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THE INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 58 YEARS

January 2012

The Power Principal The evolving role of school leaders

In the Spotlight James Ponce McAllen ISD

TASB President Gary Inmon SCUCISD


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TSB contents news and features

The Power Principal What it takes to be a principal in the 21st century

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by John Egan

photo features

President Profile  

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Meet TASB’s Gary Inmon of Schertz-CiboloUniversal City ISD by Bobby Hawthorne

Texas ASCD hosts annual conference

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TEPSA members rally for training

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departments TSB Professional Development & Events Calendar

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Who’s News

26

Ad Index

30

In the Spotlight columns

McAllen ISD sails into technology age with James Ponce

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From the Editor

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by Katie Ford

The Law Dawg  —  unleashed

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by Jim Walsh

by Elizabeth Millard

Tech Toolbox

9

by Terry Morawski

The Back Page

Getting Strong

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30

by Riney Jordan

10 tips for strengthening school board relationships by Diana Freeman

Cover: Stults Road Elementary Principal Darwin Spiller in Richardson ISD has shepherded his faculty and students toward successes that have garnered both statewide and national recognition. 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. January 2012 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • January 2012


From the Editor The idea for this month’s cover story came to me while reading an article in Education Week about school turnarounds. It seemed like a common denominator among these success stories was a dedicated, progressive principal at the helm — an individual who was unafraid to introduce new methodology and resources and who was proactive in gathering feedback from faculty, students and the community and then responding to it. I wanted to find out who some the movers and shakers were in Texas public schools, and I quickly received some great leads after putting out some feelers. Writer John Egan talked to a handful of Texas principals whose actions have garnered attention and accolades. These leaders gave us insight into their worlds and shared what they think it takes to be a principal in today’s climate of slashed funding, fast-paced technology, and increasing socio-economic and societal pressures on students. Long gone are the days of simply hiring, firing and managing budgets. Now principals are expected to be mentors, entrepreneurs, instructional leaders, politicians and so much more. Speaking of leaders, we also interviewed Gary Inmon, the new president of the Texas Association of School Boards, and James Ponce, superintendent of McAllen ISD. Both of these gentlemen embody what it takes to foster excellence in education in the 21st century. We hope this issue sparks conversation and new thinking as you get settled into your weekly routines after winter break. As always, please send story ideas and feedback to me at katie@texasschoolbusiness.com. I love hearing from you!

Katie Ford Editorial director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) January 2012 Volume LVIII, Issue 4 1601 Rio Grande Street, #455 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 • Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Publisher Ted Siff Editor in Chief Jim Walsh Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Jim Johnson Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel Office Services Ambrose Austin ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and for the Best in Class issue published in August and the Bragging Rights issue published in December (12 times a year) by Texas School Business Magazine, LLC, 1601 Rio Grande Street, #455, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas School Business,1601 Rio Grande Street, #455, Austin, TX 78701. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $28 per year; $52 for two yrs; $72 for three yrs. Group rate: 10 or more, $18; single issues, $4.50.

© Copyright 2011 Texas School Business Magazine LLC January 2012 • Texas School Business

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Like other South by Southwest (SXSW) festivals, SXSWedu seeks to converge the wide variety of stakeholders who share an interest in 21st century innovation and best practices. Our attendees represent not only education professionals including teachers, administrators and university professors, but also business, industry and policy leaders who all share a keen interest in modernizing teaching and learning.

Content strands at SXSWedu 2012 have largely been determined by our growing community of participants through our PanelPicker session submission process. They range from early childhood to college and career readiness, and include assessment, emerging trends, digital content, gaming and learning, higher education, open education resources, research and evaluation, and statewide portals, including Texas’ Project Share.

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Mike Feinberg


THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed

FiFth Edition

by Jim Walsh

T

he mission of public education is not just to teach the essential knowledge and skills of the general curriculum. Public schools also seek to graduate students who embody certain character traits. The task is to prepare the next generation of citizens, ready to participate in a free, open and diverse society with honesty, resilience, respect for others, courtesy and kindness. Those are character traits — virtues — that must be introduced, instilled, nurtured, encouraged and supported. They must be planted and cultivated like a bonsai tree, with thoughtful care. Public education is as much about that as it’s about readin’, ’riting and ’rithmetic. To carry out that part of the mission, public schools have to take advantage of teachable moments. Thus, it is discouraging when judges prevent schools from doing that. In Blue Mountain School District v. Snyder, the 3rd Circuit barred the school district from imparting a lesson to an eighth grader who created a fake MySpace profile of his principal. The court pointed out that the profile was so outrageous that it was unlikely that anyone would believe it was genuine. That’s probably true. Very few principals would publicly disclose that they spend their time “fucking in my office, hitting on students and their parents.” I have never met the principal who would tell the world that he is a sex addict with a small penis, or that his wife, who was a school counselor, “looks like a man.” Blue Mountain School District suspended the student who did this for 10 days. The 3rd Circuit overturned the suspension, holding that the MySpace profile was free speech, protected by the First Amendment because it did not create a material and substantial disruption of school. The dissenting opinion, joined

Texas School Admini

Ste. 455 1601 Rio Grande, Austin, Texas 78701 • FAX 512-495-9955 Phone 512-478-2113 com www.legaldigest.

in by six judges, noted that the decision “allows a student to target a school official and his family with malicious and unfounded accusations about their character in vulgar, obscene and personal language. I fear that our court leaves school officials defenseless to protect teachers and school officials against such attacks and powerless to discipline students for the consequences of their actions.” I think a 10-day suspension for this immature attempt at satire was overly harsh. But by the logic of the court’s decision, an assignment to lunch detention would have been equally unconstitutional. The dissenters are right: The decision leaves school officials “defenseless” and “powerless.” The court’s decision ignores the fundamental mission of public education. This incident provided a teachable moment. The school attempted to teach the student that the deliberate infliction of emotional harm to a member of the school community — in this case, the principal — is not OK. All members of the school community — students, teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and administrators — deserve respect. The parents of the student, the lawyers who represented them and the judges who ruled in their favor teach us a different lesson — that a public school is no different than a shopping mall. You can say whatever you want about someone, as long as you don’t set the building on fire. The National School Boards Association has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review this bad decision. Let’s hope the court takes the case. JIM WALSH is editor in chief of Texas School Business. He is also a school attorney with the firm of Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green and Trevino, P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa.com.

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Tech Toolbox

bells and whistles, but your commitment to reach everyone will pay off. Ask more questions. It’s easy to assume you know best or to buy into the latest promises from your vendor friends. However, teachers and school leaders have great input. Did you conduct a survey this past year to get their feedback on technology issues? That’s a good start. Administer two surveys this year — or even three. Create more opportunities for informal feedback so staff members can share their thoughts, ideas and, yes, gripes about the technology in the district. Celebrate the wins. When something great happens related to technology, shine a bright light on it. Don’t wait for the media or an award created by someone else. Celebrate and have fun with your technology wins. Celebrations remind people that they’re in a good place and they’re appreciated. If you’re not sure what to celebrate, create a simple award related to technology and let the staff vote on who/ what they think should win. The winners could provide great insight. Video everything. If you’re thinking about writing something, make a video of that idea instead. Even if it’s just you, as a district leader, talking about a rather dry subject, try a video. Next, insert a few graphics or photographs of what you’re talking about. Your audience will thank you, and they’ll be glad to hear your voice. It’s so much easier to dislike and distrust decisions made by people you have never seen or heard speak. It’s true. You’ll thank me later. Hopefully, I’ve given you a few action items for 2012. As always, thanks for reading the column and subscribing to Texas School Business. Please let me know if there’s anything on your mind for this year that would make a great tech column. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. He writes online at www.communicationsjetpack.com and can be reached at terrymorawski@ gmail.com.

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ast year I shared a list of my tech resolutions for 2011. It’s nice to look back and see that I have accomplished several of them. This year, I’ll turn the tables and set out some techie New Year’s Resolutions for your school organizations. Take a deep breath and repeat after me, “In 2012, I will... .” Remember the kids. When we get excited about new developments in technology, it’s easy to get excited as an adult and forget the whole point. The point is the tech tools need to be tied to learning. I do believe many innovative gadgets cannot be truly vetted until in the hands of innovative teachers and curious students. In other words, tech just for the sake of feeling innovative isn’t helpful to the cause, which is always student learning. Increase/improve Internet access. I will work to improve and strengthen Internet access for students and staff. The Internet is the lifeblood of information sharing in the world now. It isn’t a resource to plug into occasionally when there is time. Without the Internet, the learning experience quickly can become stale. What is your district doing to increase the availability and speed of the Internet for your students? Think about electronic textbooks. Now that the Legislature and textbook publishers are getting off their collective rears to support electronic textbook implementation, the time is rapidly approaching when paper textbooks will be sent to the great recycle bin in the sky. I know that device and funding questions linger, but you should be considering how your district will adapt to this sea change in learning. Better yet, launch a pilot program in your district. Support technology for all. As much as possible, provide the same level of technology for all staff. When everyone has the same gear, they are able to collaborate and share better. Otherwise, technology often sits on a shelf. Districts are also better able to commit to larger-scale training offerings when you’re dealing with a smaller number of products. This may mean fewer

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Texas School Business • January 2012


Texas ASCD hosts annual conference in capital city The Texas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development hosted its annual conference from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in Austin. Themed “Bridging the Future to … Now,” the event covered everything from succeeding with assessment and accountability to building capacity for collaboration.

Leander ISD’s Sheila Sanford, Erin Gaines, Kim Bentley, Randi Salmela and Mark Koller.

Allan and Pat Bonilla of ESC Region 13.

Leander ISD’s Susan Hansen and Darla Brown.

Midway ISD’s Diane Gough, Debbie Perry, Trulie Trevathan and Debbie Strause.

Midway ISD’s Ashley Canuteson and Jennifer Allison.

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD’s Katherine Cantu and Elizabeth McDowell.

Granbury ISD’s Rebecca Strain and Heather Dollins.

Leander ISD’s Chrysty Leighton and Carolyn Pierce.

Lindale ISD’s Dana Sustaire and Kaela Deslatte.

Eanes ISD’s Kathleen Sullivan and Round Rock ISD’s Mya Mercer. January 2012 • Texas School Business

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Principals discuss their evolving roles in an ever-changing education landscape by John Egan

K

aren Noble, principal of Hillcrest Elementary School in Nederland ISD, traveled in November to a gathering in Washington D.C., where she accepted one of the highest honors a principal can receive: the Terrel H. Bell Award. The Bell award is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association of Middle Level Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. It Karen Noble recognizes exceptional school principals across the country. Noble was one of only seven principals in the United States to receive the award in 2011.

Not coincidentally, Noble also accepted Hillcrest’s 2011 award as a National Blue Ribbon School at the same D.C. ceremony. Noble has been principal at Hillcrest for 19 years; for 17 consecutive years, Hillcrest has earned the Texas Education Agency’s “exemplary” rating. As the honors for Principal Noble and Hillcrest Elementary demonstrate, excellent principals and excellent schools go hand in hand. “You can’t have a great school without a great principal,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in announcing the winners of the 2011 Bell and Blue Ribbon awards. “It’s the principal who shapes the vision, sets the tone and targets the energy of the many people who run a school. It’s the principal who inspires, cajoles and models the excel-

lence he or she knows the school can reach.” Every school day across Texas — and even when school isn’t in session — principals are shaping the vision and setting the tone. They’re Arne Duncan also administrating, mentoring, disciplining and listening. Principals wear more hats than Lady Gaga does. Yet these days, one of the biggest and most prominent hats worn by principals is the one that involves meeting student achievement standards and empowering teachers. JoAnn Klinker, associate professor of educational leadership at Texas Tech University, says the principalship used to be considered solely a managerial position – hiring, firing, overseeing facilities, balancing budgets, disciplining students. Now, the principal must maintain a keen focus on student achievement, according to Klinker. This shift means today’s principalship is “a totally different ball game,” she says. Coaches, mentors and entrepreneurs

Principal Darwin Spiller of Stults Road Elementary in Richardson ISD emcees the school’s holiday choir program. Of his teaching staff, Spiller says his goal is to “build leaders who will be equipped not only to lead Stults Road or some aspect of it, but also, when they leave Stults one day, to stand on their own and lead and build other people.” 12

Texas School Business • January 2012

Klinker says principals “are going back into the classroom to assist in improvement of instruction. Instruction has always been a complex tangle of science and art, and unraveling that tangle requires different skill sets than that of a manager. Principals have to be coaches, mentors and entrepreneurs who can motivate teachers working in a political climate of criticism.” Darwin Spiller has adopted the role of coach, mentor and entrepreneur as principal of Stults Road Elementary School in Richardson ISD. Spiller became principal of the school in 2002 after having been an assistant principal and teacher there since 1996. In 2008, Spiller intensified his quest to cultivate what he calls “teacher leaders” at Stults. “Ultimately, my goal was to build people up to take my place someday — to build leaders who will be equipped not only to lead Stults Road or some aspect of it, but also, when they leave Stults one day, to stand on their own and lead and build other people,” Spiller says. Spiller says the “teacher leader” move-


ment has manifested on his campus in several ways. For example: • Teachers have formed teams to address campus concerns, one of which is student behavior. On this front, the teacher leaders set up a schoolwide discipline team that focused on positive and negative behaviors and then developed an approach to reward or discipline students without having to refer them to the principal’s office. •

Teachers have fostered a family culture, with emphasis placed on commitment and dedication. That commitment and dedication are displayed in various manners, such as teachers and employees brightening and personalizing school hallways with decorations they purchased, or “an office clerk combing a little girl’s hair in the morning to make sure she has a good day,” Spiller says.

The success at Stults Road Elementary has not gone unrecognized. The Richardson ISD elementary school was one of only two schools in Texas to receive the 2010 National Title I Distinguished Award. Furthermore, Stults has been deemed an “exemplary” school by the Texas Education Agency since 2006-2007. Before that, Stults was either “recognized” or “acceptable.” “Along the journey to success, I often remind those around me that we need to take the time to push back, slow down, look around and take stock of our success,” Spiller says. “The first step, of course, was to understand and appreciate that the journey is as important as the destination.” Just like Spiller, Vera Wehring has achieved success at her school — success that has been measured, in large part, by student achievement. Wehring’s school, B.F. Terry High School in Lamar CISD, is a 2011 Vera Wehring MetLife Foundation/ National Association of Secondary School Principals Breakthrough School. The Breakthrough program recognizes academic excellence in middle and high schools with a large population of students from low-income families. In 2010, Wehring was named one of Lamar CISD’s two principals of the year. Among the initiatives that have spurred success at Terry High School is the Ranger Success Center, an after-school program that provides one-on-one tutoring for students. Another effort contributing to the school’s achievement is campus-wide collaboration among English, math and science teachers in

creating lesson plans. Academic improvements at Terry High have come against a backdrop of what Wehring says are escalating negative opinions about public schools and of increasing attention on accountability measurements and ratings. Although the measurements and ratings have been in place for many years, “the outcomes have become much more punitive and publicized,” Wehring says. In Texas communities small and large, TAKS scores and Texas Education Agency ratings for public schools are trumpeted, dissected and debated. Wehring has been in education administration for almost 13 years. She’s in her sixth year as principal of Terry High. Going forward, she says, school principals will have to be more like “cheerleaders” for their campuses and communities. Accidental politicians “I think principals will have to be more informed of political trends, both in the community as well as in the bigger political landscape. They’ll have to be willing to stand up for the good found in public education,” Wehring says. In today’s climate of slashed budgets and layoffs, however, principals newer to the game aren’t willing to stick around too long to see public schools through dark times. A study released in 2009 by The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education found that only about half of newly hired public school principals in Texas are staying on the job at least three years. The study examined school data from 1996 through 2008. Study co-author Ed Fuller, a researcher with the UT College of Education’s University Council for Educational Administration, said this when the findings were announced: “What we know about principal retention suggests that school leaders are crucial to the school improvement process and that they must stay in a school a number of consecutive years for the benefits of their leadership to be realized. Principal retention matters because teacher retention and qualifications are greater in schools where principals stay longer. Any school reform efforts are reliant on the principal creating a common school vision and staying in place to implement the level of reforms that are part of large-scale change.” Principal retention rates are heavily influenced by the level of student achievement during a principal’s first year of employment, with the lowest-achieving schools having the highest turnover of principals, the study showed. In a Capitol Hill briefing in March 2011,

Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation, noted that a “great deal” of attention appropriately is being paid to the teaching profession, but excellent teachers can’t be hired without effective principals. More than a building manager DeVita also pointed out in the briefing that the main job of principals is not management of buildings, but promotion of teaching and learning. Leadership is second only to teaching among school-related factors in its power to raise student achievement, she said. “Although more people are recognizing the importance of principal leadership,” DeVita said, “we have not yet given it the careful, thoughtful attention it deserves. And we’re paying the price for our neglect — most especially in our lowest-performing schools, where … it’s hard to find, attract and retain principals who can turn them around.” Wehring says the most difficult part of being a principal is the amount of time needed to do the job right. “Part of that time commitment is … that members of the school community expect the principal to be available 24-7. The principal is expected to be responsive to campus needs at all times,” Wehring says. Rhonda Parmer, who became an assistant superintendent in Dickinson ISD last year, said she regularly clocked 10-hour workdays while serving as principal of Frazier Elementary School in Pasadena ISD. Rhonda Parmer About two or three times a month, those days stretched to 14 or 15 hours. The long hours on the job paid off. During Parmer’s eight-year tenure there, Frazier launched new bilingual, literacy, writing and math programs, all while the school accommodated about 300 more students than it was meant to house. In 2010, Parmer was named Texas’ National Distinguished Principal. Leadership in the classroom In her time as a principal, Parmer says she witnessed a “dramatic shift” from personnel manager to instructional leader. She envisions the future of the principal’s role being one that promotes teacher and student creativity. Simultaneously, however, a principal must cope with micromanagement from the district, state and federal levels. That micromanagement accompanies budget constraints, standardized testing and other pressing issues. See PRINCIPALS on page 14 January 2012 • Texas School Business

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we should move to the most objective forms of assessment as possible, while honoring students’ preferences in proving they know the material, which is inherently subjective,” she says. “I realize the logistical nightmare this causes and the anxiety of teachers when faced with the question, ‘How do I grade them on this?’ We are really coming to the point where we need to have individualized education plans for every student.” Klinker, the professor from Texas Tech, says that as principals strive to motivate students and teachers, they’ll be working within flattened “hierarchical structures.” This restructuring will free them up to be specialists

PRINCIPALS continued from page 13

Parmer says it’s difficult to “overlook students’ reactions to the hell they face day in and day out.” “Student motivation is a constant uphill fight,” she says. “I know how to motivate them, but I am tied to a system that will not allow me to do what is necessary to truly motivate them for authentic engagement in real learning.” That system includes grading standards that are “very ambiguous and subjective,” Parmer says. “While teachers should always have input to rate the students in their abilities, I feel

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‘It’s the principal who shapes the vision, sets the tone and targets the energy of the many people who run a school. It’s the principal who inspires, cajoles and models the excellence he or she knows the school can reach.’ – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in instructional leadership, implementation leadership, managerial leadership and so on, she says. The biggest change Klinker foresees for school principals is their role in disciplining students. She says principals are moving away from the “deficit model” — which, according to the e-Learning Design Laboratory at the University of Kansas, focuses on the student as the major problem, without examining environmental or instructional influences. Administrators are realizing that the “one size fits all” approach to discipline isn’t working, she says. “In the future, we’re going to see principals who think for themselves in regard to student discipline and who see policy as a guideline that is mitigated by the situation and the individuals involved,” Klinker says. Whether serving as disciplinarian or cheerleader or coach, the principal of the 21st century has embraced the new role of educational leader, Pete Hall, author of “The FirstYear Principal,” wrote in an article published in 2005 by SEDL, an Austin-based education think tank. According to Hall, teachers are a principal’s most valuable assets, and they require and deserve more than management. Teachers need strong relationships, individual attention, consistent support, fair treatment and accurate feedback, he wrote. “Now, in the era of accountability, principals face challenges heretofore unseen. With schools facing sanctions for underperformance, with drastic changes in the education landscape of the country and with the future of our society riding on each educational decision, the school principal forges a path in uncharted territory,” Hill wrote. “There is nothing simple about the most important position in American education. The principal is arguably the single most influential individual in any given school.” JOHN EGAN is a freelance writer in Austin. He is the former editor of the Austin Business Journal.


TASB PRESIDENT profile Board member and attorney Gary Inmon focuses on the positive in uncertain times By Bobby Hawthorne

G

ary Inmon is entering his one and only year as president of the Texas Association of School Boards, fully aware that the Texas economy is as shaky as Barney Fife’s gun and the Legislature is unlikely to provide any more significant funding for public schools unless — and/or until — the financial crisis takes a breather. He has accepted this reality for now. That’s just the way it is, Inmon says, and that makes him something of a rarity among Texas education advocates. “We can’t really control what happens at the legislative level, but we can control what we do at the local level,” says Inmon, who has sat on the Schertz-CiboloUniversal City Board of Trustees for the past 12 years. “Too many school folks have a tendency to say, ‘Well, if we just had this or if we just had that, it would all work out.’ Well, we have to get out of that mindset because we’re not going to get a whole lot more resources any time soon.” In the meantime, he thinks school leaders might do well focusing on ways to be more creative and efficient. “Any student of history can tell you that most ‘big ideas’ come from times of uncertainty and stress,” Inmon says. “It’s times like these that will force school districts to improve, and I am confident we’ll ultimately come out better and stronger in the end.” It’s not an opinion, he concedes, that’s likely to win him many Brownie points with some school people. But he believes it beats simply lobbing grenades at the Legislature. As Inmon sees it, “school board members are elected to be the leaders of public education, not just critics. So it’s important that we promote a positive outlook and keep the best interests of our students in mind.” A family law attorney with two teenagers, a 2-year-old and a new golden retriever puppy named Landry, Inmon is the son of an Air Force mechanic and an English farm girl. His dad came from Kosse, a speck of a

Gary Inmon (left), a trustee with Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, speaks with Michael Dahle (standing), a parent of a student in the district, during a board meeting. Also pictured is Edward Finley Jr., board vice president.

town 16 miles south of Groesbeck, which is best known for University of Texas football star Kenneth Sims and Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing. Inmon grew up on Air Force bases across the country until the seventh grade, when his family moved from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Schertz, where he played sports and performed just well enough in the classroom to keep his parents off his back. “Let’s just say I concentrated a lot more on sports and girls in high school than I did on my studies,” he says. “My life-changing moment was at my high school graduation. I was sitting there, mad at myself, because I knew I could have done so much better.” Give me another chance and I’ll turn things around, he vowed, and somehow fate delivered. He applied to The University of Texas at Austin on a whim and made it in. “I never visited beforehand,” he says.

“I just climbed in my $500 car with my things and left and then tried my best to figure it out as I went.” He applied himself at college in a way he’d never done in high school. Each summer, he worked for the Southwestern Company, a Nashville outfit that sells educational books door to door. He crisscrossed the country, knocked on thousands of doors, sat down at kitchen tables and on front porches with about every type of person imaginable, talking about the importance of education. “It was the greatest educational experience I’ll ever have,” he says. After graduating from The University of Texas, he entered Baylor Law School and finished his first year in good enough shape to clerk for a big law firm. However, at his desk one day, bored to tears, he asked himself, “My God, is this where the trail ends?” See PRESIDENT on page 23 January 2012 • Texas School Business

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TEPSA hosts fall summit in The Woodlands Members of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association gathered in The Woodlands for the organization’s fall summit. Formed in 1917, TEPSA consists of 5,800 education professionals serving elementary and middle school students.

Calhoun County ISD’s Sherry Phillips and Victoria ISD’s Nancy Flores.

Pearland ISD’s Dana Berry, Raina Joiner and Amanda Cottle.

Victoria ISD’s Melissa Flyger, Debbie Wells and Krystle Shelton. Carroll ISD’s Mandy Stapp, Brittany Barnes, Ashley Henrich and Rebecca Whittle.

Lamar CISD’s Tonya Garza and Katy ISD’s Shae Harwell. Victoria ISD’s Heather Bennett, Yasmina St. Jean, Julie Hubbard and Pamela Pfeil.

Huntsville ISD’s Brenda Moss and Kaye Chessher. Lamar CISD’s Christy Garzoria, Kathy Kail, Kyndra Gurbach, Kellie Dierschke and Tracey Sweeny.

Killeen ISD’s Sandra Novoa and Amber Diaz. 16

Texas School Business • January 2012


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS WEEK OF JANUARY 30 January 30

TAMS Annual Membership Breakfast Hilton Convention Center Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 346-2177. www.midsizeschools.org

February 1

Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS): Convection: A Current Event (Grades 6-7) and Global Warming (Grades 7-9) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100. TEPSA District 3 Meeting Greek Brothers Restaurant, Victoria For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org Using Data to Pull Small Groups in Mathematics (Elementary) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.

February 1-2

All About Grants: A Two-Day Institute Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1393. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: By Jan. 4, $350; after Jan. 4, $400.

February 2

TEPSA District 17 Meeting Lake Ridge Country Club, Lubbock For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA District 18 Meeting ESC Region 18 offices, Midland For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

February 5

TESA Area Workshop: Expanding Wisdom Through Knowledge Kolarik Education Center, Channelview For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatx.org Cost: Registration (breakfast, lunch, breakout sessions): $35; STEM class only, $35; STEM class with lunch, $45; workshop/ STEM package (breakfast, lunch, breakouts, STEM), $60.

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 6 February 6

TEPSA District 4 Meeting ESC Region 4 offices, Houston

For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

February 7

Early Childhood Leadership Group Meeting Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge. STAAR Learning: Leading the Content Areas with Lead4Ward Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150. TASB Regional Workshop: M.I.A.: Managing Inevitable Absences ESC Region 7, Kilgore For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org TASB Training Workshop: Asbestos Designated Person Splendora ISD, Splendora For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $425.

February 9

English/Language Arts Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge. Legal Series: HR – Preparing for Nonrenewal Season and Contract Issues Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $129. TASB Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 5, Silsbee For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org TASB Training Workshop: Indoor Air Quality Coordinator Splendora ISD, Splendora For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $425. TASB Winter Legal Seminar Holiday Inn Select, Tyler For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: Board members, administrators of districts and ESCs, no charge; others, $150.

February 8

February 10

TASB Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

School Finance Council Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8249. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

TASB Regional Workshop: Trim the Fat From Your Files: Managing Personnel Records Effectively ESC Region 6, Huntsville For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

Social Studies Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

TASB Training Workshop: IPM Coordinator Splendora ISD, Splendora For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $425. TASPA Workshop: Essentials of Educator Certification and Assignment Rules ESC Region 16, Amarillo For more info, (512) 494-7353 or (800) 346-4111. www.taspa.org Cost: $50. TEPSA District 16 Meeting ESC Region 16 offices, Amarillo For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

February 10-11

Texas Classroom Teachers Association Annual Convention Westin Galleria, Houston For more info, (512) 477-9415 or (888) 879-8282. www.tcta.org

February 11

TESA STEM Class: Effective Office Practices Garland ISD offices, Garland For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

February 12

TSPRA Pre-Conference Boot Camp Sheraton Capitol, Austin For more info, (512) 474-9107 or (800) 880-9107. www.tspra.org Cost: $95.

See CALENDAR on page 18 January 2012 • Texas School Business

17


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS CALENDAR continued from page 17 February 12-14

February 14

TASB Winter Legal Seminar ESC Region 19, El Paso For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: Board members, administrators of districts and ESCs, no charge; others, $150.

Texas School Counselor Association Annual Conference Convention Center, Galveston For more info, (512) 472-3403. www.txca.org Cost: Pre-registration (closes Jan. 15): $100.

February 15

Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS): Ant Homes Under the Ground/ Ladybugs Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 13 February 13

TASB Regional Workshop: M.I.A.: Managing Inevitable Absences ESC Region 11, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org TASPA Workshop: Essentials of Educator Certification and Assignment Rules ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (512) 494-9353 or (800) 346-4111. www.taspa.org Cost: $50.

February 13-15

TSPRA Annual Conference Sheraton Capitol, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9107 or (800) 880-9107. www.tspra.org Cost: Three-day registration, members: $410; three-day registration, nonmembers, $470. Two-day registration, members, $300; two-day registration, nonmembers, $365. One-day registration, Monday or Tuesday, $180; one-day registration, Wednesday, $135.

Leadership Fusion Summit ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (713) 744-6595. www.leadershipfusion.net Cost: $289. TASB Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 2, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Texas ASCD Workshop: E=MC2 Science Training (Grades K-5) Victoria ISD Conference Center, Victoria For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

February 16

Early Childhood Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

TEPSA District 13 Meeting Serene Hill Elementary School, Lakeway For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA District 20 Meeting Location TBA, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA District 5 Meeting Catfish Cabin, Lumberton For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TESA STEM Class: Customer Service Mesquite ISD offices, Mesquite For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

February 16-18

TASB Winter Governance and Legal Seminar Omni Bayfront Hotel, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

February 16-19

American Association of School Administrators National Conference on Education George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA and AASA members, $499; professor, graduate student and retired members, $260; nonmembers, $790.

February 17

Connecting education, people and communities through innovative solutions.

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TASB Regional Workshop: Wage and Hour Rules for Public Schools ESC 20, San Antonio For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: $190.

February 19-21

TASSP Assistant Principal Workshop Doubletree Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: Members, $135; nonmembers, $195; student nonmembers, $85.

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 20 February 21

TASB Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org 10100 North Central Expressway, Suite 300 Dallas, Texas 75231 18

Texas School Business • January 2012

t: 214.283.8700 f: 214.283.8701

TASB Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 18, Midland For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS TEPSA District 8 Meeting Location TBA, Mt. Pleasant For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

February 22

English as a Second Language: One-Day Mini Academy Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100. TASB Region 11 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 11 offices, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org TASB Region 18 Grassroots Meeting Sul Ross State University, Alpine For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org TEPSA District 9 Meeting ESC Region 9, Wichita Falls For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www. tepsa.org

February 22-23

Texas ASCD Workshop: Understanding by Design and Differentiation LEO Conference Center, Leander For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

February 23

Math Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

www.tesatexas.org Cost: $40.

February 24-26

Texas PTA Family Engagement Conference and Annual Convention Westin Galleria, Houston For more info, (512) 476-6769 or (800) 825-5782. www.txpta.org

WEEK OF FEBRUARY 27 February 27-March 2

TASBO Annual Conference Brown Convention Center, Houston For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $290; nonmembers, $380.

February 28

TASB Region 8 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 8 offices, Mt. Pleasant For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

February 29

6+1 Trait English and Spanish Writing: Developing Writing Skills in Two Languages Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.

March 1

TESA STEM Class: Professional Growth Mesquite ISD offices, Mesquite For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

March 1-3

TMSA Annual Conference: Cruising Through the Middle Convention Center and San Luis Resort, Galveston For more info, (512) 462-1105. www.tmsanet.org Cost: By Jan. 15: TMSA members, $200; nonmembers, $250. After Jan. 15: TMSA members, $250; nonmembers, $300.

March 4-7

Texas High School Athletic Directors Association State Conference Omni Hotel, Dallas For more info, (469) 593-0121. www.thsasa.org

See CALENDAR on page 20

CONFERENCE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW TUESDAy, APRIL 3, 2012

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center

February 23-24

TESA STEM Conference: Consultant Training Cypress Elementary School, Leander ISD, Cedar Park For more info, (512) 477-0724.

Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy V (session 1 of 3 sessions) Pat May Center, Hurst Euless Bedford ISD For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

The 26th Annual TCASE - LEGAL DIGEST

TESA STEM Class: Profile for Success Spring Branch ISD offices, Houston For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

February 24-25

February 29-March 1

TASB Region 7 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 10 offices, Kilgore For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

TASB Region 19 Grassroots Meeting Cattleman’s Steakhouse, Fabens For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

TASB Superintendent Secretary Training Conference TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: School district and ESC attendees, no charge; associate and affiliate members, $135.

TASB Region 10 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 10 offices, Richardson For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

WEDNESDAy, APRIL 11, 2012 Arlington Convention Center

Professional development credits available to Special Education Directors, Special Education Personnel, Curriculum Directors, Superintendents, Principals, School Board Members, and School Attorneys CO-SPONSORED BY:

Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education and

Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest

A One-Day Conference on Current Legal Issues Concerning the Education of Students with Disabilities

www.legaldigest.com January 2012 • Texas School Business

19


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS CALENDAR continued from page 19

WEEK OF MARCH 5 March 5

Nature and Needs of Gifted/Talented Learners Harris County Department of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.

TASB Regional Workshop: HR Legal Issues for Supervisors ESC Region 9, Wichita Falls For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

Librarian Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

Texas ASCD Workshop: E=MC2 Science Training (Biology) Victoria ISD Conference Center, Victoria For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

March 28

Texas Association of Community Schools East Texas Spring Conference Ornelas Activity Center, The University of Texas at Tyler For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org

TASPA Workshop: Essentials of Educator Certification and Assignment Rules ESC Region 11, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 494-9353 or (800) 346-4111. www.taspa.org Cost: $50.

March 10

TASSP Region 19 Meeting Jaxon’s on Airway, El Paso For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

No events listed.

TASBO Workshop: Business Skills for Campus Secretaries and Bookkeepers ESC Region 12, Waco For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

WEEK OF MARCH 19

March 29

March 6

Legal Series: Advanced Special Education Update Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $129.

Identification and Assessment of Gifted/ Talented Learners Harris County Department of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.

March 7

Great Explorations in Math and Science: Cabbage and Chemistry Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100. TASB Region 3 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 3 offices, Victoria For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org TASB Region 14 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 14 offices, Abilene For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

TESA STEM Class: Managing Change Garland ISD offices, Garland For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

WEEK OF MARCH 12

March 22

TESA STEM Class: Effective Office Practice Spring Branch ISD offices, Houston For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

March 23

Bilingual/ESL Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge. School Finance Council Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8249. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

March 25-27

TEPSA District 14 Meeting Location TBA, Abilene For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

Texas Retired Teachers Association Annual Convention Westin Galleria, Houston For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

Texas ASCD Workshop: E=MC2 Science Training (Middle School) Victoria ISD Conference Center, Victoria For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

WEEK OF MARCH 26

March 8

TASB Region 15 Grassroots Meeting ESC Region 15 offices, San Angelo For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org 20

Texas School Business • January 2012

March 26

Gifted/Talented: Identifying and Serving Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.

TEPSA District 7 Meeting Hide-A-Way Lake, Lindale For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 2523621. www.tepsa.org

WEEK OF APRIL 2 April 2

TASBO Workshop: Developing a Fiscal Manual TASBO offices, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

April 2-3

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Leadership Conference Marriot Airport South, Austin For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org

April 3

Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted/ Talented Learners Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100. TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by March 5): online, $135; off line, $165. Regular registration (after March 5): online, $165; off line, $190.

April 4

Creativity and Instructional Strategies of Gifted/Talented Learners Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100.


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS April 5-6

TASA Academy for Transformational Leadership (part 3 of 4) Doubletree Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: $2,450 for four sessions.

WEEK OF APRIL 9 April 10

TASB Training Workshop: Asbestos Designated Person ESC Region 14, Abilene For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $425.

April 11

TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by March 12): online, $135; off line, $165. Regular registration (after March 12): online, $165; off line, $190. Texas Association of Community Schools Hardin Simmons Conference Johnson Multipurpose Room, Hardin Simmons University, Abilene For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org TASB Training Workshop: IPM Coordinator ESC Region 14, Abilene For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On site for members, no charge; nonmembers, $425. TASBO Workshop: Federal and State Compliance Issues ESC Region 8, Mt. Pleasant For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $180; nonmembers, $220. TEPSA District 10 Meeting Hackberry Country Club, Irving For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA District 16 Meeting ESC Region 16 offices, Amarillo For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

April 12

TASB Training Workshop: Indoor Air Quality Coordinator ESC Region 14, Abilene For more info, (512) 467-0222.

www.tasb.org Cost: On-site member, no charge; nonmembers, $425. TEPSA District 17 Meeting Lake Ridge Country Club, Lubbock For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

April 12-13

Conversational Spanish for School Personnel (Beginner and Intermediate) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $120.

April 13

School Finance Council Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8249. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge. Social Studies Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

April 14

April 21

TESA STEM Class: Profile for Success Garland ISD offices, Garland For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

April 21-23

National School Boards Association Annual Conference Convention Center, Boston For more info, (703) 838-6722. www.nsba.org

WEEK OF APRIL 23 April 23

Early Childhood Leadership Group Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

April 24

Texas Retired Teachers Association Leadership Training Conference, District 9 ESC Region 9 offices, Wichita Falls For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

April 25

TESA STEM Class: Interpersonal Communication Spring Branch ISD offices, Houston For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

Texas Retired Teachers Association Leadership Training Conference, District 3 Grace Lutheran Church, Victoria For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

April 15-17

April 26

TASB Risk Management Fund Members Conference Hyatt Regency, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

WEEK OF APRIL 16 April 17

Texas Retired Teachers Association Leadership Training Conference, District 2 St. John’s Lutheran Church, Corpus Christi For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

April 27

TEPSA District 2 Meeting Harrison’s Landing, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

Texas Retired Teachers Association Leadership Training Conference, District 1 First Baptist Church, Harlingen For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

April 19

WEEK OF APRIL 30

Legal Series: Legal Update for School Counselors and Health Services Personnel Harris County Dept. of Education For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $129. TESA STEM Class: Professional Growth Spring Branch ISD offices, Houston For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

April 30

Texas Retired Teachers Association Leadership Training Conference, District 18 ESC Region 18 offices, Midland For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

TSB

January 2012 • Texas School Business

21


In the

Spotlight

The future is bright for McAllen ISD with James Ponce at the helm by Elizabeth Millard

A

s superintendent of McAllen ISD, James Ponce is working to transform his district into a 21st century powerhouse, eventually putting mobile technology in the hands of all 25,000 K-12 students. Ponce learned early in his life the value of public education and dreaming big. His father was an educator, and his mother offered instruction at home. “My grandparents on both sides weren’t formally educated, and my mom and dad wanted better for their children,” Ponce says. “They gave me the understanding that whatever aspirations I had, education would get me there.” He laughs, recalling how he used to tell his fellow kindergartners that he intended to get his doctorate someday. “What kid says that? It just shows you the solid foundation that my parents put in place,” he says. After high school, Ponce attended The University of Texas at Austin, earning a bachelor of business administration-finance degree in 1990, followed by a master’s degree in educational administration in 1998 and a doctorate of educational administration in 2009. Starting out as a bilingual education teacher in 1993 in Dallas ISD, Ponce eventually became interested in taking on administrative roles as a way to influence more students. Over the course of 16 years at Dallas ISD, he served as a high school assistant principal, elementary principal and deputy chief of staff. He also served as the Area VI superintendent, overseeing 36 campuses. When Ponce heard about a superintendent opening in McAllen ISD, he was drawn by the district’s reputation, strength and history. He says he thought about where he wanted to raise his family and where he could make a difference, and McAllen fit the bill. “I saw so much opportunity,” he says. In May 2009, Ponce became McAllen ISD’s superintendent. Not one to waste time, he kicked off his service by assess22

Texas School Business • January 2012

McAllen ISD Superintendent James Ponce visits a classroom at Michael E. Fossum Middle School, where eighth graders Joey Alvarez and Dy-Andra Martinez work on their laptops.

ing the district’s strategies for preparing students for colleges and careers. The district also implemented a five-year strategic plan that takes a critical look at educational, operational and business goals. “We were ready for some quantum leaps,” says Ponce. “It’s all about transformation; we wanted to revolutionize what we do.” For instance, the district had been using technology mainly for remedial education; Ponce wanted to shift to a more proactive stance. According to Ponce, a significant amount of technology purchases for school districts revolves around intervention and remediation strategies. He points to credit recovery as an example. “There is still a need for this use of technology,” he says. “However, we must significantly increase the opportunity for staff and students to create and innovate with technology.” To foster that approach, McAllen ISD launched TLC3, or Teaching Learning in the Classroom, Campus and Community.

The initiative involves integrating mobile technology throughout the district in an effort to foster higher levels of student engagement, innovation and creativity. Ponce says classroom technology isn’t about teaching kids how to be savvy with mobile devices. It’s about enhancing the way students interact with teachers and with content. The first phase of TLC3 will involve about 5,000 students receiving iPads or iPod Touches. The district ultimately plans to provide iPads for all 25,000 students as well as for teachers. Especially exciting, Ponce notes, is the buzz around content creation. Students and teachers are developing mobile applications to enhance classroom learning. One educator has developed a popular app that centers on parental involvement. It allows parents to use their mobile devices to access school Web resources. With a few clicks, a parent can log on to check grades, classroom schedules, athletic events or school performances. Students also are See SPOTLIGHT on page 23


PRESIDENT continued from page 15

So, he joined the Marine Reserves, thinking he might become a military lawyer — like Tom Cruise in the movie “A Few Good Men.” He loved the intensity of officer candidate school and earned his commission as a second lieutenant. After serving for three years, he returned to San Antonio to begin his career with a local law firm. Five years ago, he opened his own firm — a family law practice.

“Any student of history can tell you that most ‘big ideas’ come from times of uncertainty and stress. It’s times like these that will force school districts to improve, and I am confident we’ll ultimately come out better and stronger in the end.” “Every day, I see people going through divorces, child custody battles and so forth,” he says. “I’m dealing with a case now between a dad and a step-dad (the mother recently passed away), and there’s a big fight over where the child will live. We’re talking about ripping the kid out of a school and a community and moving him to a place he’s never been. Right now, he has no idea where he’s going to sleep tomorrow. It’s a ridiculously bitter, emotional battle. SPOTLIGHT continued from page 22

working on apps. For example, a few high school students are perfecting an app for their history class that will allow all students to see the teacher’s lecture notes, assignments and test dates. “This is an area that’s going to explode,” Ponce says. “I can’t wait to see all

“I see this stuff every day. Tragic situations, and you have to wonder, ‘How do the kids even function at home, let alone at school?’” Schools could — and should — do more to help, he says. “When a student walks out the door after high school graduation, he or she should have the tools to be a self-sustaining, responsible citizen,” Inmon says. “While it’s important to know the subjects taught in school, it’s far more important to know how to make wise and productive decisions. So, my biggest critique of public schools is that we spend far too much time teaching what I call ‘subjects’ and very little, if any, time teaching values.” Not religious values, he’s quick to add, but principles of success to counterbalance the “if it feels good, do it” culture. “If you’re not attuned to the value of individual responsibility,” he says, “then all this other stuff just doesn’t get you to the finish line.”

It’s another one of those realities he wishes more school leaders would accept. He’d also like to see less government intrusion in local decisions. “For what it’s worth, I’m a conservative Republican,” Inmon says. “But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s folks in Austin yakking it up about how the federal government should get out of the state’s business, and then they turn right around and stick their noses in what the local school district is doing.” “The same principles apply,” he says. “Trust me, local folks know more and care more about their schools and kids than some faraway legislator ever will. Get out of our way and we’ll do a much better job.” 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.

Fun Facts about Gary Inmon Five guests at my fantasy dinner party: Jesus, Ken Burns, Thomas Jefferson, Cal Ripken Jr. and my wife, Crissy. Title of book I’m currently reading: “Nearing Home” by the Rev. Billy Graham Best thing to happen to me while serving on the school board: “At a welcome back breakfast each year, board members act as ‘cafeteria ladies’ and serve breakfast to all of the staff members. Five years ago, my wife, Crissy, who was a nurse at one of our elementary schools, came through the line. We hit it off and married about a year later. I never set out to use my position to meet my future wife; although, it’s been, hands down, the best thing to happen to me as a result of my board service.

the learning and teaching tools that will be developed as part of this.” Although he’s a fierce technology advocate, Ponce unplugs when it comes to his free time. With their three sons of elementary school age, he and his wife, Katherine, go camping and to the beach whenever they can. Just as his parents influenced his de-

cision to go into education, Ponce hopes that he has a positive effect on his children — both the ones at home and the ones in his district. “I just want to have an impact,” he says. “I want to make a contribution.” ELIZABETH MILLARD is a freelance writer who also has written for District Administration.

Fun Facts about James Ponce Best advice my parents ever gave me: Treat others as you would like your children to be treated. One thing most people don’t know about me and would be surprised to learn: I enjoy woodworking.

If I could go anywhere, my next vacation would be: Spain A skill I’d like to learn but haven’t yet: I would like to learn to play the bass guitar.

January 2012 • Texas School Business

23


10 tips for strengthening boardroom relationships by Diana Freeman

T

he unique animal that is boardsuperintendent relations requires ongoing work. Eight different personalities must come together to work as a new and better whole. When this works, school districts can be elevated to a level that leads to improved student achievement; when it doesn’t, it can be difficult for everyone at every level. Board work is extracurricular for elected board members, but it is real life for the employed superintendent. The following 10 tips can be applied to the relationship that exists to improve functioning in the boardroom — and maybe lead to a fun, invigorating educational enterprise.

welcome members of the team. Tell them how meetings work — which door to enter after hours, how the board has agreed to communicate with the public, and when to expect a bathroom break. As a new board member, I ate dinner early to be ready for my first board meeting only to find out they served a meal. At the next meeting, I showed up ready to eat only to find out there was no food because it was a special called meeting. The little things matter. When new members feel welcome, they more likely will contribute to the board in a positive way.

1

The Texas Education Code requires that boards set comprehensive district goals. Some districts embrace this task, setting aside time to develop goals as a team. Others simply use the goals from the District Improvement Plan; some are developed by the superintendent then shared with the board, and some don’t do it at all. All of the latter miss the opportunity that lies in goal setting. More than the law, developing district goals is the initial point of governance for boards. It is the time for board members to be the civic leaders they were elected to be. It is a golden opportunity for communication between the superintendent and the

Start off on the right foot.

No one likes change, and a shakeup on the board can be a sitting board’s and superintendent’s worst nightmare. However, be careful not to assume that every person who runs for the board has an ax to grind. Maybe they are interested in the future of education or maybe they just like the district shirts! Either way, if they get elected, they are part of the team for at least one term. Welcome inquiries from any citizen who wishes to run for the board. Sit down with them; get to know them. Once they get elected, make sure they feel like

2

Initiate the governance process.

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board to find out what the team really cares about. So many times when board members are stepping outside their legal duties, they simply are trying to be involved. Involving board members in the goal-setting process will focus their attention on the big picture and lessen the likelihood that they will step over the line of oversight and into management.

3

Evaluate your effectiveness.

Board members conduct an annual evaluation of the superintendent, but there is another element of that process. The team also should conduct an annual self-evaluation. This evaluation should focus on how the team operates and how it communicates, as well as each member’s awareness of the tools at the board’s disposal for performing the job. An effective and highly functioning board can contribute to advancing overall student achievement, much as a dysfunctional board can wreak havoc on a district’s efficiency and morale and, ultimately, its students. By taking a good hard look at the work of the team, the board will be positioned to make a consistent and sustained contribution to increased student achievement.

4

Communicate, communicate, communicate; when you are through with that, talk some more.

The foundation of any relationship is the ability to communicate honestly, openly and respectfully. This is no different in the boardroom. Board members have a tendency to “save up” their issues or concerns until the superintendent evaluation. This is not effective in the ongoing process of teamwork. Small adjustments and changes can be made on an ongoing basis to avoid big blowups later. Remain focused on issues and not personalities when discussions become heated.

5

Make time to have the big conversations.

In a recent board meeting in South Texas, the board was discussing the condition of the school’s track. It was deteriorating, and community use was hastening that deterioration. The board’s discussion ini24

Texas School Business • January 2012


tially centered on how it might preserve the track a bit longer. This included the possibility of locking the track outside of school hours or putting up signs announcing that it was strictly for use of students. While this might have been the most cost-effective option, the board members were not comfortable locking community members out of the only place they had in the area to get out and exercise. One trustee reminded the board of a recently adopted goal of creating better rapport with the community and that taking these steps didn’t support that goal. Then another brought up the message that it sent to the community and students that discouraged fitness at a time when healthy eating and increased activity levels were at the forefront of the school’s health program. The decision eventually was made to leave the track available and accept the cost on the premise that the track added to the overall betterment of the community. Taking the time to have this conversation allowed the board to articulate its beliefs and affirm action in support of the adopted goals.

6

Leave the surprises for birthdays.

A trusting relationship allows room for both the good and the bad. Superintendents sometimes will avoid conversations of events that they perceive reflect negatively on the district. These events tend to leak out anyway — sometimes with a board member being surprised by a constituent who shares the news in passing while out in the community. Nothing good ever follows turning the corner in the grocery store to run into the town gossip announcing, “I’m so glad I ran into you… .” Conversely, board members need to keep the superintendent informed of their concerns in the appropriate time and place. In one board meeting, approving the contract for a drug-detecting dog on school campus was on the agenda. As the board was ready to vote, one member expressed a desire to get multiple bids and more information on different companies. The superintendent agreed to do this research and bring it back at the next meeting after some discussion. The item then had to be tabled and included on the next month’s agenda. If the member had brought this up to the superintendent as soon as he got his materials, it would have saved time for the whole team.

7

teams. But you can make your teambuilding session more productive and less of a chore if you decide together as a team, in advance, what you’d like to accomplish with the time you reserve. To do this, post “team-building options” on an agenda; at the meeting, discuss what kinds of activities might benefit the team. Discuss and agree on an activity that you think will help the team improve its working relationships. Decide on a good time to get all team members together and who could best facilitate the activity. Then show up and participate. Make the most of the time and it will pay off later when a discussion becomes heated. Anything worth having takes time, and an effective working relationship is definitely worth having.

8

Invest in continued training.

Actively working to improve decision making requires a commitment from the board and superintendent. Wherever your team is now, good training can raise the level of effectiveness. “To get what you’re not getting, you’ve got to think what you aren’t thinking and do what you’re not doing.” Sometimes “new and different” can be exactly what a team needs to shake it out of the doldrums, allowing everyone to seek resolution to issues in an energized frame of mind.

9

Tell your story.

Someone in the community is telling the story of your district. Make sure it’s you. These are your teachers and your students. You know the great things going

on in that district — share them with the world. It’s very easy for the naysayers and complainers to get a foothold in a district. Combat this by getting the word out about the exciting things going on in the district. Take those administrative reports about all the good things going on in the buildings, choose three or four, and agree that all board members will take every opportunity to share these with people they come in contact with over the next month. Start a campaign of positivity that makes your district the envy of the neighboring districts.

10

Keep the first thing first.

At the end of the day, everyone in the boardroom is there for one purpose — to make a difference for the schoolchildren. To get there, you may have to wade through faculty members, tax rates, extracurricular stipends and, yes, even cheerleader skirts. Those things will always be there, and it’s easy to get caught up in all the parts and pieces that make up a district. Any eight people are going to disagree at some point, but keeping petty personal differences away from the board table is essential when all the decisions and discussions center around what’s best for all of the kids. DIANA FREEMAN is a Leadership Team Services senior consultant for the Texas Association of School Boards. She also serves as the program manager for the University Partnership Initiative. Her email is diana.freeman@tasb.org.

Work on the relationship. Team building is an annual requirement of board-superintendent January 2012 • Texas School Business

25


Who’s News Agua Dulce ISD Russ Perry, most recently superintendent of Nueces Canyon ISD, is the district’s new superintendent. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor at Schreiner University in Kerrville and at Angelo State University, Perry spent nine years as a principal in Chillicothe ISD and five years as superintendent of Harrold ISD. He held the top position in Nueces Canyon ISD from 2004 until accepting his new role in Agua Dulce. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Tarleton State University and a master’s degree in education administration from Sul Ross State University. His doctorate in education administration was awarded from the University of North Texas. Cameron ISD Wendy L. Mahan has been appointed to serve as principal of Cameron Elementary School. An educator since 2004, she began her career in Salado ISD as an agricultural science teacher at Salado High School. She came to Cameron ISD in 2007 to teach fourth grade reading and language arts at Cameron Elementary School, where she also served as the fourth grade team leader. Since 2009, she has been the

school’s reading literacy coach. A native of Cameron and a graduate of Cameron ISD schools, Mahan earned her bachelor’s degree from Tarleton State University and her master’s degree in education leadership from Lamar University. Clint ISD The district’s newest campus, Clint Early College Academy, has named a principal. He is David Medlin, who will take the reins when the school opens at the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic David Medlin year. An educator for 16 years, his first positions were teaching English and social studies and coaching track at Parkland High School in Ysleta ISD. He moved to Clint ISD three years later to establish Clint High School’s writing center and to coach cross country events. He moved to New Mexico in 1999, teaching in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, returning to Ysleta ISD in 2003 to teach and coach at Del Valle High School. He took his first administrative position in that district in 2006 in the division of academ-

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Texas School Business • January 2012

ics, going on to serve as dean of instruction for two years at Valle Verde Early College High School. He then became the assistant principal of Parkland High, his most recent position. Medlin holds a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from The University of Texas at El Paso and a master’s degree in educational administration from New Mexico State University. Coppell ISD Angie Applegate, who had been serving as assistant principal of Town Center Elementary, is now that school’s principal. She has spent 10 of her 15 years in education in Coppell ISD and was Angie Applegate instrumental in developing Town Center’s STEM program. Applegate earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University. Tabitha Branum, most recently director of New Tech High@Coppell, is now the district’s director of strategic initiatives. She began her career as a middle school teacher and has been working in Tabitha Branum Coppell ISD’s secondary schools since 2000. She has been a curriculum director and associate principal of Coppell High School. Branum received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas. The new executive director of intervention services is Rhonda Carr, who comes to her new position from serving as the district’s director of assessment. She began her education career 27 years ago as a special education Rhonda Carr teacher. After 12 years as a teacher, she was a campus administrator for 10 years and then spent five years at the district level, developing and writing curriculum. She came to Coppell ISD in 2005 as an assistant middle school principal. Carr holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas.


Who’s News Marilyn Denison is now assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She has been an educator for more than 18 years, beginning as an elementary teacher and progressing to serve Marilyn Denison as an assistant principal, principal and adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University. She was most recently executive director of elementary education for a Houstonarea school district. Denison holds two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees. Her doctorate was awarded from Sam Houston State University. Leanne Dorhout, principal of Coppell Middle School North, has completed her doctoral studies at Tarleton State University. She was previously associate principal of Coppell High School. Deanna Harrell is Leanne Dorhout now director of New Tech High@Coppell. She has been an educator for 14 years — the past 11 of which have been spent with Coppell ISD. She was most recently associate prinDeanna Harrell cipal of Coppell High School. Harrell holds a bachelor’s degree from Hardin Simmons University and two master degrees: one in reading and gifted education for grades pre-K through eighth, and one in educational leadership. She is a doctoral student in cooperative superintendency at The University of Texas. Brad Hunt, who spent the past five years as principal of Coppell High School, is now the district’s assistant superintendent for administration. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and Brad Hunt his master’s degree from The University of Texas at Tyler. An educator for 20 years, he has served as an assistant principal and principal at the middle schools level and as the district’s director of human resources.

Mike Jasso is now principal of Coppell High School, where he formerly served as assistant principal. An educator for 20 years, he has been a classroom teacher, coach and administrator at the secondary level. Jasso earned his Mike Jasso bachelor’s degree in education from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas. Penny Tramel has been named the district’s director of elementary curriculum. She has spent the past 18 years of her 27-year education career in Coppell ISD, working as a teacher, assistant principal and, most recently, as Penny Tramel principal of Town Center Elementary School. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in elementary education. She is a certified reading specialist for all levels.

Superintendent Jeff Turner has been named the Texas nominee for the 2012 National Superintendent of the Year award from the American Association of School Administrators. An educator for 32 years, he began Jeff Turner as a middle school science teacher before taking his first administrative assignment in 1984. Currently president-elect of the Texas Association of School Administrators, he will begin his term as president in the fall of 2012. He was ESC Region 10’s Texas Association of School Boards’ Superintendent of the Year in 2010 and has been recognized for his work with the Visioning Institute, a group of Texas superintendents focused on the development of a 21st century model for public education. Turner earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, his master’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake and his doctoral degree from Baylor. The 2012 AASA See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

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Re-energize your staff! Lift their spirits! Let him make a difference!

WHO’S continued from page 27

National Superintendent of the Year will be announced at the AASA Conference on Education in Houston, Feb. 16-19.

• More motivational talks to educators than any other current Texas speaker. • Convocations, Conferences, Staff Development Workshops, and Graduation Ceremonies. • 30 years in Texas public education. • Hear him once and you’ll see why thousands have requested him nationally and internationally. • His best-selling book, All the Difference, is now in its sixth printing.

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Cy-Fair High School volleyball coach Donna Benotti has taken the position of president of the Texas Girls Coaches Association, the nation’s largest association for coaches of girls’ athletics. She served as second vice president for the 2009-2010 school year and as first vice president the following year. Dallas ISD The district has a new police chief. He is Craig Miller, a former deputy chief in the Dallas Police Department, where he served since 1982 as deputy chief of the Crimes Against Persons Division and as commander of the Homicide, Tactical Services/Explosive Devices and Narcotics Division.

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Who’s News

Texas School Business • January 2012

rell Muncy is the district’s new director of student services. He has been principal of Denton High since 2004 and will continue in that position until his successor is named. Prior to becoming an administrator, he was a high school teacher in Richardson ISD, as well as in Clear Creek ISD’s Clear Lake High, Lakeview Centennial High in Garland ISD and Wylie High in Wylie ISD. He was assistant principal of Richardson ISD’s Lake Highlands High School from 2002 to 2004, then came to Denton ISD as assistant principal of Denton High. He earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and master of arts degree from Texas State University. His master’s degree in education is from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Elkhart ISD Longtime Elkhart ISD educator Mike Moon retired in November from his position as superintendent, which he held for three years. An educator for 34 years, he was with Elkhart ISD for 20 years, beginning as the district’s elementary principal. An interim superintendent has been named for the district. Marvin Thompson was most recently a field service agent for ESC Region 7 in Kilgore. Earlier this year, he spent a month as interim superintendent of Palestine ISD. ESC Region 4 Executive Director Bill McKinney retired at the end of December, culminating 43 years in public education. McKinney worked as a math teacher, principal, director of research and Bill McKinney evaluation, assistant superintendent and superintendent before arriving at ESC Region 4 on Oct. 1, 1988. Region 4 encompasses 53 school districts, representing more than 1 million students and 83,000 educators. McKinney is a former president of the Association of Educational Service Agencies, as well as a board member of the Texas Business and Education Coalition and the Sam Houston Area Council Boy Scouts of America. In 2008, he received the Golden Deeds Award from the Administrative Leadership Institute in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. The Golden Deeds


Who’s News Award is considered the highest recognition for distinguished service to education in the state; it is given to an individual from any profession who consistently has supported Texas students and teachers through his/her positive impact on public education. McKinney earned a doctorate in educational research and applied statistics from the University of North Texas in 1976. ESC Region 12 Executive Director Jerry Maze has been chosen to receive the 2011 E. Robert Stephens Award for the research and writing he did in connection with his doctoral dissertation on Texas education service centers. The Stephens Jerry Maze Award, presented by the Association of Educational Service Agencies, recognizes contributions that advance the understanding of regional educational agencies through research, writing, and publications at regional, state and national levels. Before joining ESC 12, Maze spent 24 years as an educator, serving as a teacher, public relations consultant, administrator, college professor and superintendent. Fort Bend ISD Sartartia Middle School has a new principal. She is Ginger Carrabine, a 21-year veteran of public education. An educator who has spent her entire career with Fort Bend ISD, she began Ginger Carrabine as a classroom teacher at Dulles Elementary School, where she subsequently served as assistant principal and principal. She next held the top position at Walker Station Elementary until taking her new job at Sartartia. Carrabine earned her bachelor’s degree from Lamar University and her master’s degree in education from the University of Houston. Granbury ISD Superintendent Ron Mayfield has been honored by the Texas School Counselor Association as its Advocate of the Year. He was recognized at the organization’s annual conference in Fort Worth in November. Granbury began his career as

a vocational agriculture teacher in Loraine, Amherst and Lamesa ISDs, going on to serve as an assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent in Lamesa ISD. He was superintendent in Ron Mayfield Reagan County ISD and in Stockton ISD, where he served from 2005 until joining Granbury ISD in 2009. Mayfield earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and master’s degree in education at Texas Tech University. Hunt ISD This Kerr County district whose one campus serves 175 students, grades kindergarten through eighth, has a new superintendent. She is Crystal Dockery, most recently an assistant superintendent in Spearman ISD. Lake Travis ISD Traci E. Miller is the district’s new director of food and nutrition services. After earning her bachelor’s degree in nutrition from The University of Texas, she worked as an administrator with the North Austin Medical Center, Traci E. Miller the Central Texas V.A. Hospital, Scott and White, and Capital Dialysis of Texas. Most recently, she was with the Hospital at Westlake Medical Center, first as the nutrition director, then as the marketing director and physician relations coordinator. In addition, she provides sports nutrition and wellness consultation through her business, Working4Wellness.net. Lubbock ISD William C. Lovelace is the district’s new director of district technology support. A 15-year employee of Lubbock ISD, he spent an additional 15 years prior to that in technology-related positions in the private William C. sector. Lovelace earned Lovelace both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. TSB January 2012 • Texas School Business

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God bless our border kids

I

’ll never forget doing a training session a few years ago in a school that was only a stone’s throw away from Mexico. I remember asking if there were any children who crossed the Rio Grande to attend classes there. “Oh, sure,” the principal softly answered. “They never miss. They turn in every assignment. And they’re probably more eager to learn than any students we have.” My opinion of this controversial topic was changed that day. And just recently, I read an article in the paper about children in Texas schools who are being so dramatically affected by the violence of the drug problems along our borders and in our cities and communities. For example, in El Paso, classroom teachers have begun explaining to students about the stages of psychological trauma experienced by victims of brutal attacks. Many children of all ages have experienced such violence firsthand as a result of drug-related incidences in that area of the state. A 17-year-old student told the class, “I’ve been through all three stages: impact, recoil and reorganization of my life.” Then he broke down into tears as he was talking and sobbed, “My mom goes in and out of recoil stage.” One teacher compared what is happening in our border towns to what’s occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan. Texas law enforcement officials recently confirmed that several Mexican drug cartels are using children to help in their smuggling operations. Can you imagine? The gangs out of Mexico have an unbelievable name they have attached to the children who do this work for them: the expendables. The expendables! Unthinkable that someone could be so heartless, so insensitive, as to consider a child as “expendable” and care nothing for their safety! Another recent study was done regarding children who tried to enter the United States unsuccessfully. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 children are returned to Mexico and other Central Amer-

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Texas School Business • January 2012

ican countries each year. What happens to them? Your guess is as good as mine, but estimates are that as many as one-third of them never get reunited with their families. This is why, more than ever, our classrooms have to focus on caring about our students. The welfare of our students must become our schools’ No. 1 priority. A teacher recently told me that she vowed this year to focus first and foremost on her relationship with her students and then on academics. “It’s been amazing,” she told me, “but the learning of the subject matter seems to have come so much easier this year. I think it is because for the first time in my teaching career, I’ve put them first and they know it, and I believe they want to please me. “I know what is going on in most of their lives; I’m looking at them in a whole new light. I’ve come to realize that these students have got issues at home and outside of this school that are huge. They now know that I’m here for them.” Those of you who are regular readers of my column know how strongly I feel about this issue. If you’re an administrator, work with your staff to convey the concept that before learning can take place, relationships must be established. If you have doubts, think about your own experiences. In almost every case, the teacher you remember as being the most effective and the one you considered your favorite was the one you knew cared about you the most. So, as the new calendar year begins, resolve to work on relationships, to genuinely care about those you serve and to realize that our real joy in life comes from making a difference in the lives of others. For at this very moment, there’s a border kid praying that someone like you or me will cross his path and his life will forever be changed. 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.

CEFPI....................................................... 10 www.cefpi.org ESC Region 7 - DMAC Solutions............. 4 www.dmac-solutions.net ESC Region 20 TCC................................ 14 www.esc20.net/TCC ESC Region 20........................................... 8 www.esc20.net Fibrebond................................................. 32 www.fibrebond.com First Financial Administrators Inc........... 26 www.ffga.com HCDE....................................................... 27 www.hcde-texas.org Houston ISD............................................ 26 www.eshars.com Lone Star Auctioneers Inc........................ 29 www.lonestarauctioneers.com Peims Data +............................................ 24 www.peimsdataplus.com Perkins+Will............................................ 18 www.perkinswill.com Riney Jordan Co....................................... 28 www.rineyjordan.com Shweiki Media........................................... 7 www.shweiki.com Skyward Inc............................................. 10 www.skyward.com Spectrum Corp..................................... 5, 29 www.spectrumscoreboards.com Sungard Public Sector................................ 8 www.sungardps.com SXSWedu................................................... 6 www.sxswedu.com TASBO....................................................... 2 www.tasbo.org Texas Mac Repair...................................... 9 www.texasmacrepair.com Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest.................................... 7, 19 www.legaldigest.com Tyler Technologies................................... 31 www.tylertech.com WRA Architects......................................... 5 www.wraarchitects.com


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