TSB—January 2013

Page 1


January 2013

Tallying the benefits of mentor programs

TASB President Viola Garcia Aldine ISD

In the Spotlight Theresa Kunz Salado ISD

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TSB contents news and features

In the Spotlight Salado ISD educator sees potential long after others have given up


by Leila Kalmbach

photo features Texas ASCD draws curriculum directors to the Big D


Learning by example Texas schools invest in the power of mentoring by Raven L. Hill


departments From Our Readers


Who’s News


Ad Index


columns From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Katie Ford

TASB President Profile Viola Garcia seeks connection in the pursuit of excellence


by Jim Walsh

by Terry Morawski

by Elizabeth Millard

Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan

29 Safe School Zone

Better safe than sorry Technology can help mitigate risk and improve training by Tom Strasburger

On the cover: Southwest ISD student Sabrina Torres spends time with her mentor, Liz Ozuna, a community volunteer. The mentor relationship is made possible through the district’s Lighthouse Mentoring Program, which launched in 2009. 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 2013 • Texas School Business 3

From Our Readers


ear Jim: I just read your column (“The Law Dawg – Unleashed: Name calling in the DAEP”) in the November/December 2012 issue. I couldn’t agree with you more that a name other than DAEP should be used for the school that serves the students who have strayed from their “road of success” — hence the name of our DAEP at Barbers Hill ISD: Eagle Positive Intervention Center (EPIC). While I cannot take credit for the name nor the vision for this campus, I will say that we do envision and strive at our campus to be a “positive intervention center” for students. The credit for the name goes to Mr. Kirven Tillis, who was the principal who started our DAEP campus in Barbers Hill ISD six years ago. The vision for this campus is similar to what you stated in your column: “Perhaps districts should consider having two DAEPs — one for the majority of the kids who are pursuing their studies seriously and seeking to return to the regular program, and another for the others.” Your thought process was indeed the same as that of our superintendent, Greg Poole. Before EPIC came to fruition, we sent students who required DAEP placements to a DAEP comprised of students from a consortium of 10 school districts. Oftentimes the students we sent to this DAEP returned to their home campuses further behind academically and — due to the clientele with whom they were associating at DAEP — often worse than when they had left. EPIC was created with the goals that students will perform at or above their current academic level and return (to their home campuses) with decision-making skills that will prepare them to make better


Texas School Business • January 2013

decisions at school and beyond. We didn’t want our students to merely “serve their time.” While we cannot say that we have been 100 percent successful, we can boast that for the past three years our recidivism rate has been less that 7 percent annually. On average, students at EPIC pass more than 90 percent of their classes. Moreover, our attendance rate has only been under 90 percent one six weeks in the past 19 six-week periods. (One six-week period

life, due in part to our district’s motto — “a tradition of excellence at any measure” — which is a way of life at Barbers Hill ISD. Let me once again say that the ideas in your column are very good, but Kirven Tillis and Dr. Poole had the same ideas six years ago. I am just the fortunate person chosen four years ago to lead and continue to grow what they started.

‘You might ask why I would take the time to talk about our campus and, even perhaps, brag. Our Legislature, which meets this month, will be talking about the possible elimination of DAEPs, mainly for two reasons: (1) cost and (2) the effectiveness of DAEPs academically and their inability to create behavioral changes in students.’ even had the highest daily attendance rate for any school in our district!) I could continue if you would like more data. You might ask why I would take the time to talk about our campus and, even perhaps, brag. Our Legislature, which meets this month, will be talking about the possible elimination of DAEPs, mainly for two reasons: (1) cost and (2) the effectiveness of DAEPs academically and their inability to create behavioral changes in students. While our program is by no means perfect, we have seen tremendous benefits for the students we serve. It is not cheap for our district to provide this program, yet our superintendent and school board believe that we should do everything possible to make a difference in a student’s

I do like the “Hotel California” lyric you quoted in your column (“You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”), but I would be afraid some may choose another line from that song if DAEPs changed their names to Hotel California: “You can stab them with your steely knives, but you just can’t kill the beast.” Just couldn’t pass it up, even though not true. Thanks again for all you do to rattle cages and promote growth in our education system. Jim Bergstrom, principal Eagle Positive Intervention Center Barbers Hill ISD

From the Editor Happy new year, Texas School Business readers! I hope everyone had a festive — albeit relaxing — holiday season. I’m excited about the coming year. In addition to producing our regular issues, we plan to bring you more stories and interesting tidbits through our website, Facebook and Twitter (@txschoolbiz). If you’re not already connected to us online, please “like” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss out. You can count on Texas School Business as a reliable resource for solution-oriented articles and celebratory news about Texas public schools. Speaking of which, in honor of National Mentoring Month, our cover story in the January issue is about the importance of mentoring in K-12 education. Writer Raven L. Hill spoke with two Texas school districts, in particular, about their exemplary mentor programs: Wichita Falls ISD and Southwest ISD. I think Paul Campos, a volunteer mentor in Southwest ISD, said it well when he talked about how mentors can help a child dream big and set realistic goals to get there: “It just takes a little motivation from an outsider. I have been the outsider in those cases, and [the students] seem to respond very well.” I spent three years volunteering as a mentor for children of incarcerated parents and I found the experience to be rewarding in so many ways. I think the biggest lesson I learned is that spending 30 minutes a week with a mentee can mean the world to a child who rarely gets undivided attention from a positive adult role model who is there because she wants to be, not because she has to be (i.e., a relative, teacher or coach). If your district or campus hasn’t implemented a mentoring program yet, I encourage you to read this month’s cover story for some inspiration. As always, please contact me at katie@texasschoolbusiness. com with feedback, story ideas and leads on future “In the Spotlight” subjects. Happy reading! Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) January 2013 Volume LVIX, 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.

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Texas School Business • January 2013

THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

To the people of Kountze


our school superintendent did the right thing. When Superintendent Kevin Weldon ordered the Kountze ISD cheerleaders to cease putting scripture verses reflecting a Christian point of view on the banners used at football games, the superintendent was doing exactly what he was supposed to do as a public official: He was keeping his school district aligned with the U.S. Constitution. When the football players charge through the banner to take the field on Friday night, they embody the entire school district and community. The band is playing, the fans are cheering and the pageantry of Texas high school football is on full display. This is not the time or place for a single student to express a personal opinion on religious or political issues — even if that personal opinion also reflects the views of most of the members of the community. Students absolutely have the right of free speech and free exercise of religion at all times, including when they are attending public school. It has been said that as long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in public schools. This extends to extracurricular activities as well. When the placekicker prepares himself for a gamedeciding field goal, he may make the sign of the cross or privately utter a prayer. This is one student expressing his personal beliefs. Our Constitution guarantees that right. But it is quite another thing to claim constitutional protection for words placed on a banner, held by cheerleaders in school uniforms, that the entire football team will run through at the high point of community attention. If the banner represents a free speech zone for individual student expression, then I suppose that the student who is chosen for a particular game can express whatever view, on whatever subject he or she chooses. Here are some possibilities: GO, TEAM, GO. AND SUPPORT THE SCHOOL BOND ELECTION NEXT WEEK! GET HIGH WITH THE EAGLES: DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA!

LET’S WIN TONIGHT: AND LET’S ALSO SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE! The words expressed on the official Friday night banner are written by cheerleaders acting as representatives of the school district. The football players, also as representatives of the school district, give support to the words by charging onto the field through the banner. It shouldn’t take too long to see that this is not the same as the expression of a single student holding up a sign or painting a scripture verse on his or her face. When the legal issue was brought to the attention of the superintendent, he did the right thing. He did not ignore the concern, as some would have done, confident that the community would be supportive. He did not take an opinion poll. He did not put it to a vote of the school board; constitutional issues are not decided by majority vote. He sought legal advice. Then he followed it. The legal advice he got was right on the money. It took courage and integrity for Superintendent Weldon to act on that advice — courage that neither Governor Perry nor Attorney General Abbott have displayed. They chose to play politics when they should have provided leadership. Leadership involves respecting the law of the land whether you agree with it or not. It was approximately 50 years ago that the U.S. Supreme Court held that official prayers were not to be recited in public school. As one of the lawyers in one of those early cases put it: The public schools are not Christian institutions to which others are cordially invited. Fortunately, Superintendent Weldon provided leadership. The people of Kountze ISD should be proud of their superintendent. JIM WALSH, an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C., serves as editor in chief of Texas School Business. He can be reached at jwalsh@ wabsa.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JWalshtxlawdawg.

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Texas School Business • January 2013

Tech Toolbox by Terry Morawski

What to watch in 2013


very January I share my education technology resolutions for the coming year. For a change of pace, I have chosen this year to share a list of topics and trends that I’ll keep an eye on in 2013. Many of the same topics that dominated educators’ minds last year continue to be of concern in 2013 — such as mobile devices in the classroom, digital content management, and the use of social media and video in school. But this year also brings new challenges and opportunities to the table. Enjoy my list and please share any of the big topics you wish to tackle in 2013. Filtering. In a recent presentation, Alan November proposed that schools in the United States are holding students back by strictly filtering Internet connections on campus. In Texas, school administrators are handcuffed by local, state and federal policies and laws that aim to protect students. Is November correct that school districts have more freedom in filtering than they choose to admit, or is it simply impossible for schools to meet his challenge of lightly filtering Internet connections? More research is required on this topic. Look for a Tech Toolbox column on this topic later this year. Twitter for educators. Many teachers and principals use Twitter for parent and student communication, assignments, emergency notification and more. The free service makes it easy for anyone to sign up and incredibly simple to share short posts, links, photos and videos. Although Twitter offers a great way to communicate, the service is not universally used by any age group. Twitter is also an open-ended environment, which lends to many of the same iffy interactions that worry parents within Facebook. All negatives aside, Twitter will continue to be big in 2013, and teachers and administrators should pay attention to ways this tool can enhance school business. Video games. Jane McGonigal’s presentation at SXSWedu 2012 hit me like a lightning bolt. If you have not read her book “Reality is Broken” you should pick up a copy and enjoy. Educators can learn a ton from her thoughts on why the popularity of video games with young people speaks to

how modern students can be engaged. Good games are no longer mindless, anti-social distractions. They truly offer a guidebook on how to engage students in work they consider meaningful and worthwhile. Whether or not you agree with McGonigal’s opinion that games can change the world, there is much you can learn and apply this year from her research. Textbooks of the future. Traditional textbooks continue to “gasp for air” as technology makes them more irrelevant every year. The scramble is on to determine how textbooks integrate into the digital classroom. After all, few adults use books — digital or otherwise — for reference. Have Google and Wikipedia made reference textbooks unnecessary? It will be interesting to see how the conversation evolves this year. BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology). Most districts either have — or will soon — implement a BYOT initiative. What really happens when students are allowed to use technology instead of being asked to put it away? Schools with BYOT programs are stumbling through the first years of implementation. It will continue to be a slightly bumpy ride until teachers and students can agree on when and how personal technology belongs in the classroom. Parent communication. As traditional websites get fewer hits and other traditional communication channels — like landline telephones — fall away, schools continue to search for ways to reach parents. Facebook, Twitter and text message services are on the right track, but they are not universal and still leave many parents in the dark. Hopefully, this year will bring a new breakthrough in digital communication to assist teachers and principals with parent communication. Happy new year! Good luck out there and feel free to let me know what has your attention in 2013. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. Please send column ideas, reading suggestions, questions and comments to him via email or connect with him on Twitter: @terrymorawski

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Texas School Business • January 2013

GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

In remembrance of a ‘Loyal Forever’ man


missed Jeff Gray’s funeral. I was in Dallas on that unseasonably warm November morning, so I wasn’t there to hear his son’s eulogy to the standing-roomonly audience squeezed into St. Austin Catholic Church. Other than the obituary, the local daily newspaper didn’t print a word about Jeff, and I doubt the Austin High student newspaper or yearbook will either. That’s a shame, and here’s why: Eleven or 12 years ago, while watching an Austin High football game, Jeff grew more and more upset that the public address announcer kept butchering names and generally making an ass of himself. So the next morning, he called the district athletics director and asked if he could swing by for a short visit. He needed to get something off his chest. “Sure,” the athletics director — an old friend of Jeff’s — replied. An hour or so later, Jeff was sitting in his office. “I was in the crowd at House Park Friday night,” Jeff told him. “Whoever that person was on the microphone embarrassed not only himself but the school and the district as well. Some of the kids out there may never hear their names announced in public again, and the least they deserve is to have someone pronounce it correctly. You need to find someone who’ll take the job seriously.” To that, the athletics director replied, “Well, Jeff, I think I just did. If you want the job, it’s yours.” So, Jeff became “The Voice of the Maroons.” He was in the press box for every home football game and on the sidelines for every home girls’ basketball game. He studied rosters of both teams, made phone calls if he couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the name of some sophomore on the other team, made sure he knew the names of the cheerleaders and the drill team captains and the band majors.

I once asked Jeff, “Why bother? Why is this such a big deal for you?” He took a long pause, then answered, “I often ask myself how many people out there are listening. The parents are listening, I suppose. And the players, I’m pretty sure they are. So I work hard to pronounce every name correctly. This is something I take very seriously. You know, I practiced and played on the field at House Park. I graduated from Austin High in ’67 and I have three kids who graduated from there too, so the ‘Loyal Forever’ motto means a lot to me.” For 22 years, Jeff battled multiple sclerosis. More than once, a couple of players or a coach or two carried him to the press box. During one particularly brutal attack, his best friend, Jimmy Holland, did as well, and Jeff found that untenable. It wasn’t that he was embarrassed, because he wasn’t. He just thought people should be watching the kids out there, taking it all in — the sounds, the smells, the electricity generated by raging hormones and hot dogs swimming in yellow mustard and pimply-faced teenagers banging on snare drums. They didn’t need to be watching him. So, he told me he had decided to keep announcing as long as his disability allowed him to climb to the press box on his own. He wouldn’t be carried again. “I’m taking it one year at a time,” he told me. “I do love it, and I want to do it as long as I can.” But 2009 was his final season as the Austin High football announcer. Though he surrendered the press box microphone to a local talk radio host, Jeff attended every home game he could, even as his health deteriorated. He remained a “Loyal Forever” Maroon to the end and, I suspect, well beyond. 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. January 2013 • Texas School Business


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Texas School Business • January 2013



In the


Salado ISD educator sees potential long after others have given up by Leila Kalmbach


ecently a young man stopped Theresa Kunz as she was picking out salsa at a grocery store. He asked if she remembered him. In fact, she did. He had been a student of hers during the first semester she taught in the Grand Central Station learning lab, an academic intervention for struggling students who need extra attention at Salado High School in Salado ISD. This man had been one of her more difficult students. He never wanted to turn in his work, never wanted to do anything, and would come to class every day and just sleep. Well, he told her, things were different now. The young man had just returned from boot camp and was about to start basic training. He told Kunz he had cleaned up his life and he appreciated

Kunz for the help she had given him while he was in high school. “He said that, at the time, he didn’t really show that he appreciated it, but looking back, he could tell that I was really trying to help him steer his life in the right direction,” Kunz says. “That meant a lot to me.” Kunz now leads the Grand Central Station program at Salado Junior High School; she also teaches two sections of Rally to Read, an intervention program focused on students with severe reading difficulties. In the five years since Kunz taught the young man she ran into at the grocery store, she has encountered many other students like him — kids whose teachers and parents had given up on them, written them off.

However, Kunz insists on seeing the potential in these students. “I’m pulling them out in the hallway at least once a week, saying, ‘Look, you’ve been given so many opportunities. Please take advantage of them,’” she says. At the junior high Grand Central Station lab, Kunz strives for heavy collaboration with the classroom teachers and parents of her students. Some students come to Grand Central because they need an oral administration of an assignment or test, while others need lessons to be retaught in ways that make sense to their unique learning styles. Kunz didn’t start out as a teacher. After graduating from Texas A&M University See SPOTLIGHT on page 14

Through the Grand Central Station program at Salado Junior High School, Theresa Kunz provides one-on-one tutoring to a student who needs additional support in reading. January 2013 • Texas School Business


SPOTLIGHT continued from page 13

with an agronomy degree, she worked for a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and then for an independent crop consultant. When Kunz’s husband got transferred to Amarillo, the couple started a family. It was only when her youngest children — twin boys — were in kindergarten that Kunz got her first taste of working in education; she volunteered at her sons’ elementary school and soon landed a fulltime job as a library aide and secretary. When her husband was transferred again — this time to Central Texas — she was offered a job when she was enrolling her kids at Salado ISD’s central office. The intermediate school principal happened to overhear Kunz mention that she had been an attendance clerk/secretary. “I was hired before we even found a house or anything here in Salado,” she says. Aside from one semester at the high school, she has worked at the junior high for the past six years — most of that time in the Grand Central Station program. She received her teaching certificate last year.

‘Since taking over the Grand Central Station program, Mrs. Kunz has mentored and tutored dozens of students in all core subject areas — not just so they can pass the TAKS/STAAR test, but so they can acquire skills that will make them successful for the remainder of their academic careers.’ — Principal Chris Diem, Salado Junior High School Kunz, who is responsible for founding the junior high school’s student council, is also heavily involved in the faculty group there. She works to make sure students understand that teachers are accessible and they care about each other and about the students. “My goal is to create an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and they’re not embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help,” Kunz says. Kunz finds her motivation in her family and particularly her children, Katie,

17, and Chase and Clayton, 14, whom she says are bright and talented and help her stay focused on what’s important. “When I look at my own kids, I think, ‘Gosh, what did I do right?’” Kunz says. “Because I get home and my kids already have their homework done, and their rooms are in fairly good shape — not perfect — and if the trash needs to be taken out, they do it. It motivates me because I know kids can be good. Some of these kids who we get aren’t necessarily given the opportunities to be good.”

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Texas School Business • January 2013

When given the opportunity, kids often will surprise you with what they are capable of achieving, she says. As an example, Kunz cites a student who historically has struggled with science and has trouble getting her work done on time. After a collaborative effort among Kunz, the student, her parents and her science teacher, this student made a 97 on her most recent science test. Says junior high Principal Chris Diem: “Since taking over the Grand Central Station program, Mrs. Kunz has mentored and tutored dozens of students in all core subject areas — not just so they can pass the TAKS/STAAR test, but so they can acquire skills that will make them successful for the remainder of their academic careers. “Last year our test results showed the success as SJHS met AYP, exceeding the state passing score on all tests — and


our special education population and the students served in Grand Central Station contributed to those outstanding results,” Diem says. “You gotta try,” Kunz says. “You gotta try everything you can. And if you succeed, that’s great. And if you don’t, at least you can say you tried.”

In the Sixth Annual Bragging Rights 2012-2013 special issue, a photo of El Paso ISD Director of Pupil Services Mark Mendoza on Mark Mendoza page 25 was incorrectly labeled. Texas School Business regrets the error.

LEILA KALMBACH is a freelancer in Austin.

Fun Facts about Theresa Kunz A bad habit I would love to break: I often take my own children for granted. I am blessed with very talented and hardworking children who have made my experience as a parent so much fun and enjoyable. When I meet with many of my students’ parents, I feel so sympathetic with their exhaustion to try to motivate their children to be responsible and successful. Favorite food indulgence: Anything sweet! If I had $1 million, I would: Buy a ranch. I am a country girl at heart, and it would definitely fit my lifestyle! Early bird or night owl: I am a night owl. I like to be busy all the time, and I would rather stay up late and finish something than get up early and do it.

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January 2013 • Texas School Business


Learning by example

Texas schools invest in the power of mentoring by Raven L. Hill


y the time that Cunningham Elementary students get to junior high, they seem to stand slightly apart from their peers. Counselors observe that they’re a bit kinder, more compassionate and have high self-esteem, thanks to the Wichita ISD school’s mentoring program that pairs pre-teens with preschool students who have special needs. It is the kind of program that tends to stick with students

even after their school days are behind them. And experts say that schools and school districts would be wise to develop more programs like this one. The power and importance of role models is being explored throughout the country this month in honor of National Mentoring Month. At Cunningham Elementary, however, mentoring is stressed every day of the year.

“It’s something we all need to work on,” says school counselor Trina Russell, “doing for others and helping others.” Mentoring programs — whether the student is the mentor or the mentee — have a positive impact on student literacy, attendance, graduation rates and career goals. These types of programs can deter students from engaging in harmful or illegal behavior, such as drug or alcohol use. Mentoring also can enhance relationships

A sixth grader at Cunningham Elementary School in Wichita Falls ISD plays a game of Connect Four with his mentee, who is a preschooler on the same campus. The pair spend 45 minutes together once a week as part of the school’s Children Helping Young Preschool Students (CHYPS) program, which has been in operation for 14 years. Officials say the program boosts the confidence levels of both the student-mentor and the mentee. 16

Texas School Business • January 2013

Cunningham Elementary School teacher Lisa Seaton (left) and school counselor Trina Russell supervise the sixth grade student-mentors and their preschool mentees. Russell says that serving as a student-mentor has become “a rite of passage of sorts” for students at Cunningham Elementary in Wichita Falls ISD.

between children and adults. Mentors are often the trusted adult whom a child or teenager needs to envision a bright future. In Texas, there are both district-wide and campus-wide mentoring programs in operation. They’re typically founded by educators or created in partnership with community members and local nonprofits. Mentoring relationships can run the gamut — matching up the elderly with teenagers, high schoolers with middle schoolers, police officers with at-risk youth or, as in Wichita Falls ISD, elementary school students with pre-schoolers. Regardless of the pairings made, many people agree on one thing: Mentoring matters. “An advocate can really make a difference in a young person’s life,” says Belinda Saldana, director of community outreach for the Office of P-20 Initiatives at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Children helping children Cunningham Elementary created the Children Helping Young Preschool Students program (CHYPS) about 14 years ago. The school had been working to

mainstream students with special needs into regular classrooms, and counselor Trina Russell saw an opportunity. She thought the younger students would benefit from working with older students on basic skills, like learning the letters of the alphabet. Since then, being a mentor has become a rite of passage of sorts for sixth graders and a win-win on all sides, Russell says. Administrators say the program helps the older students develop compassion and understanding for those who are different from them and gives the younger children a mentor whom they adore. “It builds confidence on both ends,” she says. “The little kids benefit individually and the teachers are all for it. They beg to have CHYPS children in their classes. Parents love it too.” For 45 minutes each week during music or physical education, sixth graders work with the 3- and 4-year-old students. Nearly 40 students are participating this year. “Generally when the [sixth graders] start, they’re a little hesitant, but once they get into it, they bring confidence into

the classroom,” says teacher Lisa Seaton. “Their self-esteem is up. They are recognized in the cafeteria and in the hallways by the younger children. Even on some occasions, they can assist with younger kids on field trips. It builds up their sense of responsibility.” Students have to do well academically to continue participating in the program, and Seaton says “they want to do well in class.” Russell says she feels gratified when students say after participating in CHYPS that they want to be special education teachers. Although the program has been around for more than a decade, she says this is only the beginning. She would love to expand it to junior high and high schools. Seaton says the program’s value cannot be overstated. “Our kids have a really great gift when they leave our school,” she says. “They have an appreciation for helping other students in that capacity. They look for ways to help those kids, and they jump See Mentoring on page 19 January 2013 • Texas School Business


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Texas School Business • January 2013

Mentoring continued from page 17

into it without thinking if they see a teacher who needs assistance.” Lighting the way School-based mentoring programs are crucial to youth development, agrees Ellen Christman, a spokeswoman for Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, a nonprofit organization in Alexandria, Va., that focuses on youth mentoring. “Mentoring delivered at school empowers the school community to identify young people in need of extra adult support and to meet that need,” Christman says. “It also allows school, home and mentor to form a constellation of support around a young person that is proven to make a difference in their school attendance and achievement.” Mentoring in Southwest ISD When Southwest ISD, a San Antonio district, started losing too many students after ninth grade, officials decided to enhance mentoring initiatives. Through its Lighthouse Mentoring Program, ninth grade students receive one-on-one attention throughout their high school years from an adult volunteer in the community. Mentors commit to staying with their mentees until they graduate from high school. When the program kicked off in 2009, officials weren’t sure they could get buy-in from students. Now, mirroring national trends, there aren’t enough mentors to meet student demand. The 11,530-student district currently has 150 mentors and students, far short of its target goal of 500. “We know that we will have 500 kids who will step forward and say, ‘I want to do this,’” says Jada Long Pitman, the district’s executive director of student and outreach services. Located near Lackland Air Force Base, the small district does not have a large pool of local businesses from which to draw. But it’s growing. Military personnel have stepped up, along with district employees and community members. In lean budget times, mentoring can be a money saver, experts say. “Mentoring not only saves money in the long run — the most conservative estimates prove out a $3 return for every

dollar invested — but it can also save money in the short-term,” Christman says. “When a mentoring program is a key driver in improving school attendance, as they are routinely proven to be, that equates to funding for the district.” In addition, mentoring in a supervised school setting is a less expensive model. Costs can be reduced when programs are implemented in partnership with local businesses and organizations, according to Christman. Southwest ISD officials say they are pleased with their results, which include higher attendance rates, increased student participation in extracurricular activities and improved student behavior. For districts seeking partners in forming a mentoring program, Pitman suggests taking stock of the community and the students. “Look at your population. Know the needs so that when you’re training your mentors, you can prepare them,” she says. “They need to feel supported and have an idea of what they are committing to. Mentors need to feel like an integral part of what’s happening on the campus. They need to feel welcome — not like an added person in the chaos.” By building the proper supports, she says, mentors can focus on the task ahead: student enlightenment and empowerment. Throughout the year, mentors can offer advice, time and homework help. But the district also leaves room for fun. Southwest ISD’s program includes a meet-and-greet at the beginning of the school year, a mid-year social and an endof-year picnic.

Mentor Paul Campos first learned about Southwest ISD’s program through his church. The recent retiree thought he would be able to relate to some of the students’ struggles. “I had to borrow funds to go to college. I had to go to junior college,” says Campos, who graduated from Texas A&M University and worked in the aerospace industry. He has found that sometimes students just need an extra nudge. “It just takes a little motivation from an outsider,” Campos says. “I have been the outsider in those cases and they seem to respond very well.” For instance, one of Campos’ mentees had planned to work as an electrician’s apprentice after high school. With his mentor’s encouragement, the student decided to attend community college in the hopes of transferring to a four-year college or university. Southwest ISD encourages adults of all ages to volunteer. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a twinkle or a wrinkle,” Pitman says, referring to the mentor’s age. “It’s just important that [mentors and students] feel the connection — where the kid has found someone they can communicate with who helps them make those choices and work through some of the challenges. “To have somebody who takes a moment out of their busy day to stop for 45 minutes, that’s gigantic.” RAVEN L. HILL is a former education reporter for the Austin AmericanStatesman.

Mentoring in numbers • Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class. • Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking. • Nearly 18 million youth across the nation need or want mentors, but only 3 million are in formal, high-quality mentoring programs. Source: Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, Alexandria, Va.

January 2013 • Texas School Business


TASB PRESIDENT profile Trustee Viola Garcia fosters connections in the pursuit of excellence in education by Elizabeth Millard


eing an educator was the last career path that Viola Garcia could have imagined. As a teenager in a small South Texas town, she dreamed of doing something related to health, fitness and recreation. While still in high school, she took a summer job as a Head Start program assistant. It was simply a means to earn money for college — or so she thought at the time. “I was reluctant,” she recalls, with a laugh. “But it was a summer of playing and singing, and it was such a great experience.” At the end of summer break, Garcia enrolled at Texas Woman’s University to take health-related courses as planned. However, in her junior year, an opportunity to work in education came knocking on

her door again. This time, it was a teacher training program that promised tuition payment and a stipend. Garcia jumped at the opportunity. Once the training began, she was hooked. “When I reflected back on that summer with the Head Start children, I realized how happy I’d been working with them,” she says. “Then, when the second opportunity [to work in education] came up while I was in college, I ended up falling in love with the kids there too.” Garcia remembers her first teaching assignment in Houston and how she watched the students leave at the end of the year and found herself choking back tears. “It’s such a moving experience, working with kids. You impact their lives,

TASB President Viola Garcia of Aldine ISD consults with immediate past-President Gary Inmon (left) of Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD and past President Sylvester Vasquez of Southwest ISD during a board meeting. 20

Texas School Business • January 2013

‘I don’t feel that because I’m the chair or the president or the principal that I need to be the one making all the decisions.’ but they impact yours too. They touch your life,” she says. That feeling of connection to her craft has motivated Garcia through a rich, accomplished path as an educator and administrator. She started as a bilingual teacher in Houston ISD in 1971. She then took an administration internship three years later, eventually becoming a principal in 1978. Garcia’s move into administration was a moment of serendipity as well. At the time, bilingual programs were relatively new, but they were in popular demand. In response, Houston ISD launched an initiative to encourage more Latino and African-American teachers to become administrators. Garcia, who already was pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Houston, proved a prime candidate to take advantage of the initiative’s resources. She later earned her doctorate from the University of Houston. Today, Garcia is a professor and chair of the Department of Urban Education at the University of Houston – Downtown. She also serves on the Aldine ISD School Board and is a member of the MexicanAmerican School Board Members Association. She stepped into her role as TASB president in September. Every now and then Garcia still thinks of those “little bitty” Head Start children clinging to her knees during that summer before college, and she doesn’t forget that

Fun Facts About Viola Garcia

Serving on the Aldine ISD Board of Trustees are (left to right) Merlin Griggs, vice president; Alton Smith, member; Viola M. Garcia, member; Marine Jones, secretary; Rose M. Avalos, member; Wanda Bamberg, superintendent of schools; Rick Ogden, president; and Steve Mead, assistant secretary.

education is about connection — not just between teachers and students, but also between educators and administrators at every level. “I like to think of myself as a collaborator, that I work well with others,” she says. “I don’t feel that because I’m the chair or the president or the principal that I need to be the one making all the decisions.” At TASB, she hopes to bring that same sense of unity and openness to her presidency. Garcia notes that throughout her career, she has worked with amazing people who are dedicated to improving the lives of children, and she sees it as her primary mission to tap into that passion. “I want people to leave meetings with greater enthusiasm for what we do,” she says. “In my role as president, I want to be a reflection of the people who are in this field, people who are doing good work for a good cause.” Garcia acknowledges that challenges are abundant right now, particularly as districts wage legal battles against the state over funding issues. Economic factors and budget cuts to public education are making it difficult to bring about positive changes, but she believes it’s possible to navigate through these choppy waters. Says Garcia: “We have to support public schools and talk about accountability measures in a way that doesn’t create a negative system.”

In addressing the challenges ahead and creating greater collaboration between TASB and school districts, Garcia feels confident that she can retain the understanding of what’s important and of why education matters. “All the work I do — and all the work I’ve done — is to prepare teachers and to support them,” she says. “Each of us might have a small impact individually, but collectively we do so much.”

Someone I looked up to when I was a child: I looked up to my Uncle Joel because he was so talented at construction. He planned, measured, organized and masterminded building my grandfather’s house when I was a child, and I was amazed that he’d sit with a small notebook and make calculations at the end of the day for materials they’d buy the following day. I was always fascinated at how he was able to measure and figure out what was needed. When I need to unwind from a busy day, you will find me: Walking at the park or at a Zumba class. Four guests (living or deceased) at my fantasy dinner party: Margaret Mead, Jacqueline Kennedy, Mother Teresa and my mother’s mother, who passed away before I was born. A piece of advice that has helped me in my career: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

ELIZABETH MILLARD is a freelancer who also has written for District Administration.


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January 2013 • Texas School Business


Texas ASCD draws curriculum directors to the Big D

Texas ASCD hosted its annual conference in Dallas in October. The theme was “Engage, Influence and Empower.”

Joy Smartt of Highland Park ISD; Vonita White of Texas ASCD; Yolanda Rey, executive director of Texas ASCD, and her husband, Ed Rey; and Gena Gardiner of Highland Park ISD.

George Rislov, Bella Gilbert, Tom Anderson and Melanie Pritchett of Spin Compass Learning.

Margaret O’Brien of Jean Massieu Academy with Arlene Gallagher and Maribel Diaz of Alvarado ISD.

Joann Green of Rucker ISD, Calvin Rice of Port Arthur ISD and Gabrielle Polk of Desoto ISD.

Kimberly Brumley, Abigayle Barton and Marcos Aguilera of Corpus Christi ISD.

Maria Betancourt-Smith of Huntington ISD and Nancy Jones of Beeville ISD.

Linda Mora, Dennis Ann Strong, Linda Zarakas, Deonna Dean and Lynda Reyes of Northside ISD.

Lisa Jeffrey of Hudson ISD and Sharon Pruitt of Newport High School in Newport, Ark., and her daughter, Kendra Pruitt. 22

Texas School Business • January 2013

Lisa Young of Carroll ISD, David Young of Pampa ISD, Tami Wiethorn of Midway ISD, Susanne Carroll of Victoria ISD and Tasha Barker of Lindale ISD.

Karen Beerer, Scott Kinney, Brett Felten and Josh Truman of Discovery Learning.

David Knowles of La Porte ISD and Kathy Windsor of Alvin ISD.

Who’s News Bastrop ISD Kathy Cawthron has been named director of elementary instruction. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher in Waco ISD, where she spent eight years, then worked in Irving ISD for 11 years as a campus administrator Kathy Cawthron and in Little Elm ISD as a principal. Since 2010, she has served as principal of Cedar Creek Elementary in Bastrop ISD. Cawthron earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baylor University. The district’s new director of instructional technology services is John Korb, who comes to Bastrop from ESC Region 13, where he was an advanced applications and statewide distance learning coordinator. A graduate of Texas State John Korb University, he completed his master’s degree in academic administration at Lamar University. Burnet CISD Jim Connor is the district’s secondary curriculum coordinator. He began his career 31 years ago as a baseball coach and biology teacher and was director of advanced academics in Galveston ISD since 2009. Connor earned his bacheJim Connor lor’s degree in kinesiology from Westfield State College in Massachusetts and his master’s degree from Sam Houston State University. Adam Hermes is now the district’s director of information technology. He began his career Adam Hermes in 2001 as Bandera ISD’s computer technician, becoming that district’s network administrator in 2002. For the past seven years, he has been technology director for Medina ISD. Contessa Huffman has been named direcContessa Huffman tor of human resources

and administrative services. She comes to her new job with the district after spending 12 years in human resources in the private sector. Huffman holds a bachelor’s degree in human resources from Tarleton State University. Clear Creek ISD Michael Alvarez is now principal of Clear Lake Intermediate School. He comes to his new job from Clear Brook High School, where he was assistant principal. He taught history and coached football, baseball and track for 10 years before becomMichael Alvarez ing an administrator. Both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees were earned from the University of Houston. Robert Branch has been named the district’s director of human resources. He has been principal of Clear View Education Center for the past four years; prior to that, he was an assistant principal at Clear Creek High School. Robert Branch Brett Lemley has been approved to lead Clear Horizons High School as principal. He has spent the past five years as principal of Clear Lake Intermediate School. He began his career in Clear Creek ISD as an intermeBrett Lemley diate school math teacher, teaching sixth and eighth grades, as well as the subjects of geometry and algebra at Space Center Intermediate School for nine years. He then was an assistant and associate principal at Clear Lake High School. Lemley, who holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from The University of Texas, earned his master’s degree in education management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake and is at work on his doctorate in educational leadership. Denton ISD Jackie Jackson has been named executive director of the Denton Public School Foundation. A volunteer with Denton ISD for more than two decades, she has served as chair for the foundation’s annual Groundhog Gala for the past nine years and most recently was treasurer of the foundation’s board. In her new position, she will be responsible for

developing, implementing and overseeing all fundraising activities for the foundation and will guide the foundation’s volunteers and committees. A licensed social worker, Jackson received her Jackie Jackson bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at El Paso and has been a social worker for the state of Texas in Houston and for Cook Children’s Community Clinic in Denton. Goose Creek ISD A new superintendent has been named for the district. He is Salvador Cavazos, who spent the past three years leading Alice ISD. Prior to his time there, he was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Brownsville ISD. DurSalvador Cavazos ing his time with that district, Brownsville ISD was awarded the prestigious Broad Prize in Education. Additionally, Cavazos has been chief development officer for Southwest Key Programs and a principal at Johnston High School and at Fulmore Middle School, all in Austin. He was a high school principal in Santa Maria ISD as well. In McAllen ISD, he served as a teacher at McAllen High School and as an assistant principal at Rowe High School and Lamar Middle School. Cavazos earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and English and his master’s degree in educational administration from The University of Texas – Pan American. His doctorate in educational leadership was awarded from The University of Texas. Graford ISD The new superintendent is Dennis Holt, who most recently was superintendent of Lindsay ISD. Houston ISD Melinda Garrett has retired from her position as the district’s chief financial officer. A graduate of Houston ISD’s Bellaire High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Texas Woman’s University and began her career as a kindergarten teacher at what was then Easter Elementary School. She received her master’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston at Clear Lake, became a CPA, and worked in the See WHO’S NEWS on page 24 January 2013 • Texas School Business


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

audit division of KPMG Peat Marwick and as an auditor in governmental and private sector firms. Garrett returned to Houston ISD in 1985 as the district’s controller and was named chief financial officer in 2001. Klein ISD The Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce honored Superintendent Jim Cain with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The presentation was made in October at the organization’s annual Starlight Awards event. According to a press release, the Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual who “has demonstrated a commitment and established a legacy to improve the quality of life, while serving as an ambassador whose actions have improved the image and identity of the north Houston area.” Cain, who has led Klein ISD since 2004, also served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, instructional officer and director of school administration for the district before transferring to Fort Bend ISD. He returned to Klein ISD in 1999 as an assistant and then associate superintendent for school administration. A graduate of the University of Illinois, he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston. Liberty ISD Cody Abshier, formerly superintendent of Devers ISD, is now superintendent.


Texas School Business • January 2013

Lindsay ISD New Superintendent Nora Curry comes to her new job from Electra ISD, where she was assistant superintendent. Lockhart ISD The new principal of Plum Creek Elementary School is Mark Estrada. Previously in Del Valle ISD, he was an instructional administrator, assistant principal, middle school teacher and principal of HornsbyDunlap Elementary School. Mark Estrada He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas State University. Laura Gilcrease is the principal of Lockhart Junior High School. She was most recently an assistant principal of Lockhart High School. Prior to that, she served as an assistant principal in Gonzales ISD and as a teacher and coach in Navarro ISD. Gilcrease received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Now leading Lockhart High School as principal is Monica Guillory, who had been serving as the school’s assistant principal and then as interim principal. Prior to joining Lockhart ISD, she was a master teacher in Manor ISD’s teacher adMonica Guillory vancement program. She

also was a teacher and library media specialist in that district. Additionally, she has taught in Hays CISD and Austin ISD. Guillory’s bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies is from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction is from the same institution. She is completing her doctorate in public school improvement there as well. The district’s new director of athletics is Sheila Henderson. Most recently a campus administrator at Judson High School in San Antonio’s Judson ISD, she was an assistant athletics director for the University Interscholastic League, Sheila Henderson where she directed state tournaments in volleyball, girls’ basketball, softball, and track and field. In addition, she was an assistant athletics director in Austin ISD for seven years. Henderson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education from The University of Texas, earned her master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University. Monica Parks, previously the director of special education, has been named executive director for special education, 504 and gifted/talented programs. A member of the Lockhart ISD team for 26 years, she also has served as a first grade Monica Parks teacher, content mastery teacher, diagnostician and special education supervisor. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education are from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Dan Vera is the district’s new assistant superintendent of human resources, leadership development and student support. An administrator for 17 years, he comes to his new position from Austin ISD, where he was assistant director for Dan Vera leadership development in the district’s office of educational quality. Vera holds a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University and a master’s degree from The University of Texas. The district’s new deputy superintendent of curriculum, instruction and alternative education is Janie Wright. She has been with the district for 34 years, the past four as assistant superintendent. Additionally, she has been a teacher’s aide, classroom teacher, as-

Who’s News sistant principal, principal, executive director, and assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and federal programs. Wright earned both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in midJanie Wright management from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Longview ISD Former Kilgore ISD Superintendent Jody Clements is now assistant superintendent of administration and student services director for Longview ISD. He began his education career in Kilgore ISD in 1992 as a middle school Jody Clements and high school math and P.E. teacher and coach. In 1995, he became assistant headmaster and athletics director at Trinity Schools of Texas in Longview. He returned to Kilgore in 1997 as an alternative-school teacher, going on to serve as principal of Elder Cooperative Alternative School. He was also a middle school principal, director of human resources and, ultimately, district superintendent. In addition, he has worked as a CPA in the private sector and was a member of the adjunct accounting faculty at Letourneau University and Kilgore College. Clements received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, a master’s degree in accounting from Louisiana Tech University and a second master’s degree in mid-management from Stephen F. Austin State University. He is pursuing a doctoral degree from Walden University. Luling ISD The new superintendent is Tim Glover, who was assistant superintendent of Brownfield ISD. Marathon ISD Evelyn Loeffler is the new superintendent. She was most recently Comstock ISD’s all-level principal. Loeffler, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in school administration from Sul Evelyn Loeffler Ross State University, was a second through fifth grade teacher in Alpine ISD for 12 years before being promoted to elementary principal in that

district. Three years later, she transferred to her most recent position in Comstock, which she had held since 2008. Milano ISD New Superintendent Robert Westbrook is the former superintendent of Brackett ISD. Mineola ISD John Fuller, who had been serving as the district’s interim superintendent, has been named superintendent. He had retired from Wiley ISD in 2011 before taking the interim position in Mineola ISD. An educator for 41 years, John Fuller Fuller began his career as a math teacher and basketball coach in Palmer ISD, before going on to serve in the same capacities in Wells and Richardson ISDs. He took his first administrative position, as a high school principal, in Central ISD. He returned to Wells ISD to spend five years as district superintendent. He then held the top position in Muleshoe ISD and San Marcos CISD before becoming the superintendent of Wylie ISD. Fuller, who earned his associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from Dallas Baptist College, holds two master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University. His doctorate in education is from Texas Tech University.

New Caney ISD The new director of elementary education is Patricia Beathard. An educator for 29 years, she has been a teacher, high school librarian, assistant principal and, most recently, principal of Porter Elementary School. Carmen Bertrand is Patricia Beathard now principal of Porter Elementary School. She was a teacher at that school for seven years, working with pre-K, kindergarten and fourth grade students before serving as an assistant principal for the past two years. Bertrand holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Angelo State University and a master’s degree in school administration from Lamar University. Scott Castleberry began the new academic year as executive director of student services. He has spent his 25 years as an educator with New Caney ISD, working as a teacher and a coach for 15 years before becoming an administrator. Scott Castleberry John Emerich is now the district’s executive director of administration, overseeing technology, PEIMS, communications, grants and special projects. He has been with New Caney ISD for seven years, most recently as executive director of See WHO’S NEWS on page 26



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Texas School Business • January 2013

Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 25

student services. Prior to joining the district, he was with ESC Region 6, Madisonville CISD, and College Station and Mt. Pleasant ISDs. Emerich holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington John Emerich University and a master’s degree from Sam Houston State University. Now serving as director of budget and accounting is Brandy Fain, who worked as an independent auditor of school districts before joining the district eight years ago. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Stephen F. Brandy Fain Austin State University and a master’s degree in management from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Steve Freeman, who spent the past eight years as principal of the district’s Keefer Crossing Middle School, is now director of secondary instruction. He was a high school coach and science teacher for 11 years before becoming a secondary adSteve Freeman ministrator. Jeremy Harris has taken the reins as principal of The Learning Center, the district’s DAEP. He has been with New Caney ISD for 11 years, serving as a teacher and a coach at Keefer Middle School and as an assistant principal at Jeremy Harris New Caney and Porter high schools. Now in place as the district’s director of grants and special projects is Stephanie Israel. Initially a teacher, she also has worked for the Texas Education Agency and the state legislative budget board and as a leadership grant coordinator for AusStephanie Israel tin ISD before joining New Caney ISD in 2012. Malinda King has returned to the district as principal of Kings Manor Elementary School after spending the past two years as principal of Barrett Primary School in Crosby ISD. She was previously assistant principal

Who’s News from 2007 to 2010 at Bens Branch Elementary in New Caney. Gordon Lockett has been named the district’s deputy superintendent. He has worked with Decatur, Eastland, Frost, Gunter, Malinda King Joshua and Spearman ISDs as a teacher, high school principal and assistant superintendent. Lockett earned his bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University and his master’s degree from Tarleton State University. Gordon Lockett Sheri Lowe is the district’s new director of bilingual/ELL/migrant programs. An employee of New Caney ISD for seven years, she has been a kindergarten and first grade ESL teacher and pre-K through second grade dual Sheri Lowe language teacher. She has spent the past two years as the district’s bilingual and ELL coordinator. The new secondary math instructional specialist is Brenda Lynch. She comes to the district from ESC Region 6, where she was the secondary math specialist for math/science fee service school districts. Judy Milling is the new director of advanced academics/fine arts. Aikin Elementary School now has Stephanie Montes as assistant principal. An employee of the district for the past four years, she was most reJudy Milling cently a master teacher for the system for teacher and student advancement program at Aikin. Marjorie Morrison is now the district’s social studies instructional specialist for grades K-12. A social studies teacher for 10 years, she has been an instructional coach for the past three years. The new executive Marjorie Morrison director of instruction is Delinda Neal. An educator for 23 years, she spent 12 years as a teacher before becoming a campus administrator, including nine years as a principal. Neal, who earned

her bachelor’s degree from Texas Baptist University, holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from The University of Texas at Tyler and a doctorate in educational leadership from Stephen F. Delinda Neal Austin State University. Christina Nunez is now the district’s health services coordinator. She began her career working in emergency medicine, then became a school nurse for New Caney ISD in 2007. She also will continue in her position as school nurse Christina Nunez at King’s Manor Elementary School, where she has served for the past two years. Jonathan Powell is the new assistant principal of New Caney High School. He also has been a mentor teacher in the TAP program, chair of the Jonathan Powell English Department, and a

football and soccer coach for the school. Andy Pearson is now principal of Keefer Crossing Middle School. He was most recently assistant principal and then associate principal of New Caney High School. Northside ISD Misty Knapp, who was principal of Allen Elementary School, is now principal of Burke Elementary. She also served as a third grade teacher at Valley Hi Elementary and then was a vice principal at Glenn and Allen elementary schools. Before joining Misty Knapp Northside ISD, she was with Harlandale and San Antonio ISDs. Knapp received her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and her master’s degree in education administration from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. The new executive director of elementary education is Levinia Lara. She began her career as a reading and music teacher at St. Luke’s Catholic School in San Antonio, coming to Northside ISD in 1986 as Linton See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 27

Elementary’s music teacher. She took her first administrative role at that school in 1996 when she became vice principal. She next served in the same capacity at Passmore Elementary, becoming prinLevinia Lara cipal of Elrod Elementary in 2001 and moving to hold the top position at Westwood Terrace Elementary in 2005. In 2009, she opened Hoffman Elementary as that school’s first principal. Lara, who received her bachelor’s degree in music from Corpus Christi State University (now Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi), has a master’s degree in education from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Carrie Squyres, most recently vice principal of Hoffman Elementary School, is now the school’s principal. Vaughan Rehfeld, who had been serving as assistant principal of Jordan Middle School, is now that school’s vice principal. Orangefield ISD Steven Patterson, previously the district’s director of curriculum, has been promoted to superintendent. Ore City ISD Ray Deason, who had been serving as director of curriculum, special programs and testing, is the district’s new superintendent. During his career he has been an elementary, middle school and special education teacher and a speech pathologist. He served as Ray Deason principal of Belton Junior High in Belton ISD and as principal of Central Elementary and Northside Intermediate schools in Henderson ISD. He was also a field agent/ analyst for the accelerated schools division of The University of Texas, working with the academic programs at four high schools and as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Tyler. Deason earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Stephen F. Austin State University. Palacios ISD Central Elementary School has a new assistant principal. She is Nancy Flores, who comes to her job from Victoria ISD, where she was the district’s reading facilitator for the past two years. Before that, she spent 14 years in Calhoun County ISD as a first through third 28

Texas School Business • January 2013

grade bilingual teacher. Flores studied at Abilene Christian University, completing her undergraduate work at the University of Houston at Victoria. She earned her master’s degree from Lamar University. Nancy Flores Patrick Talbert has been named assistant principal of Palacios Junior High School. He spent the past three years at Tidehaven High School in Tidehaven ISD, coaching basketball and golf and teaching social studies. A graduate of Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kan., where he worked as an admissions counselor, he earned his master’s degree from Kansas State University. The new assistant principal of Palacios High School is Sarah Woodring. She taught high school English for nine years in Industrial ISD, also serving as the English Department chair. In addition, she published the school’s yearbook, coached UIL journalism, was the campus ESL coordinator and mentored all new English Department Sarah Woodring employees. Woodring earned her bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Houston at Victoria and her master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston. Paris ISD A new director of elementary education has been appointed. Kelly Pickle, who has been with the district since 1997, also has been a teacher, principal and instructional facilitator in the district. In addition, she worked as a DEC coordinator with ESC Region 7, as a principal in New Summerfield ISD, and as an elementary principal and Kelly Pickle federal programs coordinator in Cooper ISD. The 27-year veteran of education holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in administration, both from Stephen F. Austin State University. Pearland ISD Faviola Cantu now leads Carleston Elementary School as principal. Before joining Pearland ISD, she spent five years as a second and fourth grade bilingual teacher and three years as assistant principal of Franklin Elemen-

tary in Houston ISD. Cantu earned her doctorate in executive leadership from the University of Houston. The new general counsel for Pearland ISD is Tanya Dawson, who was an attorney for Fort Faviola Cantu Worth ISD for four years. She earned her professional doctorate in law from Emory University School of Law. Kim Hocott has been promoted to the position of communications coordinator, moving up from her job as the department’s Tanya Dawson project coordinator. She previously taught journalism and English for 14 years in Deer Park ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Jennifer Glenn Morrow will serve as principal Kim Hocott of the district’s newest high school, Turner College and Career High School, which is slated to open in the fall of 2013. She was formerly principal of Clear Horizons Early College High School in Clear Creek ISD. She received her doctorate in educaJennifer Glenn tional administration and Morrow child development from the University of South Carolina. Pflugerville ISD A new principal is in place for Cele Middle School. He is Brian Ernest. Most recently principal of Kelly Lane Elementary, he previously served in the same capacity at Timmerman and Murchison elementaries. He began his career in 1994 in Pflugerville ISD, teaching social studies at the Provan Opportunity Center and then at Pflugerville Middle School, where he went on work as assistant principal. He was assistant principal at Hutto Middle School in Hutto ISD and Dessau Middle School in Pflugerville ISD as well. Ernest holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Texas and a master’s degree in education administration from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). TSB [Editor’s note: Due to an abundance of Who’s News this month, we had to hold some items for the February issue. Check back for more district news next month.]

Better safe than sorry

Technology can help mitigate risk and improve training by Tom Strasburger


y tracking the rise in violence and substance abuse in K-12 schools and staying on top of new safety legislation being mandated — but often not funded — I am acutely aware of school districts’ needs for enhanced and continually evolving safety programs. School districts in Texas can improve their safety programs by following in the footsteps of Cleveland ISD. This district implemented tools and resources, which are designed to target and eliminate safety issues, for educators, students and parents. Like Cleveland ISD, there are several things a district can do to create safer environments, ensure their staff members are trained and free up administrators’ time so they can focus on the business of education. These steps include: • implementing technology-driven reporting tools so parents, students and teachers can report safety concerns easily; •

automating documentation tracking so all parties are kept in the loop and the district stays in compliance with state, federal and local requirements;

training students to know that safety is vital to the school system and that inappropriate and risky behavior — like bullying or misusing equipment — will not be tolerated;

improving staff safety through “just in time” online training; and

providing school safety information to parents and the community at large.

Having online and telephone-based reporting tools for parents and students to report any and all concerns is paramount to ensuring that safety and health issues do not go unnoticed. Students often hear things from peers that could be safety issues for students or the school, but they may not report this information out of fear of retaliation. An anonymous reporting option can encourage more students to report issues.

Moreover, relying on a paper-based reporting system is time-consuming and can allow concerns to slip through the cracks when documents do not get routed properly. By having a technologydriven system that automatically routes information through the appropriate channels, administrators are better able to provide documented interventions in a timely manner.

able to provide important information to staff when it was most convenient for them to receive it. In addition, the system automatically sends emails to administrators when someone has not completed training or has not signed off on policies. This automation process frees up supervising administrators from having to track down this information manually at each school, and it ensures that the

‘Students often hear things from peers that could be safety issues for students or the school, but they may not report this information out of fear of retaliation. An anonymous reporting option can encourage more students to report issues.’ Cleveland ISD moved from a manual reporting and tracking system that made it difficult for administrators to handle reports in a timely manner. By automating their processes, it allowed administrators to stay on top of issues and have the data needed to make sound safety decisions. Cleveland ISD also took a stand against bullying by training their students on bullying prevention. The training included defining what bullying is, how to report it, and what to do if they or someone they know is being bullied. Offering such training can help students take charge of situations and enhance their ability to confidentially communicate with school administrators about student safety concerns. Most importantly, it sends the message that bullying in school will not be tolerated. Many school districts train their staff on safety issues during an in-service day at the beginning of the school year. Cleveland ISD decided that this was not the optimal time to train staff because many teachers are getting their classrooms in order and preparing lesson plans, and safety training demands an audience’s full attention. By switching to online required training, Cleveland ISD was

district is fully compliant with local, state and federal requirements. When it comes to coordinating emergency drills and safety inspections, a technology-driven system can ensure that these events are being conducted regularly and under compliance. There are automated systems that have the capability to send emails to key administrators to let them know which schools are compliant and which ones are not. Plus, a system that also automatically reminds supervisors at the campus level about important dates and events further frees up central office administrators to focus their energy on other pressing matters. Leveraging the power of technology to enhance safety training and risk prevention — as Cleveland ISD did — can lead to safer working and learning environments. It also can provide administrators with the data they need to make informed safetyrelated decisions and ensure they are meeting safety compliance requirements. TOM STRASBURGER is vice president of PublicSchoolWORKS. He can be reached at tstrasburger@ publicschoolworks.com. January 2013 • Texas School Business


THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

Advertiser Index

A resurgence of ‘old-fashioned’


o you ever realize that you are of a minority opinion about something but still know in your heart that you are right? The older I get, the more I realize that my ideas and beliefs often don’t reflect the ideas and beliefs of others. I’m finding it to be the case in politics, in religion, in raising children and in so many other facets of my life. My beliefs in what public education should look like haven’t changed, but it seems that the broader public opinion is certainly different from mine. Oh, in some ways, education is better now than it used to be. But there are far too many critically important components of a child’s education that are being ignored, left out or de-emphasized. Please read what my 70 years of working with and for public education has taught me and give some serious thought to the value of these efforts. 1. We are too lenient in the behavior of students. In far too many cases, we look the other way. Our excuse has become, “If I spent time disciplining a child every time he used profanity or made an inappropriate gesture or showed inappropriate affection in public, there would be no time to teach the lesson.” My friend: At that point correction should be the lesson! I recently attended a high school event that was raising money for the Susan G. Komen organization. This was a worthy effort. However, when I saw the huge hand-painted signs with crude and disrespectful slogans, I was appalled. Many staff members laughed along with the young guys who had created them — thus giving their approval of such insensitive words and illustrations. When are we going to rise up and take a stand for what we know in our hearts is the right thing to do? 2. In far too many cases, we don’t dress or act professionally. Oh, I know this isn’t going to be popular. But time and time again, we have been shown that our appearances and actions send a message. Is it going to be a look of professionalism, authority and leadership, or one of being on the same level as the students? 3. We need to demand and expect the very


Texas School Business • January 2013

best of our students. Years ago, there was a “subject” in school called penmanship. You should research it sometime. It was here that students were taught how to make their schoolwork readable, neat and organized. I recently received a note from a freshman in high school. He’s a bright young man, but when I looked at the envelope, I assumed it was from a kindergarten student or younger. Absolutely unbelievable! I know many of you think of good handwriting as totally unnecessary. If this were simply an exercise in aesthetics, I might agree with you. But this is an exercise in teaching us to do our best! It says: “Be proud of everything that has your name on it.” I’ve always admired Samuel Butler’s quote that says: “Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.” 4. Work tirelessly to rid our public schools of those individuals we know do not have the “gift” of teaching. We’ve all seen it. A teacher gets a slap on the wrist but nothing changes. Inappropriate comments continue to be made. Total disregard for what a student really needs is acceptable. And kids who come to school seeking security, acceptance, protection and care never receive it. One calloused, non-caring teacher can slowly, day-after-day, destroy a student. It’s cruel. It’s sad. But most of all, it’s wrong. Well, my “word count” is getting close, so I’ll stop there. Please understand that I know there are thousands upon thousands of teachers who are making beautiful, positive differences in the lives of students, but we all know it: We could be so much better! Examine your heart, your actions, your beliefs. And if something needs to be changed, consider some of these “old-fashioned” ideas of a 70-year-old man who still believes, supports and wants the best for our young. RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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