TSB—February 2013

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February 2013

A closer look at Texas teacher organizations

In the Spotlight Bonnie Anderson Judson ISD

TASBO President Deborah Ottmers Fredericksburg ISD

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TSB contents news and features

Administrators share money-saving ideas


by Tom Canby

photo features TASPA/TAEE Winter Conference heats up



Group study: A closer look at teacher associations

departments Who’s News


by Raven L. Hill

Ad Index


columns From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Katie Ford

In the Spotlight Bonnie Anderson Judson ISD


by Karen Adler

by Jim Walsh

by Terry Morawski

Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan


TASBO President Profile Deborah Ottmers Fredericksburg ISD by Bobby Hawthorne

Cover image © Shutterstock.com The views expressed by columnists and contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or Texas School Business advertisers. The publisher also makes no endorsement of the advertisers or advertisements in this publication. February 2013 • Texas School Business


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Texas School Business • February 2013

From the Editor One of the things I am most grateful for in my job at Texas School Business is the sense of community it brings. Since November 2005, I have had the pleasure of cranking out a quality publication with the support of multiple communities. Most immediately, there’s my editorial community: Publisher Ted Siff, Editor in Chief and “Law Dawg” columnist Jim Walsh; Who’s News writer Janelle Buchanan; designer Phaedra Strecher; proofreader Drew Wolle; columnists Bobby Hawthorne, Terry Morawski and Riney Jordan; and the many talented freelance writers and photographers (well, photographer – we are a small operation, indeed) who contribute to every issue. Then there’s the community at Park Place Publications, which produces Texas School Business, Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest and volumes upon volumes of educational materials. Steve, Ambrose, Isaac and Jacob are top-notch in handling all the logistics involved with magazine distribution, sales and promotions, as well as bringing this traditional print magazine into the 21st century. And of course, there’s you, my dear reader. Some of you I know well; some of you I’ve never met. But each of you matters a great deal to me. It’s my No. 1 job to ensure that the content I bring to you in each issue is informative, engaging, helpful, inspiring and — at the end of the day — uplifting. We at Texas School Business strive to serve as a community builder among public school administrators and educators across the state. From our robust Who’s News section (thank you, Janelle!) to the more personal commentary contributed by our columnists, we want to bring ideas, thoughts and people together. Because together — as a united community — is how we’ll continue to provide excellence in education for Texas children. In the name of community, I invite you, as I do in every issue, to share your story ideas and feedback with me at katie@ texasschoolbusiness.com. Your input is what makes this magazine what it is. Katie Ford Editorial Director This is, after all, your magazine.

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Texas School Business • February 2013


Serving Texas PreK-8 School Leaders

THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

Identifying the leak in the school-to-prison pipeline


e are going to hear the term “school-to-prison pipeline” a lot during this legislative session. Texas Appleseed, the ACLU and other advocacy groups have popularized this term effectively. In fact, the ACLU even offers the “School to Prison Pipeline Game” on its website. I’m not giving you the link. I don’t want to support the use of terminology that is inaccurate, outdated and unfair. INACCURATE. Pipelines are designed to move a product from one place to another. That is their purpose. Schools are not designed to push anyone into prison. On the contrary, schools are designed to nurture and encourage young people to become responsible, productive citizens. Texas has mandated a system of Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs). These are designed specifically to address students’ educational and behavioral needs and to focus on selfdiscipline as well as academics. Appleseed and the ACLU tell us that a large percentage of kids who spent time in a DAEP will end up in prison. Well, duh! I hope they did not spend a lot of money coming to that conclusion. They could have asked any longtime educator about this. We all know it is true, but that type of correlation does not mean there is causation. OUTDATED. Much of the schoolto-prison pipeline movement is an attack on zero-tolerance policies. A few years ago I would have welcomed that attack. Zerotolerance policies were a reactive and ineffective response to fears of violence and drug use in the school setting. But Texas has abolished zero tolerance. Nowhere in Texas law will you see the term “zero tolerance.” Instead, you will find a provision that requires school administrators to take into account certain factors before imposing a disciplinary penalty. These factors include intent, or lack thereof; self-defense; the student’s disciplinary history; and any disability that might impact the student’s understanding of his or her behavior. UNFAIR. Blaming educators for moving kids into prison is simplistic and unfair.

If you want to look at statistical correlation, you could start with birth. Let’s take a look at poverty, unemployment of the parents, family substance abuse, family physical/sexual abuse and incarceration of other family members. If there is a pipeline, it starts long before kindergarten. That’s why on the website of the Children’s Defense Fund you will find a reference to the cradle-to-prison pipeline (www.childrensdefensefund.org). You will find high statistical correlations between DAEP and prison, but you also will find that correlation in certain zip codes. Go to www. justiceatlas.org and you can find the incarceration rate for your neighborhood. Some are shockingly high. I have a personal perspective on this issue. For the past 10 years I have volunteered for a nonprofit program that serves women in prison. The program (www.truth-be-told. org) teaches women to look back on their entire lives and tell the story of what led them to prison. They have the option to do it through public speaking, writing or movement. My job is to listen to those who have chosen to give speeches and provide an evaluation with helpful suggestions for improvement. I know how to do this, having been in Toastmasters for 22 years. In those 10 years I have heard many stories. Most of the women whose stories I have heard were victims of crimes long before they committed crimes. Most have suffered abuse from family members. Some of them were good students in school, but most had so many outside issues to deal with that school was an afterthought. Most of them grew up in zip codes with high rates of incarceration. Not once have I heard any of these women blame a teacher, a school system, a policy or a DAEP for her incarceration. It’s time to quit blaming our schools for problems they did not create and cannot solve on their own. JIM WALSH, an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C., serves as editor in chief of Texas School Business. He can be reached at jwalsh@ wabsa.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JWalshtxlawdawg.

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February 2013 • Texas School Business


Annual TASPA/TAEE Winter Conference heats up in Austin In December, the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators partnered up with the Texas Association for Employment in Education to host the 12th Annual Winter Conference in Austin.

Rosa Gonzalez and Gloria Rodriguez of La Joya ISD with Luz Cadena of TASB.

Anne Esparza of Fabens ISD (third from left) with Bobbi Russell, Dana DeRouen and Jerry Molinoski of Ysleta ISD.

Paul Smith of Denton ISD and Jeannie Tomasek of the Texas Education Agency.

Willie Watson of Manor ISD, Elaine Howard of Judson ISD and Willie Black of Judson ISD.

Taryn Bailey and Cynthia Donnelly of El Paso ISD. 8

Texas School Business • February 2013

Richard Crosby of Weatherford ISD and Andrew Deitschel of SafeSchools.com.

Karen Heeth of Spring Branch ISD, Carrie Durley of Aldine ISD and Richard Lane of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).

Tina Cole and Frank Crayton of Killeen ISD.

Tech Toolbox by Terry Morawski

Evaluating kid-friendly apps


he Internet offers our children fantastic access to a world of information. Corralling this information into lesson plans is a challenge for even the best educators. Many applications package information in a way that can be an effective — and often entertaining — instructional tool. The problem with many of these apps is that they contain links to other material that isn’t appropriate for the classroom. As school-issued tablets and “bring your own device” policies become more commonplace, educators need to evaluate apps thoroughly before bringing them into the classroom. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a report in December highlighting many of the issues with these apps. The report was called “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade.” The December report was developed as a followup to a survey issued in February 2012, which found that apps offered to children in Apple’s App Store and Google Play were not fairly disclosing information about privacy practices and interactive features. Their findings following the two surveys state: “Yes, many apps included interactive features or shared kids’ information with third parties without disclosing these practices to parents.” The survey stated that more than 700,000 apps are available in both Apple and Google’s app stores. Although 9 percent of app developers in the February survey responded that their apps link to social sites, the FTC found the actual number to be 22 percent. Many apps also featured questionable advertising or offered in-app purchases (purchases made within a mobile application to gain access to special content or functionality). The FTC strongly encourages self-regulation of the industry, but consumers shouldn’t expect this to happen overnight. Educators in Texas have a legal responsibility to shield students from inappropriate information online. Because of this, educators must review sites with a new set of eyes. Proper vetting of a website or app includes reviewing all of its hyperlinks, as well as the content posted in the margins. Three areas of high concern include: Advertising: Of the 400 apps reviewed in the survey, 230 (58 percent) contained

advertising. Concern over objectionable ad content or inappropriate links in ads is nothing new, but ads cannot be filtered out of an app the same way they can be blocked from a website. Purchases: Many parents already have experienced this annoyance. Games claiming to be free actually contain in-app purchases of 99 cents each or more. A fun, or even educational, divergence quickly could become an expensive trip to the app store. Currently the Apple Store signals potential buyers with a column titled “Top In-App Purchases.” Visitors to the Google Play store have to work a little harder. Google lists in-app purchasing under a category called “permissions” in the “network communication” area. Social Media: As stated earlier, app developers are not always up-front about social media. Educators and parents are used to links for common sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, but the social aspects of apps often are less obvious. For example, a drawing app might encourage users to share their art with other app users and comment. More and more apps also encourage users to connect with other users who are near them — which could be anybody. It is encouraging to see the FTC take a serious look at apps targeted at children. The challenge for educators and administrators is that the app world is constantly evolving. I am confident there will be further regulations and (hopefully) the ability to filter and monitor apps the same way we are able to control online content. Until then, the best simple answer is to download the apps, try them out, and stay on top of app updates, which often can add social media features or other problem features. Next, make sure your district has provided a resource for educators to share information about apps so they can make informed decisions. To read the full FTC report, follow this link: www.ftc.gov/os/2012/12/121210mobil ekidsappreport.pdf. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. Please send column ideas, reading suggestions, questions and comments to him via email or connect with him on Twitter: @terrymorawski

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School administrators share simple money-saving ideas by Tom Canby

addition to promoting the message to power down devices when they’re not in use, it’s a good practice to install power monitors to track both efficiency and wastefulness. (You might be surprised to see which facilities are using energy unnecessarily in the middle of the night!)


he most challenging fiscal year in history for most school superintendents and business managers ended in the summer of 2012, and this year is not much better. To help meet the challenge, the Texas Association of School Business Officials implemented an online clearinghouse (www.tasbo.org/component/content/ article/327) for school efficiency ideas. Are you looking for more practical ideas to help cover revenue shortfalls following the 2011 Legislature’s drastic cuts? The TASBO clearinghouse is accessible to anyone with Internet access. In the clearinghouse, which is organized by tabs within a spreadsheet, you’ll find many ideas for reducing costs and enhancing revenue. There’s also an option to sign in and add your solutions to the spreadsheet. As an example of what you can find, the following are five simple ideas taken from the clearinghouse. Inspire faculty, staff and students to reduce energy consumption with a district-wide energy-savings contest among campuses. Reward monthly winners with valuable classroom instructional tools. Why wait until tomorrow when you can generate savings today with energy conservation measures? Energy conservation is one strategy that everyone can support to lower operational costs. In some instances, energy conservation measures may require an up-front investment for long-term results, but the return on investment down the road makes the initial costs worthwhile. In


Texas School Business • February 2013

Implement mandatory direct deposit for all employees, which saves money on paper checks and postage, as well as staff time in processing payroll. In taking this measure, give the option of a cash card. Another cost-savings measure that provides immediate results is requiring that all employees be paid electronically. A relatively small investment is required to convert the payroll system, but again, a small investment today translates to longterm savings. Not only will this save on operational costs, it’s a benefit to your employees. Many of us are too busy these days to be standing in line to deposit our payroll checks. A word of advice: Continue to occasionally distribute paychecks manually to maintain internal controls. Consider alternatives before hiring substitutes to fill short-term absences of non-teaching and teaching positions.

Decreasing the use of substitutes for various non-teaching and teaching positions can provide immediate cost savings. Employees who go to work sick increase employee absenteeism, and they need to be counseled to stay home to decrease the spread of germs. That said, if the teacher is out for only a day or two, consider your alternatives before hiring substitutes. This is especially true at the high school level, where students could benefit from learning time-management skills. Students could be given the option to use the class period for group study, special projects or homework.

Reduce printing costs by increasing reliance on and sharing electronic documents.

Bypass printing documents unless there is an absolute need for a paper copy. It’s also good environmental stewardship. We are talking about more than saving on paper and ink, because labor is a hidden cost. This strategy redirects staff time and effort to other education-related activities. After all, storing and retrieving information from filing cabinets is highly inefficient in a digital world. Establish and monitor staffing ratios in all areas; compare ratios to similar districts, campuses and departments.

Personnel costs represent 80 percent or more of operating costs in most school districts, so adjustments in this area should be high on the list. As a result of continual turnover in leadership at all levels, variances from established staffing ratios will occur over time. Also, labor and contract law considerations require legal consultation, in most instances. However, managing employee attrition, process workflow and reassignment of staff, for example, presents options in many areas. Managing public schools is inherently complicated, but focusing on easy-toimplement cost-saving strategies and seeing immediate results can be rewarding. Many school districts have implemented the above strategies successfully. We still have a responsibility to provide excellence in education despite drastic funding cuts to public schools. Start offsetting these cuts now with some of these simple measures. TOM CANBY is director of research and technology at the Texas Association of School Business Officials (www.tasbo.org).

GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Thoughts on Oliver and the thrill of the game


am babysitting my 3-year-old grandson, Oliver. His mom is having her hair cut — a task that takes three or four hours, apparently. My wife is working or watching. I’m not sure. At any rate, I’m here with Oliver and our 21-year-old yellow tabby, Woody. Oliver and I have rough-housed, played chase, explored and tormented Woody. Later, we’re visiting the fire station that’s just around the corner. We baked oatmeal-pecancoconut cookies that we’ll deliver to the firemen, a little thanks for welcoming us into their cramped, old station. I know they will. I stopped by the other day and they assured me they’d love to show Oliver the gear and the truck. It’s going to be great. Fact is, Oliver loves firemen. He’s watching Fireman Sam on Netflix right now. That’s how I have time to write this. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of days. You see, Oliver is a special kid. I know, all grandkids are special. Brightest. Cutest. Most this. Best that. That’s a given. But he is special. He’s incredibly verbal. Yesterday, he said “forget,” and then corrected himself and said “forgot.” Remember, he’s 3. He’s also plucky and courageous. He doesn’t mind taking a hit. We played “close your eyes and Pops will sweep your legs out from under you” for about an hour. He laughed every time, even once when he almost fell off the couch onto the tile floor, perhaps by way of the coffee table corner. Scared me to death. Don’t tell his mom. Please. He has the innate ability and temperament of an athlete. The only problem is that he’s little and a little shy, and that can be a problem. He can get lost in the pack, become discouraged and disenchanted, and quit. I would hate that. It almost happened to me. It did happen to my daughter. I have no intention of reliving my childhood through a grandson. If I were to, I’d relive it through Oliver’s 1-year-old brother. His name is Shepard, but I call him Turbo. If there’s a middle linebacker in our future, it’s probably him. I just want Oliver to enjoy the thrill of the game. I want him to be tutored and men-

tored by men and women who fully appreciate how profoundly important they can be in his life. I don’t want him to be the cannon fodder of coaches revisiting their lost youth though my grandson. I want his coaches to teach values like hard work, persistence, dedication and teamwork, but I don’t want these terms to be twisted or warped. I once knew a coach who ran his boys until they threw up, and he was proud of it. He placed barrels around the gym floor and warned his players that if they puked on his floor, he’d run ’em that much and more. His floor. He was a bully and a creep. I had a high school coach, Tommy Atkins, who inspired me, motivated me, to achieve something I never could have achieved alone: to run a two-minute half mile on a cinder track on a cold, windy February evening. Sure, he ran me half to death too, but I busted a gut for him out of respect and admiration — not fear. I finished third in district, and he treated me as if I’d taken first at state. I hope Oliver’s coaches help him to discover the love of athletic competition — be it football or golf or table tennis or even, God forbid, soccer. With my luck, he’ll be an allstar flopper, and I’ll spend the autumn of my life camped out with 16 other parents and grandparents, caravanning to soccer matches coast to coast. Of course, I’ll be glad to do it if he loves the game and if he’s getting out of it as much as he’s putting into it. One of my great regrets going forward is knowing I’ll never play another game of football without suffering horribly for it. My best tennis, racquetball and basketball are far behind me too. That’s OK. I have my memories. I want Oliver to have his memories too. If you’ll help him, guide him, inspire him, then I’ll make sure there’s a batch of oatmealpecan-coconut cookies coming your way too. BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

June 2012


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Group study: A closer look at teacher organizations in Texas by Raven L. Hill


uch has changed since the first teachers’ convention was held in 1871.

Back then, women had few options for work in those rural communities. Teaching in one-room schoolhouses for less than $30 a month was often as good as it got. But pioneer educators believed there could be something even better and that organizing was the best way to make it happen. As the years have shown, those early educators were on to something. Texas teacher organizations such as the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA), Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA), the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) and the Texas American Federation of Teachers (Texas AFT) are credited with crucial advances in protections for the state’s teachers and for providing professional support. There is a renewed focus on teachers’ groups and unions and their roles in education reform these days. Living in a “right-to-work state” imposes some lim12

Texas School Business • February 2013

its on Texas organizations from operating as unions in the traditional sense. But that doesn’t diminish their involvement and effectiveness in important areas, experts say. Unions typically focus on contract negotiating, politics and advocacy, professional development and other services. “The only thing that organizations in Texas can’t do is collectively bargain with their district,” says Dara Zeehandelaar, research manager at the Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The creation of TSTA in June 1880 launched a movement that continues more than 130 years later and expands beyond one organization. Texas teachers’ groups collectively represent the interests of almost 230,000 educators across the state. Among the major teacher organizations, ATPE is the largest, boasting 110,000 members, followed by TSTA — the oldest — at 68,000 members, and Texas AFT, with 65,000 members. TCTA has 50,000 members. Their missions are similar: to uplift the stature of educators across the state’s

1,024 districts. They frequently collaborate on issues of mutual interest and benefit, such as the state accountability system, and pride themselves on being “memberdriven.” But there are clear differences between them. In addition to advocating for teachers, ATPE’s scope includes administrators, paraprofessionals and support staff. TCTA represents the interests of teachers only. TSTA and Texas AFT, the state branches of the two largest national teachers unions, address many issues at the federal level. ATPE and TCTA eschew collective bargaining; TSTA has worked to implement collective bargaining at every legislative session since the 1980s. Texas AFT proudly touts its affiliation with the AFL-CIO. “It is a strength in Texas that teachers have a choice of whether to join an organization or not, as well as which organization’s benefits and style fit best with their values,” says TCTA Executive Director Jeri Stone. Jeri Stone

Along with its deep roots in Texas, TSTA’s ties to the National Education Association (NEA) enable the organization to make an impact beyond the state’s borders.

Texas State Teachers Association and Texas AFT

‘You don’t get to be 100-something years in existence if you don’t evolve.’ — Richard Kouri, TSTA executive director

TSTA was formed in 1880 through a merger of two groups, the North Texas Educational Association and the Austin Teachers Association. The two groups were formed several years after the 1871 State Educational Convention in Austin, the first statewide gathering of teachers. In its infancy, TSTA was primarily an organization of education leaders. Their concerns included making changes to public school laws and supporting education reform. However, its first convention, which created the merger, had a one-item agenda: to bring a first-class university to Texas, according to Executive Director Richard Kouri. “From birth, TSTA has been focused on impacting education in Texas,” he says. “Throughout our history, we have looked at: How do we improve the condition, the funding, the resources to public schools? That is our strength. We look for ways to partner and provide better opportunities for the children in Texas.”

“We are part of a larger entity that is involved in education at the federal level,” he says. “We’re very much focused on advocacy and organizing and helping our local affiliate to influence what is going on in their lives and in the lives of their students.” To some, having national ties is desirable, but the group’s decision to join NEA in 1974 was not without controversy. The vote — 54,992 for and 46,661 against — caused many members to leave. That same year, the Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT) was chartered as the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The state organization grew slowly. In 1976, the group had approximately 1,300 members. Four years later, it had 10,000. Known as Texas AFT since 2007, the group began as an outgrowth for people who wanted a stronger connection with organized labor, says President Linda Bridges. Linda Bridges

While the TSTA mission has adjusted and adapted with the times, it continues to be member-driven, Kouri says.

‘Because we do similar things, we will always be lumped in with the other groups. We are not a labor union and do not want to be part of a labor union.’

“You don’t get to be 100-something years in existence if you don’t evolve,” Kouri says. “Because it’s an organization where the members make the key decisions about what our goals are going to be and what our operation is going to look like, it’s been able to evolve and continue to survive and thrive as an organization.”

The group is credited with authoring the laws that set statewide teacher salaries, and creating the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, certification standards, as well as bills to establish maintenance and operation funds for schools.

— Doug Rogers, ATPE executive director

See GROUP STUDY on page 14 February 2013 • Texas School Business


GROUP STUDY continued from page 13

“It certainly grew along strong urban areas and has over time approached a statewide organization,” she says. Bridges attributes the organizational growth to strong advocacy on issues such as school discipline and safety, salary and benefits, and testing and accountability. The group also provides leadership training to more than 1,000 local leaders annually. “The fact is that employees see us as a really strong advocate on their behalf,” Bridges says. Going forward, Texas AFT hopes to bring more community voices to the forefront. Since the past fall, the group has held community forums across the state to encourage dialogue among residents, elected officials and religious leaders about testing, accountability, funding and parental involvement in education.

Bridges says the experience has been eye-opening. “It is amazing to us how much people are thinking alike across the state about public education,” she says. “In the future, we would like to continue the dialogue with them. There are a lot of people who want to talk about public schools and how they can support them.”

Association of Texas Professional Educators Though having ties to organized labor might be a point of pride for TSTA and Texas AFT, the other major organizations in the state are careful to draw a distinction. Recalling its break with TSTA after the 1974 unification vote, ATPE Executive Director Doug Rogers explains: “We wanted to be an all-inclusive organization, member-owned and membergoverned. And we wanted to be a state-only organization. We didn’t want to be part of a national organization.”

‘It is a strength in Texas that teachers have a choice of whether to join an organization or not, as well as which organization’s benefits and style fit best with their values.’ — Jeri Stone, TCTA executive director


Texas School Business • February 2013

Most importantly, the group did not want to be viewed as a union. “We are a professional association,” Rogers says. “Because we do similar things, we will always be lumped in with the other groups. We are not a labor union and do not want to be part of a labor union.”

ATPE opposes collective bargaining, believing that its major tools of resistance — strikes and work stoppages — are detrimental to students. The group is focused primarily on state issues, such as the emphasis on testing, TRS benefits and fallout from the school finance lawsuit. The group’s diverse membership — which includes administrators and support staff — reflects an important philosophy about educating the “whole child,” he says. “We believe that teachers, principals and support people all work on behalf of students. To have separate organizations is a disservice to the total program,” he says. “We should be working collaboratively on the issues that best support teaching and learning. We all have to work for the benefit of the whole.” In addition to concerns about collective bargaining, ATPE did not support NEA’s requirement under its unification vote that members would have to join the local, state and national groups. However, ATPE stands in solidarity with unions in other respects, Rogers says. “Just because we don’t support collective bargaining doesn’t mean we don’t advocate for teachers at the state and local level,” Rogers says. “We want to be part of the decision-making process. We want our opportunity to talk to school board trustees and decision-makers when they are making policies that affect education.” Looking toward the group’s future, Rogers says he expects ATPE to continue growing and thriving as long as it remains member-owned and member-governed. “We are constantly looking at what our population needs,” he says.

© Shutterstock.com

Texas Classroom Teachers Association Founded in 1927, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association is also focused on the needs of its members; the group keeps a laser-like focus solely on issues of interest among teachers. “We have remained true to the premise that teachers need their own organization. The interests of teachers are not always the same as administrators,” says Executive Director Stone. “There are times that we agree with administrators in looking at student issues. There are other times that we disagree.”

“You have states where unions are partners and you have states where unions are opponents. You have other states where state leaders are so set on reform that it doesn’t matter if the union is a partner or an opponent,” she says. “Texas is in that last category. They might as well be a partner because reform is going to happen anyway.” ATPE and TCTA’s larger membership numbers compared to the groups affiliated with the national teachers’ unions pose another question.

“Are they bowing out of a fight they know they will lose,” Zeehandelaar asks, citing the ban on collective bargaining, “or is there no fight? We hope there is no fight because then you have buy-in from teachers who want the same reforms as everyone else.” RAVEN L. HILL is a freelance writer and former education reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.

She points to class sizes as one area of debate. Administrators might need to increase class sizes for budget or space reasons, while teachers feel that larger class sizes have a negative impact on instruction. “Just as administrators have their own organizations,” she says, “so should teachers.” Like ATPE, TCTA does not support collective bargaining. Stone describes it as “inherently adversarial,” adding that the negative perception of unions hurts organizations like TCTA. “There are people who like to paint all of us with the same brush. That makes our job more difficult if the perception is that teachers are not interested in what is best for students and the community — that we are only interested in perpetuating ourselves,” she says. “That could not be further from the case.” TCTA does not believe in organizing protests at the Capitol, jamming fax machines with form letters or name-calling in the name of public education, Stone says. “We are bipartisan and willing to work with anyone to advance our goals,” she says.

Organizing, Texas-style Texas provides an interesting case study on teachers groups, says Zeehandelaar of the Fordham Institute.

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February 2013 • Texas School Business


In the


Judson ISD teacher inspires learning through trailblazing and music-making by Karen Adler


hen Bonnie Anderson was in elementary school, she was put in a box, so to speak, by the adults in her life. She was pegged as the hyper, disruptive student who wasn’t very smart and had trouble making friends. Today, Anderson is an elementary music teacher at Judson ISD’s Coronado Village Elementary. She gives free ukulele lessons after school. She teaches her students to play music, not simply to read it. She even spearheaded a highly successful Family Math Nights program. And, at age 45, she’s learning to speak Spanish so that she can teach in both languages at her dual-language campus.

There are no more boxes in Anderson’s life. Anderson knew she wanted to be a teacher as early as the second grade. She remembers her teacher constantly putting her down because of her inattentiveness and poor behavior. Back then, “bad” meant “stupid.” “I decided then that I was going to become a teacher so that I could be a nice teacher,” Anderson says. In middle school she discovered music. Anderson joined band in the seventh grade — two years later than most of the students in her Oklahoma school. Reasoning that it would be easier to mask

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be a successful person if it hadn’t been for music.’

her potentially poor playing, the band director put her on the clarinet. Except Anderson was good. And as she got better, she earned more confidence. Suddenly, she had a passion and a talent,

Judson ISD music teacher Bonnie Anderson helps her student make joyful noise at Coronado Village Elementary. Anderson is a favorite among students due to her enthusiasm and differentiated instruction strategies. 16

Texas School Business • February 2013

and everything else fell into place. She went from getting Cs and Ds to straight As by the time she was in high school. “Music totally changed my life,” Anderson says. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be a successful person if it hadn’t been for music.” After graduating from the University of North Texas, Anderson began her career in 1992 at an East Texas school district. She immediately had trouble fitting into the “music teacher” box. After one year, the elementary school principal didn’t renew her contract. “He told me I was ‘too innovative,’” Anderson recalls. Instead of forcing her students to sit in chairs and sing songs from books, which was the expectation of music teachers 20 years ago, she taught them to play instruments and incorporated games into her lessons. Because of her then-husband’s military duty, Anderson bounced around school districts and even did a four-year stint in Hawaii, where she picked up the ukulele. In 2002, she came to Coronado Village Elementary. Her daughters, ages 8 and 11, now attend school there. Her teaching style is constantly evolving, she admits. “I’m a way different teacher now than I was 20 years ago, or even three years ago,” she says. Anderson only has her students in class once a week, so her goal is to make the most of it. “In elementary school, I don’t believe in spending a lot of time teaching students to read music,” she says. “You wouldn’t teach kids to read a book once a week for 45 minutes.” It’s still a semi-controversial teaching philosophy, but Anderson makes no apologies and says it’s completely appropriate for older music students to learn to read music. But when they’re young, “the steady beat is more important,” she says. “What good is it to know what note you’re supposed to play if you don’t know when to play it? I want them making music.” Music adds up to fun Barbara Smejkal, the principal at Coronado Village, says she was surprised when Anderson approached her four years ago to ask if she and her friend, the school’s science coordinator, could

Fun Facts about Bonnie Anderson An artist/band that frequently makes my playlist: Billy Joel First concert ever: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young The soundtrack to my life lately would be titled: “Mi Vida Loca” (I have been singing this in my head for the past three years.) Best advice I could give a first-year teacher: (1) Get “Boys Town Training.” This training gave me the skills I desperately needed to maintain control over my classes. Even though I don’t follow all of the steps anymore, the basic skills still serve me well. (2) There truly is nothing like experience. I was told this over and over again when I first started teaching, and I didn’t want to hear it, but it is true. Take advantage of the wisdom of others. organize a family math night. While helping her friend, Brenda Johnson, set up labs for science training through the Texas Regional Collaborative, Anderson discovered Thomas Ecker’s Nachos and Numbers workshop. “It sounded like a great way to get kids excited about math,” says Anderson, noting that math was her second favorite subject when she was a student. Nachos and Numbers is essentially a step-by-step program of how to put on a fun, hands-on family math night for the whole school, Anderson says. There are math games for every grade level, free nachos to eat (after students measure the ingredients) and — because Anderson is the organizer — music and dancing. “When she incorporates music into math, it really helps reinforce the math concepts,” Smejkal says. “The students love her because she makes music fun.” She’s a master of differentiated instruction who gives each student a chance to discover and use his or her talents, Smejkal adds. Johnson says Anderson opens her room early and stays late so that she can help students with their homework or practice instruments.

‘What good is it to know what note you’re supposed to play if you don’t know when to play it? I want them making music.’ “Everything is about her students,” says Johnson, now assistant principal for Judson’s alternative school. “She’s amazing.” Almost fluent in Spanish, Anderson admits that she sometimes teaches an entire music class in her newly acquired language just to mix things up. “I’ve learned to care about everything about our students, not just how they do musically,” she says. “I really enjoy being able to step outside my box and help students with reading and math.” KAREN ADLER is a freelance writer and the director of communications for Northside ISD.

February 2013 • Texas School Business


TASBO PRESIDENT profile Fredericksburg ISD’s Deborah Ottmers fights the good fight at work and at home by Bobby Hawthorne


eborah Ottmers wasn’t looking for lessons in love, family or God’s infinite wisdom when her husband fell ill in the winter of 1998. She thought she knew most of what she needed to know about such things — even the most irksome question: “Why does God occasionally throw fastballs at the heads of good people?”

Good people like her and her husband, Carlton. They attended church regularly, treated people right, returned movie rentals on time. So why was Carlton fighting leukemia when they had two sons — a 3-year-old and 2-week-old — depending on them? Chemotherapy had failed. Doctors couldn’t locate a transplant match. The situation was dire.

Yet, rather than surrendering to selfpity, grief and bitterness, Ottmers used what she had learned from her parents and three older brothers and three older sisters. She would embrace and nurture others, and she would stand on her own two feet. If she wanted something, she would make it happen. That’s how she helped her husband tackle and eventually survive cancer.

Deborah Ottmers, assistant superintendent of business and finance for Fredericksburg ISD, is no stranger to staying strong in the face of adversity. She kept her family together as her husband fought and won his battle with cancer. Ottmers applies that same winning spirit in her job and now in her role as president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials. 18

Texas School Business • February 2013

It’s also how she tackles her life today, 13 years later. She’s assistant superintendent of business and finance for Fredericksburg ISD, and she’s the new president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials. Her sons are in middle school now, and they’re involved in band, church and scouting. Carlton is doing well, dabbling in real estate, ranching and music production. He also keeps tabs on the family’s two cats, Gray and Spaz, and serves as an assistant scoutmaster. Ottmers is on the Texas Hill Country Boys and Girls Club board of directors. Best of all, Ottmers’ brothers and sisters live nearby, and weekends are often full of noisy meals, endless games and an occasional impromptu performance of “We Are Family” or Irving Berlin’s “Sisters” — sans the ostrich-feather fans. “I really don’t have close friends because I have no time to cultivate those relationships,” Ottmers says. “Both of my parents are deceased. My siblings and their spouses are my best friends. We are a very close family.” Ottmers graduated from Copperas Cove High in 1981, knowing she would major in accounting and then work for a big firm. That’s how it panned out until she was judging student business plans for a Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition in San Antonio. She realized then that a fat paycheck was nice but it failed to bring her much in the way of personal fulfillment. “I didn’t have children then, and so I realized I wanted to be able to help kids the same way my teachers helped me,” Ottmers says. “I wanted to know that I was doing something important, and I can’t think of anything more important than teaching. I could have made twice as much money in accounting, but I would not have been as fulfilled as a person.” So, she landed a job at San Antonio’s Southwest High School and then at MacArthur High in North East ISD, where she taught every business-related course in the curriculum, coached UIL accounting and computer applications and sponsored the BPA Club. “I truly enjoyed high school, and it was because of all of those various activities,” Ottmers recalls. “I love watching kids grow into the person they can be.” She had no intention of leaving the classroom until a position in the North East ISD business office opened at midterm in 1999. By then, she had one child

‘If I had been in the classroom, I could not have been able to take care of everything that was coming our way. So, I think it was a bit of divine intervention. God knew. He put me on a different path.’ and was pregnant with a second. As painful as it was to leave the classroom, the move seemed to make sense. That’s when Carlton was diagnosed with leukemia. “If I had been in the classroom, I could not have been able to take care of everything that was coming our way,” she says. “So, I think it was a bit of divine intervention. God knew. He put me on a different path.” Certainly, not an easy one. Carlton needed a bone marrow or stem cell transplant or he would die — and soon. Searches of North American and European blood and marrow registries produced one potential donor: an English woman who had moved without leaving a forwarding address. A private investigator eventually found the woman. She agreed to donate the bone marrow that saved Carlton’s life.

“In the end, we realized that we all need to be there for one another,” Ottmers says. “You don’t take your kids for granted. You don’t take your brothers and sisters for granted. You don’t take your friends and your fellow workers for granted. You enjoy them. You embrace and nurture them. “I can retire in six years, but I won’t because I wouldn’t know what I would do if I retired. I plan to continue working and teaching as long as the school district and TASBO will have me. I want to help other people for as long as I can.” BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

February 2013 • Texas School Business


Who’s News Alice ISD Grace Everett has been named district superintendent. She had been serving in that position in an interim capacity and previously was superintendent of Ben Bolt Polito Blanco ISD. After beginning her public school career as an English and ESL teacher in San Diego (Texas) ISD, she spent three years as a language arts and reading teacher in Orange Grove ISD. She then returned to San Diego as a high school assistant principal. She next was a principal in Benavides and Academy ISDs. Additionally, she was assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for OSM Charter Schools, director of operations for EASE Inc. and district testing coordinator for Robstown ISD. She also has been an English instructor at Coastal Bend College and an adjunct professor at The University of Texas-Pan American and Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees were earned from the University of Maryland and her master’s degree from Texas A&I University. Her doctorate in educational leadership was awarded from Texas A&M University.

Travis County, where she served as an educational instructor for adults and youth convicted or adjudicated of a crime and as a detention officer and juvenile Patricia Alford probation officer. She was most recently principal of Taylor ISD’s Opportunity Center, where she worked for five years. Martin Conrardy now leads Genesis High School as principal. He has been an educator for 21 years, working as a teacher, coordinator, instructional specialist, assistant principal and associate prinMartin Conrardy cipal. He spent the past five years as associate principal of Bastrop High School. Conrardy earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Northern Colorado and his master’s degree in education administration from The University of Texas.

Arlington ISD After serving as interim superintendent since June, Marcelo Cavazos has been named the district’s superintendent. Beginning as an English teacher in Mission ISD in 1990, he Marcelo Cavazos moved to McAllen ISD two years later to teach English and government. The next year, he was named Mercedes ISD’s secondary language arts supervisor, moving to San Benito ISD in 1995. In 1998, he joined the Texas Education Agency Department of School Finance and Support. In addition, Cavazos has been a lecturer in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas–Pan American and a doctorate from The University of Texas.

Burleson ISD Superintendent Richard Crummel has announced his upcoming retirement.

Bastrop ISD Patricia Alford is the new principal of Gateway School. An educator for 14 years, she previously was employed with 20

Texas School Business • February 2013

Clear Creek ISD Michael Houston has been named principal of Clear View Education Center. He came to the district in 2007 as a math teacher and assistant track and field coach at Clear Springs High School. He then served as chair of the Clear View Education Center Math Department and as assistant principal of Clear Creek High. Houston is a magna cum laude graduate of Tuskegee University in Alabama, where he earned a degree in mathematics. His master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction and in educational management were earned from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Danbury ISD A new superintendent has been named. He is Greg Anderson, who was the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.

De Leon ISD A new superintendent is in place for the district. She is Dana Marable, who has been an educator for 42 years, 13 of those as a superintendent. Beginning as a classroom teacher in Bryan ISD, she went on to serve as that district’s supervisor of language arts and bilingual programs, then as a principal. She transferred to Texas City ISD as the district’s curriculum director, moving three years later to take the job of superintendent of Medina Valley ISD. She next held the top position in Marble Falls and Longview ISDs. Marable took her first interim superintendent position in Temple ISD, later serving in the same capacity in Lancaster and Grandview ISDs. In addition, she has been a summer lecturer at Texas A&M University and a visiting professor at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas A&M University and Stephen F. Austin State University. Marable earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University. Denton ISD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Dennis Stephens has announced his retirement after 40 years of service. Richard Valenta has stepped into the assistant superintendent role vacated by Stephens. An educator for 30 years, he comes to his new position from Birdville ISD, where he was assistant director and then director of human resources, holding the most recent position for 13 years. Prior to that, he was assistant director of the district’s athletics and physical education department. He also spent nine years with Irving ISD as vice principal of Houston Junior High and as head baseball coach and junior varsity football coach at Irving High School. Additionally, he was a biology teacher and coach at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD for four years. Valenta holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas. His doctorate was earned from Walden University. Frisco ISD Jeremy Lyon, former superintendent of Hays CISD, is the district’s new super-

Who’s News intendent. He has been an educator for 27 years, 11 of those as a superintendent. A graduate of Texas A&M University, he earned his doctoral degree from The University of Texas. Gladewater ISD Gladewater High School Principal Suzie Lambert has announced her upcoming retirement. She began her career 24 years ago as a teacher in Gilmer ISD before joining Gladewater ISD, where she has spent the rest of her career, minus two years spent with Winona ISD. She has been principal of Gladewater High for the past six years. Hays CISD Carter Scherff has been selected to serve as interim superintendent, a position he also held in 2009. He has been with the district since 2003. A management specialist with 27 years of experience and more than 25 years in Texas public education, he was most recently Hays CISD’s deputy superintendent. He began his career as a CPA in the private sector in 1986, joining his first school district, Austin ISD, in 1988. He remained there until 1995, going on to serve in Waco and Wichita Falls ISDs. He has worked on 25 Texas school performance reviews and the first Oklahoma school performance review for the Oklahoma Department of Accountability. Scherff earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Midwestern State University. Houston ISD Lenny Schad has been named chief information technology officer for Houston ISD. He was most recently chief information officer for Katy ISD, a position he held for nine years. His 25-year career in technology includes stints with the 1991 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations and the 1992 Republican National Convention. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Superintendent Gene Buinger was presented with the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Chamber of Commerce, given annually to an individual for his or her role in

the economic development of the community. Buinger also has announced his upcoming retirement, effective in June. He has been superintendent since 1999. Gene Buinger An educator since 1968, he began his career as a teacher and assistant principal in Blue Valley School District, near Kansas City, Kan. He served in two other Kansas districts, as secondary principal and superintendent in Halstead and as assistant superintendent and superintendent in Arkansas City. He then held the top position in Jenks ISD, near Tulsa, Okla., before coming to Ector County ISD in Odessa as superintendent, a job he held from 1989 to 1996 before moving to head the school district in Bibb County, Ga., for three years. He came to Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD in 1999. Buinger, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Fort Hays State College in Kansas and his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, holds a doctorate in education administration from Oklahoma State University. On Nov. 16, Sue Cannon, Trinity High School girls’ basketball coach and athletics coordinator, had her 1,000th career win. She began in 1971 as head basketball coach at the Durham Academy Sue Cannon in Durham, N.C., and three years later she became head women’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina. She came to Texas in 1975 as head basketball coach of Bishop Byrne High School in Port Arthur. She next held the top basketball coaching position at West Orange-Stark High School in West Orange-Cove CISD and has been head basketball coach and men’s and women’s athletics coordinator at Trinity High School in Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD since 1986. She is past president of the Texas Girls’ Coaches Association and was inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Cannon holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina.

Ingram ISD Robert Templeton, who was principal of Kerrville ISD’s Tivy High School, has been named superintendent of Ingram ISD. Irving ISD

Bertha Bailey Whatley

Irving ISD has hired Bertha Bailey Whatley to serve as the district’s first in-house attorney. She was most recently chief legal counsel for Fort Worth ISD.

Kerrville ISD A new principal is in place for Tivy High School. He is Jarrett Jachade, who has been with the district as an assistant principal since 2010. Prior to coming to Kerrville ISD, he was a high Jarrett Jachade

See WHO’S NEWS on page 22

February 2013 • Texas School Business


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 21

school math teacher and coach in Rockport and Bandera ISDs. Jachade earned his bachelor’s degree in math and kinesiology and his master’s degree in school administration from Lamar University. Lubbock ISD Tennis coach and math teacher Cory Axton was recently named Middle School Coach of the Year by the Texas Tennis Coaches Association. He received his honor in December at the annual Cory Axton Wilson/TTCA Awards and Hall of Fame banquet in New Braunfels. Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight will bring his 21-year career with the district to a close with his retirement at the end of June. Northside ISD A new principal has been named for Folks Middle School, slated to open in August. He is Barry Perez, who began his career in Edgewood ISD as a seventh grade teacher at Garcia Junior High, before com-

ing to Northside ISD in 1993 as a teacher at Neff Middle School. He since has served as an assistant principal of Jones and Jordan middle schools, vice principal of RawlBarry Perez ins Middle School and, most recently, as principal of Pease Middle School. Perez holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Edward’s University in Austin and a master’s degree in school administration from Trinity University in San Antonio. Carrie Squyres, who has served as vice principal of Hoffman Elementary since the school opened in 2008, is now the principal. She has spent her career with Northside ISD, beginning as a Carrie Squyres second grade teacher at Adams Hill Elementary in 1996. She transferred to Fernandez Elementary as a first grade teacher and was the campus instructional technologist for Scobee and Forester elementary schools. Squyres, who earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from The University of Texas at San Antonio, holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix.

Ore City ISD Ray Deason, who had been serving as director of curriculum, special programs and testing, is the district’s new assistant superintendent. During his career, he has been an elementary, middle school and special education Ray Deason teacher and a speech pathologist. He served as principal of Belton Junior High in Belton ISD and as principal of Central Elementary and Northside Intermediate schools in Henderson ISD. He was also a field agent/analyst for the accelerated schools division of The University of Texas, working with the academic programs at four high schools and as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Tyler. Deason earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Stephen F. Austin State University. Pleasant Grove ISD Margaret Davis has been superintendent of Pleasant Grove ISD for 23 years, making her one of the longest-tenured superintendents in Texas. In December, she announced that she will retire in May. Davis Margaret Davis began her career as a teacher of migrant children in Idalou ISD in 1972, going on in that district to serve as a fourth grade classroom teacher and remedial reading teacher for first and second grades. She moved to Liberty-Eylau ISD in 1978 as a third grade teacher and later was an instructor in the education department of East Texas State University in Texarkana. She joined Pleasant Grove ISD in 1981, serving as assistant superintendent for instruction and communications; director of curriculum; and curriculum coordinator. She became the district’s superintendent in 1990. Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Texas Tech University and two master’s degrees, both from East Texas State University. Poth ISD The new superintendent is Scott Caloss, who was most recently principal


Texas School Business • February 2013

Who’s News of Poth Junior High. He began his career in 1992 as a math teacher and a coach at Richland Middle School in Birdville ISD, taking the same positions later at Richland Scott Caloss High School. He next moved to Valley Mills ISD in the same capacity, where he spent a year before joining Jourdanton ISD, first as a math teacher and a coach at Jourdanton High School and then as assistant principal. He came to Poth ISD in 2004. Caloss holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas Woman’s University. Ralls ISD Chris Wade, who had been serving as principal of Ralls High School, is now the district’s superintendent. He has been with Ralls ISD for eight years. He also was a teacher and coach in Olton and Chris Wade Smyer ISDs. Wade’s bachelor’s degree is from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in educational administration is from Lubbock Christian University. Richardson ISD The Excellence in Education Foundation recognized two Richardson ISD administrators by bestowing them with the 2012 Administrative Excellence Award. Carmen Casamayor-Ryan, who is principal of Mark Twain Elementary School, won in the elementary level. She began her career teaching English in Japan and took her first principal assignment in Dallas ISD. With Richardson ISD, she has been a teacher, grants manager, assistant principal and principal. Principal Henry Hall of Richardson West Junior High Arts and Technology Magnet School was recognized in the secondary level. He spent eight years in the Army National Guard, earned an associate’s degree from Southern University and a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University. He began his career at Richardson West Junior High. Hall also holds

a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Most recently, she spent six years as principal of Sherwood Forest Elementary in that district. She began her career as an elementary and junior high teacher, also serving as a Title I and learning assistance program specialist for Federal Way. Bergman earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Pacific Lutheran University and her master’s degree from Gonzaga University. Kim Winters has been appointed principal of Grisham Middle School. A member of the Round Rock ISD team since 2002, she began as a language arts teacher at Ridgeview Middle School, going on to serve as an assistant principal at Cedar Valley Middle School and Westwood High School. Winters, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Texas State University, earned her master’s degree in administration from The University of Texas.

Rockwall ISD Stepping into the role of principal of Springer Elementary School is Brad Helmer, moving up from his most recent position as assistant principal. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Texas State University and is pursuing his doctorate from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Mike Pitcher, who was principal of Springer Elementary School since its opening in 2004, is now principal of Stevenson Elementary, slated to begin operation in the fall. He spent 10 years teaching in Garland ISD before joining Rockwall ISD as an assistant principal at Parks-Heath Elementary. He also served in that capacity at Pullen Elementary. Pitcher earned his bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Dallas and his master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Smithville ISD Shad Scharlach is the new assistant principal of Smithville High School. In his 14 years as an educator, he has served in San Marcos CISD and Llano, Del Valle, Sherman, Round Rock and Wimberley ISDs. He has been a head basketball coach, athletics coordinator, assistant principal and classroom teacher.

Round Rock ISD A new principal has been named for Caldwell Heights Elementary School. Barbara Bergman has been an elementary school principal for the past 16 years, leading two schools in the Federal Way Public School District in Washington State.

See WHO’S NEWS on page 24

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 23

Socorro ISD Jose Espinoza is the new superintendent. An educator and administrator for 16 years, he was most recently a school improvement officer in Houston ISD. He also has been a classroom teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal and district administrator. Espinoza holds a bachelor’s

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Texas School Business • February 2013

Tenaha ISD Scott Tyner is now district superintendent. An educator for 15 years, he began his career in Eustace ISD. He came to Tenaha in 2005 to serve as the district’s athletics director and head Scott Tyner football coach. He then was named principal of Tenaha High School in 2008, holding that position until accepting the role of interim superintendent this past summer. Tyler ISD The new communications director is Dawn Parnell, who comes to her position from Uvalde, where she was executive director of the Tri-County Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. She previously served as vice president of the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau from 1992 to 2002. During that time, she also taught communication courses at Tyler Junior College. In addition, she was executive director of Communities in Schools Permian Basin in Midland. She also spent six years as the director of grants, foundation and corporate development for Killeen ISD. Parnell received her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. Veribest ISD A new superintendent has been named. He is Bobby Fryar, who began his education career in 1994 in New Mexico, teaching and coaching in the Carlsbad Municipal Schools. He joined his first Texas district in 1995 as a teacher and a coach in Brady ISD and then moved on to Jacksboro ISD. Fryar took his first administrative position in 2000 in Sweetwater ISD, serving first as the district’s middle school principal and then as the high school principal. Two years later, he moved to Robert Lee ISD as the district’s secondary principal and athletics director. In Early ISD, his assignments included elementary principal, high school dean of students and high school principal. He took his first superintendent role in 2009 in Crosbyton CISD, where he remained until accepting his position in Veribest. He spent two years as a

Who’s News graduate assistant football coach at Angelo State University. Fryar earned his bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University and his master’s degree from Tarleton State University. Victoria ISD Newly hired Superintendent Robert Jaklich has spent his career in San Antonio area schools, most recently with Harlandale ISD, where he also was the superintendent. After beginning his career as a teacher and a coach, he Robert Jaklich served in several leadership roles in Northside ISD. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, he earned his master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. He is pursuing his doctorate at The University of Texas. Wichita Falls ISD A new superintendent is in place. He is John Frossard, who was most recently assistant superintendent of Fort Bend ISD. Ysleta ISD Rolyne Kafka has been appointed associate superintendent of finance, a position he held as interim associate superintendent since July. Previously, he was budget director for the district since 2000. He began his career in the private sector with the A.C. Nielsen Company in Clinton, Iowa. He joined the City of El Paso as the classification and compensation manager in 1990 and then came to Ysleta ISD two years later as the district’s funds management supervisor. Kafka holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Iowa State University of Science and Technology and a master’s degree in accounting from The University of Texas at El Paso. The new associate superintendent of academics is Angelica Nieto. She served in that capacity in an interim position since July. Prior to that, she was executive director of special education since 2009. She began her career with Ysleta ISD as a special education teacher at Ramona Elementary School in 1979, going on to serve as principal of Kennedy Elementary. Nieto holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education

and a master’s degree in special education, both from The University of Texas at El Paso. The new principal of Manor Elementary School is Sandra Oxner. She has 32 years’ experience in elementary education with the district, beginning as a fourth grade teacher at Scotsdale Elementary. She

then was assistant principal of Tierra Del Sol, Manor and Del Norte Heights elementary schools. Oxner received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The University of Texas at El Paso and her master’s degree in educational administration from the same institution. TSB

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THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

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And you thought we only taught


don’t know when I have been more moved, saddened, angered, grieved, shocked or devastated by an event than over the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I’ve now lived through the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Sen. Bobby Kennedy. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on this country will forever be etched in my mind. I’ve grieved with the nation over Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombing and the movie theater massacre. I’ve shed tears over the deaths of young men and women whose bodies came back from war. I’ve felt the sting of losing your parents and close friends. The list is endless. But tragic and unthinkable as these events were, nothing prepared me for the deaths of those innocent children in Newtown, Conn. One might think that nothing good can come from such an unthinkable act, yet for the first time in decades, I believe that our nation restored the teaching profession back into a level of respect — albeit for only a brief time. Principal Dawn Hochsprung, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, and teachers Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel D’Avino and Lauren Rousseau may have lost their lives that day, but they are surely individuals whose names should forever be synonymous with courage, honor and dignity. One reporter interviewed a lady named Margaret Kime, who perhaps said it better than anyone. She called their actions “unimaginable grace when faced with unimaginable horror.” During my 45 years of working in, for and with the education community, I am often asked why I chose teaching. May I answer this question for teachers everywhere? We teach because God gave us the gift. In spite of your beliefs, it is a gift, just as music or athletics or a great mind. We have been blessed with a heart that shows compassion for others. It cannot be manufactured or replaced by a machine. We teach because kids need someone who will listen. When the student stands in front of you 26

Texas School Business • February 2013

and quietly whispers, “I need to talk to someone. Do you have a minute?” — in that moment, I become a counselor, a pastor, a parent or any other profession that is required of me. We teach because we genuinely and sincerely want to make a difference, one person at a time. It’s an innate quality of teachers to want to make a difference. Ask any dedicated teacher and 100 percent of them, at some point in the conversation, will tell you they want to do just that! The Newtown shooting was not the first time that a teacher sacrificed her life to save her students. Ann Whitney had moved to Texas from Massachusetts and began teaching in a small rural school in Central Texas. When a small group of armed men arrived at the school and began shooting, she quickly pushed several children to safety and helped others escape through windows. Two small children hid under loose floorboards of the school and their lives were spared because she covered the area with her large skirt to better hide them. Because of her bravery and heroism, no children were killed. There is one major difference in this story and the recent one in Connecticut: Ann Whitney’s story happened near Hamilton on July 9, 1867. The marauders who took her life were a group of Comanche Indians. She is still honored 125 years after the incident; the only elementary school in Hamilton bears her name. Today, there are countless thousands of teachers, administrators and support staff who would not hesitate to do whatever it takes to protect your children, just as those heroes did at Sandy Hook Elementary School or as Ann Whitney did at her one-room school. Yes, we are guardians and caregivers and advocates for children. And we will do no less than sacrifice ourselves, if necessary, to protect the children. And you thought we only taught. RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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