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Third Annual

BRAGGING RIGHTS 2009-2010

12 Texas School Districts with Super Programs


nk ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott D S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste enter ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Gle ville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD alestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Tro e ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce SD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lew ston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD ogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD W varado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD C eras Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston D Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD D Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Cam e ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fa ose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD verton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD SD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Le ville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD ockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD B addo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto IS gin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD M rnon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown IS gs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD SD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman rum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pit ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Cor ur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Maban D Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD o ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Gre beck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD aradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van A sboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Co er ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD one Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall IS osebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro SD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD SD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lon SD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Ros oyse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell IS elina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield SD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Nor on ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terre an Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD C onnally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard I D Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Ro wall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brow o Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD D SD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildr n ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown IS gs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD SD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman rum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pit ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Cor ur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Maban D Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD o ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Gre beck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD aradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van A sboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Co er ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD one Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall IS osebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Cadd bell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin IS airfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. V s ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur S ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD nche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp eonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Pla D Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD B rownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD D o ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa I D Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD | DALLAS | AUSTIN | www.claycomb.net | gtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD Ch hisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groe CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lone Oak ISD Lytle ISD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Pa ll ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Rosebud-Lott ISD Royse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesb o ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell ISD Celeste ISD Celina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD SD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield ISD Glen Rose ISD Greenville ISD Groesbeck ISD Hays CISD Kaufman ISD Kemp ISD Krum ISD Leonard ISD Lewisville ISD Livingston ISD Lon SD Mabank ISD Melissa ISD Meridian ISD Mildred ISD Mt. Vernon ISD Neches ISD Northwest ISD Overton ISD Palestine ISD Paradise ISD Pearsall ISD Pittsburg ISD Plano ISD Riesel ISD Rockdale ISD Rockwall ISD Rogers ISD Ros oyse City ISD S&S CISD Salado ISD Springtown ISD Sulphur Springs ISD Taylor ISD Terrell ISD Troy ISD Van Alstyne ISD Whitesboro ISD Alvarado ISD Anna ISD Bland ISD Bridgeport ISD Brownsville ISD Caddo Mills ISD Campbell IS elina ISD Center ISD China Spring ISD Chisum ISD Clifton ISD Clint ISD Comanche ISD Commerce ISD Connally ISD Cooper ISD Copperas Cove ISD Corsicana ISD Decatur ISD DeSoto ISD Durant ISD Elgin ISD Elkhart ISD Fairfield

Celebrating 25 Years of

“Designing Schools... With Kids in Mind!”


Third Annual

BRAGGING RIGHTS 2009-2010

F e at u r e d S t o r i e s

6 Birdville isd

27 Copperas Cove isd

Construction technology builds skills and community

Assistant principal academy prepares future leaders

by Jennifer LeClaire

by Raven L. Hill

9 Carroll isd

Employee appreciation program draws public support by Shelley Seale

33 Del Valle isd

A-Team attendance officers go all out to keep kids in class by Holly Dolezalek

15 Cleveland isd

39 El Paso isd

Video production students run successful TV station

High school reading lab shows it’s not too late to learn

by Whitney Angstadt

by Melissa Gaskill

21 Coppell isd

45 Keller isd

School of Engineering fosters 21st century talent

Educators add mobile phones to their instructional tool kits

by Holly Dolezalek

by Jennifer LeClaire

51 Kerrville isd

Excellence committee brings best practices home by Raven L. Hill

56 Lewisville isd

Night High School ensures all students earn diplomas by John Egan

60 Pasadena isd

‘Seniors Helping Seniors’ event promotes goodwill by Barbara Wray

64 Pharr-San JuanAlamo isd

Language program creates bilingual, biliterate culture by Jennifer LeClaire

5 From the Editor Katie Ford

Third annual Bragging Rights 2009-2010 school Year Ted Siff Publisher Jim Walsh Editor in Chief Katie Ford Editor Phaedra Strecher Design Jim Johnson Advertising Sales Manager Debbie Stover Business Manager Stephen Markel Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Andrew Page Web Manager

(ISSn 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) Volume LVI, Issue 3 Texas School Business Magazine, LLC 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Published monthly, except for July/August and November/December, and for the Bragging Rights issue published in December (11 times a year) by Texas School Business Magazine, LLC, 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas School Business,1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, TX 78701. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $28 per year; $52 for two yrs; $72 for three yrs. Group rate: 10 or more, $18; single issues, $4.50.


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For eFACTS+ inquiries, please contact... Tom Canby Director of Research & Technology tcanby@tasbo.org (512) 462-1711 ext. 235 Weather.indd 1

4

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010

Texas Association of School Business Officials 2538 S. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78704 (512) 462-1711 • www.tasbo.org 10/20/2009 5:03:44 PM


Third Annual

BRAGGING RIGHTS 2009-2010

From the Editor As the editor of Texas School Business, it’s my job to seek out success stories in Texas public schools. Luckily for me, I never have to search far. Texas public schools are abundant with administrators and teachers whose talent and innovative ideas are ensuring that today’s students grow up to be tomorrow’s thought leaders. One student at a time, Texas public school officials are changing lives for the better. They are our everyday heroes. We at Texas School Business want to brag about these heroes and their super programs in the Third Annual Bragging Rights 2009-2010 special issue. Each December, we produce this issue to highlight 12 school districts with winning programs. For months ahead of time, we gather nominations from districts, large and small, across the state. To select only 12 winners from this year’s outstanding nominations was truly challenging.

However, we have compiled here a collection of inspiring and heroic tales of school administrators, teachers, parents and students — all working together for a common goal: to ensure excellence in education for Texas schoolchildren. The purpose of this special issue is twofold: to highlight the successes of Texas public schools, and to inspire our readers to act on similar opportunities in their districts. As you read these 12 “bragworthy” stories, we hope you feel as proud as we do about Texas public education. As always, we welcome your feedback. Please send comments to me at katie@ texasschoolbusiness.com.

Katie Ford, editor

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 5


birdville ISD 2009-2010

Construction technology program builds marketable skills and community by Jennifer LeClaire

Superintendent Stephen Waddell

When it comes to learning building trades, students in Birdville ISD are doing much more than woodworking; they are building homes for families in need. In the past three years, Birdville ISD high school students have built two homes in the community, and they will soon break ground on a third.

that the average age of construction workers was 47 and the industry was in need of young people to pursue residential and commercial construction. After more than a year, the Birdville ISD task force recommended establishing a program to train students in construction technology and a new program began in the fall of 2000.

It’s all part of Birdville ISD’s revamped construction technology program, which has forged partnerships with faith-based organizations, the city of Birdville, corporations and the Birdville Foundation for Educational Excellence (FEE) to realize the district’s vision. The faith-based organizations screen and recommend home buyers in need of affordable housing; the city identifies distressed neighborhoods in need of revitalization; corporate partners donate labor, tools and materials; and FEE assists in funding projects at a low-interest rate so buyers are able to purchase the homes at affordable prices.

The real turning point, however, came about when a Birdville ISD school board member — who was also a general contractor — added the work-based learning component to the program, suggesting that students have opportunities to work alongside professionals on real-world job sites. In Birdville ISD’s revamped initiative, students are developing marketable skills for future careers while learning strong work habits, responsibility, business ethics, honesty, loyalty and leadership.

“The construction technology program is futurefocused; it demonstrates what learning can be by putting academics into application,” says Stephen Waddell, superintendent of Birdville ISD. “It’s one thing to teach algebra or geometry and have students take a test. It’s another thing to actually build a home where students have to choose the right mathematical tool to get the job done.”

The Birdville ISD’s Board of Trustees supports the construction technology program through funding and oversight. The board approved funding to hire two teachers and a teacher’s assistant to lead the program. The trustees also approved funding to transform a vacant auto shop into a construction technology facility, to purchase industry-standard equipment, and to

Reframing an outdated program Teaching construction technology isn’t new to Birdville ISD. The program as it stands today is a rebirth of sorts of an older program that was shuttered in the 1980s because it no longer met industry standards and was not keeping up with the technological workplace. However, in the late 1990s, business and industry leaders asked Birdville ISD to form a task force to determine if the program should Kriz Ledbetter of Birdville High School works on an interior wall of be reopened. The task force learned a house. 6

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010


provide stipends for students traveling to state and national building competitions.

High school seniors Grahm Gaines (checkered shirt) and Michael Puckett set up a granite countertop.

Birdville ISD’s construction technology program remains cutting-edge in its curriculum because of its partnerships with local industry and its proactive business advisory board. The members meet regularly to provide guidance to the district’s classroom instructors. The city of Birdville also plays an active role in the district’s program by helping school officials locate condemned or unused city-owned lots. “The city has helped us by giving up their rights to the taxes and allowing us to purchase the land with help from our faith-based partners,” Waddell explains. “Our students are involved in building the houses from scratch — starting with getting the deeds, licenses and permits and pouring the foundation, and all the way to the finished work of the house.” Another critical component to the construction technology program is finding local tradespeople to donate their time and expertise and work alongside the students. Through community outreach efforts, Birdville ISD has developed relationships with large construction companies and retail businesses that are able to connect the district to licensed electricians, framers, plumbers and others willing to provide on-the-job training to students. “You need strong partners to launch a program like this,” Waddell says. “You can begin by talking to your city about acquiring land. Then you start talking to stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. We’ve discovered that once you get a few partners, many others want to help. “You also need a partner to help you find a family in need (of housing),” he continues. “This isn’t about selling the house on the market. This is about helping people in the community. Faith-based groups can help with that.”

Linda Anderson

Linda Anderson, director of Career and Technology Education, adds: “The students get to see the new homeowners receive their keys and move in to start a new life.”

People behind the program One of the biggest challenges in launching such a program is finding the right teacher, according to Anderson. The district was set on hiring someone who was committed to quality, possessed exceptional trade skills and had a passion for passing along those skills to kids. And because

there’s always a risk in real estate, the district also wanted someone with sharp business acumen. It was a tall order, but Birdville ISD found all those qualities in Mike Benton. “He has helped expand the program from small projects to building entire houses,”she says, noting that under Benton’s leadership, the construction technology teachers have developed a costeffective business model that offers an authentic learning experience for students. “We tell students that no matter what fields they go into, the skills they are getting are transferrable,” Anderson says. “A number of our students have gone on to work in the construction trades and related fields. Some have majored in topics like construction science because they were so excited about what they accomplished in high school.” Each year, the program attracts about 80 students, who can earn industry certifications from the National Center for Construction Education and Research and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A number of Birdville ISD graduates have gone on to work for the program’s business partners. Those partners also have been known to offer students advanced, on-the-job training and college tuition assistance. Yet, getting a career jumpstart is only half of the picture. As Anderson explains it, these home sites are setting the stage for life-changing experiences for everyone involved — the students, the teachers and the home buyers. “The construction technology program has been a great exercise in community service for the students. They understand the importance of community and what it means to give back,” Anderson says. “They also receive skill acquisition and development, and they learn to operate as a team. And these are all skills they will need in the workplace. This program makes a great impact on students.” JENNIFER LECLAIRE has written for The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 7


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Carroll ISD 2009-2010

We Care appreciation program garners support of community to recognize valued employees by Shelley Seale

In 2004, Carroll ISD appeared to be in great shape: Student achievement was high, the well-run schools were located in desirable neighborhoods, and the district was growing from 3A to 5A at lightning speed. But appearances can be deceiving. For Carroll ISD teachers and staff, the pace of the district’s growth proved stressful. Even worse, the state’s wealth redistribution resulted in severe budget cuts, and the superintendent was leaving. By the end of the 2004–2005 school year, there was nothing extra in the budget for the annual employee banquet or the employee collegetuition reimbursement program. Pay increases also were tabled. In frustration, many staffers let their feet do the talking, leaving Carroll ISD for better-paying districts. “Morale was extremely low,” recalls Julie Thannum, executive director of the Communications and Marketing Department. “With a 36 percent turnover rate and regular media coverage detailing our budget cuts, leadership issues Julie Thannum and unhappy employees, Carroll ISD was faced with the challenge of communicating a message of hope and appreciation to a staff that felt anything but satisfied.” It was under such conditions that the idea emerged to establish a comprehensive employee initiative called the We Care program. In developing a game plan, Thannum decided to begin with the obvious — by simply asking employees what they thought about their jobs, their schools and the district. Even if she couldn’t give them pay raises or throw an appreciation banquet, Thannum knew she could at least give them a

voice. So, she created a task force that used focus groups, employee surveys and statistical data to uncover what staffers were more than happy to share with Carroll ISD administration. “People expressed that they were skeptical about anything the district did that involved spending money because of all the budget cuts the district had endured,” Thannum says. Yet, even if all eyes were on the administration’s spending, the district knew it had to find ways to show employees they were appreciated. The trick, Thannum realized, was to find outside resources to fund the morale-boosting initiatives. With that premise in mind, the negative press the district had been receiving suddenly became its ace in the hole. Anybody who watched the local news or read the newspaper knew that Carroll ISD employees could use a morale boost. The We Care program became the vehicle through which the entire community could rally around its public schools. Superintendent David Faltys’ leadership team and the Carroll ISD Board of Trustees kicked off the initiative by writing personal checks to the We Care fund.

Superintendent David Faltys

Through the We Care program, the district is able to host a variety of special events for its employees, as well as provide tokens of appreciation throughout the year. Employees receive birthday and congratulatory cards, get-well and sympathy cards or plants and gifts at retirement. Thannum developed four sponsorship levels with corresponding publicity recognition for community donations: platinum ($1,000 or more donation), gold ($500), silver ($250) and bronze ($100). She tapped the local chamber of commerce to assist in spreading the word about We Care through its publications and events. United See CARROLL page 11 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 9


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Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010


Lucy Drenka, librarian at Eubanks Intermediate School, receives a slice of “Grandma Faltys’ apple pie.” In line with the We Care program’s “True to the Core” motto, Carroll ISD hosted 14 apple pie parties for staff and faculty during the holiday season in 2008. Administrators and school board members visited all campuses and departments, serving everyone from teachers to bus drivers. Staffers also received cards featuring the superintendent’s grandmother’s apple pie recipe.

CARROLL continued from page 9

Educators Association stepped up as the first contributor from the community; numerous small businesses and individual families soon followed with cash and in-kind donations. When the 2005-2006 school year started, the We Care program had approximately $11,000 in its employee appreciation fund. With this money, the district purchased Carroll ISD Dragon T-shirts for all new teachers, administrators and support staff. School diagnosticians received umbrellas because they travel from campus to campus. Librarians received tote bags, and secretaries received coffee mugs. Through the program, the district also purchased smoothie machines, which the superintendent’s team personally brought to school campuses to host smoothie parties for teachers for their assistance in getting the school year off to a “smooth start.” The team also hosted a breakfast for transportation employees during School Bus Safety Week in appreciation of their safe driving record. And thanks to the We Care program, a local restaurant donated $6,000 worth of food as the largest in-kind contribution to the program, enabling the annual employee banquet to be reinstated at no cost to the district. “Our employees are feeling better about the district,” says Thannum. “The message that the businesses and We Care sponsors really do care about teachers is getting through. Employees love to receive We Care gifts or have We Care parties, and we try to be creative about how we surprise them with appreciation initiatives.” The finer details Keeping up with all the personnel information is one of the most challenging tasks of the program; it requires staff time and huge amounts of database organization. Thannum addresses staff at the district convocations at the start of the school year, asking for their cooperation in sharing important dates and milestones in their lives.

“Writing handwritten cards is different than emailing the masses,” Thannum says. “It does take resources, but I really think it could be done in any school district.” The fundraising aspect of the program hasn’t proven nearly as time-consuming. When businesses learn how they can positively impact community schools and build brand awareness simultaneously, they are eager to help. Thannum says the program’s first-year results surpassed her expectations. By the end of the 2005-2006 school year, the district had received cash and inkind donations totaling $30,000. Contributions continued to grow to $45,000 in 2006-2007 and to almost $60,000 by 2007-2008. Very few sponsors have left the program, even during the recent tough economy. Local Realtor Tommy Pennington understands firsthand the importance of supporting Carroll ISD schools. “As a parent, I want to keep good teachers in the school district,” he says. “By participating in We Care, I may be doing something to help. What it boils down to at the end of the day is supporting your community.” Thannum reports that the program’s powerful message struck home with Carroll ISD employees, as well as with the community. “Our turnover rate fell dramatically, employees started frequenting the businesses who gave to the cause, and pride in We Care became a common bond for those who belong to what we now call the Dragon family,” she says. See CARROLL page 13 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 11


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CARROLL continued from page 11

Eubanks Intermediate Principal Mark Terry says the community involvement has meant everything to employees. “Many of our faculty and staff members felt that the community had little to no appreciation for their efforts in making our schools successful; an attitude of ‘us versus them’ seemed to be developing,” Terry says. “We Care had an almost instant impact on my school. The notes and gifts were very much appreciated, especially because the community gave donations to make the recognition possible.” The impact of the We Care program validates national research that appreciation ranks higher than compensation as a motivator for educators. “I truly believe this has been a win-win program for everyone,” says Superintendent Faltys. “It has been a way for us to develop strong schoolbusiness partnerships that have not only benefited our staff, but our students as well.” By the end of 2008-2009, the We Care program had $70,604 in total donations, and school officials see the program only getting stronger.

Thannum has received requests from other districts to speak about the We Care program. “We Care™ can be modeled in any district,” she says. “That’s the beauty of it. Just go out into the community and find those companies, organizations and even families that want to say thank you to the teachers and support staff. They are in every community and they support education often.” SHELLEY SEALE is the author of the nonfiction book, The Weight of Silence (http://weightofsilence.wordpress.com).

Getting started Julie Thannum, executive director of the Carroll ISD Communications and Marketing Department, offers the following guidelines for implementing a staff appreciation program: •

Set realistic donation levels.

Make it an annual giving campaign.

Deliver perks that make sense for contributing businesses.

Give contributors visibility among employees and families.

Use the funds exactly as you say you will — on the teachers and support staff.

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 13


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cleveland ISD 2009-2010

Student-run TV station informs community and offers real-world experience by Whitney Angstadt

Eight years ago, when Cleveland ISD technology teacher James Wright decided that Cleveland High School needed a video production class, he started it with little money and even less of a plan. James Wright

“There was no curriculum, no textbook, no lesson plan,” Wright says. “We started on a shoestring budget. I brought in my camcorder from home and bought a tripod from Wal-Mart. We had to build from there.” Considering its humble beginnings in a small district like Cleveland, it’s rather impressive that within four years, Wright’s makeshift videoproduction class blossomed into a student-run TV station offering original programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thanks to Wright’s vision — and the support of Superintendent Kerry Cowart, the Cleveland ISD school board and the community at-large — CISD-TV is now a leading source for school district and community news. The need

It all began in December of 2005 when the Cleveland ISD trustees charged their superintendent with improving the district’s communications efforts. The board saw possibilities with a local-access cable channel that had been donated to the district years before. As it stood, Cleveland ISD only used the channel to broadcast football games and occasional announcements. Cowart and the board wondered if the underutilized resource might be their ticket to enhancing school communications, but they didn’t know where to begin. That’s when Wright’s class stepped in to establish the district’s firstever student-run TV station.

“I told Mr. Cowart that we could absolutely do it, but we would need broadcast-quality cameras and editing equipment — and that would cost money,” Wright says. Money was definitely a concern for the small district, but the administrators and trustees pulled together to make it happen. The board designated $20,000 to purchase the equipment Wright needed, and Wright reconfigured his video production curriculum to incorporate the running of a TV station. The district received a bit of guidance from Amarillo ISD, which has an extensive audio-video technology and communications program. But mostly, the onus of creating and maintaining a television station with content shot and edited by students was entirely on Cleveland High.

Superintendent Kerry Cowart

“We did it all by the seat of our pants,” Cowart admits. “The kids were charged with writing the scripts, setting up the lights and sets, running the cameras, editing the content,” explains Wright, who adds that the project forced him to re-examine his role as teacher. “I began to realize that my job was to teach them how to use the equipment and to be there to help them if they needed it. But it was also my job to get out of their way. “Once I turned it over to the students, things really started to happen,” he says. Consisting of mostly juniors and seniors, Wright’s revamped video production program encompasses two years of school. During the first semester of the first year, students learn about lighting, sound, camera operation and casting. The students also write screenplays, as well as proposals and treatments, which are essential See CLEVELAND page 17 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 15


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Cleveland ISD graduate Malcolm Hawkins (left), who now works as the station manager, shows student Chris Keyser how to operate a camera.

CLEVELAND continued from page 15

tools for securing project funding in the film and television industries. In the spring, students move into post-production and learn to use industrystandard editing software. The second year focuses on studio production, in which students are introduced to jobs such as on-air talent, camera operator, sound engineer, lighting director, producer, graphics and animation director and station manager. In the studio, students gain real-life experience, working with top-of-the-line cameras, audio mixers and equipment for live production and Web-based streaming. They also receive training in motion graphics and 3D animation. Quiet on the set From 7 a.m. to midnight daily, CISD-TV airs school board meetings, district curriculum updates and special events such as choir concerts and other campus happenings. Programming also includes a sports talk show, a program on teen issues and a children’s show featuring students reading picture books. Students have created shows on practical topics too, such as the college application process and how to apply for financial aid. Advertising, TAKS tips and general district information — all produced by the video production program — fill in the gaps between shows. CISD-TV airs reruns between midnight and 7 a.m. “It’s been a wonderful tool,” Cowart says. “Through our TV station, we can cover more timely topics, like the swine flu.”

CISD-TV has grown to involve multiple departments at Cleveland High School. “The drama class sends on-camera talent; the business class helps with marketing; the multimedia class builds graphics; and our teacher-prep program, Ready Set Teach, helps with the children’s programming,” Wright says. “The whole high school supports our program, and we couldn’t do it without them.” Board-approved funds and federal funds for career and technology education are what keep the station going. However, Wright and Cleveland High students also sell advertising to supplement those funds. Advertising revenue covers production-related travel expenses and the occasional purchase of special props or equipment. Wright usually makes the initial contact with local businesses, and then he sends students to make the pitch. Sometimes the students create the advertisement or commercial for the businesses’ approval. Cowart and Wright have found that there is no limit to what their students can do once given the proper tools. The students continue to find new ways to improve station operations and expand programming. “If a student comes up to me with an idea for a new show, I tell them to go ahead and shoot a pilot. I let them show me what they want to do,” Wright says. “Sometimes our programming is good; sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the sound or video See CLEVELAND page 19 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 17


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quality isn’t what it should be, but we’re learning,” Cowart adds. In addition to running CISD-TV, video production students write and produce film projects for Skills USA statewide contests. A national nonprofit organization, Skills USA helps high school and college students prepare for careers in trade, skilled service and technical occupations. “Students from Cleveland ISD have advanced from district competitions and have ranked among the best at the state level,” Cowart says. What started as an effort to improve school communications efforts has transformed into a program that gives Cleveland ISD students solid career training. “Our students leave Cleveland High School with skills that rival people working in the field,” says Wright. “We have the most current version of [Apple Inc.’s] Final Cut Pro and the most up-todate computers.” The video production program also imparts skills in problem solving, time management and teamwork. As in a real workplace, student producers interview their classmates to select their production crews. “The kids decide who is going to run audio or operate cameras for them, and they’re tougher on each other than I am [on them],” Wright says. Equally important is how the program fosters a sense of belonging and direction. “Most of these kids aren’t athletes; they’re not in band. Some of them are loners,” says Wright. “We offer them a place to perch.” Seventeen-year-old Destiny Yarbrough, a Cleveland High senior in the advanced studio class, agrees.

“Some of these kids have never been outside of Cleveland,” Wright says. “They might have parents who never went beyond high school. They don’t see a big future for themselves or even think about college. This can be the gateway class that gets them into college. Even if they don’t end up studying media production, the students see that they can actually do something with themselves. It gives them hope. ” Take 2006 Cleveland High graduate Johnie Busa, for instance. Busa admits he lacked motivation before getting into video production at Cleveland High. “I didn’t have any plans for college until my junior year when I started taking my production class,” Busa says. After graduating, Busa came back to Cleveland High to volunteer his time at CISD-TV, assisting novice students and tackling whatever tasks needed to be done. Through his volunteer work, Busa realized that he enjoyed teaching. Now he is pursuing a college degree and his teaching certificate while working as an assistant teacher in Cleveland High’s video production class. CISD-TV has become a bustling two-way street for Cleveland ISD. Students are gaining marketable skills and experience, and the community is gaining new insight into Cleveland ISD. “The public’s perception of the district has changed,” Cowart says. “Now they can see us and be in the schools with us. They can be involved.” WHITNEY ANGSTADT has written for Egypt Today and Austin’s The Good Life.

Student Kasfia Islam reads from the teleprompter in front of the green screen during the taping of a show.

“We’re a tight-knit group. We didn’t all know each other before, but we work together and have become friends,” she says. For some students, the program offers a new view of the future.

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 19


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Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010


coppell ISD 2009-2010

School of Engineering brings math and science alive for students by Holly Dolezalek

Since the dawning of classroom instruction, there have been students who ask, “Why do we have to learn this?” At Coppell High School in Coppell ISD, there is a program that shows students the answer to that question quite clearly. It’s the retooled and totally cool School of Engineering, and it’s helping kids see the relevancy of math and science in their everyday lives. The program is geared toward students who want to be engineers or who have expressed an interest in engineering. Career and technical education mandates passed during the 2005 legislative session prompted Coppell ISD to transform an existing engineering class into a full-fledged School of Engineering. The state wanted to see CTE programs do a better job of helping students prepare for the 21st century workplace. That just so happened to fit neatly with the priorities of the Coppell community, says Superintendent Jeff Turner. “We have an educated community, and we have a lot of engineers who are parents. In fact, one of our board members is an engineer,” he says. “We already had a great math and science department, and so we decided to seize the opportunity to use the resources of that department to create a program that would give students a chance to really get their hands dirty.” Coppell ISD’s School of Engineering became a calculated component of the district’s five-year strategic plan underscoring the state’s CTE focus and an increased national emphasis on math and science. Infinity, the original class that served as the starting point for the expanded program, simply didn’t possess the appeal or programmatic consistency that the district wanted, officials say. “We started looking at a program from Southern Methodist University, because although we had a couple of sections of the class, we were

still looking for the right mix from a curriculum standpoint,” says Turner. That’s when a teacher named Mike Yakubovsky, who had been working at one of the district’s middle schools, came to the high school to take over the Infinity course. “His personality and passion just blew up the model, and we suddenly had more kids interested than we could deal with,” says Turner, who describes Yakubovsky as a “kid magnet.” Yakubovsky, now the lead engineering instructor for the School of Engineering, says he knew immediately upon arriving at the high school that the Infinity class wasn’t enough — and not only in terms of class capacity.

Superintendent Jeff Turner

“We realized we had a lot of kids with different abilities, interests and needs, and so we decided to split the program into two tracks,” he says. One track remains as the Infinity class, but it has been reconfigured into a two-year engineering design course for juniors and seniors. Seniors must complete a capstone project, and the sequence consists of multiple practical applications of engineering, particularly rocketry. “In their junior year, they design and build a rocket with a one-pound payload that goes up a mile, and eventually they work their way up to a rocket with a 35-pound payload that goes up 100,000 feet,” says Yakubovsky. The newer track that sprung out of Infinity acts as a precursor to the original course. It is designed for at-risk and special-needs students to help them improve their math and science skills through principles learned during hands-on projects. “I’ve walked through and overheard students saying, ‘So this is why you have to be able to figure See COPPELL on page 23 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 21


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COPPELL continued from page 21

Two judges observe Coppell ISD students and their teacher Mike Yakubovsky (red shirt) at an underwater robot competition.

out the cosine!’” says Donna Carpenter, CTE coordinator for Coppell ISD. The School of Engineering also now offers a four-year program called EXCITE for students who know they want to be engineers and who have demonstrated strong math skills. The first year focuses on necessary skills for engineers, such as communication and problem solving. In the second year, students learn how to analyze data, run tests and use engineering software to complete tasks that real engineers have to do regularly. In the third year, they learn about specific applications, like wind generators. Their project that year is to build a small wind farm. Finally, the fourth year focuses on a singular engineering project from start to finish. This past year, the fourth-year students designed a bridge, measuring 15 feet long by 4 feet wide, which eventually will be constructed at a community park. Students worked alongside a professional contractor to complete the design. As it stands, the School of Engineering’s curriculum is only available to Coppell High School students. However, students at New Tech @ Coppell, the district’s alternative high school, are encouraged to enroll in an engineering-focused competitions course that meets after school, on weekends and during the summer. In this course, students work on projects to compete in the same contests in which EXCITE and Infinity students participate. Yakubovsky and the School of Engineering’s other two instructors — Grant Garner and Bill Montana — constantly encourage students to participate in outside engineering competitions. This year, Coppell students participated in the Winston Cup Challenge, which challenged participants to build a single-driver, solar-powered vehicle and race it from Dallas to Denver. The Coppell team finished in eighth place. Other students have participated in competitions to build robots or rockets. Yakubovsky now has his mind set on forming a team to compete in a college-level, steel bridgebuilding competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Carpenter agrees with Yakubovsky’s competition-focused strategy. “It’s a chance for them to really explore engineering, to take what they’ve learned in class and go a lot further with it,” Carpenter says.

Coppell ISD’s School of Engineering attracts more than the usual suspects. Engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated profession, but about 15 percent of the program’s students are girls. That’s largely because of Camp G.I.G.A.W.O.T. (Girls Inspired Greatly About the World of Technology), a weeklong camp for middle school girls. Sponsored by IBM, the four-day event is in its second year at the IBM sales center in Coppell. At camp, Coppell ISD “tweenage” girls learn to create bridges, robots, race cars and other engineering projects. “We even have girls who have decided to start their own club through the Society of Women Engineers,” Carpenter says, noting that engineering clubs and other small learning communities in engineering have cropped up at nearly every elementary and middle school. Coppell ISD’s School of Engineering is primarily funded through the budget for Coppell High School, but parents raise funds and volunteer their time so that their children can participate in engineering competitions. Those funds mostly go toward the materials students use to build rockets or underwater robots, and also to compensate for staff hours during evenings, weekends and the summer. One hundred students have graduated from Coppell High School’s engineering program; this year, 200 students in nine different sections are participating. The engineering instructors follow a curriculum that prepares graduates for the rigors of college-level instruction. Yakubovsky says his team worked with nearby universities, such as The University of Texas-Dallas, Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University, to develop the curriculum beyond state requirements. See COPPELL on page 25

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 23


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COPPELL continued from page 23

All of the students who were with the program for more than two years before they graduated from Coppell High School have gone on to select majors in science-related fields for their postsecondary education. “We keep getting emails and letters from our graduates who tell us they’re seeing what we told them they would see in their college courses,” Yakubovsky says. Perhaps even more noteworthy, the universities are recognizing the quality of the students’ education — and they’re doing so with dollars. Last year, 16 School of Engineering graduates were awarded a total of $800,000 in college scholarships. Also, a number of former Coppell students have been awarded teaching assistant appointments in their freshman and sophomore years at college. Enthusiasm about Coppell ISD’s School of Engineering rivals that of some athletics programs. It even has its own booster club: the Pre-Engineering Parent Booster Club. “It’s great to see something academic getting the same kind of engagement and excitement as athletics,” Carpenter says. The club hosted its second Engineering Fair and Expo in November, in hopes of raising awareness about engineering and to connect students, universities and companies with each other. The first expo, in March 2009, drew 1,500 attendees, 22 universities with engineering programs and 20 engineering companies. The second expo attracted 25 colleges, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Georgia Tech, as well as 23 engineering companies. Parents are taking notice. “We’re getting calls from parents whose kids are still in elementary or middle school, asking, ‘What do I have to do to get my kid into this program?’” Yakubovsky says. Students who want to be in EXCITE must start with Algebra 1 and stay on track to take calculus their senior year. For Infinity, Algebra 2 is the gateway course. “Any student can get into the program, and we haven’t had any dropouts yet,” Yakubovsky says. “Our most recent records show that everyone who has been in the program has graduated from high school. We had one student take summer school in order to get ready for the EXCITE track.”

As enthused as he is about engineering, Yakubovsky acknowledges the importance of other disciplines — in particular, the importance of strong communications skills. “Engineers don’t work in cells by themselves anymore, and they have to work with a lot of different people,” he says. “So when we’re approaching companies to ask them for resources to do different projects, the kids have to go and do it. When they do their senior design project, they’re required to find the city engineers and members of the city board and then go talk to them about the project.” In furtherance of that principle, Coppell ISD is piloting a full-blown engineering academy, organized so that the students’ engineering courses are integrated with their other courses, such as English and social studies. There are 44 freshman EXCITE students in the pilot. Their English and social studies classes will cover the same requirements as other classes, but they will have an engineering focus. For example, a student engaged in a project about engineering disasters in an engineering course will write a persuasive paper in his or her English class discussing the ethical and social issues raised by those disasters. “The idea is to show the interrelation among disciplines and how engineers fit in society,” says Carpenter. “But it’s all through the lens of an engineer.” “Once you get these kids engaged and excited about learning, you can’t get them to go home,” says Turner. “We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what classroom or subject you’re talking about: If you can find a way to engage the kids in something they can get their hands on, they will not only take it further than you imagined, you better get out of their way.” HOLLY DOLEZALEK has written for education and information technology publications. Teacher Mike Yakubovsky (right) and students review their model of a bridge that soon will be built in a Coppell park. (Due to excessive rain this fall, construction has been delayed.)

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 25


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copperas cove ISD 2009-2010

Assistant Principals Academy is part of a ‘grow your own’ effort By Raven L. Hill

Copperas Cove ISD Superintendent Rose Cameron characterizes her first assistant principal job as “baptism by fire.” She and the principal she worked with at the time exercised what she describes as the “divide and conquer” approach at their 800-student school. “[The principal] would take on certain things and I would take on certain things,” she recalls, “but I almost never dealt with her things.” Years later, when she moved up to the principal’s job, Cameron says she could have benefited from more exposure to academic, financial and personnel matters — the duties only her principal had taken care of in the past. That experience (or lack thereof ) is what inspired Cameron last year to help her district establish an Assistant Principals Academy as part of Copperas Cove ISD’s overall grow-your-own approach to improving administrator quality. Participants — not only assistant principals, but aspiring administrators — spend one morning each month learning the ropes of their would-be next job over the course of the school year. Every Thursday at 7:30 a.m., they head over to the district’s central office to spend a couple of hours in workshops. The topics they delve into include assisting teachers with classroom management and the finer details of accountability goals. Meetings often include presentations from highlevel district officials. Cameron says it would have been nice to have that kind of training back in the day. “[As an assistant principal], I never did any of the hiring. I never did any of the budgeting. I did get to go into the classroom, but as far as making an impact on curriculum and instruction, that just didn’t happen,” Cameron recalls. “It’s very hard for

an AP if they’ve never had that exposure prior to moving into the principal’s job.” Copperas Cove ISD’s proximity to the Fort Hood military base makes it difficult for the 7,900-student district to retain quality teachers and administrators. Approximately 20 percent of teachers have military ties, says Cameron. The percentage is slightly lower for administrators. This puts the district somewhat at the mercy of a workforce that comes and goes, depending on deployments and assignments to other bases. The idea for the academy came during an administrators’ retreat. The district had been using a variety of methods to encourage employees to aim for higher-level jobs, such as pushing graduate programs and advanced certifications and allowing aspiring administrators to fill in for existing administrators who were on extended leave.

Superintendent Rose Cameron

Still, employees aiming for the principal’s post expressed that they needed a better understanding of what the job entails. “APs usually handle discipline and bus issues; principals deal with budgeting and personnel. They have to be an instructional leader,” Cameron says. Through more discussion at the retreat, the idea of an academy took shape. By the next fall, an academy was up and running and it had clear goals: to close in the aspiring principals’ knowledge gaps, polish their potential and provide networking opportunities. Participants toured the central office and met school board members; they also had workshops on improving leadership skills. Academy instructors shared presentations on classroom management that participants could then use on See COPPERAS COVE page 29 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 27


Copperas Cove High School assistant principals collaborate on an assignment during the Assistant Principals Academy. Pictured left to right are Miguel Timarky, Michael Haase, Cynthia Kostroun and Earl Parcell.

COPPERAS COVE continued from page 27

their campuses with teachers needing guidance on procedural matters and discipline referrals. Other academy topics included accountability and how to track program effectiveness. Participants were able to suggest topics to explore as well, such as interview preparation and time management skills. In short, the district designed the academy to boost the confidence levels of its participants, as well as to encourage principals to diversify their responsibilities, Cameron says. Up to 25 staffers participated during the 20082009 school year. Based on comments from that class, the participants in this year’s academy will receive a more in-depth lesson on budgeting and additional time to network with their peers. So far, so good, Cameron says. “We’re building the academy as we go, but it has been so successful. It has snowballed,” she says. “Principals have asked if teachers who are working on their administrative certification can go.” This fall, Cameron filled vacancies for four principal posts and five assistant principal posts with graduates of the academy. “That’s the by-product of this,” she says. “They know my expectations. They know my vision. They know my work ethic, and I can say the same for them.” To encourage participation in the academy, Copperas Cove ISD principals allow other staffers to cover for their assistant principals while

they are in class. Consequently, staffers with aspirations to be assistant principal get an idea of what it’s like to serve in that post. Academy graduate Jack Brown, one of the new hires who recently became principal at Walker Brown Elementary, had been an assistant principal in Copperas Cove ISD for nine years before his recent promotion. He says the academy ofJack Brown fered practical knowledge in budgeting and finance, skills for which he admits he needed more training. “The academy provides a lot of information that a new principal can use right off the bat,” Brown says, adding that his experience at the academy is partially what inspired him to pursue the principal post when it became available. “I realized I could do more,” the 30-year education veteran says. He credits Cameron for taking the initiative to start the Assistant Principals Academy. “She realizes we have people out here who can do the job, and she’s doing her best to cultivate them,” says Brown, who encouraged his assistant principal to attend this year’s academy.

Mary Derrick

Like Brown, academy graduate Mary Derrick had been an assistant principal for many years prior to applying in the fall for the principal’s job at Halstead Elementary School. See COPPERAS COVE page 31 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 29


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Jonathan Bever and Marla Barrick, assistant principals at Clements-Parsons Elementary School, participate in a lesson during the Assistant Principals Academy.

COPPERAS COVE continued from page 29

“Even after being in administration at different levels, I still came away from the academy with something new and relevant to my job,” says Derrick, listing budgeting and personnel management as two training topics that were particularly helpful to her. Graduate Kayleen Love, newly hired principal of Lee Junior High School, says she “got off to a great start” in her job because of the academy. She adds Kayleen Love that assistant principals can play an important role in helping the academy grow. “The current APs can best help the academy improve by speaking up when they have a need; they will do themselves the biggest favor by letting the central office know their needs,” she says.

Cameron expects the academy to become a central piece of the district’s administrator-quality improvement efforts. “A lot of times, people think of professional development as ‘yuck,’” she says, laughing. “We’ve tried to put a whole new spin on it. I never thought we’d have people calling and asking to come.” RAVEN L. HILL is a former education reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.

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Del Valle ISD 2009-2010

‘A-Team’ attendance officers work around the clock to bring no-show students back to class by Holly Dolezalek At the close of the 2008-2009 school year, a Del Valle Opportunity Center graduate achieved two important firsts in his family. The youngest of four children, he was the only child to graduate from high school. He also was the first person in his entire family to go on to college; he now attends classes at a nearby community college. Rocky Zepeda, district coordinator of at-riskstudent services for Del Valle ISD, knows this young man — and his family — very well. He spent years trying to convince the student’s older siblings to stay in school, but, one by one, they dropped out. Not one to give up, Zepeda turned his focus to the youngest one in the family, assigning an attendance officer to the case once the child reached junior high. That officer stayed in constant contact with the child for the next several years and even arranged for the student’s transfer to the Del Valle Opportunity Center, the district’s alternative high school, so the teenager could receive more-tailored academic support. Upon the student’s high school graduation, the officer helped him enroll at the local community college and steered him toward scholarships that would help pay for tuition. That might sound like a heroic effort in the name of “saving” one student. But for the five full-time and two part-time staff members on Del Valle ISD’s “A-Team” of attendance officers, it’s all in a day’s work. And their efforts are certainly bragworthy. Del Valle ISD is made up of 12 schools and about 10,000 students who live in southeastern Travis County. The number of economically disadvantaged students in the district hovers around 80 percent, and the number of limited English proficient (LEP) students is generally about 30 percent. Four years ago, Del Valle ISD employed two attendance officers, Zepeda and Ray Macias, who is now principal of the Del Valle Opportunity

Center. At that time, the district had five elementary schools, one junior high and one high school — quite a lot of territory for two men to cover. Meanwhile, Del Valle ISD’s student population continued to increase each year. Something had to give. “We have a lot of parents who are living in poverty and a lot of students who are living on their own; it takes a lot of resources to keep these kids in school,” says Sandra Dowdy, assistant superintendent of schools for curriculum and instruction. “[Four years ago], we were looking to the future, and we knew we had a small team of attendance officers and a rising demand. So, we started adding officers to meet that demand.”

Superintendent Bernard Blanchard

The district added about one new officer each year. This year, one of the part-time officers at the opportunity center became a full-time employee. It’s not easy making room in the budget to accommodate more officers, but the district understands the need. “It’s hard, but we know we have to do it,” says Superintendent Bernard Blanchard. “It’s a priority for us in two ways. First, it’s the right thing for the kids. And the better our attendance is, the more revenue we bring in, which means better instruction for the kids.” That’s why, when the state last year added attendance and dropout rates to accountability standards for Texas schools, Del Valle ISD was ready to meet the challenge. The district’s completion rate in 2008 was 93 percent, compared to 88 percent for the class of 2007. The 2008 attendance rate sat at 96 percent, and the dropout rate decreased nearly a percentage point between 2007 and 2008, from 1 percent to 0.1 percent. Dowdy likens the A-Team’s mission to the reality show, “The Amazing Race.” During the month of See DEL VALLE page 35 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 33


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DEL VALLE continued from page 33

September each year, the A-Team is on the move for “no show” acquisitions. According to new state rules, students are considered dropouts if they don’t show up by the end of September and they don’t have a “justified” reason for their absence. Justified reasons include if the student left the state, graduated, enrolled in a private school or started home schooling. The A-Team has to scour the area and utilize all their resources to locate each no-show student and either confirm a justified reason or convince the kid to go back to school. In a district the size of Del Valle ISD, there might be as many as 500 kids the officers have to account for in only 30 days. With cell phones always in hand, the A-Team works nights and weekends. They track many miles behind the wheel, they knock on doors of houses, and they spend hours on the phone and on their computers. The officers talk to neighbors, friends and family members if they can’t reach the students directly. “Last year, due to [Hurricane Ike], the state pushed back the deadline by a month, and we had two months to find all the no-shows,” says Dowdy. “This year, the real rule went into full effect, and we just had 30 days. It was tough.” Sometimes, it’s only a matter of obtaining documentation that a no-show has enrolled in a new district. But in many cases, the missing kids have chosen not to come to school, and that’s when the A-Team’s mission gets tricky. “It’s a different philosophy than the traditional disciplinarian approach to attendance,” says Dowdy. “This kind of work takes someone who understands that they’re not going out there to just force the students to come back. These officers know that they need to counsel the students, help them, get them resources and follow up with them. They need to have constant, day-to-day contact with these students until they start having success on their own.” Before they head out to find the missing students, the officers arm themselves with as much information as they can find about each child.

Del Valle ISD’s “A-Team” of attendance officers include (back row, left to right) Barry Phillips, Modesto Robles and Rocky Zepeda, district coordinator for at-riskstudent services; (front row) Larry Lindberg and Hilda Reyes.

“We look at their academic histories, their transcripts and their overall progress,” says Zepeda. “We also take a look at how long they’ve been in the district and how many times they’ve moved between schools. We want to know as much as we can so that when we talk to them and try to get them to come back, we can discuss their whole academic experience with them and find out what led to them not wanting to return.” If the student has left home and is living apart from his or her parents — which is often the case — the officers still make contact with the parents to hear their take on the situation. Through reconnaissance, the officers often have a good idea why the students left and what will motivate them to come back. “There’s always a disconnect in the child’s education,” says Zepeda. “We try to help the parents understand how they could have been more proactive [in keeping their child in school]. They often say they wish they had had this conversation a long time ago; we learn that the roots of the student’s decision go way back.” The officers do their best to get to the bottom of those roots, knowing full well that students are less likely to stay in school if their circumstances work against them. “These students have to have a connection to their education, which means we have to have a multitude of programs that address their circumstances,” says John Day, assistant principal and attendance officer for Del Valle Opportunity Center. To that end, the alternate high school offers flexible scheduling for students who must work and day care services for students with children. The attendance officers’ work often extends beyond students to the whole family. It’s not See DEL VALLE page 37 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 35


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Rocky Zepeda, district coordinator for at-riskstudent services, talks with a student at the Del Valle Opportunity Center. Attendance officers routinely check in with students once they come back to school to ensure things are going well.

DEL VALLE continued from page 35

unusual to encounter students who have stopped coming to school because their families are in desperate need: their utilities have been turned off, there’s no food in the house, the primary breadwinner or breadwinners are out of work, or the kids don’t have clean clothes to wear to school. If the families are recent immigrants, they often have no idea what resources are available to them, so the officers step in to make those connections. In some instances, officers have gone as far as to offer themselves as resources. “[The officers] will go buy food or clothes for these families out of their own pockets,” says Dowdy. “They shouldn’t, but they do it to make sure those kids can come back.” The officers have found it necessary to establish relationships with the judicial system as well. They routinely work with probation officers and judges to intercede for kids who have tangled with the law. The A-Team maintains contact with attendance officers in other districts too, which helps them keep track of where students might be when they’re not in school. When the A-Team successfully convinces students to return to school, it doesn’t forget about them.

“We watch for attendance problems or less-thanpassing scores on the TAKS, or students who are falling behind on their grades,” says Day of the opportunity center. “We also keep track of who has less support at the home, such as the students whose parents are working more than one job. In circumstances like that, kids will often take the easy way out, and we have to keep an eye out for that.” The A-Team officers view their work as a calling to improve not only their students’ lives, but to improve the community as a whole. “This team increases the potential for better lives for the very kids who need it the most,” says Blanchard. HOLLY DOLEZALEK has written for education and information technology publications

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El Paso ISD 2009-2010

High school reading lab proves it’s never too late to learn by Melissa Gaskill

El Paso Independent School District teacher Nancy Booth remembers a student in the atrisk reading lab at Chapin High School who rarely made eye contact or cracked a smile in class. A reading testing placed the ninth grader at a fourth Nancy Booth grade reading level. After two years in the high school’s reading lab, however, the student was reading at college level. What’s more, Booth says, he joined the school soccer team and became somewhat of a class favorite, regularly eliciting laughter from his classmates. This is only one example of how literacy can change a life. El Paso ISD is committed to ensuring that all students are reading at or beyond their grade levels, and the Chapin High School atrisk reading lab is an important step in that direction. The at-risk reading lab has been an integral part of Chapin High School since the campus opened in 2000. It was made possible through a Ninth Grade Success Initiative grant and compensatory funds from Title I and the state. Booth, a middle school gifted and talented teacher, was recruited to head the program. Offering a reading lab at the secondary level isn’t common, but El Paso ISD saw an acute need for one. Non-readers represent approximately 25 percent of Chapin’s student population. Identifying at-risk readers for the program proved a difficult task when it first began, Booth says. The district initially identified at-risk readers by TAKS scores, and then through feedback from reading teachers at feeder schools. Now, Chapin administers a timed reading test to all incoming freshmen during the first two days of school each year.

“TAKS is not timed, so kids who are successful on that may not be successful readers,” Booth says. “Not all of life is open-ended. The SAT is timed; college tests are timed. Kids need to be able to do this.” All students identified as reading below a seventh grade level are put into the two-year reading lab. At the end of the first year, if a student has passed the TAKS and completed a softwarebased curriculum, they are finished with the program. In 2007, 75 percent of students in the program passed the test. After a year in the lab, those who test between a seventh and 10th grade level are placed in a fluency class for one semester to work with a fluency trainer to increase their reading speed.

Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia

“Fluency is a separate issue from competency,” Booth points out. “Once the kids hit a certain level in My Reading Coach, they move on to fluency exercises, which force them to read faster.” My Reading Coach is the software program that Booth uses in the lab. She learned about it when a sales representative asked her if she would like to try the software in exchange for student performance data. The trade turned out to be fruitful for both parties. High-school-level reading curricula are rare, Booth says. Most educators assume that by ninth grade, students can read. “[Obtaining the software] was actually fortunate, because we were just looking for things that worked,” Booth says. “There is no way I can have a class of 28 kids and tailor a program for each one, and I don’t know a teacher who can. But My Reading Coach can. “It addresses reading in a different way, starting with basic words and progressing to complicated See EL PASO page 41 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 39


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Lab monitor Barry Boetto checks the eyesight of an incoming freshman at Chapin High School. According to El Paso ISD officials, undiagnosed problems with vision are oftentimes at the root of a student’s low performance in reading. (Photo courtesy of Leonel Monroy Jr.)

EL PASO continued from page 39

ones in more than 60 lessons,” she continues. “It has an audio portion and teaches phonics.” Booth admits that she and her team are learning as they go, but Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia says he is impressed with Chapin’s program. “The history of the program demonstrates a collaborative effort among administration, teachers and students. They have dedicated their time and energy to investigating creative ways to help and support students in the area of reading,” he says. “The results, which indicate that 75 percent of reading lab students completed all software exercises and passed their TAKS assessment, are fantastic.” According to the high school, 120 students participated in the program’s first year. This year there are 286 kids in the program. How it works The reading lab is a 90-minute class. Students spend half of the period on the computer, and the other half with a text — a schedule that Booth says works well. “We also spend a lot of time on etymology. Because many of the kids are Spanish speakers, they recognize Latin roots,” she says. “For example, I put up the word ‘malodorous.’ It’s a big word, but then I tell them, look at ‘odor’ and then ‘mal.’ They know both of those words. We show them that you can take big words, break them apart and figure out what they mean.”

The lab also uses SAT-driven vocabulary. Students engage in interactive exercises, such as making flip charts of vocabulary words and reading highinterest novels together. “The principal gives us the freedom to find literature I know my kids are going to love,” Booth says. “Once you get to know your demographic group, you can gravitate toward things that will grab their attention and hold it.” Reading together builds relationships, which is very important with the at-risk population, Booth says. “Conversations about what we are reading start relationships; if you just hand them something and say ‘Read this and answer the questions at the end,’ it isn’t the same,” she says. “We talk about what happens in the things they read, what it means to their generation. And we don’t necessarily have to be reading novels to do this; it can be magazine or newspaper articles.” To further motivate students in the program, Booth invites former lab students to visit and share their experiences. “They can say to the students, ‘Hey, I don’t worry anymore. Tests are not hard. Reading is not hard. And now I can play sports because my grades are better,’” she says. Behind any successful program is a supportive administration, and that’s definitely the case in El Paso ISD. See EL PASO page 43 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 41


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EL PASO continued from page 41

“We have a school that is focused on reading; the principal has been incredibly supportive, as is the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, who has to do all those schedule changes in a short amount of time,” Booth says, explaining that when students are identified as at-risk readers, their class schedules need to be updated to accommodate time in the reading lab. “Support from teachers is absolutely important too,” she says. “Freshmen teachers bring their students down for testing, and every single teacher is grading along with me.” The freshman teachers get a bonus out of the effort: a report detailing the reading levels of all their students. “If you have a student struggling in social studies and you now know he reads at a third grade level, you can work with him better,” says Booth. Chapin High School Principal Carla Gonzales credits Booth’s creativity and hard work for the reading lab’s success. “She really works to combine the elements to create high interest in reading, through the software, vocabulary building, Scrabble tournaments and high-interest novels,” Gonzales says.

“You just have to get them to bite and give it a try,” Booth says. “Everything we do is done in class, together. We either read novels to them or they read out loud, but no one is ever forced to read.” Once students master reading, Gonzales says, everything else falls into place. “It’s my personal belief, having been a language arts teacher myself, that if students can read at or above their grade levels, they can do anything,” says Gonzales. “Comprehension and skill are fundamental to success at any level. It’s a nobrainer, as the kids say.” “It’s a wonderful thing to see kids become readers; there is nothing like it in the world,” Booth says. “Your at-risk reading population is just waiting to drop out. They haven’t seen success; they don’t think they can do it. If we can reach these kids and make school less difficult, they won’t be getting out and they won’t be discipline problems. It’s all connected.” “We’re so fortunate that Ms. Booth walked through our doors. She runs where angels fear to walk,” Gonzales says. MELISSA GASKILL has contributed to Texas Highways, San Antonio Express-News and the Austin American-Statesman.

Teacher Hillary Vozza leads a session at Chapin High School’s at-risk reading lab. (Photo courtesy of Leonel Monroy Jr.)

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 43


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Keller ISD 2009-2010

Educators add mobile phones to their instructional tool kits by Jennifer LeClaire

While many teachers struggle to get kids to turn off their cell phones during class, teachers at Trinity Meadows Intermediate (TMI) are encouraging fifth graders to use them both in school and offcampus to augment their learning. It’s all part of a Keller ISD pilot program called the Keller Mobile Initiative. The program was developed to study how mobile devices can enhance classroom curriculum by boosting student engagement and access to learning resources. “There is no way to take 1,100 kids to the library to use the computers there,” says Superintendent James R. Veitenheimer. “But with mobile devices that offer Internet access, we can make learning more accessible and perhaps easier for fifth graders to navigate than [if they were to use] laptop computers. We are using what we have learned at TMI to launch new technology programs across the district.” Giving wings to a mobile program Developing the pilot program didn’t happen overnight. It took months of planning among district administrators, technology companies and parents. The effort began after Matt Cook, a TMI fifth grade teacher, noticed that a growing number of his students carried cell phones in their pockets. As a trial of sorts, he let students use the cameras on their phones to take pictures of lab experiments, and he continued searching for new ways to leverage the mobile devices to enhance classroom learning. “The genesis of this project was a teacher who had an innovative idea,” says TMI Principal Ron Myers. “We started thinking outside the box. We looked at the technologies our kids are already familiar with and how to make that work for us

on the education side. Matt reached out to Verizon and got the ball rolling.” When Cook called Verizon to tell them about the Keller Mobile Initiative, the carrier agreed to provide wireless Ron Myers service for the pilot program at TMI. The company also introduced Keller ISD to Smartphone manufacturer HTC, which agreed to provide its model 6800 Smartphones with Internet access only — no texting or calling capabilities.

Superintendent James R. Veitenheimer

Forging the corporate relationships proved to be the easiest part of implementing the program. The more difficult task was figuring out how to tie the mobile technology to student learning. Myers says gadgetry for gadgetry’s sake was not the point. “You have to look internally and reflect on how a particular technology is going to change the teaching and learning process,” Myers says. “If the technology is an appropriate tool, then you can begin to explore the steps necessary to get that tool into the hands of the kids. It’s important to have a team of people working on the project, because it can’t be done by one or two teachers alone. You need a team of problem solvers, as well as parent involvement.” Mastering the finer details of the program was no small task either, according to Joe Griffin, executive director of technology at Keller ISD.

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“Managing this program from a network perspective brought See KELLER page 47 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 45


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A Sci-Tech Expo culminates the Keller Mobile Initiative pilot project at Trinity Meadow Intermediate in Keller ISD. Students had the opportunity to present their project-based learning assignments using the many tools offered by the Smartphone.

KELLER continued from page 45

Measuring results

a new challenge for us. The teachers and trainers were driving the implementation, not the network,” Griffin says. “Students have access to the network on their phones 24-7, for example, so we had to find a way to filter out inappropriate Web sites. The end result of so much input from educators was a program that is receptive to classroom instruction, which is where we needed to be.”

Results of the pilot program are anecdotal at this point, but they are promising. Teachers say they have witnessed greater self-confidence and problem-solving skills in some of their students. They also have noticed more enthusiasm toward collaborating with peers.

For other districts that want to start a similar program, Griffin suggests first going through every possible scenario with the network team, curriculum coordinators and principals. Get all hands on deck to brainstorm and problem-solve. The key to success is collaboration among the various technology vendors involved, as well as the various departments. “The biggest success for us from a technology perspective was to realize that mobile technology is a viable resource for students,” Griffin says. “We designed our new network knowing that students are going to bring in mobile devices, so we have a secure network. We’re not operating within the four walls anymore.” Under the guidance of their teachers, TMI students have used their Smartphones to study the geological stages of the rock cycle, explore early pioneers in North America, and find the mean, median and mode in a group of numbers.

“We saw students change personalities over the course of the year,” Cook says. “The mobile program empowered our learners, and they seem to have a lot of confidence in what they are doing. We saw lots of personal growth and personal victories, especially among shy kids who came out of their shells.” As part of the pilot program, students were responsible for their Smartphones around the clock. The goal was to teach students about responsible, appropriate and safe use of today’s technology tools. “I feel strongly we need to teach our kids appropriate use of technology because they already do all sorts of fun, nonproductive things with technology today,” Cook says. “We want to teach them how to use technology in productive ways so when they hit the workforce, they see technology as a tool, not a toy.” See KELLER page 49

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 47


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Students in Matt Cook’s fifth grade social studies class use Smartphones both in class and at home to accompany their daily lessons.

KELLER continued from page 47

Veitenheimer says the Keller Mobile Initiative at TMI represents a technology-adoption tipping point for the district. Keller ISD is preparing to open a hybrid school for fifth- through eighth graders in August 2010. The focus of the hybrid campus will be on using familiar and accessible technology with 24-7 access to learning resources. Based on student and curriculum needs, teachers will promote real-time access to information using a variety of technologies. The campus will include wireless connectivity, document cameras and projectors, integrated electronic whiteboards, mobile computer devices and an online student-teacher-parent collaboration portal. Moreover, student-response systems in every classroom will help teachers quickly assess student learning.

of desktop and laptop computers,” Veitenheimer says. “With our new approach, we are putting learning back in the hands of the kids, as opposed to keeping learning in the hands of our teachers. That has been our big takeaway from the Keller Mobile Initiative.”

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Kerrville ISD 2009-2010

Excellence committee wrangles best practices across Texas and drives them home By Raven L. Hill

Since its creation in 2003, Kerrville ISD’s Academic Excellence Committee (AEC) has focused on making the best even better. The committee spends each school year researching best practices in programs and curriculum offerings in schools across the state, culminating with recommendations to the Kerrville ISD Board of Trustees each May. Dan Troxell created the committee shortly after taking his post as Kerrville ISD’s superintendent. His goal was to find additional offerings for the district’s gifted and talented program. In the years since its creation, however, the AEC has grown beyond that narrow focus to identify programs and resources that could enrich students at all levels. The AEC is comprised of a broad swath of district stakeholders — students, teachers, parents, administrators, school board members and Kerrville residents — approximately 50 participants in all. The best part of the AEC, Troxell says, is that all stakeholders feel like their voices are heard. “Anytime that you are able to bring various stakeholders to a common meeting where they can work on concerns that impact students, you’re going to have outstanding results,” he says. Committee work begins each September when Troxell outlines the year’s issues of study. Five to seven subcommittees, consisting of eight to 10 people each, are formed. Troxell encourages them to think big, boldly and wildly —but realistically. The committee’s charge varies from year to year, but some issues remain constant. For instance, there are standing subcommittees for: •

improving math and science scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills

student leadership

technology, and

gifted and talented programs.

A few years ago, the AEC sought ways to increase the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and passing the AP exams. During the 2002-2003 school year, only 43 students took AP exams; even fewer passed AP tests. Committee members visited other districts to get a closer look at AP incentive programs, as well as successful partnerships with education foundations and businesses.

Superintendent Dan Troxell

“We ended up doing programs that were tried, true and tested in other districts,” Troxell says. During the 2008-2009 school year, the number of students taking AP courses and passing AP exams had more than quadrupled, Troxell says. This year, among other tasks, the AEC is charged with finding ways to reduce the number of special education referrals and to identify methods to better assist students with limited English proficiency. Campus principals and central office administrators invite people to serve on the AEC. The first committee consisted of 30 people, but as many as 80 have served in some years. About a quarter of the committee members are new each year. The AEC is geared toward academic improvement with what the superintendent calls “laser-like precision.” When looking for best practices, the committee looks far and wide, from small and rural districts to large urban systems — and all sizes in between. See KERRVILLE page 53

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 51


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A second grader in Cheryl Rich’s class at Nimitz Elementary School takes a water sample in the school courtyard for a Challenge Lab experiment on the water cycle.

KERRVILLE continued from page 51

Expanding the scope Following referrals provided by the AEC over the years, Kerrville ISD has added orchestra, after-school elementary Spanish lessons and Air Force JROTC. The district also has forged a partnership with a local community college to increase the number of graduates moving on to higher education. Elementary school “challenge labs,” which offer independent study and unique learning opportunities, are another proud addition to Kerrville ISD schools, thanks to the AEC. Students can work on their own in a Challenge Lab after they’ve mastered an objective in the classroom, but there are also Cheryl Rich programs set up for group activities. Nimitz Elementary School teacher Cheryl Rich, who served on the AEC in its first year, leads a poetry project for third graders who are reading above average. For students in the gifted and talented program, she hosts a weekly “lunch bunch,” in which students discuss making friends, taking responsibility for their actions and other topics designed to aid in social and emotional development. Rich says the challenge labs add value to the whole school. “We don’t have any discipline problems in the lab, because the students work really hard to come here. It raises the bar for everyone in the school,” she says. “They have to earn the right to come by their performance.” Yet, not all best practices uncovered by the AEC are made available to Kerrville ISD’s 4,800 students. The committee decided against implementing AVID, a college prep program for middle and high school students after concerns arose about whether it could be uniformly implemented. Moreover, an idea for an online enrichment program was nixed after the committee identified an equally good — and less expensive — alternative. Jennifer Lord

Jennifer Lord, a third grade teacher at Daniels Elementary, has served on the AEC since it started. She says it’s one of the district’s most powerful tools. Along with being visionary, the committee fosters a sense of collaboration among colleagues, she says. According to Lord, it’s one of the few times when educators can see how mastery of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills plays out from grade to grade. “[We discover that] if we can fix some areas in the lower grades, it has a ripple effect,” she says. The committee also reinforces a sense of shared leadership, rather following a top-down approach, says Deb Wells, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. She chairs several subcommittees. Deb Wells

“The responsibilities we have in a public school system are so tremendous that you can no longer rely on one person to provide leadership,” Wells says. “You have to rely on a shared system — your strongest teachers and principals, your most See KERRVILLE page 55 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 53


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Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010

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KERRVILLE continued from page 53

involved parents — and the AEC is a result of that philosophy.”

Ellen Williams

Most all recommendations have been successful and received well by the Kerrville community because they had a say in it, says Ellen Williams, Kerrville ISD’s senior director of advanced academics. She says any district could benefit from having an AEC.

“We’re always saying, ‘What are our greatest needs? Let’s focus on that.’ There’s always room for growth,” Williams says.

Lord adds: “I look at it as a constant tweaking. We have a very well-oiled machine here, and we’re just fine-tuning it.” Ironically, the tough economy has forced some districts to cut the very programs that the AEC members discovered and then implemented in Kerrville schools. Yet, those cuts haven’t happened in Kerrville ISD, which Troxell attributes to everyone’s high regard for the AEC. “We put a system in place, and there are so many different innovations that this committee has brought to the district,” he says. “It has been a wonderful past seven years.” RAVEN L. HILL is a former education reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. Teacher Jennifer Lord reviews a science lesson with her third grade students at Daniels Elementary. Lord, who serves on Kerrville ISD’s Academic Excellence Committee, says it’s one of the most powerful tools the district has implemented.

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 55


Lewisville ISD 2009-2010

Night High School ensures all students receive their diplomas no matter their circumstances by John Egan

Iris Harper dropped out of Lewisville ISD’s Hebron High School only three weeks before graduation in 2008. She was one English class away from earning a high school diploma. On the surface, her decision to quit school seemed wrongheaded. But at that point in her life, Harper wasn’t in her right mind. “I was on a lot of drugs, and I was not focused on life,” she says. “I just wanted to work and make money so I could do my drugs.” Superintendent Jerry Roy

Several months later, however, Harper hit bottom. She awoke one day to the realization that her drug-fueled existence had to stop. Filled with newfound determination, she kicked her addiction and began the process of getting her life back on track. Upon the suggestion of her sister, Harper contacted Lewisville ISD about its new Night High School program, which launched in January 2009. Harper enrolled and, in March 2009, became a graduate of Hebron High. Now, with her sights set on becoming a professional chef, Harper is pursuing a degree in culinary arts from Collin County Community College. To support her dream, she works as an assistant manager at a retail store in nearby Grapevine. “I feel great,” says Harper, who celebrated her 20th birthday in October. “I’m excited that I’ve got my life back on track, for the most part. Sometimes school and work are really stressful, but you’ve just got to remember what your priorities are. If you want to succeed, you will do everything in your power to succeed.” Success stories like Harper’s are what Lewisville ISD’s Night High School Program is all about. The program targets three groups from ages 16 to 21: dropouts, at-risk students and students who

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Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010

merely want to accelerate their learning. The Night High School’s motto is “Bringing Hope to Students.” Night High School classes begin at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and are 90 minutes each. Completion of one course — lasting four and a half weeks — earns a student half a credit. Four Night High School terms are offered each fall and spring, and there’s also a summer schedule. The alternative school operates out of the district’s Lewisville Learning Center. Courses offered include algebra, geometry, math, world geography, world history, U.S. history, government, economics, English, biology, chemistry, aquatic science and physics. Careerrelated subjects include animation, advertising design, automotive technology, cosmetology and health science technology. Additionally, in conjunction with North Central Texas College, dual-credit courses are available in U.S. history, government, economics, algebra, statistics, psychology and sociology. The district added an SAT prep class this year. “Ultimately, we just wanted to provide a different venue for kids to get a diploma,” says Kevin Rogers, Lewisville ISD’s assistant superintendent of secondary education. If students don’t fit the traditional education mold, “that doesn’t give us an excuse to give up on them,” adds Lewisville ISD Superintendent Jerry Roy. A 2008 survey of more than 800 students at Lewisville ISD’s five high schools revealed that nearly 16 percent definitely would enroll in Night High School or a flexible daytime education program, while nearly 30 percent indicated they probably would enroll in such programs.


“We’re not going to be able to just operate traditional high schools and be successful,” Roy says. “We’re going to have to do some things differently.”

Night High School student Brenda Ruiz works on a class project about the Cold War. Lewisville ISD created the alternative school to make education accessible to students whose circumstances prevent them from attending classes during regular school hours. Ruiz gave birth to her first child this past October — and earned her diploma that same month, thanks to Night High School.

Roy, along with a team of district officials, studied successful night school programs in neighboring districts prior to launching their own program. They looked at schools in both Garland and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISDs. However, as Rogers notes, “you can’t just copy something from somewhere else. You have to make it work for you.” To make it work for students in Lewisville ISD, administrators developed a curriculum that offers both core subjects and career-focused classes. Night High School students work closely with counselors and teachers to identify a rewarding career path while earning a high school diploma. A 2006 study by the American Institute for Research found that essential elements of successful alternative education programs like Night High School include: • flexibility in programming and hours • low student-to-adult ratios • student choice • personalized environments • extensive staff collaboration and training • availability of transportation for students • solid case management • strong school-to-work components Roy says his district’s Night High School features a project-based curriculum with real-world applications geared toward 21st century skills. “We’ve got to meet these kids where they are and not where we want them to be. They’re not all going to come to day school; it hasn’t worked for them,” Rogers adds. “We’ve got to be a little creative and reinvent part of the wheel.” Throughout the spring of 2009, 122 Night High School students sought to “reinvent” themselves in one way or another. Among them, 46 completed their coursework and earned diplomas — 19 accelerated students, 17 at-risk students and 10 dropouts. (Rogers refers to the latter two groups as at-promise students and drop-ins.) In all, the 122 spring semester students earned 183.5 credits, mostly in core subjects. Rogers is particularly proud that all nine Night High School students who had previously failed the TAKS test were able to pass it and receive their diplomas. One of those students had fallen short four times on the science component of TAKS.

“She didn’t believe she could do it. But she was willing to give it one more shot, and she passed,” Rogers says. The overall success with TAKS passage in the spring of 2009 “gave us a good initial reinforcement that what we’re doing makes sense and works,” he adds. Rogers and other Lewisville ISD administrators continually assess what works — and what doesn’t — with the Night High School program. Roy says that as the program evolves, the district must be open to on-the-fly modifications to address issues and opportunities that crop up. One overriding issue for the Night High School is funding. Currently, the program operates on about $500,000 per fiscal year; the budget covers eight full-time and seven part-time employees. Night High School services including home visits and tutoring. The program’s budget is comprised of a dropout recovery grant from the Texas Education Agency, as well as state high school allotment funds and local tax money. The bad news: the TEA grant expires in December, and Lewisville ISD faces an $18 million budget deficit in the next fiscal year. Dipping into reserve funds and asking Lewisville ISD taxpayers for relief may prevent the district from slicing into the “meat” of its budget to keep the program going, Roy says. For now, though, Roy is concerned that monetary woes could force the district to axe the Night High School. The loss of such a program would hamper the progress of students like 17-year-old Brenda Ruiz. This past October, Ruiz gave birth to her first child, a girl named Makayla. That’s also the month she earned her high school diploma, thanks to Night High School. Early in her pregnancy during the spring of 2009, Ruiz, a junior, was ordered to go on bed rest, so See LEWISVILLE page 59 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 57


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LEWISVILLE continued from page 57

she was unable to attend regular classes at The Colony High School. Once the bed-rest period ended, Ruiz enrolled in the Night High School Program to get back on track. Because of her accelerated education track, Ruiz actually graduated ahead of her classmates. Without Night High School, “it would have been a lot harder” to earn a diploma, Ruiz says. Ruiz is a statistical anomaly. Only about one-third of teen mothers in the United States obtain high school diplomas or GEDs, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that studies sexual and reproductive health issues. The institute also cites that teen mothers are now more likely than in the past to complete high school or obtain a GED, but they are still less likely than women who delay childbearing to go on to college. Rogers says it’s much less costly to help students like Ruiz and Harper now than to suffer the more expensive consequences later. Lewisville ISD is fighting to keep its Night High School in operation. In 2006-2007 (the latest statistic available), the district’s dropout rate for ninth- through 12th graders was only 1.1 percent. “We’ll continue to push the envelope and try to find other ways we can serve kids at night,” Rogers says. “We’re getting there, but we’re certainly not there yet.” JOHN EGAN is the former editor of the Austin Business Journal.

The Cost of Dropping Out $ The average annual income for an American high school dropout in 2005 was $17,299, compared with $26,933 for a high school graduate, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. “Not only do high school dropouts earn less when they are employed, they are much more likely to be unemployed during economic downturns,” according to the Alliance for Excellent Education. $ More than half of U.S. dropouts ages 16 to 24 were jobless during an average month in 2008. $ If the more than 120,000 Texas students who dropped out in 2007 had graduated, their additional lifetime income would have added up to more than $32 billion, according to estimates from the Alliance for Excellent Education. $ Cutting the dropout rate in half would yield $45 billion annually in new federal tax revenue or cost savings, according to Columbia University’s Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education at Teachers College. $ Over the course of his or her life, each American dropout costs taxpayers more than $292,000 in terms of lower amounts of taxes paid and higher spending for social costs, including incarceration, health care and welfare, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

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Pasadena ISD 2009-2010

‘Seniors Helping Seniors’ community event lays foundation for change by Barbara Wray

The sun had not been up for long on May 29, 2009, when Pasadena ISD seniors, with scrapers, paintbrushes and cans of paint in their hands, poured out of yellow school buses at job sites across town. Their mission: Put their Career and Technical Education skills to work by sprucing up the homes of senior citizens in the community.

Superintendent Kirk Lewis

It was the district’s first-ever “Seniors Helping Seniors” event, an initiative in which 1,700 Pasadena ISD high school seniors refurbished 33 homes in a single day. “The district saw a good opportunity to get students involved in community service. At Pasadena ISD, we have a focus on service, and we wanted to walk the talk,” says Sarah Wrobleski, director of Career and Technical Education. “We Sarah Wrobleski planned the workday in about five weeks, which was unbelievable. People quickly got on board and they worked on this effort 24-7. I was up in the middle of the night buying paintbrushes on eBay!” To locate homes for the project, Pasadena ISD forged a partnership with Rebuilding Together Houston, a nonprofit community outreach organization that provides no-cost home modifications and repairs to low-income and elderly homeowners, as well as individuals with disabilities. “We encourage our students to make positive contributions in their community,” says Kirk Lewis, Pasadena ISD superintendent. “By doing so, they are acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to achieve personal excellence and to become compassionate citizens.”

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Lewis was one of the many volunteers who readily pitched in to help the teams of high school students with scraping old paint, applying fresh paint, doing yard work and many other tasks. Several administrators and support personnel in Pasadena ISD joined the effort as well. South Houston High School graduate David Devora, who participated in the workday, says the program should be expanded to include students in other grades. “It would be great if everyone in the high schools could be a part of this, so they can see that life is about more than just them,” Devora says. “We can leave our community better than it was because we have helped.” Seniors from Dobie, Memorial, Pasadena, Sam Rayburn and South Houston high schools participated in the district-wide “Seniors Helping Seniors” event. Many of the schools worked on the homes for a full week beforehand, utilizing students and teachers from agriculture and trades classes to complete the necessary carpentry and repair work leading up to the scheduled workday. The five high schools had between 20 and 40 students working at each of the sites. “The students gained so much more from being involved in the early repairs and preparations,” Wrobleski says. “It got them into the game earlier, and they felt ownership of the houses that ‘their’ senior citizens lived in.” The advance preparations, as well as the many tasks performed on the big workday, called for many hands. Some 300 adults were involved, including parents, school administrators, teachers and members of the community. Teachers went


Pasadena Memorial High School students prep an exterior wall prior to giving it a new coat of paint.

into the community to talk with homeowners ahead of time and help put their minds at ease about the project. “Many of these people had been scammed by Hurricane Ike contractors and they were leery, understandably so,” says Wrobleski. While some of the students climbed ladders to sand and paint the homes, others pulled weeds and tended flower gardens. But the homes weren’t the only ones getting makeovers. Cosmetology students at Pasadena High School offered complimentary hairstyling for the senior citizens. Support for “Seniors Helping Seniors” came in many forms, from donating portable toilets on every site to supplying food to fuel the teams of hardworking teenagers. Adult volunteers from the community were charged with feeding the troops. “We had people start at 8 o’clock in the morning, picking up pizzas every 15 minutes, to keep them delivered to the students,” Wrobleski says. She adds that the district also had to arrange for transportation and coordinate the delivery of gallons upon gallons of water to keep the students hydrated. Recruiting volunteers proved much easier than securing corporate sponsors, however. “With the economy, donations were tough to come by. We had to pound the pavement pretty hard,” Wrobleski says. “But I will say this: It was worth every bit of our effort.”

The district’s diligence resulted in sponsorships and donations from Waste Management Inc., Pepsi, Pizza Patron, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, Mexican Restaurants Inc., Seawinn Inc., Meador Staffing Services, Dr. Richard Helmle, Phelps State Farm Insurance Agency and Space City Airbrush. Pasadena ISD volunteers secured numerous ahead-of-time donations, including 2,000 T-shirts for the volunteers and about the same number of paintbrushes. Rebuilding Together Houston provided paint, wood and other necessary supplies. However, some of the most endearing support came from the senior citizens who owned the homes. “The homeowners were so appreciative and they kept the compliments and thank-yous coming. That really made the day worthwhile for all of us — but especially for the kids,” Wrobleski says. “Some of the senior citizens even served up lemonade and cookies.” Pearl Piehl, who lives in north Pasadena, says the students who worked on her home touched her heart. “I live by myself and don’t have anyone to help me,” she says. “I appreciated this so much. I’d never had anyone do anything like this for me before.” After the event, Pasadena ISD hosted an appreciation luncheon for the student volunteers. See PASADENA page 63 Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 61


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PASADENA continued from page 61

Nikki Lewis, a counselor at Sam Rayburn High School, chats with a senior citizen whose house received some much-needed attention during “Seniors Helping Seniors” day.

“There was a lot of discussion about what people had learned,” Wrobleski says. Some of the students talked about the relationships forged on the job sites, particularly the relationships forged with teachers and district staff. “These students graduated last year, and they’re coming back to visit us,” Wrobleski says. “That did not used to happen. … It’s an affirmation for what we do as teachers too, when they come back.” At the luncheon, someone asked how many students had performed community service before participating in the “Seniors Helping Seniors” event. Out of the 100 students present, three raised their hands. When the students were asked if they would serve their community again if given the opportunity, every hand in the room went up. “One student said that before the event, he hadn’t realized he had anything to give,” says Wrobleski. “This event was so very worth all the work it took to pull it off.” Project volunteer and district curriculum specialist Debi Krampen praised the work ethic of the students. “These kids just dove right into this project, rolled up their sleeves and got to work,” she says. “The lessons they have learned in this one day will last them a lifetime.”

“A truly vital community finds its life when its young people dedicate their efforts to bettering their community,” Lewis says. “Our students are setting a superior precedent of citizenship and leadership for others to follow through their commitment to community service.” BARBARA WRAY is a freelance writer in Austin. A student from Pasadena ISD’s Sam Rayburn High School brightens up a house with fresh paint.

Texas School Business . Bragging Rights . 2009-2010 63


Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD 2009-2010

Dual language program fosters bilingual, biliterate culture among all students by Jennifer LeClaire

Spanish and English are in a virtual dead heat to be the most-spoken language in the world. In the United States, the number of Spanish-speaking people is growing by leaps and bounds.

Superintendent Daniel King

These are primary reasons why Pharr-San JuanAlamo (PSJA) ISD launched a program in 1994 to foster a “dual language culture” among its students. After 15 years of faithfulness to that mission, educators in this Rio Grande Valley district this past May proudly watched the first cohort of 45 students from PSJA High School and PSJA North High School graduate from the district’s dual language program. Program participants since kindergarten, these graduates read, write and speak fluently in both academic English and Spanish. All of them have gone on to attend college; some of them on scholarships. Meanwhile, the dual language program in PSJA ISD continues to flourish. “Last year, we implemented the dual language program district-wide for all Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and for Englishdominant students who want to participate from kindergarten,” says Superintendent Daniel “Danny” King. The number of campuses offering the program has grown from nine to 30 since it began. Today, almost 6,000 of the district’s 30,000 students are in the dual language program; approximately 1,200 of those participants are native English speakers. The district makes the biggest push at the kindergarten level to enroll Englishspeaking students in the dual language program. According to King, the younger the students are, the easier it is for them to become proficient in two languages. However, there are exceptions to the rule, and ultimately, it comes down to

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parental support. If a family wants to enroll an older child, PSJA ISD reviews that case on an individual basis. When the class of 2009-2010 completes high school, 55 dual language program students will be among them. Ysleta ISD in El Paso is also graduating bilingual and biliterate students; however, PSJA ISD is the only school district in the entire country that has more than 1,000 students enrolled in dual language classes at the secondary level. As part of its expansion efforts, PSJA ISD is adding a grade level to the dual language program every year, replacing the transitional bilingual program with a one-way dual language model, which most of the students participating are native Spanish speakers. The district expects to reach full implementation of the program in the elementary schools by 2014. Most campuses will be one-way dual language campuses, with the exception of a few implementing a two-way model in which the language groups are more balanced. Currently, at the elementary level, the dual language model provides 50 percent content in Spanish and 50 percent content in English. Pre-kinder, kinder and first grade students learn literacy in their dominant languages; math in English; and social studies and science in Spanish. All social activities provide opportunities to use both languages, as they follow the “language of the day.” Second through fifth grade students follow the same routine, except their language arts classes are in both languages. Also, additional electives are offered in those grades to introduce vocabulary terms in the other language. At the secondary level, the current model is 80 percent content in English and 20 percent content in Spanish, but the Dual language Department is See PHARR-SAN JUAN-ALAMO page 66


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Quick reference

PHARR-SAN JUAN-ALAMO continued from page 64

Biliterate (adjective): able to read and write in two languages.

“People have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to bilingual education, because everybody implements it their own way,” Silva says. “Schools have failed miserably with the Limited English Proficient students. Our program gives LEP students a little bit of Spanish and immerses them in English. We are validating their native language while helping them acquire a second language. That’s the bottom line.”

Bilingual (adjective): able to speak two languages with the facility of a native speaker. Bicultural (adjective): of, pertaining to, or combining two cultures.

working to add more courses in Spanish to realize a truer 50-50 model.

The advantages of biliteracy Beyond research that proves the simultaneous study of two languages offers cognitive and cultural benefits, district officials say that bilingual, biliterate students have a keen advantage when applying to colleges. Showing proficiency in two languages at a high academic level is an attractive characteristic to college administrators, King says. Furthermore, students entering the workforce who are bilingual automatically increase their marketability. To be sure, college preparation begins early for students in the dual language program. Students who participate in the program take a course called Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish for high school and college credit as early as seventh grade. In 2008, 111 eighth grade students took the AP Spanish language exam. Eighty-two of them earned college credit. This year, about 75 percent of PSJA ISD’s middle school dual language students entered high school with college credits already in their pockets. Validating the native tongue King says the dual language program gives native Spanish speakers greater confidence. The district’s LEP population makes up a little more

North High School May 2009 graduate Rigoberto Martinez was among the first cohort of students to complete Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s dual language program.

than 41 percent of the student body. Recent immigrants make up less than 5 percent. “Being on the [U.S.-Mexico] border, many of our students come from Spanish-dominant homes,” King says. “Instead of treating their home language as a deficit, we’ve found that treating it as an advantage gives them a lot of confidence and makes students comfortable in both English and Spanish settings.” Students who are strong in Spanish can be the stars of the classroom in Spanish language classes; they can serve as tutors for English-speaking students who need help with their vocabulary and reading. Consequently, when those same Spanish-speaking students attend their English classes later in the day, King notes, they are more comfortable asking their English-speaking peers for help. “Achievement gaps start to get a little wider in fourth and fifth grades; we know that the gap is there with students who never really acquired academic instruction in their native language,” Silva says. “If students don’t get cognitive academic language proficiency in their native language, they don’t do well when they get older. Our students will be bilingual and biliterate with no achievement gap.” Growing language proficiency PSJA ISD is now making requirements a little more challenging for students. Instead of requiring six dual language credits to graduate from the program, students need eight credits. This encourages students to take both content and non-content coursework in dual languages throughout high school. PSJA ISD has added more co-dual courses, including biology, algebra I, algebra II, physics and chemistry. PSJA ISD also wants to implement a third language at the high school level, so students can become reasonably fluent in a third language before they graduate. Administrators have discussed several language options, including French. “We see, more than ever, kids have such high self-esteems because they are proficient in two languages,” Silva says. “And think – this can all be done in a public school setting. We can implement a consistent model from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade so everybody is on the same page. This is our dream come true.” JENNIFER LECLAIRE also has written for The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor.

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