TSB—February 2015

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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 61 Years

February 2015

Building a 21st century classroom Tips, tools and best practices

TASBO President Karen Wiesman Mansfield ISD

In the Spotlight Patricia Alvarado Irving ISD

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TSB contents news and features

Cover Story Building a 21st century classroom by Terry Morawski

12 photo feature TASPA, TAEE members gather in Austin



In the Spotlight


Irving ISD’s Patricia Alvarado brings school libraries into 21st century by John Egan

Who’s News Ad Index

From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Jim Walsh

Mansfield ISD’s Karen Wiesman gets TASBO ready for the future

by Terry Morawski

by Elizabeth Millard



columns by Katie Ford

TASBO President Profile


Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan

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 2015 • Texas School Business


THE News Magazine for Public Education in Texas! Since 1954, Texas School Business has published positive school news about and for Texas educators and the districts they serve. Considered an institution among public school administrators for its insightful writing and positive message, the magazine is a must-read for K-12 leadership teams in Texas.

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Personalities in public education Three individuals who are fighting the good fight


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Jim Walsh, The Law Dawg – Unleashed! Terry Morawski, Tech Toolbox Bobby Hawthorne, Game On! Riney Jordan, The Back Page

In the Sp

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Each issue offers in-depth, Texas-based stories on educational and administrative best practices and the thought leaders behind them, as well as photos from industry events, district-by-district personnel announcements (our popular “Who’s News” section), and much more. Readers also look forward to the views and commentary shared by Texas School Business columnists:




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TASA President Alton Frailey Katy ISD

In the Spotlight Mary Williams Alief ISD

D’s Laredo IS s Nelson A. Marcu TENDENT SUPERIN EAR OF THE Y : Also inside School Board g icator Outstandin y Commun n photos Ke A PR TS Conventio TASA/TASB


Texas School Business • February 2015

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From the Editor I remember during my final year as an undergrad at Stephen F. Austin State University an announcement was made that the computer lab inside the campus library was getting equipped with something called the World Wide Web. Exactly what one could do on that Web remained a mystery to me, because I admit I never went to the lab to find out what the buzz was about. I was perfectly fine rifling through the shelves in the reference section and banging out my term papers on my electric typewriter. My, how times have changed — and continue to change! In this issue, our technology columnist, Terry Morawski, doubles as our cover story writer and offers some best practices on building a 21st century classroom. We also put a woman in our Spotlight who is helping Irving ISD schools bring their libraries into the 21st century. Patricia Alvarado, director of digital media and learning resources, says librarians are the original Google and they are here to stay. How lucky those students are in Irving ISD to have a resource like her! One quick announcement: We’re accepting nominations for the Ninth Annual Bragging Rights 2015-2016 special issue. You’ll find the official form by visiting our website (www.texasschoolbusiness.com) and clicking on Bragging Rights in the main menu. Deadline is Sept. 1, 2015.

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) February 2015 Volume LXI, Issue 5 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Bobby Hawthorne, Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Lance Lawhon Florence Black Elementary School Mesquite ISD

Texas Association of School Administrators Executive Director Johnny L. Veselka Assistant Executive Director, Services and Systems Administration Ann M. Halstead Director of Communications and Media Relations Suzanne Marchman ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and the Bragging Rights issue published in December by Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701.

© Copyright 2015 Texas Association of School Administrators February 2015 • Texas School Business


TASPA, TAEE members gather in Austin The Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators and the Texas Association for Employment in Education hosted their joint winter conference in December in Austin.

Jerry Molinoski and Craig Lahrman of Ysleta ISD.

Hollie Beaucham and Mari Guerrero of Lufkin ISD.

Brad Stewart and Kala Moore of Jacksonville ISD.

Roosevelt Nivens of Lancaster ISD, Nakeisha Fance of Spring Branch ISD and Michael Williams of Crowley ISD.

Shannon Bermel and Kathy Kenney of New Braunfels ISD

Bob Crager and Sundie Dahlkamp of Pearland ISD.

Ronda Bauman and April Mabry of TASB and Timothy Rocka of Bryan ISD.

Tyrone Sylvester of Spring ISD and Marcus Higgs of Texas City ISD.

Zachary Hobbs and Cindy Clegg of TASB.

Ka’Shonda Hurst of Humble ISD and Nakeisha Fance of Spring Branch ISD.

Sheri Blankenship of Hereford ISD and Timothy Rocka of Bryan ISD.


Texas School Business • February 2015

THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

From Tinker’s armband to Bell’s rap: oh, boy…


e’ve come a long way from Tinker v. Des Moines. In that seminal decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that public school students do not shed their constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse. The case was right for its time — a time of civil unrest and protest, most of it peaceful. Mary Beth Tinker, wearing a simple black armband as a symbol of her support for a Christmas truce in Vietnam, was the poster child for peaceful protest. Now comes Taylor Bell, poster child for the pervasively vulgar culture of 21st century America. Mr. Bell published a rap song on Facebook and YouTube. According to the 5th Circuit, his rap is entitled to constitutional protection, the same as Mary Beth Tinker’s armband. The rap is about as nasty as raps can be. It includes the N-word, the B-word, the S-word, the P-word, the MF-word and the F-word. But the offensiveness of the rap goes far beyond the vulgar language. The rap is personally insulting to identifiable people. It accuses two coaches of sexual misconduct with students. It comments on the size of the breasts of one of the coach’s wives (using the T-word). The young artist suggests that one of the coaches will “get a pistol down your mouth — pow!” Pretty much the same as Mary Beth Tinker’s silent protest in support of peace, don’t you see? School officials in Itawamba, Miss., sent Mr. Bell, age 18, to an alternative school and barred him from extracurricular activities for a time. But the court said that the punishment was illegal, a violation of the Constitution. The school district could not produce evidence of any serious disturbance at the school. Classes were taught. Bells rang. Buses ran. Because there was no “material and substantial disruption,” there was no basis for the school to infringe on this off-campus artistic expression. This decision leaves principals largely powerless to restrict or punish student

expression that occurs off campus. The 5th Circuit in this case holds that such expression is constitutionally protected unless it amounts to a “true threat.” The court determined that even with the “pistol in the mouth” line, this rap song did not amount to a “true threat.” But let’s look at this another way. This incident ended up in federal court because the school punished the student. Punishment — even minor punishment — of oral or written expression implicates constitutional issues and, thus, opens the courthouse door to bad decisions like this one. What if the school had responded with an educational approach? What if the school had required Mr. Bell to meet face to face with the coaches he defamed and threatened and the coach’s wife he insulted? What if the school called for this meeting in an effort to instill responsibility for one’s actions — an essential “career readiness” attribute? Some ACLU lawyer might still view that as improper, but I think the school would be on much firmer ground if it could assert that its response to the incident was a “restorative discipline” approach in keeping with its educational mission. Instead, we have an empowered young man who has beaten the system. Rather than coming to understand the hurt that he caused, he has been vindicated in our winlose court system. That’s sad for all involved. Your Law Dawg is hoping that this decision will be reviewed by the 5th Circuit en banc. If it is, I think there is an excellent chance that this decision will be reversed. Unless or until that happens, this is an important precedent in the arena of student free speech. The case is Bell v. Itawamba County School Board, decided by the 5th Circuit on Dec. 12, 2014. JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa. com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg.

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Who’s News Abilene ISD Dan Cotter has been chosen to fill a new position: coordinator of school safety. A former FBI agent with 23 years of service, he was stationed in both Abilene and in Tampa, Fla., before Dan Cotter joining Abilene ISD. Allen ISD The following administrative appointments have been made in the district: • George Lee, assistant principal, Cheatham Elementary School; • Stephanie Logan, principal, Cheatham Elementary School; • Leslie Norris, principal, Ereckson Middle School; • Daniel Pitcock, chief operating officer; • Melissa Pursifull, principal, Rountree Elementary School; and • Justin Spies, assistant principal, Rountree Elementary School. Alvin ISD James Gilcrease is the district’s new superintendent. He has worked as a classroom teacher, coach, assistant principal, associate principal and high school principal and as superintendent of two districts — Haskell CISD and, most recently, Hillsboro ISD. He holds a doctorate in education from Texas A&M University. His bachelor’s degree is from the University of North Texas, and his master’s degree in education was awarded from Tarleton State University. Gilcrease has served as the legislative chair for the Texas Association of School Administrators and is a former ESC Region 12 Superintendent of the Year. Bangs ISD Tony Truelove, who formerly led Bangs Middle School, now holds the position of principal of Bangs High School. He has been an educator for 30 years, working as a teacher, coach and athletic director for 25 years and for the past five at Bangs Middle School. He began his career in Coahoma ISD, going 8

Texas School Business • February 2015

on to serve in Kermit, Lamesa and Big Spring ISDs before taking his first administrative position, as athletic director, at Bryson ISD. He held the same position Tony Truelove at Nueces Canyon and Abernathy ISDs before joining Bangs ISD in 2009. Truelove, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University, holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lubbock Christian University. Beaumont ISD The district has appointed a new special education director. Brant Graham began his career as a high school science teacher, going on to serve as principal of Memorial High School in Port Arthur ISD. He was assistant principal of Beaumont ISD’s Central Medical Magnet School from 2008 to 2011. His doctoral degree in education was awarded from Lamar University, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

educator for 24 years, she has taught in Tyler and Longview ISDs and at Tyler Junior College, East Texas Baptist University and Texas A&M UniversiMarianella Moore ty. She was Tyler ISD’s facilitator of bilingual education and a specialist for federal programs for ESC Region 7. Moore has a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University, a master’s degree in modern language from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in mid-management from Texas A&M University at Texarkana. She is at work on her doctorate in educational leadership at Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Blanket ISD Former Bangs ISD high school Principal Vic Orlando is the new superintendent of Blanket ISD.

Bryan ISD Bryan ISD’s new position of district school attorney has been filled by Harry Wright Jr. Most recently a contract attorney with Hess Corp., Wright also has run a private legal practice. Harry Wright Jr. Prior to that, he was with the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani for nine years, representing school districts, universities, cities and other public entities in all aspects of public law. Initially an educator, he taught sixth grade math and science for a year at Houston ISD’s Peck Elementary and then spent 1993 to 1999 as a football and track coach and math and history teacher at Fondren Middle School in the same district. He also spent two years with Teach for America, a national teaching corps for recent college graduates who commit to two years of teaching in under-resourced urban and rural districts. Wright earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree in education from Prairie View A&M University. His law degree was conferred by Duke University.

Brazosport ISD Marianella Moore has been named director of language acquisition. An

See WHO’S NEWS on page 10

Birdville ISD A new principal has been named for Francisco Elementary School. She is Marsha Perry, who has been assistant principal of Walker Creek Elementary since 2008. Prior to that, she held the same position at Stowe Marsha Perry Elementary and at the Academy at C.F. Thomas. Additionally, she was a first grade teacher at Hardeman Elementary and a second grade teacher at Binion Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree from Dallas Baptist University.

TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

Educators should tune in to eSports revolution


magine this scene. A sold-out crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., pulses with nervous excitement. The audience hangs on every move of the players, cheering, gasping and high-fiving after big plays. We are not at a Lakers game. This is the championship game for a video game tournament for the online computer game, “League of Legends.” Yes, you heard that right. A rapidly growing segment of the world spectator-sports audience is called “eSports.” eSports, also known as electronic sports or competitive gaming, has been around for many years, but it gained greater notoriety in 2014 when ESPN broadcast the world championship for the first time. A few more facts to consider about gaming: • There are 93 million “League of Legends” unique players worldwide. • The annual income last year for video games was $71 billion, topping the music industry at $48 billion and rapidly approaching the movie industry at $91 billion. • Approximately 31 million Americans watched eSports last year. The average viewership of a baseball World Series game from year to year is about 13 million. • Twitch, a video game-streaming service, has more viewers per day on average than CNN, MSNBC and the E! Network. Twitch allows users to stream video games as they play so others can watch. You can see it for free at twitch.tv. • Major League Gaming, considered by many to be the NFL of eSports, has 9 million registered users who pay to compete in gaming tournaments.

• Robert Morris University, a private college in Illinois, began offering scholarships in 2014 worth up to $19,000 to eSports athletes who play League of Legends. Although they were the trailblazer in this area, experts see other universities following suit in the years to come. Even considering all this, it still might be difficult to grasp the idea of people filling a stadium to watch a video game. Yet, maybe that’s just because you’re not an avid gamer. I love ice hockey, but several of my friends do not understand why one person — let alone a screaming crowd of 19,000 — would actually pay to watch an NHL game. Insert your favorite activity (fishing, football, marathon running, etc.), and you’ve probably at some point indulged in a passionate conversation with a friend, attempting to explain to a nonbeliever why your thing is a valuable, legitimate thing. Why should we, as K-12 educators, pay attention to the eSports and gaming revolution? I see two main reasons. First, dismissing video games as childish or a waste of time is a quick way to alienate a large number of your students — as well as your parents and staffers who are gamers. If you disagree, re-read the figures above. Secondly, think about what your district or school can do to take games seriously. After-school clubs are fine, but the phenomenon of eSports is proving that gaming has the same power of traditional athletics and fine arts to pull kids into their schooling and keep them engaged. After all, isn’t engaging students what we are all about? TERRY MORAWSKI is the deputy superintendent for Comal ISD. He can be reached at terrymorawski@gmail.com.

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 8

Calhoun County ISD James Cowley has been named district superintendent. He most recently held the top job in Linden-Kildare CISD, where he served since 2011. He spent 15 years as a science teacher before becoming an administrator. In Saltillo ISD, he was an elementary and high school principal and director of assessment and technology. He was Sunnyvale ISD’s curriculum coordinator and assistant superintendent and was an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University at Commerce and at Dallas Baptist University. Cowley holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and agribusiness, a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in educational administration. He was president of the Texas Rural Education Association in 2010-2011 and was TREA’s Superintendent of the Year for 2012. Clarendon CISD Former Bushland ISD Superintendent John Lemons has agreed to serve as Clarendon ISD’s interim superintendent. Clear Creek ISD The principal of Stewart Elementary School, Britani Moses, has been chosen as one of eight recipients nationally of the 2014 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. The award is presented to principals of Blue Ribbon schools for their outstanding work and the role they play in guiding their students and schools to excellence. Initially a teacher at Stewart Elementary, Moore went on to serve as an instructional coach, assistant principal and elementary English language arts coordinator before taking her current job six years ago. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Kim Dameron has returned to Walker Elementary as the school’s principal. Most recently assistant principal of Robison Elementary, she has been an educator for 17 years, beginning in Spring ISD, where she taught elementary math 10

Texas School Business • February 2015

and science. She joined Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in 2000, concentrating in the same subjects at Walker Elementary before being promoted three years later to the Kim Dameron school’s math instructional specialist. She then spent a year as that school’s assistant principal before transferring to Robison. In addition, she has been summer school principal of Lee and Lamkin elementaries. Dameron earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Sam Houston State University and her master’s degree in education from the University of Houston. Tami Raley, speech and debate coach at Cypress Springs High School, has been recognized with a Diamond Award from the National Speech and Debate Association. The award goes to an indiTami Raley vidual who has been coaching for at least five years and who has assisted his or her students in earning at least 15,000 points in tournament competition. Raley has coached speech and debate at Cypress Springs since 2009. Dumas ISD Monty Hysinger, who led Clarendon ISD for the past 16 years, is now superintendent of Dumas ISD. El Paso ISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera was one of 100 school district leaders who participated in November in President Obama’s “ConnectED to the Future” Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together educators from across the country who are leading their schools and districts in the transition to digital learning. Garland ISD The Garland ISD Board of Trustees has approved the appointment of Doug Brubaker as associate superintendent

of administration. He comes to Garland from Mansfield ISD, where he was assistant superintendent of administrative systems and support since 2008. Prior to that, he was director of instructional technology and a principal in CarrolltonFarmers Branch ISD, a principal in Mansfield ISD, and an assistant principal and classroom teacher in Birdville ISD. Other district administrative appointments include: • Elizabeth Kiertscher, employee wellness and nutrition coordinator; • Pat Lamb, security and telecommunications director; • Janet McDade, executive administrator to the superintendent; • Mida Milligan, curriculum, instruction and assessment director; • Olga Rosenberger, nutrition and menu operations assistant director; and • Pascuala Sifre, bilingual/ESL coordinator. Garrison ISD Former Garrison ISD Superintendent Arnie Kelley has returned to the district to serve again in that position, this time on an interim basis. Georgetown ISD Jeff Burke is the district’s newly appointed assistant superintendent of academics. He has worked at all levels of Texas public education, including serving as a high school teacher and coach; elementary, middle and high school assistant principal; high school principal; director of human resources; and executive director of professional learning and student engagement. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University and is at work on his doctorate in educational leadership from Texas A&M University. Alma Guzman has been hired to serve as director of professional learning. She has been with the district since 1994, most recently as principal of McSee WHO’S NEWS on page 16

GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Where are they now?


ne of my first assignments with this magazine, four years ago, involved writing short features about a half dozen young people who had overcome a daunting obstacle to excel at something. I have often wondered whatever happened to them. What happened to the self-proclaimed junior high loser? To the cross-country runner battling cancer and to the paralyzed percussionist? To the young man who assumed responsibility for his four younger siblings after his mother had died? I wondered what happened to the basketball player who smiled all the time, so I’ll begin with him. His name was Louis Staggers, and he graduated from Belton High and earned a basketball scholarship to Arlington Baptist College only to drop out after one semester. I emailed his high school coach, John Osborn, who now coaches at L.D. Bell High in Hurst. He said he’s lost touch with Louis and added, “I’m not sure his story ended with the success that you would have hoped for.” He promised to make inquiries. Until I know more, I hope Louis is still smiling. I did track down Jose Martinez and Adan Peña. Jose, whose mother died of cervical cancer as he was entering his senior year at Rockwall High, is a biology major and campus leader at Tarleton State. I asked him how he’s changed since 2011. “I’m more trusting of my own abilities,” he replied. That’s no small thing, given his difficult relationship with an abusive father who, he said, “put me down my whole life.” Jose will graduate in the spring of 2016 and plans to teach high school. He looks forward to telling his students, “I’ve been where you are, and I can promise you, it’s all going to work out.” As for Adan, the “junior high loser” who turned his life around, thanks in large part to the forensics program at Nazareth High School, he earned a full ride to Baylor University, where he’s an economics and accounting major. He’ll graduate in May and is weighing job offers from the likes of

Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. I asked him all the obligatory questions about how he’s grown and what he’s learned and was surprised when he told me the one thing he’s come to understand in the past four years is: “I can’t do things by myself. Without my family and friends, I wouldn’t be where I am now.” This was odd, I thought, from a young man with 41 first cousins — only one of whom has earned a college degree. His friends and family provide, I’m certain, great comfort and solace, but none could explain to him what it’s like living in a college dorm or how to deal with a difficult professor. He learned that on his own, and he’s now passing along his knowledge and wisdom to his cousins who are following in his footsteps. I hope they listen well. I failed to reach the cross-country runner, Hagan Hoppess, who, in 2010, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. Although, I did learn that after graduation from Frisco High, she entered Texas A&M University and, among other things, has become a motivational speaker and cheerleader for those fighting cancer. I hope she’s well and enjoying Aggieland. Finally, I couldn’t reach Jesus Guzman, the Raymondville eighth grader who was crippled in an auto accident at age 10. I know he went on to make all-region band in 2012 and 2013 as a percussionist. I also know a jury returned an $11.96 million judgment in his family’s favor against a tire company after finding defective tires caused the wreck that killed six and left Jesus wheelchair-bound. I hope he’s still pounding away. I begin 2015 inspired by these young people, and I look forward to pounding out a few more stories this year about young people just like them. 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.

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texasschoolbusiness.com February 2015 • Texas School Business


Building a 21st century classroom by Terry Morawski


any books have been written on 21st century education. Seminars and trainings often focus on how to implement 21st century teaching tools into schools and districts. Significant changes are happening in classrooms across the state. Yet, the million-dollar question remains: How exactly does a district create 21st century classrooms? Ultimately, it comes down to three areas of focus: tools, teacher training and implementation. Tools Envisioning what a 21st century school looks like to you is an important first step in developing your program. When asked to share her vision, Gail Marlin, Mansfield ISD director of technology support, says: “I would start by asking you to picture Google headquarters, with its comfortable, colorful contemporary furniture on casters. Everyone has a mobile device in hand as they collaborate on their projects. The supervisor — or teacher — is observing and guiding people in their quest to learn. “I would see a city of wireless access points, which are supported by a strong but hidden infrastructure,” she continues. “The room is buzzing with inquiring minds as students take control of their learning. I picture a 21st century classroom with students who are busy with project-based assignments and connected through an online system that empowers them to share, create, collaborate and present their projects.” Doug Brubaker, associate superintendent of administration for Garland ISD, adds: “Tablets have had a huge impact on learning, due to their ease of use, versatility, portability and relatively modest cost. They have enabled technology integration on a scale that was previously not possible to achieve.” 12

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Best practices in tools, training and implementation Brubaker also stresses how important it is to support the tools that are deployed in classrooms. “Support of educational technology is more critical than ever,” he says. “Teams charged with tech support must continually assess, monitor and adjust their support strategies to ensure that the needs of teachers and students are being met.” One major benefit to a 21st century classroom is how technology can personalize the learning experience and make room for differentiated instruction. Subject expert Carol Ann Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as “ensuring that what a student learns — how he or she learns it and how the student demonstrates what he or she has learned — is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests and preferred mode of learning.” The four modalities of learning are visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile. Neil Fleming, a teacher and university professor, first popularized the modalities in 1987. Most students — and adults, for that matter — are identified as multimodal. Thus, technology devices that engage multiple senses – such as sight, touch and sound — are ideal in a classroom of multimodal learners. Training Georgetown ISD Education Technology Coordinator Kim Garcia says she believes teaching training is integral to a building a 21st century classroom. “It starts with changing pedagogy, the method and practice of teaching. It does not start with a substantial technology purchase — but the two can work hand in hand,” she says. “Schools that hope to foster 21st century classrooms should first invest in their teachKim Garcia

ers’ professional learning about studentcentered teaching methods.” Only after that groundwork is laid should the district invest in technology tools and professional learning associated with those tools, she says. A 2014 study, conducted by ShiangKwei Wang of the New York Institute of Technology, compared technology usage habits — inside and outside of the classroom — among middle school science teachers and students in New York and Utah. The study’s intent was to explore whether it was true that teachers are generally less comfortable using technology than the younger generation and, thus, have difficulty implementing modern tools in their classrooms. The study revealed little difference in technology habits among students and teachers outside the classroom, which implies perhaps that it’s not a teacher’s lack of technology know-how that holds her back from implementing modern tools in the classroom, but her lack of training on how to use those tools when teaching. In other words, teachers may be perfectly comfortable using an iPad for personal tasks and entertainment, but they may have a hard time integrating the iPad into daily lessons without receiving proper training. Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill’s 2012 book, “The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education,” laid out seven steps to creating a modern education experience. Two of these steps are “build professional capacity” and “support your teachers.” In these sections, the authors encourage administrators to take a serious look at the professional development being offered out there and who is leading these sessions. Additionally, they suggest establishing peer coaches in place of traditional professional development trainers.

“Many people think about the technology first and then design the learning activities around it, which is actually backward to good teaching pedagogy,” says Bruce Ellis, senior director of professional development for the Bruce Ellis Texas Computer Education Association. “We need to think about the standards we want kids to accomplish and then have a conversation about what tools can help students engage in the learning process in such a way that they can understand and demonstrate mastery of those skills and concepts in real-world, meaningful ways. “Just to be clear, 21st century learning isn’t founded on technology or a specific device,” he continues. “It is founded on good thinking that uses whatever tools — tablets, smartphones, holodecks, pencils, paint, etc. — to accomplish the objectives.” Implementation Experts encourage leaders to consider where their staff and students fall on the SAMR model when implementing technology. The SAMR model, devised by Ruben Puentudura, is an acronym for the stages of technology adoption: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. To further define: • Substitution is direct tool substitution with no functional change. • Augmentation is direct tool substitution with functional improvement. • Modification allows for significant tasks to be redesigned. • Redefinition allows for creation of new tasks previously inconceivable. Shannon Buerk, CEO of Engage! Learning, works with districts to implement innovative learning systems. Buerk has seen the challenges of launching a 21st century classroom up close. “Some people see Shannon Buerk 21st century learning as a threat to a familiar scene in their heads of how school is supposed to be, and so the conclusion is that the standards are being lowered,” she says. “True 21st century learning actually raises the level of challenge in the classroom. It also provides

more opportunity for students who need ways other than lecture to learn. “I like to ask people to think about two kids they know and how those kids are different,” she continues. “Twenty-first century learning provides the tools to meet both of those kids’ needs so that they can achieve at high levels and gain the criticalthinking skills needed to thrive in a highly complex world.” She adds that districts often face the challenge of communicating effectively with parents and the community at large

about the changes taking place in the classroom. She says open and regular communication is paramount so that “communities are involved in the decision-making and understand why and how schools are choosing to prepare students for the 21st century.” TERRY MORAWSKI is the deputy superintendent for Comal ISD. He can be reached at terrymorawski@gmail.com.

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Irving ISD’s Patricia Alvarado brings school libraries into 21st century by John Egan


ou might say that Patricia Alvarado “issues passports” to more than 30,000 students so they can enter the world of 21st century learning. This past October, Alvarado became Irving ISD’s director of digital media and learning resources. In her role, she oversees the district’s 37 school libraries. As technology has evolved, so too have the responsibilities of school librarians. For instance, many high school libraries have eliminated expensive reference sections in favor of digital databases, Alvarado says. Now, rather than showing students where to find reference books, librarians are teaching them how to use reference databases, she says. “Our libraries will not just be a place to acquire information — which is valu-

able enough in and of itself — but a place to create new knowledge,” Alvarado explains. Although the duties of a school librarian are changing, the job remains relevant as ever to the learning environment, she says. “Librarians still play the crucial role of instructional partners and collaborators,” she says. “They are valuable teachers who promote reading as the foundational skill for learning. They are information specialists — the original Google, if you will — who guide students in navigating a complex information environment in an ethical and responsible manner.” Alvarado says Irving ISD’s librarians are “incredibly innovative” and “are not afraid to try new things, to get out of their

“Our libraries will not just be a place to acquire information — which is valuable enough in and of itself — but a place to create new knowledge,” says Patricia Alvarado, director of digital media and learning resources for Irving ISD. Alvarado (right) is pictured with Hope Krum, a librarian at Bowie Middle School. 14

Texas School Business • February 2015

comfort zones and explore, investigate, inquire and learn right alongside their students.” Today’s school librarians promote 24/7 learning, both inside and outside school walls, Alvarado says. Digital resources help enable that ’round-the-clock learning. “Contrary to the belief that the need for a librarian diminishes as technology increases, the need for school librarians is more urgent now than ever before,” she says. “The multiple digital formats available for learning require the expertise of a librarian. Our librarians understand, teach and guide not just textual literacy, but incorporate visual, digital and technological literacy into the content being taught.” As school library expert Joyce Valenza has emphasized repeatedly, educators must stop viewing the library as a grocery store where you can “get stuff” and view it as a kitchen where you can “make stuff.” Toward that end, Alvarado says that Irving ISD librarians are carving out sections in their libraries as “makerspaces,” where students can immerse themselves in hands-on collaborative learning, sharing and creating via technology. According to Educational Leadership magazine: “The reality is that today’s best school libraries are not just surviving but thriving in this new information environment by repurposing their physical spaces to adapt to the digital age.” Indeed, that is happening across the country. In Tennessee, for instance, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is spearheading an effort to make libraries “the coolest spaces in the school.” “If what you want a city to be is filled with lifelong learners and a creative place, you have to have libraries,” Dean told PBS station KQED. “Libraries are the best way to get that done.”

Alvarado initially became interested in working in the “coolest place in school” in 1998 when she was volunteering for her daughter’s kindergarten class in West Oso ISD. She recalls helping the librarian put books on shelves and observing the librarian reading to the students. “That’s a great job! I want that job!” Alvarado remembers thinking at the time. “Literacy, children, learning, fun — the librarian gets to do it all!”

‘They are information specialists — the original Google, if you will — who guide students in navigating a complex information environment in an ethical and responsible manner.’ After working as a bilingual teacher in West Oso ISD, she landed her “dream job” — a librarian for Corpus Christi ISD. “As the role evolved into a teacherlibrarian model with a heavy emphasis on digital literacy and technology, my job satisfaction increased even more,” Alvarado admits. Before joining Irving ISD, Alvarado had been a librarian and library supervisor for Dallas ISD since 2009. She also served a one-year library stint with Garland ISD. Alvarado received a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a bilingual education endorsement from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and then earned a master’s degree in library and information science from Texas Woman’s University in Denton. In a news release announcing her hiring with Irving ISD, Associate Superintendent Adam Grinage said that Alvarado, in her role with Dallas ISD, “demonstrated the skills, knowledge and expertise to effectively lead our library program to excellence.” Now she’s leading the charge as Irving ISD expands on what a school library can offer students.

Fun Facts About

Patricia Alvarado

Artists who regularly make my playlist: Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam

Last book I read that I really loved: I reread Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” as part of Irving’s 2014 Big Read initiative. It’s been more than 20 years since I first read this classic, but my immediate response after reading the book remains the same: Atticus Finch is my hero! Favorite way to spend a Saturday: Depends on the time of the year. When it’s cold, some hot chocolate and a Harry Potter marathon with my 8-year-old sounds perfect. In the summer, I enjoy visiting museums, jogging by the lake or catching a Texas Rangers game. Best professional advice I’ve received so far: “If you want to be an effective leader, stop focusing on your to-do list. Create a to-be list instead.” — Dr. Jose Parra “What a privilege — and challenge — librarians have: to teach students and to promote lifelong learning and digital citizenship in the Google era, where the answer to all of life’s questions is a tap



away,” Alvarado says. “Who wouldn’t want this job?” JOHN EGAN, a writer in Austin, is the former editor of the Austin Business Journal.

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 10

Coy Elementary School. Prior to that, she was principal of Frost and Village elementaries. She also has worked in district administration as federal programs coordinator, parent network coordinator and director of elementary staffing. Guzman, who earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Texas A&M University, holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State University. Bryan Hallmark, executive director of campus leadership, comes to Garland ISD from La Grange ISD, where he worked as assistant principal and principal of La Grange High School since 2008. Prior to that, he was a junior high and high school history teacher and coach. Hallmark, who earned his bachelor’s degree in sports exercise studies from Tarleton State University and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Sam Houston State University, completed his doctorate in educational administration at Texas A&M University. Now serving as director of community engagement and communications is Suzanne Marchman. She was a classroom teacher for eight years before taking the position of spokesperson and public information officer for the Texas Education Agency, where she worked from 2002 to 2012. Marchman has spent the past two years as director of communications and media relations for the Texas Association of School Administrators. Hays CISD Elaine Howard has been selected to serve as the district’s chief human resources officer. She comes to her new position from Judson ISD in San Antonio, where she was executive director of human resources and was the district’s Administrator of the Year in 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University and a master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University. She is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership. 16

Texas School Business • February 2015

Humble ISD Lesa Pritchard, director of student support services, has been named Supervisor of the Year by the Texas School Counselor Association (TSCA). She received her award this Lesa Pritchard past November at the TSCA conference in Dallas. Pritchard, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from McNeese State University, holds a master’s degree in school counseling from Sul Ross State University. She has been an educator for 34 years and has been with Humble ISD since 2006. She helped to open Atascocita High School and was that school’s counselor for three years before taking her current position in 2009. Irving ISD A new chief legal counsel has been named for the district. Tina Patel comes to Irving ISD from the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, where she was managing attorney for the civil division. Prior to Tina Patel that, she worked as an in-house attorney for Dallas ISD. In addition, she was a litigation associate in the public law section for Godwin Lewis PC and an associate with Patel & Associates PLLC. In New York, she worked as a real estate attorney for Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal and for Sills Cummins Epstein & Gross. Patel holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She graduated cum laude from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. Kermit ISD Superintendent Bill Boyd will retire in August, bringing to a close a 29-year career in Texas public education. During that time, he has served as a classroom teacher, coach, athletic coordinator, athletic director, principal and superintendent.

Killeen ISD Former interim Superintendent John Craft has been hired as superintendent. He was the district’s deputy superintendent since 2012 and has held the interim top position since July 2014. Craft began his career in 1999 as a physical education and biology teacher, subsequently working as an assistant principal, principal and superintendent. He holds a doctorate in education from Tarleton State University. Laredo ISD Superintendent Marcus Nelson was honored in December with the Higher Education Award from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He was recognized for his Marcus Nelson “accomplishments and devotion to our community’s educational system,” according to a LULAC statement. Nelson has held the top position at Laredo ISD since 2009 and was the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Superintendent of the Year for 2014. Little Elm ISD The district has welcomed a new superintendent. Lowell Strike began his new job in January, coming from Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, where he was associate superintendent. In addition, he has been an administrator in SouthlakeCarroll, Katy and Northwest ISDs. He also coached football, wrestling and baseball in Katy ISD. McAllen ISD The Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) has recognized McAllen ISD PE coordinator Mario Reyna as its 2014 K-12 Administrator of the Year. The award honors “individuals who exemplify the highest standards in accomplishment and innovation and in strong and vigorous leadership.” Reyna’s promotion of the Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative earned him an

Who’s News invitation to The White House by First Lady Michelle Obama last year. Under his direction, McAllen ISD has become the only district in the United States with 100 percent of campuses earning the Let’s Move! Active Schools Recognition Award. He was TAHPERD’s president in 2010. The 34-year employee of McAllen ISD earned his master’s degree in education from The University of Texas Pan American. McKinney ISD Tamira Griffin has been hired to serve as McKinney ISD’s assistant superintendent and chief human resources officer. After working in the private sector, including Texas Instruments and the city of Plano, from 1979 to 1999, she spent a year as human resources director for Claim Services Resource Group before becoming Plano ISD’s chief human resources officer, a position she held for the past 14 years. Griffin, who earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Texas, received her master’s degree in the same field from Amberton University. She holds a lifetime certification as a senior professional in human resources and has been an instructor for certification classes at the University of Dallas. Glen Oaks Elementary School now has Molly Hovan as principal. She was most recently assistant principal of McNeil Elementary. She began her career in 2003 as an elementary teacher in Frisco ISD, coming to McKinney ISD in 2009. Hovan earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Pittsburgh and her master’s degree in educational administration from Dallas Baptist University. Rick McDaniel, a 27-year veteran of public education, is the district’s new superintendent. He previously led Boyd High School for eight years and served as assistant superintendent for student services since last February. In addition, he was with Tyler ISD for two decades, working as a teacher and coach at Moore Middle School; as a teacher, coach, department chair, assistant principal and principal at Lee High School; and

as principal of Hogg Middle School. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, he obtained a master’s degree from The Rick McDaniel University of Texas at Tyler and completed his doctorate in education administration at the University of North Texas. Now serving as principal of McNeil Elementary School is Tracy Meador. She began her career in the district in 1997 as a special education teacher at Faubion Middle School and was lead special education teacher at Slaughter Elementary before accepting the role of assistant principal of Cockrill Middle School in 2008. She subsequently served in that position at Dowell Middle School and at Press and Slaughter elementaries. Meador holds a bachelor’s degree in government from Angelo State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. North East ISD (San Antonio) Longtime Athletic Director Jerry Comalander retired at the end of January after holding that position with North East ISD since 1989. He began his coaching career in Devine ISD in 1961, Jerry Comalander serving there for six years as an assistant football and basketball coach, four of those as head basketball coach. He then worked in Uvalde ISD for six years as head basketball coach and assistant football coach. Comalander arrived in San Antonio in 1973, coaching at Churchill High School in North East ISD for 15 years. He accepted the position of North East ISD’s executive director of athletics in 1988. A member of the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) for 54 years, Comalander served on the All-Star Selection Committee and was a THSCA director for three years. He served as the organization’s president

in 1984-1985 and was inducted into the THSCA Hall of Honor in 1991. In addition, he was president of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association (THSADA) in 2002-2003 and was inducted into THSADA’s Hall of Honor in 2005. North East ISD’s football stadium was named Jerry Comalander Stadium in 2000 and, in 2008, he was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame. Comalander, who attended Rice University on a football scholarship, received his bachelor’s degree from that institution and his master’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. A new athletic director is in place for the district. She is Karen Funk, who has been promoted from her previous position as director of girls’ athletics. After graduating from The University of Karen Funk Texas at Arlington in 1979, she took her first coaching position at Lee Middle School in Grand Prairie ISD, leading volleyball, basketball and track teams for two years. She then transferred to San Antonio ISD’s Highlands High School as head volleyball coach. Five years later, she accepted the position of head volleyball coach at Madison High School in San Antonio’s North East ISD. After 22 years of coaching, Funk joined North East ISD as assistant athletic director. In 2011, she took on her most recent job. Funk earned her master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Northside ISD The district’s new director of payroll is Lori Ganci. She was previously controller for instruction and technology services at San Antonio’s North East ISD. While living in Illinois, she was an accounting supervisor Lori Ganci for Lincoln Memorial Hospital and director of finance for CCAR Industries. She also worked in the finance and accounting departments of See WHO’S NEWS on page 20 February 2015 • Texas School Business


TASBO PRESIDENT PROFILE Mansfield ISD’s Karen Wiesman gets TASBO ready for the future By Elizabeth Millard


ot many people can claim that early exposure to animal management steered them toward business skills, but newly elected Texas Association of School Business Officials President Karen Wiesman tends to be a standout in many ways. The daughter of a high school agriculture teacher (her dad), Wiesman joined FFA and 4H at a young age and developed a love for recordkeeping. “When you have an animal as your 4H project, you have so much to track,” she explains. “You determine cost, profit, expenses and results. I just loved the whole project-based approach to it.”

As an adult, she maintained that passion by pursuing a career in public accounting, working mainly for school districts. She obtained a master’s degree in education and then a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Wiesman gravitated toward public education because she felt that the atmosphere among school districts was much more collegial than in the business realm, where competition limited networking and information sharing. Her appreciation for the way districts readily swap best practices has only deepened over the past 20 years.

Mansfield ISD area superintendents Tammy Rountree (left) and Cynthia McCallum (right) join Karen Wiesman at Toys for Tots. 18

Texas School Business • February 2015

“It’s awesome the way that we all work together, with a common goal of making our districts better,” she says. A natural-born leader As the associate superintendent of business and finance at Mansfield ISD, Wiesman relishes the ability to put together initiatives that provide students with a supportive, innovative and technology-rich educational setting. She has assisted with several major efforts, including an iPad project that made Mansfield ISD the 19th-largest iPad deployment in the world. (For comparison, the district’s deployment was larger than those at companies like Verizon and General Electric.) “We need to communicate in the language of the students,” she says. “For the younger generation, that language is technology. My role in this is to put the pieces of the financial jigsaw puzzle together by determining needs and finding resources to fill those needs.” Another distinctive project has been the district’s energy management program, which Mansfield ISD kicked off in response to the Legislature’s deep cuts to school funding two years ago. Mansfield ISD and Wiesman went above and beyond simple frugality measures by putting in energy-efficient lighting, tweaking set points on temperature and having two nightly checks to turn off unnecessary lights. These efforts resulted in remarkable cost savings. The total utility cost reduction from June 2012 to October 2014 was more than 16 percent, which translated to $3.1 million saved. With that savings, the district was able to purchase new school buses, hire teachers and provide additional student services, Wiesman says. “We’re able to open new schools without having to increase our existing utilities budget,” she adds. “And with

beneficial environmental impacts, we’re being good stewards to the community at large.” Projects like these drive Wiesman’s enthusiasm for school business operations. She’s especially fond of training new principals. She pairs each with a business mentor. Training involves purchasing, budgets, student demographics and a monthly roundtable on specific issues. Her staff tracks questions from different campuses and creates online training materials that are sent out to all principals. “Our focus is on improving operations,” she says, “and not just for our district. We want to be part of that larger network of best practices, so we can all benefit from sharing knowledge.” Presidential goals Knowledge sharing and training also figure heavily into Wiesman’s goals for her TASBO presidency. Recently, she became aware of how many school business officials are retiring in the next 10 years and how there aren’t enough experienced people to step into those roles seamlessly. “That was a real wake-up call,” she says. “We need to prepare these professionals to be our next group of leaders.”

Planning and transitioning for the future will be a major part of her presidency, and it will happen under the auspices of the TASBO Emerging Leaders Academy. The effort will focus on giving younger business professionals training in leadership, communication, long-range planning, and relationship skills with district staff and school boards. Under her leadership, TASBO also will make its website more userfriendly and information-packed, so members can tap into best practices from anywhere in the state. Wiesman is eager to preserve TASBO’s reputation as a leading organization that provides resources for school business officials across Texas. “Continual improvement is necessary for a healthy organization,” she says. “Our organization is constantly changing and evolving so that we can support instruction and curriculum as much as we can.”

Fun Facts about


Best advice I’ve ever received: “Be specific.” My father taught me that; if you’re not specific about what you want, you won’t get it. Something most people don’t know about me is: I love to sew, and I sew everything from wedding dresses to tutus and quilts. My proudest moment so far in life has been: My dad challenged me to obtain my doctoral degree before he passed away, so completing that degree and knowing that he would have been proud of me. If I could trade places with someone for one day, it would be: Mother Teresa— just to experience her feeling of grace and peace.

ELIZABETH MILLARD also writes for the American City Business Journals.

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February 2015 • Texas School Business


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 17

Bellevue Hospital in Ohio. Ganci holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern Illinois University. Now serving as principal of Elrod Elementary School is Mark Garcia, who was the school’s vice principal. He began his career in Northside ISD as a fifth grade teacher and technology facilitator at AdMark Garcia ams Hill Elementary. He was a third grade teacher, webmaster, math teacher and math specialist at Michael Elementary and a math specialist at Mead Elementary before taking his most recent position in 2007. Courtney Mayer has been promoted from her position as an instructional support teacher for secondary science to


Texas School Business • February 2015

director of gifted and talented programs and advanced academies. Prior to coming to Northside ISD, Mayer worked in San Antonio’s North East Courtney Mayer ISD at Jackson Middle School and Churchill High School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fishery science from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University. Other recent Northside ISD appointments include: • JoAnn Armenta, vice principal, Elrod Elementary School; • Jacquelyn Lambert, academic dean, Taft High School; and • Leandra Valdez, assistant principal, Taft High School.

Plano ISD The district’s former chief financial officer is now serving as interim superintendent. Steve Fortenberry initially worked for Plano ISD in the 1980s as an assistant director of fiSteve Fortenberry nance before leaving for employment in other districts. He returned in 2012 as associate superintendent for business and facilities services. San Benito CISD A new superintendent has been hired. Marc Puig was most recently superintendent of Culberson CountyAllamoore ISD in Van Horn. He spent seven years in the private sector as an account executive, research analyst and project manager for a national marketing

Who’s News firm in Fort Worth before becoming an educator. Puig has served as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent, as well Marc Puig as a superintendent. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Arlington and, in 2014, completed his doctorate in education from the University of Mary HardinBaylor. San Marcos CISD San Marcos CISD trustees have approved the appointment of Greg Rodriguez to serve as assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and accountability. He brings 19 years of Greg Rodriguez experience to his new position. A native of San Antonio, he did his first teaching in that city’s Southside and Southwest ISDs and then was a technology integration facilitator for San Antonio ISD. He also taught Spanish in Del Valle ISD for two years. In addition, he was named a selector for the Texas Teaching Fellows while in San Antonio. He also served as grants coordinator for Texas State University and spent two years as an administrative supervisor for Austin ISD. Rodriguez, who holds bachelor’s degrees in both English and Spanish from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), received his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Houston Baptist University. He completed his doctorate in school improvement from Texas State University.

Weatherford ISD The district’s new executive director of school operations is Danny Miller, who was with Frenship ISD for the past 13 years, serving as high school principal, director of secondary eduDanny Miller cation and director of student services. Prior to that, he was a teacher in Palestine and Lubbock ISDs, assistant athletic director and athletic trainer in Palestine ISD, assistant principal in Elkhart ISD, and high school principal in Frankston and Winona ISDs. Miller, who received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University, has been an educator for more than 30 years. Kathy Ray, who was assistant superintendent of personnel, instruction

and administration with Stephenville ISD since 2009, is now Weatherford ISD’s deputy superintendent. From 2005 to 2008, she was superintendent of ZaKathy Ray valla ISD, where she also had been curriculum director. An educator for more than 35 years, she was executive director of curriculum and instruction in Palestine ISD from 1993 to 2005, worked for the Texas Education Agency as an external campus intervention team consultant, and was an adjunct professor at Tarleton State University and at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her doctorate in educational administration was awarded from Texas A&M University at Commerce. TSB

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It takes courage to change


he was late the first morning of school. Some of the teachers just looked at her as she came and shook their heads. “What a way to start the new school year,” one remarked. It was obvious to everyone that she wasn’t happy. She rarely smiled, and when she did, it was one of those half smiles that lasted only a few seconds before it was completely undetectable. It was apparent that she was one miserable individual. Her attitude was perhaps the thing that bothered others the most. She was negative about everything that happened at school. She complained about rules, her schedule, her peers and the administration. When someone would try to discuss any of her issues, she would become belligerent and storm off in disgust. It had reached the point where she had few — if any — friends, and everyone knew that something had to change. But it takes courage to tackle such a problem, especially when the individual with the deplorable attitude is one of your teachers! Oh, yes. It happens. And it occurs far more frequently than any of us are willing to admit. I remember such a teacher. It appeared that she put absolutely no effort into her lessons. The students who were assigned to her gradually lost their smiles as well. It simply wasn’t fun — or exciting or engaging or challenging — to be in her class. Year after year, her evaluations had reflected poor teaching, poor classroom management, poor everything! Her lackluster teaching was no secret. Parents would make written requests that their children not be assigned to her class. When administrators would come and go, they would always tell the new one: “Good luck with that one!” But nothing changed, until one year a new principal had the courage to take on the problem. He began by looking for anything positive that she was doing, and he let her know how much he appreciated it. The kind 22

Texas School Business • February 2015

words were often in a handwritten note or a verbal thank-you in front of others. One day he sat down with her and, after a while, began to discuss some of the issues that needed to be improved. She knew he was sincere, and she began to share some of the problems in her life outside of school. He discovered that she was in a bad marriage, and, on top of that, she had been diagnosed with some serious medical issues. His perspective on her changed, and, more importantly, her attitude changed. As she became more approachable, more and more teachers became her friends, and they confided in one another. Oh, I realize that our first inclination is to get rid of the poor teacher. Certainly, if things don’t improve, we have no choice. But I also know that when our approach is one of genuine care and compassion, it can work wonders on the individual who desperately needs encouragement, understanding and a new direction. I hope that we all will make the effort to improve the people around us. The old disciplinary model of “catch them being good” not only works on our students, but it works on adults too. As a reminder, both the word “administrator” and “minister” are from the same root word, which means “to serve” and “render aid” to those in need. What a challenge you have! Your goal, simply stated, is to serve those who are under your leadership. Grow them. Improve them. Encourage them. Care about them. The days of ruling with an iron fist are over. What our schools need now are compassionate, caring leaders who have the courage and the desire to take people to heights they never dreamed possible. Now, get up and go say something positive to the first person you meet. It might just be the highlight of their day. RINEY JORDAN’s “The Second Book” is now available at www.rineyjordan.com, along with his other publications. You can contact him at (254) 386-4769, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter: @ RineyRiney.

HCDE-Choice Partners........................... 13 www.choicepartners.org Harris County Dept. Education............... 21 www.hcde-texas.org Houston ISD Medicaid Finance and Consulting................................... 24 www.eshars.com IBI Group Inc. . ...................................... 20 www.ibigroup.com Innovative Transportation Solutions......... 2 www.itranssolutions.org Perkins+Will........................................... 19 www.perkinswill.com Shweiki Media.......................................... 9 www.shweiki.com Spectrum Corp. ...................................5, 11 www.spectrumscoreboards.com Texas Association of School Administrators.......................... 4 www.tasanet.org Texas ASCD............................................ 15 www.txascd.org Texas School Business...............7, 9, 11, 22 www.texasschoolbusiness.com WRA Architects........................................ 5 www.wraarchitects.com

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The sense of brotherhood and culture of ambassadorship in our “district has never been stronger. Ambassador training has helped unite our team around our schools and our profession.”

-- Scott Niven, Superintendent, Red Oak ISD


hen my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.”

-- Thomas P a i n e


Thomas Paine’s political declaration in Common Sense helped direct the energies of the rebels and point the way to American independence from England. The Ambassador Training Academy staff development program is inspired by Thomas Paine’s work. There are many parallels between educators today, condemned by blinded reformists, and early Americans, condemned by a blinded Crown. Just as Paine “enunciates... the specific right of the people to challenge unjust laws and an unjust government”, we are mobilizing an army of educators to challenge unjust criticism and false accusations of widespread failure.

Class of 2011 Red Oak ISD Ambassadors Academy

Friends of Texas Public Schools is educating Texans about Texas public schools and their many strengths and achievements through Ambassador Training and other initiatives in order to: 4 4 4 4 4 4

Underscore the significance of them; Unite Texans around them; Restore pride in them; Strengthen confidence in them; Lift spirits among them; and Inject resources into them…

…all of which will lead to even greater performance.

Stir your team into champions for your students, district, and profession by enrolling your school district in our Ambassador Training Academy.

It’s time for every educator to stir Visit www.fotps.org to learn more, or email us at lmilder@fotps.org.


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