Main Street Program officially became part of the economic development department. “We had the opportunity to work really close together,” Kulhavy said. “We got a lot of things done in that time. She was always a pleasure to work with; thorough, conscious about what she was doing, did the right things and always a very hard worker. So I hate she’s not going to be around to see the finished product of some of the things we were working on together, but she really helped put us in a position to succeed.” Business owners at last week’s Huntsville City Council meeting expressed a high level of appreciation for McAuliffe’s work, focusing on downtown businesses, and pleaded with council to keep the city’s focus on the downtown business area. Kathryn McKenzie, owner of downtown’s 12th Street Antiques, told council she didn’t want

them to forget McAuliffe’s contributions to the city. “Sometimes we just take it for granted,” McKenzie said. “But we ourselves are busy with our individual businesses. For her to be able to pull things together for us is just a wonderful thing. She also helps keep down a lot of fuss, because I fuss when all the lawyers (going to the Walker County Courthouse) park right in front of my place and stay all day long. I fuss because I don’t like it. So there’s a lot of things that Kim does behind the scenes that you just have no idea about and we need her. The city of Huntsville needs someone like her.” Under McAuliffe’s leadership, the city received National Recognition for the past three years, as well as an award for a Texas Capital Fund Grant for downtown improvements for $150,000 and a Houston-Galveston Area Council grant for $25,000. Sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission, the Main Street program helps the city maintain so many things from economic development to citizen safety. Using the Main Street Four Point Approach, which includes having promotions and events, the program recruits new business ventures, and helps the established businesses by maintaining the environment of the city. A current construction project on 13th Street and University Avenue is under way, instituting a new design technique with the use of landscape peninsulas. The goal is to slow traffic in an area that is known as a “speedway,” according to McAuliffe. “We are doing intersection and sidewalk improvements to make the area more accessible to citizens, visitors, and people with disabilities. Right now crossing University from one side to the other can be quite a task. With the peninsula placement the people traveling through the area will be more aware of the pedestrians,” she said. A similar project completed last year on 12th Street and University Avenue using the trafficcalming peninsulas has proven to be beneficial as no accidents on that corner have occurred in the last year, McAuliffe said. The project will conclude in by the end of September. The county has funded a Courthouse Beautification Program, also under way, will provide better parking access and a place to sit outside on the downtown square. McAuliffe said she was grateful for the contributions of several organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club, SAAFE House, and the YMCA,

that assist in promotions and events throughout the year. The program couldn’t exist without volunteer assistance, she said. “We utilize volunteers for just about everything, since it’s a staff of one and one intern. I depend on volunteers to do a lot. The University and community organizations help out immensely,” McAuliffe said. Starting a business can be a harrowing project anywhere, but in Huntsville there is help through the Main Street Program, which offers a signage and façade grant program and other forms of assistance to businesses located in the nine-block downtown area in obtaining the signs they need for their new venture. Once an application and three quotes are submitted, an infrastructure committee reviews the inquiry and makes a recommendation to the Main Street board of directors for approval. Texas Historical Commission resources are available through the city of Huntsville. Help with design assistance for building restoration, and many other local programs offered to each new business. Huntsville is a historic district and is working on getting recognized by the National Historic Registry. Events take place year around downtown, including the farmer’s market, which ran through Saturday, July 27, which also was National Dance Day. Other events include October’s annual Fair on the Square — an arts and crafts and entertainment fair that draws more than 10,000 visitors — and the Halloween-themed Scare on the Square, during which children are invited to participate in activities and trick or treat businesses on the square. McAuliffe said last year’s Halloween event drew more than 6,000 for the two and a half hour event. The downtown square is also the scene of a Christmas fair, which includes sales, booths and trucked-in snow spread over the courthouse lawn. The goal is to draw tourists to Huntsville, showcase the city’s historic and cultural district and its downtown businesses, but it also provides fun things for Huntsville’s citizens — especially youths — to do. “If you don’t have these quality of life programs and good things for people to do to keep them busy, then the crime rates go up because kids get into trouble when there’s no other thing to do,” McAuliffe said. For more information on Main Street Program and services call (936) 295-2150.


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