The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas JANUARY/ FEBRUARY
Texas School Business Engaging the gifted Identifying highability students
Also in this issue:
TASBO President Randy McDowell, Rockwall ISD TSPRA President Melissa Tortorici, Texas City ISD Spotlight on Robert Long, Spring ISD
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Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
TASBO President Profile Rockwall ISD’s Randy McDowell pushes for more state support By Autumn Rhea Carpenter
In the Spotlight Spring ISD Principal Robert Long shines with U-STAR
TSPRA President Profile Stepping up and into a president’s shoes
Engaging the gifted
Experts espouse merits of identifying high-ability students by John Egan
by Merri Rosenberg
by Shelley Seale
Departments 6 Who’s News 27 Regional View 29 Calendar 32 The Arts 34 Ad Index
5 From the Editor by Dacia Rivers 9 The Law Dawg— Unleashed by Jim Walsh 11 Digital Frontier by Bill Lewis 13 Game On! by Bobby Hawthorne
10 Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented takes it to the "next level" 17 Texas ASCD hosts annual conference in Dallas
25 Student Voices by Ricardo “Rikki” Umanzor and Ekaterina Farwell 34 The Back Page by Riney Jordan
The views expressed by columnists and contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or Texas School Business advertisers. The publisher also makes no endorsement of the advertisers or advertisements in this publication.
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From the editor
ello, Texas School Business readers. I’d like to introduce myself as the magazine’s new editorial director. Katie Ford has done a wonderful job pouring herself into this magazine for years, and as she moves on to follow her dreams into other areas, I’d like to thank her for turning things over to me in what I believe will be a seamless transition. I am honored and excited to serve as the new editorial director. I’ve worked in magazine publishing for 17 years. Way back when, I began my career after journalism school working for a teacher’s association magazine and am quite happy to be back in the world of Texas school news. Education is an issue that means even more to me than it did back then, as I now have two children who I am proud to say attend Texas public schools. This issue is a great one to serve as my introduction to Texas School Business. We’re kicking off this new year with a cover story about gifted and talented programs and what they mean to students across Texas. In these pages you’ll also be introduced to the presidents of the Texas Association of School Business Officials and the Texas School Public Relations Association. Along with our regular columnists offering their takes on current affairs in the world of school news, this issue also features a close-up look at an alternative high school in Fort Worth, penned by two of its students who have new outlooks on education after transferring. A Happy New Year to all of you. I look forward to working with the Texas School Business team to deliver a top-notch, informative magazine to each of you this year and beyond.
Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017 Volume LXIV, Issue 1 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Dacia Rivers DESIGN
Phaedra Strecher COLUMNISTS
Dacia Rivers Editorial Director
Bobby Hawthorne Riney Jordan Bill Lewis Jim Walsh ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER
Ann M. Halstead
TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Johnny L. Veselka
ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SERVICES AND SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATION
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA RELATIONS
Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978) is published bimonthly with a special edition, Bragging Rights, in December, by the Texas Association of School Administrators, at 406 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701. Periodicals postage paid at Austin, Texas, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. © Copyright 2017 Texas Association of School Administrators
Ann M. Halstead
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Who’s News Allen ISD Johnna Walker, principal of Marion Elementary since 2006, has been chosen to lead the district’s newest elementary school, which is yet to be named and scheduled to open in August. Prior to her time at Marion, Walker taught at Reed Elementary and in three Oklahoma districts.
Bartlett ISD New Superintendent Travis Edwards comes to Bartlett
ISD from Loraine ISD, where he also held the top position. In addition, he was superintendent of West Sabine ISD, assistant superintendent of West ISD and a field service agent at ESC Region 14. He has been an educator for 23 years.
Birdville ISD Mike Dukes, who retired from Birdville ISD in 2015 after serving as principal of Snow Elementary for five years and Spicer Elementary for 11 years, has returned to the district as principal of Holiday Heights Elementary. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of Texas at Arlington and his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.
Bryan ISD The Bryan ISD Board of Trustees has selected former Deputy Superintendent Tim Rocka as interim superintendent. A 23-year veteran of Texas public education, Rocka came to Bryan ISD in 2011 as assistant superintendent of human resources.
Buckholts ISD Former Edna ISD Principal Nancy Sandlin now leads Buckholts ISD as
superintendent. After 28 years as a teacher in grades pre-K through high school in Lockhart, Kerrville and Ingram ISDs, she spent two years with ESC Region 3, joining Edna ISD as director of curriculum and instruction and assistant principal of Edna Elementary.
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Cleburne ISD The new principal of Cleburne High School, Le’Ann Downs, comes to Cleburne from Mansfield ISD, where she was assistant principal of Timberview High. She spent three of her 15 years as an educator in that school’s English Department and was named 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year. In addition, she taught in La Vernia and Grapevine-Colleyville ISDs. A graduate of The University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in education, Downs holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Dallas Baptist University, where she is completing a doctorate in the same field.
Cleveland ISD Pennee Hall has been promoted from assistant superintendent of human resources to deputy superintendent. An educator for 27 years, she has spent the past two years as part of the Cleveland ISD team. Hall earned her bachelor’s degree in education from The University of Texas and her master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Clint ISD Cain Castillo, principal of
Montana Vista Elementary School, is now presidentelect of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) for ESC Region 19. His installation came during TEPSA’s Summer Leadership Conference.
Cross Roads ISD Michael Barron is the district’s new band director. A graduate of The University of Texas at Tyler with a degree in music education, he has taught for six years and worked as a band director for three years.
Now serving as head girls’ softball coach, assistant football coach and basketball coach is Ron Cole, who joins the district from La Poyner ISD. A teacher and coach for 23 years, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. The district’s new head football and girls’ basketball coach and assistant track coach is Michael Gain. He comes to his new job with 12 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. He previously was athletic director of Latexo ISD and coached in Ingleside, Mathis, Manvel and SkidmoreTynan ISDs.
Cory McCulloch has joined Cross Roads High School as assistant volleyball, basketball and softball coach in addition to her duties in the school’s special education and content mastery departments. She is completing her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at The University of Texas at Tyler. Dan Pearce has joined Cross Roads Junior
High to coach football, baseball and powerlifting. A graduate of Texas A&M University at Kingsville with a bachelor’s degree in education, he has 14 years of experience as a teacher and coach.
Crowell ISD Now serving as superintendent is Pam Norwood, who was previously Chapel Hill ISD’s director of special programs.
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Ana Martin, the newly
appointed principal of Cy-Fair High School, returns to the school where she began her career 25 years ago as a Spanish and French teacher. Martin earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary teaching and a master’s degree in eductional psychology from the University of Houston. A second master’s degree, in educational administration, was awarded from Sam Houston State University. The district’s newest campus, Bridgeland High School, will have Michael Smith as principal when the doors open in August. Currently principal of Cy-Fair High, Smith has spent his 26-year career with CypressFairbanks ISD, also working as a math teacher, computer liaison, assistant principal and principal. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Harding University and a master’s degree in education from Prairie View A&M University.
Del Valle ISD The district’s new assistant superintendent of finance and operations is Celina Bley. She has spent the past 12 years of her 15-year career with Del Valle ISD as director of communications and community relations. Bley holds a doctorate in education from Texas State University. A new director of mathematics has been named for the district. He is Derek McDaniel, an educator with 12 years of experience as a math teacher,
campus administrator and coordinator in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. He received his master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University.
Denton ISD The new principal of Blanton Elementary School is Linda Bozeman, who was assistant principal of Rayzor Elementary for the past six years. With more than 20 years of experience as a principal, she helped open Blanton in 2008. Buddy Dunworth, an assistant principal at Denton High School for 11 years, now leads Davis School, the district’s disciplinary alternative education program. He began his career in his native Massachusetts before joining Denton ISD as a swim coach and chemistry teacher in 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University and a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University.
Duncanville ISD The district’s new chief financial officer, Jan Arrington, was most recently chief financial and operations officer for Wichita Falls ISD. Prior to that assignment, she was with Rockwall and Irving ISDs. In addition, she has worked as a bank auditor, accountant and trainer. Nneka Bernard is Duncanville ISD’s new director of assessment and accountability. She came to the district in 2015 as the ninth grade principal of Duncanville High School after working as a high school teacher, assistant principal and principal in Grand Prairie ISD. A graduate of Tougaloo College, she holds a master’s degree in business administration from Delta State University.
Now serving as principal of Hardin Intermediate School is Pamela Brown, former principal of Lancaster Middle School in Lancaster ISD. She also worked in Grand Prairie ISD as a middle school dean of teaching and learning, in DeSoto ISD as a mathematics coordinator and as a teacher in Dallas ISD. Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Prairie View A&M University and a master’s degree in public administration from The University of Texas at Arlington. Makenzie Casall, the new director of special education, comes from Irving ISD, where she was a special education coordinator and, most recently, principal of Wheeler Transitional Center. She holds a bachelor’s
degree from Texas Tech University and two master’s degrees, in special education and in educational administration, from the University of North Texas. Christi Courson is the new director of purchasing and warehouse. She comes to her new position from Somerset ISD, where she was executive director of finance and business services. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in business administration, she has 20 years of experience, including stints in LaMarque and Dickinson ISDs. Crystal Cross, who was principal of Hardin
Intermediate School for the past five years, has moved into central administration with her appointment as director of staff development. Initially a teacher and assistant principal in Alief ISD, she also has worked in Rockwall ISD. The new principal of Byrd Middle School,
Kendria Davis-Martin, joins the district from
Mansfield ISD, where she was an associate principal at Summit High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from The University of Texas at Arlington and her master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce.
The district’s new assistant superintendent of operations, Andrea Fields, brings 37 years of experience to her new position. Formerly a teacher, assistant principal, supervisor and director, she was most recently deputy superintendent for district services in Longview ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Louisiana Tech University and a master’s degree in secondary education administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. Ed Hernandez has accepted the position of chief of schools, hailing from Crowley ISD, where he was chief academic officer. Prior to that, he was a principal in Terrell ISD and spent 13 years with Dallas ISD as a teacher, principal and executive director. Hernandez received his bachelor’s degree in finance and political science from Texas Christian University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Melissa Kates, now serving as special assistant to the superintendent, has experience as an attorney representing school districts as both general counsel and board counsel. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M University and her juris doctor degree from Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. She is at work on a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies at The University of Texas at Arlington.
New Chief of Schools Thurston Lamb returns to the district — where he was
principal of Duncanville High School more than a decade ago — from his job as executive principal of DeSoto High School in DeSoto ISD. Prior to that assignment, he was an administrator in Crowley and Plano ISDs. Lamb has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Central Arkansas and a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. He received his doctorate in educational leadership from Capella University. The district’s new director of human resources is Alexis McClendon, who comes to Duncanville from Rockwall ISD, where she held the same position. Prior to that, she was coordinator for human resource services in Mansfield ISD. She is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She earned her master’s degree in human services from Liberty University. Tanji Towels, now serving as principal of Merrifield Elementary School, comes to the district from Irving ISD, where she was an elementary school principal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Langston University and a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies from The University of Texas at Arlington.
El Paso ISD Maria Kennedy, who had been serving as interim district athletic director since January, now serves in the position permanently. She began her career in Victoria ISD as a PE teacher and came to the district in 1986 as a coach and teacher. She was the head girls’ basketball coach at Franklin High for 11 years. Kennedy earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Sul Ross State University.
The new principal of Transmountain Early College High School, Barbara King, returns to the school after spending two years at Irvin High School, where she was the discipline assistant principal and then guidance and instruction assistant principal. King holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at El Paso. Rose Ann Martinez, the new
principal of MacArthur Intermediate School, was most recently assistant and interim principal at Franklin High. She previously worked > See Who’s News, page 8
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Who’s News > Continued from page 7
as a teacher and magnet coordinator at Silva Health Magnet High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at El Paso.
Fort Bend ISD Nancy Porter, chief
communications officer for the past 17 years, has left that position but will remain with the district as a senior public affairs advisor. She began her time with Fort Bend ISD as the district’s school business partnership coordinator, after working in the private sector and in nonprofit and corporate marketing positions. She received her bachelor’s degree in speech communications from the University of Houston and her master’s degree in strategic public relations from George Washington University. Now serving as chief communications officer is Veronica Sopher, former assistant superintendent of community and governmental relations in Leander ISD, a position she held for seven years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from the University of North Texas.
Greenville ISD Superintendent Don Jefferies has announced his upcoming retirement, effective March 1. A former assistant superintendent, associate superintendent and superintendent in Mineral Wells and West Orange Cove ISDs and in Scottsdale, Ariz., he came to Greenville ISD in 2006 as principal of Greenville High School and was promoted to the top position in 2008. He was the 2016 ESC Region 8 Superintendent of the Year.
Harris County Department of Education Helen Spencer has been
named chief information officer after spending the past five years as chief of staff and chief communications officer for Houston ISD. She began her career in newspaper journalism while a student at Texas A&M University, working as editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Battalion, and going on to serve as news editor for the Houston Chronicle. The new curriculum and compliance officer for the educator certification and professional advancement division is Chaney WilliamsLedet. She earned her bachelor’s degree in
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
elementary education and Spanish from the University of Houston and master’s and doctoral degrees in education administration from Texas Southern University. She spent 27 years of her career with Houston ISD, working as a bilingual teacher and supervisor, teacher development specialist, assistant principal and principal.
Hereford ISD A new superintendent is in place. Sheri Blankenship has been with the district since
1996, most recently serving as assistant superintendent for professional services. She received an associate’s degree from Clarendon College, a bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University and a master’s degree from West Texas A&M University.
Highland Park ISD (Amarillo) The district’s new superintendent, Jimmy Hannon, most recently led Water Valley ISD.
Highland Park (Dallas) Veteran educator Gena Gardiner, assistant
an assistant principal and principal before becoming a central office administrator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas, along with master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston.
Irving ISD Frances Adams comes to her new position
as principal of Townsell Elementary from Weatherford ISD, where she led Seguin Elementary since 2014. An educator with 22 years of experience, she began her career in California’s Upland Unified School District in 1994, taking her first Texas assignment in Tyler ISD.
Irving ISD’s new division director of specialized learning services is Patty Bustamante, former director of world languages. She has been with the district for 18 years, serving as a bilingual teacher, assistant principal and principal. Former Townsell Elementary Principal
Angela Long now leads Davis Elementary
School. She began her career in 1998 in Dallas ISD, joining Irving ISD 10 years later as assistant principal of Haley Elementary.
superintendent for curriculum, instruction and special programs, will bring her career to a close when she retires this year. She has been with Highland Park ISD for 14 years, after beginning as a fifth grade teacher in 1977 and working in other districts as a teacher, principal and curriculum director. She is the former president of the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and a recipient of the organization’s Star Advocate Award, given to retiring curriculum and instruction professionals who have made outstanding contributions to education.
Now serving as Lockhart High School’s associate principal, Luciano Castro is an educator with 15 years of experience. His most recent assignment was with Sabinal ISD as principal of that district’s secondary campus. Castro, a graduate of Cornell University, has a master’s degree in education from Texas State University, where he is pursuing a doctorate in school improvement.
The district’s new chief academic officer, Grenita Lathan, has been with HISD since 2015. The 25-year educator was previously superintendent of the Peoria School District in Illinois and interim deputy superintendent in San Diego (Cal.) United School District. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business education from North Carolina A&T State University and a master’s degree in the same field from the University of North Carolina. Her doctoral degree was awarded from Southern Illinois University. Samuel Sarabia is deputy
superintendent. Now in his 29th year as an educator and as an employee of Houston ISD, Sarabia was most recently chief school officer for the district’s south area. He began as a bilingual teacher, going on to work as
The district’s new superintendent, Gerald Hudson, an educator since 1997, comes to Jasper ISD from Garland ISD, where he was an area director.
Lockhart ISD Kimberly Brents, Lockhart
ISD’s deputy superintendent, has also assumed leadership of the district’s Human Resources Department. She has 23 years of experience in the field and joined the district in 2016.
Christina Courson is
the district’s first public information officer. She comes to Lockhart from Hays CISD, where she was a communication specialist for the past four years. She has 15 years of experience in communications in schools and state agencies supporting children, including the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. She holds a bachelor’s degree > See Who’s News, page 18
THE LAW DAWG – UNLEASHED
Shoulda seen it coming
by Jim Walsh
ike many Americans, I was surprised when it became apparent that Donald Trump was going to defeat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. But looking back, I shoulda seen this coming. After all, I conducted a poll of collegeeducated Texans, most of them women, and they overwhelmingly chose Trump. Of course, everyone knew that Texas would stay red, but the margin of Trump’s victory in our poll stunned me. Still does. The poll was part of my annual “Back to School” tour, sponsored by the Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest. We went to 10 education service centers this year, along with the Harris County Department of Education. At each location, we passed out ballots that included six choices. Here are the choices and the results for each: I WILL VOTE FOR CLINTON: 122 I WILL VOTE FOR TRUMP: 93 I WILL VOTE FOR CLINTON, BUT IT’S MOSTLY BECAUSE OF TRUMP: 151 I WILL VOTE FOR TRUMP, BUT IT’S MOSTLY BECAUSE OF CLINTON: 310 I WILL VOTE FOR SOMEONE ELSE: 101 I WON’T VOTE: 25 Our poll results mirrored the national mood: Way more people were voting against someone, rather than for someone. Clinton held a substantial lead among the “for someone” crowd: 122-93. However, of the “voting against someone” crowd, Trump won decisively: 310-151. Thus, even though people did not seem too fond of Trump, they liked Hillary even less. The final tally: 403 people said they would vote for Trump; 273 for Clinton. Not close. Now, Trump has named Betsy DeVos as his nominee for secretary of education. She is a big supporter of public money for private schools. That she would be Trump’s nominee for this post is not surprising. Google “Don-
ald Trump on education” and see what you think. There is nothing there but the usual bashing of public education (we spend too much; we produce too little) and the call for wide-open school choice, with tax dollars following the child. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Donald Trump are two peas in a pod on this issue. Assuming Congress confirms the nomination, the U.S. Department of Education will be led by a like-minded person. Trump’s website says nothing about Title I funding, professional development or special education. With his call for a huge increase in funding to promote private schooling, it’s hard to see how anything will be left for the things the federal government has traditionally funded. Educators may be relieved to say good-bye to the Obama administration, which has attempted to micromanage many issues through endless “Dear Colleague” letters. However, the Democrats were never going to side with Patrick on school choice. Trump already has. We are now in a legislative session where the critics of public education sense the victory they have long sought — a law that will allow public money to go to private schools. Things look bleak for public education. I am reminded of the scene in “The Princess Bride,” in which our heroes outline the challenges ahead of them. Buttercup is due to marry Prince Humperdinck within a half hour. All our boys have to do is get past the gate guarded by 60 men, break up the wedding, steal the princess, kill Count Rugen and make their escape. Inigo Montoya numbers their assets: “Your brains. Fezzik’s strength. My steel.” It sounded like a mismatch, but you may recall that Montoya ultimately avenged his father’s death and Westley ended up with the princess. Let’s hope we also can overcome the odds and get through this session with public schools intact.
JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle PC. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg. Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
TEXAS ASSOCIATION FOR THE GIFTED AND TALENTED TAKES MEMBERS TO THE “NEXT LEVEL” AT ITS ANNUAL CONFERENCE At TAGT’s annual conference, held in December in Dallas, attendees connected with others in the field and learned ways to continue to make a difference in the gifted community.
▲ TAGT Past Presidents gather for lunch.
► Marcy Voss,
Boerne; Nicole Shannon, Hutto ISD; and Patricia Simpson, Liberty Hill ISD
▲ Cindy Josselet and Christy Hooper, Ponder ISD
▲ Mary Dyer and Allison Mathieu, Richardson ISD
► Linda Robinson, Maggie Swick, Jamie Rose, Ana Mariscal and Wendy Minjares, International Leadership Texas
◄ Lacy Brejcha, Andi
McNair and Brenda Davis, Bosqueville ISD
▲ Anna Klose, Julie Nelson, Clifton Klaverweiden, Alyson Klaverweiden, Malinda Haney, Round Rock ISD
► Cynthia Solano, Brandi
Marroquin and Stephanie Oosterveen, San Antonio ISD
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
► Attendees explored ways to use the Rubik’s Cube for classroom instruction.
How do districts plan for technology?
Risk Management and Insurance Advisors
by Bill Lewis
t is clear that technology integration into classrooms is important to Texas and its school districts. From 2004 to 2006, educator stakeholders in Texas developed the Long-Range Plan for Technology (LRPT) and put it into action. Numerous forward-thinking people contributed to this ambitious document, and Texas schools are better because of what they did. Today, the climate is shifting in how and why districts plan for technology integration across the board. This forces us to ask the question: Does the prevailing practice of writing intervaled technology plans provide an effective roadmap to success? In recent years, E-Rate no longer requires a technology plan, No Child Left Behind is gone, and the state no longer requires the Texas ePlan. The companion tool, STAAR Chart, is an outdated tool that no longer offers relevant data needed to make meaningful decisions. Consequently, school districts use it sparingly. Can technology plans written for designated periods of time meet the prerequisites for providing a quality instructional program for our students and teachers? I propose that our process for developing instructional planning has to change. The pace at which instruction and technology change increases exponentially. Districts should plan for a high standard of service, such as upgrading aging infrastructure, business and data collection systems, and other items that have a mandated need and a longterm life expectancy. The days of district-wide replacement cycles and upgrading devices on a schedule are vanishing. The need to merge instructional and technology planning has surpassed the years of lip service that have subsisted. A new reality is necessary. If the process starts with a vision of fostering a climate where student learning is at the epicenter, then districts must integrate a tech-
nology-planning process that aligns with the instructional strategy needs for the district. The results will be the optimal association of resources and actions to grasp an enriched vision of student learning successfully and efficiently. In the highly digitized, economic climate in which our educational organizations exist, the operations of a technology department cannot function outside of the goals, culture and pedagogical vision of the instructional side of the organization. Equally, with the expectation that we are empowering digital citizens of the future, a district’s instructional goals must incorporate effective, meaningful digital tools. Here are some steps to foster meaningful planning for student success: • • • • •
create a year-round collaborative environment that fosters relationships between instruction and technology; keep board and district goals aligned; create a process where the instructional needs drive all decisions; be intentional with the integration of technology and instruction; and address the infrastructure needs of technology to support student and staff needs.
School districts complete an annual District Improvement Plan (DIP) that is often created to meet state-mandated accountability criteria based on standardized test outcomes. I offer that districts should rethink the DIP process and center efforts on strategic planning. Strategic planning inherently lends itself to be a more inclusive process, where diverse groups can be deliberate in building core strategies. Creating a strategic plan keeps the attention on priorities, focuses energy and resources, strengthens operations and ensures stakeholders we are working toward common goals.
R. Lamar Sawyer, Jr. CPCU, MBA, ARM, CSRM
25 Years Experience With Texas Public Education Risk Management and Insurance • Bid Management • RFP Development • Proposal Evaluation • Carrier Negotiations • Coverage Audits • Claims Audits • Risk Manager Applicant Evaluation • Expert Witness
LAMAR SAWYER & ASSOCIATES
LamarSawyer.com Lamar@LamarSawyer.com 210.415.6447
Practice Limited to Texas Public Education
BILL LEWIS is president of the Texas Computer Education Association and the assistant superintendent of technology and curriculum support for Seguin ISD. Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
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All jokes aside by Bobby Hawthorne
s many of you now know, Katie Ford has left her post as editorial director of this magazine, and I’m left to wonder: “Who will save me from myself?” I should explain.
I compared to twirling. “Twirling,” I noted, “provides girls the opportunity to perfect their tossing and fetching skills, which could prove helpful later in life should they turn into border collies.”
When I was 17, I was driving under the influence of idiocy and accidentally plowed my ’67 Ford Galaxy 500 into the plate-glass window of Paul’s Grill in Longview. It was around 2 a.m. on a weeknight. My father was out of town, and my mother, a registered nurse, was working the night shift at Good Shepherd Hospital. I had to skulk up to the floor where she worked and explain that mistakes had been made.
Fortunately, Katie intervened. “No way we’re running this,” she said, in so many words, and thank God for that. Without her, I would have giggled myself out of this gig a long time ago. She was right. I was wrong, and I hate to see her go. She is, in fact, the best editor I’ve worked with — ever. Exacting but not rigid. Smart but not pedantic. Generous but no pushover.
“It’s nothing,” I assured her, which was true if compared to Pickett’s Charge.
I would be more upset if I didn’t know we are losing her to a higher calling to work with female prison inmates, which she has been doing as a volunteer for seven years and now aims to make it her life’s work.
I then slunk home to await my fate. Mom arrived around 7:30 a.m., having driven past Paul’s Grill to see it boarded up. Apoplectic, she demanded answers to unanswerable questions, such as: “Why do you lie to me?” I mumbled, moped and shrugged before deciding to pop the tension with a dash of humor: “There was a sign on the side of the building that said, ‘drive-thru window,’ so I did.” Mom was not amused. A few years later, I wrote the following for the University Interscholastic League’s newsletter: “The Legislature is returning to town. Hide your daughters and your mules.” Inasmuch as the UIL was on every lawyer and legislator’s hit list, the 29,000 copies of the newsletter were incinerated, and I was warned to watch it — which I did until I wrote “transportation” on an official University of Texas form in response to the prompt: “Purpose for which vehicle was used.” I caught grief on that one too. You’d think I would have learned my lesson, but about a year ago, I wrote a snarky piece for this magazine on competitive cheerleading, which
I’ve attended two graduation ceremonies at the prison where Katie volunteers, and I’ve met these women and heard their stories of abuse, addiction and abandonment. I’ve listened to them explain how and why they failed to respect themselves enough to dump those who clawed and gnawed them. I’ve read their song lyrics and poems about false pride and the stomach-churning humiliation of letting down friends and family. I’ve also watched how Katie and the other volunteers gently rekindle their self-esteem and shepherd them toward self-forgiveness, self-love and redemption. We should all spend our precious time in courageous pursuit of so noble a cause. Katie is walking a plank, blindfolded, with little idea whether she’ll hit sea or sand. Here’s my prediction: She’ll be fine. The fact is, those of us who have worked with her are fairly certain she walks on water. And that, my friends, is no joke.
Texas School Business
Submit Who’s News to: news@ texasschoolbusiness.com Texas School Business provides education news to school districts, state organizations and vendors throughout the state. With ten issues a year, TSB can be an effective news source for your organization.
www.texasschoolbusiness.com 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Now in its 63rd year of publication!
BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” published by UT Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
▲ Denton ISD gifted and talented students Samantha Mendez, Alejandro Rodriguez and Jahairo Ibanez practice mathematics using a die they created with a 3D printer in the robotics lab at Borman International Baccalaureate Elementary School.
Engaging the gifted W
hen educators speak of ensuring success for all students, the focus is typically on those who have fallen behind. However, according to some experts, that focus is changing. Nearly 400,000 students in Texas public schools are identified as gifted and talented — excelling intellectually, creatively or artistically when compared with their peers. According to JJ Colburn, executive
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Experts espouse merits of identifying high-ability students by John Egan
director of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT), many educators are looking more closely at ways to nurture this population. JJ Colburn
“There seems to be a renewed interest in gifted education in Texas,” he says. “For many years, our schools have focused on ensuring that all students reach a minimal level of proficiency. While this has been effective for many, our high-achieving, high-potential students have sometimes suffered. In some cases, we’ve left our gifted students to create their own paths and opportunities for learning, and, in doing so, we’ve failed to encourage and develop
the limitless possibilities represented by this population.” Michelle Swain, director of gifted and advanced academic services for Round Rock ISD, says awareness of the “whole” gifted or talented child — not just the intellectual, creative or artistic aspects of that child — is growing, with educators giving more consideration to the child’s social and emotional needs. “Educating our high-ability learners is not elitist. It is essential,” Swain says. “We do not question varsity sports or honors-level fine arts, but instead provide the highest level of instruction in those areas. We should feel comfortable doing the same for academic ability.” Along those lines, Susan Johnsen, director of programs in gifted education at Baylor University’s School of Education, says students, families, schools and communities must cultivate the education of gifted and talented children. This includes reaching out to low-income families who might need help navigating the education system so that they are aware of services geared toward their gifted and talented students, including after-school and summer enrichment programs, she says. “Communities need to support enrichment and mentoring activities, particularly for those students who might have insufficient funds available to access talent development activities,” Johnsen says, “and who might need help in building social capital or social networks of influential individuals in their careers of choice.” Johnsen says gifted and talented students from low-income households are “particularly vulnerable” because they’re frequently overlooked and lack sufficient resources to hone their abilities. Given that low-income students make up half of the population in public schools, the plight of low-income, gifted and talented children “is a serious problem,” she says. Further exacerbating the problem is the issue of race, according to a study published last year in the journal, Social Science Research. It found that teacher referrals for gifted and special education testing are subjective and may be influenced by the color of a student’s skin. In the study, Rachel Fish, an assistant professor of special education at New York University (NYU), examined the part played by a student’s race and ethnicity in teachers categorizing the child needing gifted education or special education.
The experiment involved 70 third grade teachers from 14 public elementary schools in one school district, according to an NYU press release on the study. In case studies provided by Fish, teachers who read about boys with academic strength and emotional sensitivity — clues of strong candidates for gifted and talented education — were more likely to refer white students for gifted testing than African-American or Latino students. “In other words, teachers may perceive high ability as a natural characteristic of white students, while they may fail to recognize high ability among students of color,” the NYU news release stated. It went on to say that teachers play a key role in identifying students who may benefit from gifted education or special education, as three-fourths of referrals originate with teachers. Fish noted that the findings of her study weren’t meant to blame teachers “for being racist.” “Rather, this research reveals how racism in our society affects the everyday work of teachers,” she was quoted in the release. “I believe teachers are doing their best to support all students in their classrooms; yet, racial bias affects everyone — often in ways that we’re unaware.” Digging deeper, Johnsen says extra emphasis should be placed on what she calls “excellence gaps” among all students who are gifted or talented. Most people who shape education policy concentrate solely on the achievement gaps among gifted and talented students who hail from different racial and socioeconomic groups, she says. Yet, Johnsen maintains that the gap between what all gifted and talented students could learn in school compared with what they are able to learn is widening. “For the most part, classes are geared toward universal benchmarks established for each grade or course that are aligned to an inflexible curriculum and assessments that measure minimum competency only,” she says. Colburn says specially designed programs staffed by educators who are trained to foster gifted and talented students can help ensure those children develop skills and immerse themselves in the experiences aimed at overcoming “very significant challenges” and realizing their full potential. “Being identified as gifted isn’t an elite badge of honor,” he says.
Even absent that badge of honor, Johnsen says some people might mistakenly believe that gifted and talented students “will do just fine” with or without high-quality education programs tailored to their needs. That being said, Johnsen argues that coursework for gifted and talented students should be personalized — targeted toward each student’s abilities rather than generalized for all gifted and talented students.
‘Educating our high-ability learners is not elitist. It is essential. We do not question varsity sports or honors-level fine arts, but instead provide the highest level of instruction in those areas. We should feel comfortable doing the same for academic ability.’ — Michelle Swain, director of gifted and advanced academic services, Round Rock ISD
“Students should not have to spend their time listening to content they already know or repeating activities they have already mastered,” Johnsen says. “Unchallenging work and repetition lead to boredom and, in many cases, a pattern of underachievement.” To help steer gifted and talented students toward challenging work and superb achievement, Johnsen says she thinks undergraduates who are studying education should be given more instruction in teaching gifted and talented children. Most undergrads who are preparing to be teachers take only a three-hour course, at best, that outlines characteristics of gifted and talented students, she says. Furthermore, Johnsen says, Texas teachers who are engaged in gifted and talented education should meet national standards. “Currently, they only need 30 clock hours of professional development, less than > See Engaged, page 16
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
▲ Round Rock ISD gifted and talented students at Gattis Elementary show their enthusiasm during “Pi Day Friday” (March 14, or 3/14), which involved all kinds of mathematical games — and eating pie after lunch, of course.
> Engaged, continued from page 15
one course at the undergraduate level,” she says. “They need to learn more ways of differentiating instructional strategies, curriculum and assessments.”
In terms of instructional strategies, Christina Dearman, a gifted and talented education specialist at Denton ISD’s Strickland Middle School, identifies the following as trends and practices she is seeing in gifted and talented education:
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
creating student-centered environments;
focusing on creativity, or tapping into the imagination to generate ideas;
creating mentoring opportunities;
clustering gifted and talented students; and
moving toward collaborative learning.
Dearman says it’s imperative to continue supporting gifted and talented education by properly identifying students who belong in this category and backing programs that benefit these students. “In a state with resources as great as Texas, these students will be a part of the solution in areas such as energy, agriculture, technology and medicine,” Dearman says.
“I continue to be amazed at what these students do as they move into college and beyond.” Colburn says TAGT believes gifted and talented students from every cultural background see the world in unique ways. And with the right support, these students “just might discover innovative answers to the most challenging questions of their generation.” John Egan is a freelance writer in Austin and the former editor of the Austin Business Journal.
TEXAS ASCD HOSTS ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN DALLAS Members of the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development met in Dallas over Halloween weekend for the organization’s annual conference. Titled, “Shaking It Up: Seismic Shifts in Leading and Learning,” the conference offered five strands to explore specific shifts in education: from delivery to design; from conformity to creativity; from isolation to integration; from accountability to ownership; and from whole class to whole child.
▲ Keynote presenter Tom Vander Ark addresses Texas ASCD members.
▲ Texas ASCD board member Blanca Lopez of Ysleta ISD greets keynote presenter Pedro Noguera.
▲ A growth mindset makes for a winning strategy in life — and at the costume contest. ◄ Amy Soupiset of Alamo Heights ISD leads an Innovative Highlight session titled, “Expository Expedition: Classroom Transformations Inspire Student Learning and Creativity.”
▲ Attendees enjoy the Halloween President’s Reception.
▲ Texas ASCD President Roy J. Garcia Jr. and Executive Director Yolanda Rey work their magic.
▲ Texas ASCD recognizes its exemplary regional affiliates (from left to right) Sabine-Neches affiliate Gerald Chandler of Lumberton ISD, outgoing North Central affiliate Gena Gardiner of Highland Park ISD, Alamo Area affiliate Irma Jean Williams of East Central ISD and Les Evans affiliate Charles Carroll of Fort Worth ISD.
▲ Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) “superheroes” lead the Innovative Highlight session, “Catching Fire with STEAM.” Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Who’s News > Continued from page 8
in international studies from The American University in Washington D.C. and is at work on a master’s degree in leadership and change from St. Edward’s University. Lockhart Junior High School now has Lori Davis as principal. An educator since 1999, she taught in Del Valle and Northside ISDs before joining Hays CISD, where she became the district’s behavior specialist in 2008. Since 2014, she has served as assistant principal of Simon Middle School. Davis earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio and her master’s degree in special education from Texas State University. Mark Estrada has been
approved to serve as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. He was most recently principal of Lockhart Junior High School. Prior to that, he was principal of Plum Creek Elementary and served as a middle school teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal in Del Valle ISD. Estrada holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science and a master’s degree in secondary education from Texas State University. He is at work on his doctorate in education in The University of Texas cooperative superintendency program. The newly hired principal of Plum Creek Elementary School, Jamee Griebel, is a native of Lockhart, a graduate of Lockhart High School and a former student at Plum Creek. An educator since 2001, she has spent her career as a teacher, technology instructional mentor and assistant principal with Lockhart ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in education, both from Texas State University. Faith Pope has been promoted from principal of Plum Creek Elementary School to director of elementary curriculum and instruction. Prior to joining Lockhart ISD, she was a bilingual teacher in Texas and California. In addition, she was an instructional coach and academic dean in Waelder ISD. She received her bachelor’s degree from Concordia University and holds a master’s degree in bicultural and bilingual studies.
Lubbock ISD Lubbock ISD has named a new athletics director. Mike Meeks, who has served as
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
assistant athletics director since 2013, spent 11 years as a football and track coach at Midland ISD’s Lee High School. He also coached in Fort Stockton and Socorro ISDs.
McKinney ISD Marina Byrd has been named assistant
principal of Slaughter Elementary, where she has served as a bilingual instructional coach for the past three years. With 23 years of experience as an elementary educator, she joined the district in 2001 from Dallas ISD as a bilingual first grade teacher at Finch Elementary. She is a graduate of Sul Ross State University with a master’s degree from Concordia University.
Former Slaughter Elementary School Assistant Principal Erika Echegaray has been promoted to principal of Finch Elementary, where she began her McKinney ISD career in 2003 as an instructional specialist. The St. John’s University graduate holds a master’s degree in reading from New York’s Queens College and a second master’s degree, in educational leadership, from Dallas Baptist University.
from the University of North Texas, where he also did doctoral work.
Paint Creek ISD Cheryl Floyd has been promoted from interim superintendent to superintendent. Initially a physical education teacher and coach in Ector County ISD, she went on to work in schools in Waco, Pittsburg and Queen City ISDs before taking her first administrative role as Linden ISD’s high school principal. She was superintendent of Bluff Dale ISD and, most recently, Huckabay ISD. Floyd earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Eastern New Mexico University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Perrin-Whitt CISD Cliff Gilmore, former superintendent of
Aspermont ISD, now leads Perrin-Whitt CISD as superintendent.
Mineral Wells ISD
Tony Harkleroad, deputy superintendent of finance and support services, retired at the end of December, bringing to a close 25 years of service to the district, including the past 15 as chief financial officer.
The district’s new technology director, David Oestreicher, comes to his new job from Washington state, where he was director of network and infrastructure for Seattle Public Schools. Prior to that, he was with Lewisville ISD for nine years as director of network and technical services.
of the district for 29 years, now serves as assistant superintendent for operations. She was most recently assistant superintendent for technology.
New Boston ISD Donald Mathis has accepted the position
of principal of New Boston High School. Most recently superintendent of Conrad Public School District No. 10 in Montana, he brings more than 25 years of experience to his new job, including serving as a teacher, high school assistant principal and principal and middle school assistant principal in Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Orange Grove ISD Superintendent Lynn Burton has announced his upcoming retirement, effective at the end of this school year. He has spent more than 40 years as a Texas educator, working as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. He has led Orange Grove ISD for the past eight years and was ESC Region 2 Superintendent of the Year for 2015. Burton earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Baylor University and his master’s degree in public school administration
Sandra Hayes, an employee
Former Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School Assistant Principal Michael Thomas is now campus principal. He is in his 10th year with the district. Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from The University of Texas at Dallas and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University.
Round Rock ISD The new principal of Deep Wood Elementary School, Reba Mussey, worked as assistant principal of Cactus Ranch Elementary since 2014 and, prior to that, served in the same position at Jollyville Elementary. A graduate of The University of Texas principalship program, she earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary skills from Texas State University.
Taylor ISD After six years leading Taylor ISD as superintendent, Jerry Vaughn has retired. This culminates a 37-year career in Texas public education, which included assignments in Olton, Lamesa, Comanche, Idalou and Floydada ISDs, in addition to Taylor ISD. ◄
Texas Association of School Business Officials
Rockwall ISD’s Randy McDowell pushes for more state support By Autumn Rhea Carpenter
▲ Randy McDowell reviews plans for Rockwall ISD’s newest elementary school, which is under construction.
andy McDowell, the chief financial officer of Rockwall ISD and the 2017 president-elect for the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO), began his 30-year career working for school districts behind the wheel of a school bus. While his office has changed, his outlook on school business has not.
accounting from West Texas State University in 1992 (now West Texas A&M University). While attending college, he drove a school bus and later was promoted to transportation supervisor for Canyon ISD. Upon graduation, McDowell spent the next four years as the school district’s first degreed accountant.
McDowell grew up in the Panhandle, between Amarillo and Canyon, graduated from Canyon High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in
“I had no idea how well it would work out to start driving a school bus at 18 years old and pay into TRS,” says McDowell. “I now am in my > See President Profile, page 20 Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
> Continued from page 19
30th year of working for school districts. School business has been a great career for me, as well as a very rewarding profession.” McDowell later was hired as chief accountant at Region 16 Education Support Center. He then became chief financial officer for Hereford ISD, returning to ESC Region 16 as a school finance specialist. There, he worked with 64 schools across the Texas Panhandle region on finance issues. “While working at Region 16, I enjoyed mentoring superintendents and business managers on school finance; I learned a lot by seeing so many different scenarios that impact the state funding formulas in various ways,” he says. “I also started a school finance consulting business after leaving Region 16 that I still have today. I work with many school districts across the state on Chapter 313 tax abatement agreements.”
‘I feel that Texas kids deserve better than what our state is offering them.’
In 2005, McDowell returned to Canyon ISD as the assistant superintendent of business and operations, where he spent the next 10 years. “I oversaw finance and budget, maintenance, transportation, property services, food service, technology and construction,” says McDowell. “My proudest accomplishment while at Canyon ISD was leaving the district that my entire family and I attended in better shape than I found it. We increased fund balance over $20 million, but, at the same time, improved facilities, built a new administration building, gave competitive pay increases, improved our bus fleet, upgraded technology and significantly increased the number of student devices. We also passed two bond issues
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
to add additional campuses to accommodate the rapidly growing student population. It is truly one of the premier school districts in the state.” In 2015, McDowell’s daughter graduated from Canyon High School and enrolled at Texas A&M University. McDowell accepted a job offer in Rockwall ISD that same year to live closer to her. “We passed a $256 million dollar bond issue a month after I started, and we have been going full throttle ever since,” McDowell says. “I am blessed to have a dream team staff at Rockwall, and I can’t wait to see all the enhancements we will make over the next five years. “We have recently applied for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report awards with both the Government Finance Officers Association and ASBO International,” he continues. “We are currently working hard to improve the district’s budget process and internal control measures.” McDowell says school finance continues to be overly complex and something that very few people understand. “If I could wave a magic wand, I would increase funding to districts and simplify the formulas, while also making it less dependent on property taxes,” he says. “School districts continue to get a bad image from rising property values, when it is ultimately the state budget that gains from the value increases. “The state has not increased district’s funding per student in the last six years; meanwhile, we remain as one of the five lowest-funded states on a per-pupil basis in the U.S.,” McDowell continues. “I feel that Texas kids deserve better than what our state is offering them.” In addition to his role in Rockwall ISD, McDowell has served as a TASBO board member since 2012. He will be installed as the new president at TASBO’s annual conference in Austin in February. “I am honored to serve as the TASBO president and represent our nearly 6,500 members,” he says. “TASBO has been such an important part in my success in the school business, from the high-quality training I’ve received to the networking opportunities and lifelong friends I’ve made. I wouldn’t have the knowledge and be where I am today without
Fun Facts about Robert McDowell –
Best leadership advice I ever received: Surround yourself with great people. I have been extremely fortunate to work with so many dedicated and hard-working people who want to serve people and strive to improve the districts.
Favorite flavor of ice cream: Bluebell Rocky Road.
If I won a million dollars, I would:
Pay off my house and keep working because I’m too tight to just go spend it! I’m thinking some exotic vacations and golf and hunting trips would be very tempting though.
what I’ve learned and the resources I’ve met through my 25 years of involvement with TASBO.” Over the past several years, TASBO has developed or improved many of its initiatives, such as online courses, updated curriculum, corporate sponsorships and learning academies. “We sold the office headquarters to build a modern facility that will better meet the needs of TASBO and our members for the 21st century,” says McDowell. “I am very excited that TASBO will be much more active in this legislative session and will be communicating our legislative agenda with school districts and legislators. “TASBO has previously been silent on legislation but recently amended our by-laws to give us more of a voice in Austin,” he continues. “Since I will be president during the majority of the 85th legislative session, I look forward to working hard for our members and their districts to communicate our agenda and to push for more funding and support from our legislature.” AUTUMN RHEA CARPENTER is a freelance writer in Kingswood.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Thought leaders and innovators in education
Spring ISD Principal Robert Long shines with U-STAR by Shelley Seale
Texas A&M University U-STAR student teacher Emily Jernigan (left), Deloras E. Thompson Elementary School Principal Robert Long and kindergarten student Anaya Biche enjoy reading a book together.
hen it comes to grooming new teachers for success, a quality education is paramount. Yet, all the classroom learning in the world cannot take the place of real-world experience.
That’s why Deloras E. Thompson Elementary Principal Robert Long in Spring ISD decided to take full advantage of Texas A&M University’s Urban Student Teachers Advanced Residency (U-STAR) program. Created in March of last year, the program is a partnership between the district and the college to provide year-long clinical teaching residencies for the university’s education students. Long welcomed his first group of U-STAR residents to Thompson Elementary this past fall. The four college students work alongside teachers to plan and deliver academic content, spending four of the weekdays at Thompson and one weekday at the university to finalize their coursework. The U-STAR residents also participate in new teacher orientation, professional development and the school’s community outreach programs.
With input from Thompson staff and U-STAR residents, Long’s leadership team established a year-round calendar of meetings and planning sessions to ensure consistent, regular communication. Support for the residents is provided by an induction specialist from the university, who conducts weekly check-ins with each resident, and ongoing targeted feedback from Spring ISD workforce development staff. “I also make it a daily effort to connect with each of my U-STAR student teachers, mostly for feedback and suggestions that will help them grow,” Long says. The Thompson-A&M partnership is a two-way street, in that elementary staff travel to College Station twice a year to present to undergraduate and graduate students. “I have built some great relationships with members of the university’s U-STAR team, speaking with them weekly to provide updates, insight and program calibration,” Long says.
> See President Profile, page 22 Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
TEXAS COMPUTER COOPERATIVE is
Business and Student Administrative Software Made in Texas for Texas Schools • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Affordable Care Act TRS TEAMS Human Resources Payroll Finance Warehouse Employee Self Service Position Management Secure Data Center Hosting Attendance Graduation Plan Personal Graduation Plan TSDS PEIMS Reporting OCR Reporting Registration Discipline Health Comprehensive Scheduling Tools Grade Reporting Texas Records Exchange (TREx) Online Student Registration tx Gradebook Teacher Portal tx Connect Parent Portal tx MyZone Student Portal And much more...
Trusted Compliance with State & Federal Mandates
> Continued from page 21
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Any opportunity I have, I love to take off to my family’s property and sit, reflect and participate in a tradition that has been a constant in my family.
As part of a service-learning project organized by the U-STAR residents, the school hosted a Book-It Forward event this past November. The goal was to encourage students to commit to reading at least 30 minutes each night, promote college-readiness and strengthen literacy among Thompson students.
My first music concert was:
Pat Green at Gruene Hall in Gruene.
If I could trade places for a day, I would trade with: one of my Thompson students,
so that I could experience a day of learning at Thompson from the student perspective.
The last time I felt proud was: on Nov. 16, 2016, which was the day my U-STAR student teachers delivered on a promise to provide a free book to each of my 686 prekindergarten through fifth grade students.
At the event, Thompson students rotated among activity stations staffed by U-STAR residents and student-volunteers from Texas A&M’s College of Education. Piles upon piles of donated books ensured that every child received a free book to take home. The “overflow” was used to stock Thompson Elementary’s Little Free Library, which provides the community easy access to books yearround, even during holiday breaks. “Seeing the joy and smiles on the faces of each of my students as they received their books made me feel so proud of all that is being done at Thompson in the service of our students and community,” Long says. When U-STAR residents are ready to apply for full-time employment, they will move to the head of the line for opportunities in
Spring ISD. They also will be supported by Spring ISD administrators and Texas A&M faculty with professional development during their first year of teaching. Says Long: “The end goal for us is to have these student teachers come aboard with Spring ISD to join our workforce and become part of our family as fully certified teachers upon their graduation from Texas A&M.” Shelley Seale is a freelance writer in Austin.
CONGRATULATIONS We salute the 12 Texas school districts featured in the 10th Annual Bragging Rights
BLOOMING GROV E ISD
ROYSE CITY ISD
ALD INE ISD
FORT BEND ISD
Visit us online at texascomputercooperative.net
Something most people don’t know about me is: I am an avid hunter and fisherman.
“Their enthusiasm, dedication and passion for being in the service of our students have revitalized and refocused our learning organization’s vision for serving our community and district,” the principal says.
iTCCS TxEIS tx Suite CareerPortal
Fun facts about Robert Long –
From day one, Thompson teachers and staff have embraced and accepted the residents as members of the “Thompson family,” Long says.
NORTH EAST ISD
WEST OSO ISD
Texas School Business texasschoolbusiness.com
Texas School Public Relations Association
Stepping up and into a president’s shoes by Merri Rosenberg
Communication Director Melissa Tortorici (second from right) serves up Thanksgiving lunch to teachers and parents at a Texas City ISD elementary school.
elissa Tortorici never looked at want ads. So it was clearly “divine intervention,” as she recalls, that “the only want ad I ever looked at was for a school public information officer.”
Good thing for the profession that she did. As the incoming president of the Texas School Public Relations Association, Tortorici, communications director for Texas City ISD, is quick to express her appreciation and loyalty for the organization she joined 18 years ago. “People are so giving, so willing to help,” she says. “The state organization is so amazing. It provides professional development, and people are willing to share their work.”
The incoming president says she wants to bring more legal workshops to members and recruit new members to TSPRA who can bring “a fresh perspective.” She recognizes the demands TSPRA members face as professional communicators in the age of social media. Says Tortorici: “Students have access to cellphones all the time. Even before we can get a message out, parents reach us, saying ‘My kid says… .’ It spreads so quickly.” Monitoring conversations on social media is a never-ending responsibility as well.
When she first started out, Tortorici was especially grateful for the group’s publication exchange, in which communications professionals would share ideas and support one another.
“People go on social media to complain,” says Tortorici. Social media is “always adding something, and rarely takes anything away. There’s always a new format to communicate. Parents are on Facebook. The kids are on Twitter.”
As president, Tortorici says she intends to build on TSPRA’s strengths.
As Tortorici says, “We’re communicating all the time.”
“One of our goals is that our members know they are valued and appreciated as the professionals they are and that our organization is the go-to place,” she says.
> See President Profile, page 24 Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
> Continued from page 23
There’s no question Tortorici’s background prepared her for the fast-moving, multitasking pace of school public relations. Born in Oklahoma, where her father was in the Air Force, Tortorici was raised in La Marque and went on to study journalism at Stephen F. Austin State University. After graduating, she joined on with Santa Fe Newspapers Inc., serving as the city editor for two different papers. “I took photos, did copy editing and layout,” she recalls. “When the sports editor left, I covered that.” After two years of community journalism work, Tortorici moved on to marketing and sales at Moody Gardens, where she spotted that fateful want ad for a position in La Marque ISD. “When I worked at the newspapers, I worked closely with the public information officers for the local school districts,” she recalls. “I thought it was a cool job.” While this mother of two teenagers admits she never thought she’d make a good teacher (“I didn’t think I’d have the patience”), Tortorici liked the idea of promoting the positive things happening in public schools. Landing at her home district, La Marque, offered other bonuses as well.
“My journalism teacher was there, and it was rewarding to do joint projects with my former journalism teacher and her students,” she says, citing a student-run newsletter as an example. Tortorici joined Texas City ISD in 2004, when the Texas Education Agency annexed La Marque. Accustomed to a “one-person show” in La Marque, Tortorici is comfortable with a comparable situation in Texas City, where “I do it all, with one assistant.” Tortorici says she derives great joy from her work. “During the last 18 years, I’ve done photography, writing, invitations, design — there’s variety,” she says. Even with the demands of her career and family, Tortorici is big on volunteer work, whether it’s spending time with her children’s Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts troops, sports teams, church or professional organizations like TSPRA. Tortorici serves on the education committee with the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the National School Public Relations Association. She is also dedicated to her local Rotary Club, where Tortorici has served in several roles, from the vocational awareness awards committee to the spaghetti supper committee. She also teaches Sunday school and kids’ church at First Baptist Church Texas City.
Fun facts about Melissa Tortorici –
One of my new year’s resolution is to:
drink more water. I’m not good about it and need a good plan.
Close friends would describe me as: fun and loyal.
A habit I’d like to break:
I have a bad habit of staying up really late, watching TV. I should turn it off and read more. And not so late.
Tahiti. I’m a beach person, and I’ve always wanted to stay in one of those hotel rooms out in the water.
Her message is always clear and on target: “It’s important to give back. As a president-elect, when I asked people to run [for office], I want them to give back to the organization by being a leader.” MERRI ROSENBERG, a former freelance education columnist and reporter for The New York Times, covers education for national and regional publications.
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◄ Ricardo “Rikki” Umanzor (left) and Ekaterina Farwell attend Fred Moore High School in Denton ISD.
Offering alternatives for high school leads to success for all by Ricardo “Rikki” Umanzor and Ekaterina Farwell
hen I, Ekaterina, first heard of Fred Moore High School (FMHS), I was a young, naive sophomore at a local public high school in Denton ISD. I had begun to notice that a few of my lifetime acquaintances had been disappearing and turning up at this “alternative” school down the road, and the thought made me shudder. After all, alternative school sounded like a punishment — a school with about 50 kids, where people seldom speak to each other, graduation de-
pends directly on how much effort you put into your work, and classes take place in an ancient building with creaky floors. At the time, I was having problems of my own. I had way too many absences to pass the year soundly, and I was having trouble at home. Visions I had for my future began to melt into a thick, muddy puddle. When I spoke to my school counselor about my lack of credits, she suggested that I send in an application to FMHS. She explained to
me that it was a “second chance” school, one where I could acquire credits at my own pace and still graduate early. I found myself confused by the idea that someone like me — so truant and unmerited by my unwise decisions — could be given a second chance. This story is not totally unique. More and more kids around Denton ISD — and the state — are taking advantage of > See STUDENT VOICES, page 26
“Student Voices” is a regularly featured column in Texas School Business. It’s an opportunity for students of all ages from across Texas to share their experiences in K-12 public schools. Contact Editorial Director Dacia Rivers at firstname.lastname@example.org for publishing guidelines. Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
> Continued from page 25
the option of alternative education. There are many pull factors for students like us — Rikki and myself — in choosing this route. For example, instead of settling for a GED, when you graduate from this school, you are offered basically the same diploma as the one you would get at the end of public education. You meet with an advisor every morning before school starts to discuss your future and to finalize your plans to pursue further education. You can also graduate
‘I found myself confused by the idea that someone like me — so truant and unmerited by my unwise decisions — could be given a second chance.’
ahead of schedule for no extra fee or critical sacrifice (besides time and effort, of course). FMHS started from noble beginnings as Fred Douglas School, a tiny high school for the African-American community of Denton, circa 1909. In 1949, the school was rebuilt at its current location and named after Fred Moore, a former teacher and principal who helped many young teenagers thrive in society. Tucked away in an old railroad neighborhood and surrounded by houses that date back only to the extent of one’s imagination, the school (closed due to desegregation in 1968 and reopened in 1992) is no larger than a city fire station. Our high school has paralleled its original goal of providing opportunities for African-American youth of the early 20th century to succeed in education. Today, FMHS is
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
an individualized, non-traditional, alternative public school that serves a wide demographic of students with a variety of reasons for transfer. Some students like me, Rikki, have turned to FMHS as a result of having fallen on hard times, some that are beyond our control. There are many things that could put a high school student at risk of dropping out of a traditional public school, like the loss of a parent/guardian, pregnancy, drug use, rehabilitation, truancy or homelessness. Students with these or similar circumstances typically need a different educational setting — one that provides the flexibility, individuality and understanding that the staff at FMHS can provide. Others, like the two of us, who couldn’t find the right fit in the atmosphere of a traditional public school, took this choice as an opportunity to take ourselves to our absolute limits. At most public high schools, like our former schools, teachers have easily more than 200 students whom they have to keep up with during the school year or semester. With 30 to 40 kids to a classroom, it’s hard to get any individualized help or guidance from them, despite their best efforts. This is not the case at FMHS, where teachers have about 30 total kids to worry about and are only busy answering emails and helping other students occasionally. Even though graduating early is only one feature of this all-encompassing alternative school, it eventually becomes the ultimate goal for many who transfer. The school offers all of its classes (except for parts of some elective classes) online, utilizing web-based software such as Google Classroom, Google Docs, Khan Academy and OdysseyWare. Each program allows students to complete as much work as they want at any given time and to have access to assignments while at home. Students are encouraged to bring their own electronic devices, but many, due to circumstances, check out Chromebooks offered daily by the teachers. Staff members at FMHS encourage students to keep a completion quota of
at least 10 percent of their work per week per class. Teachers here are genuinely invested in the academic success of every student who comes through the door. The attitudes expressed by the staff and the principal make it clear that if you slack off and show minimal effort in your work, you might be in the wrong place. They constantly strive to instill the proper skills and attitudes required for a post-secondary education. The school’s proud motto, “Believe, Achieve, Succeed,” is written everywhere, from decades-old posters to student-made murals that deck the halls. Students help to keep the morale high by offering each other advice and reassurance when needed and by keeping each other focused on our goals. An important discovery that we have made during our tenure at FMHS is that we learn best when we’re teaching ourselves. After all, we each have different learning styles, and our school’s unique learning program helps to guide us down our own paths. Our drive to graduate has also increased greatly since we transferred here. What truly pushed us to strive for academic success was the idea that this was a second chance and we didn’t want to waste it. We look forward to our graduation, and thanks to career counseling and future planning offered by the school, we are both looking forward to pursuing further education. While we may not be what you perceive to be traditional high school students, we are examples of students who are attending your local schools and are creating our own paths to success. Ekaterina Farwell, 16, is a senior at Fred Moore High School in Denton ISD and a first-generation Russian-American. She aspires to be a counseling or clinical psychologist, pursuing a degree in counseling psychology at Texas Woman’s University. Ricardo “Rikki” Umanzor, 18, is a senior at the high school and a first-generation Honduran-American. He aspires to be an astrophysicist or a surgeon and is undecided in his choice of university.
Education service center programs & practices
◄ Math4Texas.org is a resource for parents in ESC Region 11 districts and throughout Texas. The goal of the site is to help parents understand the specific concepts within the revised Math TEKS and to provide tools to allow them to clarify and reinforce those concepts with their children.
New website adds up to success with math support for parents by Verone Travis
hen the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for kindergarten through eighth grade mathematics changed in 2012, school district officials knew they needed to help educators understand and teach the revised concepts and content. It quickly became evident, however, that parents also would need to learn this “new math,” or at least have some easy-to-use tools so they could help their children with homework. ESC Region 11 responded to requests from districts for assistance by developing the ESC Region 11 Math for Tex-
as Initiative. This comprehensive plan consisted of three components: blended-learning for teachers to extend their understanding of the revised TEKS, instructional coaching at the classroom level and a parent-assistance piece that became the Math4Texas website, www. Math4Texas.org.
dicate that it is the only resource of its kind based on the Texas standards with parent-friendly language. Math4Texas. org showcases the Math TEKS by grade level, along with tips, examples, digital tools and videos to help parents understand the math concepts and skills their children are learning.
Math4Texas.org is a resource for parents in ESC Region 11 districts and throughout Texas. The goal of the site is to help parents understand the specific concepts within the revised Math TEKS and to provide tools to allow them to clarify and reinforce those concepts with their children. Results of an online search in-
“We didn’t start out with a website in mind when we thought about how we might provide help to parents,” says Clyde W. Steelman Jr., ESC Region 11 executive director. “Originally, our plan was to design workshops for teachers > See Regional View, page 28 Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
> Continued from page 27
and provide some basic resources that districts could share with parents.” That plan developed into more than workshops and resources after the new standards took effect in the 2014-2015 school year. It became evident that district leaders needed help to get their teachers and parents up to speed. Not only were standards different overall, but learning requirements were changing from grade level to grade level, creating a gap in what students were required to learn and what teachers were equipped to teach. Instructional leaders in Region 11, who meet regularly, also expressed a concern about helping parents understand how differently math would be taught. “The process standards were different from those that parents used in school,” says Laura Carson, instructional services coordinator. “The instructional leaders were concerned about the role of parents — how were they going to be able to effectively help their students if it wasn’t the same kind of math they had learned in school?” The ESC Region 11 Superintendents Advisory Group — which includes superintendent representation from districts of all sizes, as well as from charter schools — shared that concern and challenged the service center to create professional learning and instructional help for teachers and a product or service to help parents. Math leaders in Region 11 provided their feedback through a needs assessment. They were asked to share their concerns about the transition from the previous Math TEKS to the revised TEKS, as well as provide suggestions about the type of support they would find most helpful. “The assessment results indicated that there was a real need for teachers to continue to deepen their understanding for the TEKS, to have training available beyond that provided by the Texas Education Agency,” says Carson. “Kindergarten through eighth grade was the math leaders’ biggest concern, so that became our emphasis.” The ESC Region 11 Math Initiative proposal, which included the plan for a parent-focused website, was unanimously and enthusiastically approved by the ESC Region 11 Board of Directors in March 2015. The board generously funded the initiative for a total of $2 million divided over a two-year implementation period. “Our board immediately recognized the implications and value of providing these
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
services and programs to our districts and knew that the largest benefit would be to the students who are always our primary consideration,” says Steelman. The Math4Texas website was developed by ESC Region 11’s elementary math consultants, Faith Schwope and Wendy Curtner. Alison Lentz was hired to develop the math academies for educators, as well as the Math4Texas website. “Although we are the third-largest service center in Texas, we had only three math consultants on staff at the time,” says Laura Carson, instructional services coordinator. “Our first priority was hiring two additional people to develop the content for the math academies, establish a central location for online learning content and create a math website to explain the new TEKS to parents.” Several part-time educators translated the TEKS into parent-friendly language, with specific examples for each TEKS. The website design and development team included the service center’s education consultants and staff from the digital learning, technology and communications/marketing departments. Throughout the process, several districts reviewed the site to make sure it would meet parents’ needs. The result was a simple website design that allows parents to select their children’s grade levels and the topic of interest. Once those two elements are identified, parents can find tips, examples, digital tools and resources. Additional links on each page provide indepth, research-based explanations of the math concept for parents who wish to learn more. “Math is being taught differently than when parents experienced it as students. There is no other parent resource that is based on Texas standards,” says Lentz. “Although there are web-based math help resources available, the Math4texas.org site is different, and it is a true lifeline for parents. The official marketing program for the website begins this spring, with plans to promote the website to Texas school districts and charter schools. We will be asking districts and schools to put a link to Math4Texas.org on their websites, in school newsletters and in other parent communications. After the site went live in April last year, a soft promotional kickoff included presentations to several school districts and at conferences. We also distributed promotional bookmarks and ran advertisements on the ESC Region 11 website and in ESC TODAY, the region’s newsletter. Our team continues to provide regular updates at superintendent meetings
and at ESC Region 11 Board of Directors meetings. Even without an official promotional campaign, the site has found its way into the hands of many grateful parents. According to Google Analytics, there have been more than 35,000 page views since April 2016. The site has drawn most of its viewing traffic from Fort Worth, Houston and Dallas. Thirty percent of those views are coming from mobile devices. Although the highest number of site visitors are from Texas, Math4Texas.org has been viewed from 46 other states, including Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Several parents have sent thanks to ESC Region 11 for providing a resource that helps their children with homework and real-life experiences: “I wanted to let you know that Math4Texas.
‘The instructional leaders were concerned about the role of parents — how were they going to be able to effectively help their students if it wasn’t the same kind of math they had learned in school?’ — Laura Carson, ESC Region 11
org was very helpful! My son wants to do small jobs around the house to earn an allowance, and I have been working with him about saving, budgeting and basic money management. Your site provided useful information about this.” “The Getting Started section was so helpful when I first visited the site. The graphics in the section are simple, and the sample problems made it easier to understand the concepts and explain them to my child.” Steelman says that Math4Texas.org has “far exceeded” what the superintendents asked for and what the original expectations were for parent assistance. “There may be other parent help sites out there, but Math4Texas.org — with its videos, concept-based curriculum and instruction — is superior, and we are excited to offer it to the parents of Texas,” he says. VERONE TRAVIS is a digital marketing and communications specialist for ESC Region 11.
Calendar Professional development & events
S TA N D O U T F R O M T H E C R OW D ! Get premium placement and get noticed! For a nominal fee, you can showcase your conference, workshop or seminar on the opening page as a Featured Event. Contact Ann Halstead at email@example.com for more details. FEB RUARY February 1-3 TASB Legal Services Boot Camp TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org February 2 HCDE Literacy Collaborative: Crafting Nonfiction – Lessons of Writing Process, Traits and Craft Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 6969-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: In county, $225; out of county, $259. TEPSA Region 11 Winter Meeting Location TBA, Grapevine For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org February 7 Model Drawing for Grades 6-8 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150. Raising the Bar: Literacy Struggles in Science Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $85. TEPSA Region 1 Spring Meeting Location and city TBA For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 880-252-3621. www.tepsa.org February 8 Build Your Own Bookshelf Series: Reading Through the Timeline of New Historical Fiction Trends in Young Adult Literature
Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: In county, $130; out of county, $150. TASB Winter Legal Seminar Holiday Inn South Broadway, Tyler For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: $160. TEPSA Region 16 Winter Meeting Offices of ESC Region 16, Amarillo For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TSPRA San Antonio Regional Meeting Southside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org Using Manipulatives to Teach the TEKS (Grades 3-5) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $125. February 9 Spanish Literacy (pre-K through 2) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: In county, $150; out of county, $173. TASB Winter Legal Seminar ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: $160. Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy (session 1 of 3)
Abilene ISD, Abilene For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org February 10 TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals Offices of ESC Region 8, Pittsburg For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: Members, $95; nonmembers, $115. TSPRA Central Regional Meeting Del Valle ISD, Del Valle (Austin area) For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org TSPRA North Central Regional Meeting Duncanville ISD, Duncanville For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org February 12-14 Professional School Counselor Conference Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 472-3403. www.txca.org TASSP Assistant/Aspiring Principals Workshop Hilton Doubletree, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org February 14 Region 2 Spring Meeting Harrison’s Landing, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals Victoria ISD, Victoria For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: Members, $100; nonmembers, $125. February 15 Lead4ward: Poetry and the Author’s Craft (Grades 6-8) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1310. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $160. Quest for Grants Training Series: It Takes Planning to Save the World! Harris County Dept. of Education,
Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: In county, $150; out of county, $173. TEPSA Region 5 Spring Meeting Catfish Cabin, Lumberton For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA Region 15 Spring Meeting Offices of ESC Region 15, San Angelo For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org February 16 TEPSA Region 13 Spring Meeting Lamar Elementary School, New Braunfels For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org February 19-22 TASA Texas Assessment Conference Hilton Austin Hotel and Convention Center For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: preregistration through Feb. 3: $145; on-site registration: $195. February 20 Digital Leadership and the Power of Personal Learning Networks Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: In county, $125; out of county, $130. TEPSA Region 18 Spring Meeting Location and city TBA For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org February 20-23 TSPRA Annual Conference Convention Center, Galveston For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org Cost: Members, $450; nonmembers, $510.
> See Calendar, page 30 Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
> Continued from page 29 February 21 Restorative Discipline Practice, Sessions 2 and 3 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-2127. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $300.
February 23-24 TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: $155.
Revving Review for STAAR Success: U.S. History (Grade 8) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $165.
February 27 TASBO CSRM Conference: Fundamentals of Risk Management Hilton Downtown, Austin For more info, (512) 476-1711. www.tasbo.org
TASA/TASB Legislative Conference Sheraton at the Capitol, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: No charge for TASA and TASB members.
TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals Eanes ISD, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: Members, $100; nonmembers, $125.
February 22 Rap and Read Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150.
February 27-28 Fast Growth School Coalition Conference Hilton, Austin For more info, (512) 536-1206. www.fastgrowthtexas.org Cost: $150.
TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals Plano ISD, Plano For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: Members, $100; nonmembers, $125. February 22-23 TASA FTSA2: Engaging in Leadership (session 2 of 2) Hilton Doubletree, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $395 for both sessions; nonmembers, $495 for both sessions. February 23 TEPSA Region 6 Spring Meeting Location and city TBA For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA Region 7 Spring Meeting Hideaway Lake, Hideaway For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TEPSA Region 19 Spring Meeting Julio’s Café, El Paso For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
February 27-March 3 TASBO Annual Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org February 28 Science STAAR: Closer Look at Earth and Space (Grade 8) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $60. February 28-March 2 TASA Curriculum Management Audit Training, Level 1 TASA offices, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $750; nonmembers, $850.
M A RC H March 1-2 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 4 of 4) Marriott North, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: $250 for single session (TASA members/nonmembers). March 2-4 TASB Winter Governance and Legal Seminar
Omni Bayfront, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org March 3 TASBO CSRM Conference: Handling School Risks Hilton Downtown, Austin For more info, (512) 476-1711. www.tasbo.org March 8 Digging Deeper: Applying Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to the Science Classroom Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1308. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $75. TSPRA San Antonio Regional Meeting North East ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org Workstation Make and Take: Comparing Numbers for Grades 1-2 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $525. March 9 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy XIX (session 2 of 3) Birdville ISD, Birdville For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org March 21 Not Just Dictionary Skills for Social Studies: Meaningful Vocabulary Work Every Day Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $85. March 22-23 TASA Academy for Transformational Leadership (session 4 of 4) Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, Georgetown For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: School Transformation Network districts: TASA members, $2,395 per person; nonmembers, $2,495 per person. NonSchool Transformation Network districts: TASA members, $2,595 per person; nonmembers, $2,695 per person.
March 26-29 Texas High School Athletic Directors Association Conference Hilton Hotel, Waco For more info, (832) 623-7803. www.thsada.com March 27-29 Texas Retired Teacher Association Annual Convention Hilton, Austin For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org March 28 Great Explorations in Math and Science: Frog Math – Predict, Ponder, Play Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $125. Lead4ward: Review 360 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $160. March 29-30 TASA Spring Leadership Conference Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org March 31 Science Fiction: Teaching Weather with Children’s Literature Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150.
APRI L April 4 TACS East Texas Spring Conference The University of Texas, Ornelas Center, Tyler For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org TRTA District 9 Spring Conference ESC Region 9, Wichita Falls For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org
April 5-8 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Meeting and Exposition Location TBA, San Antonio For more info, (800) 235-7566. www.nctm.org April 7 TASB Special Education Solutions Members’ Conference Marriott North, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TASBO CSRM Conference: Funding School Risks Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Houston For more info, (512) 476-1711. www.tasbo.org TSPRA North Central Regional Meeting Carroll ISD, Southlake For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org April 7-9 TEPSA Courageous Principals Institute Deloitte University Leadership Center, Westlake For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3521. www.tepsa.org Cost: $575. April 9-11 TAGT Leadership Conference Omni Hotel, Houston For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org Cost: Members: by March 21, $215; after March 21, $250. Nonmembers: by March 21, $315; after March 21, $350.
April 18-20 TASA Curriculum Management Audit Training, Level 2 TASA office, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $750; nonmembers, $850. April 19 TASBO Workshop: Managing for Performance Excellence San Angelo ISD, San Angelo For more info, (512) 476-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $170; nonmembers, $220. April 19-20 TASA Academy for Transformational Leadership (session 4 of 4) Klein ISD Multipurpose Center, Klein For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: for individuals from School Transformation districts, $1,995; others, $2,095. April 20 TRTA District 3 Spring Conference First Baptist Church, Bay City For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org April 23-25 TASB Risk Management Fund Members Conference Hyatt Regency, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
April 12 TACS Hardin-Simmons Conference Hardin-Simmons University, Jones School for Business, Abilene For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org
April 24 TRTA District 10 Spring Conference Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, Dallas For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org
TSPRA San Antonio Regional Meeting San Antonio ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 474-7107. www.tspra.org
April 27 TRTA District 15 Spring Conference Church of the Good Shepherd, Brownwood For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org
April 13 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy XX (session 2 of 3) Abilene ISD, Abilene For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org
April 28 TRTA District 1 Spring Conference Galaxy Event Center, Brownsville For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org
MAY May 3 TRTA District 4 Spring Conference Bethany United Methodist Church, Houston For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org May 4 TRTA District 7 Spring Conference Holiday Inn Select, Tyler For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 850-1650. www.trta.org TRTA District 17 Spring Conference ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org May 5 TRTA District 5 Conference First Baptist Church, Nederland For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org TRTA District 18 Spring Conference ESC Region 18, Midland For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org TSPRA North Central Regional Meeting Northwest ISD, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org May 9 TRTA District 12 Spring Conference ESC Region 12, Waco For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org May 10 TRTA District 11 Spring Conference ESC Region 11, White Settlement For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org
May 11 TRTA District 6 Spring Conference ESC Region 6, Huntsville For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 850-1650. www.trta.org TRTA District 13 Spring Conference First Christian Church, San Marcos For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org May 16 TRTA District 14 Spring Conference ESC Region 14, Abilene For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org TRTA District 19 Spring Conference ESC Region 19, El Paso For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org May 18 TRTA District 2 Spring Conference St. John Lutheran Church, Robstown For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org TRTA District 8 Spring Conference First United Methodist Church, Longview For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org May 25 TRTA District 16 Spring Conference ESC Region 16, Amarillo For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org ◄
TSPRA San Antonio Regional Meeting Judson ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
News in fine arts education
▲A T-shirt is a walking billboard for arts education. These studentgenerated designs were featured on a T-shirt to promote Youth Art Month in Round Rock ISD.
Advocacy in the 21st century by Tim Lowke
hat is advocacy and why is it important in the 21st century? Educators ask this question and ponder the sustainability of programs in this fast-moving age. They see that priorities shift in education based on so many factors — chief among them being money, assessments, public perceptions and community desire.
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
What we do know is that, in the 21st century, everything around us is visual. The way something looks has become as important as its functionality, from the clothes we buy to the smartphone apps we use. You have to be visual in the world today. As arts educators, we want to ensure our students aren’t lost in this movement. We must advocate!
Advocacy is public support for a particular cause. In visual arts education, it seems as though we are always working on advocacy. Why is that? The reason, as I see it, is that, as educators, we are working to advance our mission, our programs and our outreach for greater student understanding, learning and passion for our discipline. To support rich programming, our communities and
stakeholders have to support what we do daily. Every art educator, whether in their first or 40th year, should work to advocate for visual arts and subscribe to the mantra of “leaving it better than you found it.”
across the state and nation have been creating signature art shirts that become an everyday voice for programs at all levels. Use student work as the basis for your T-shirt design. Be sure to have a positive, clear message. Want specifics on crafting a YAM shirt program? Read more at http://bit.ly/2fQ1HAV.
As you advocate, keep in mind the three basics of advocacy, shared by the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and the Texas Art Education Association (TAEA):
Exhibition. We already have discussed the merits of a professional exhibition, but scheduling an exhibition during the month of March and making it a community event is an excellent advocacy tool. Be sure to organize an opening or closing reception.
Billboard. If you have the opportunity to access a public service message with a local billboard company, think about investing in a YAM billboard. Showcase your YAM T-shirt design or other student work. Be sure to employ all the same messaging you have used in slogans and on social media. Austin ISD has employed YAM billboards for years and sets a wonderful example for this type of advocacy.
Public officials. Don’t forget to engage your city and county representatives and school board members. Seek proclamations from these governing bodies and speak during their public comment periods. Share the value of arts education, provide targeted exhibitions in their meeting spaces and give them a YAM T-shirt as a year-round reminder that they can be advocates for the arts.
1. Communicate a CLEAR message. Show why what you do in visual arts is important and be sure to include data whenever possible. 2. Be VISIBLE. Make a plan for your advocacy efforts and get outside your classroom and school with your message. Think about opportunities to showcase what happens in your space to the broader community. 3. Activate an advocacy NETWORK. Identify committed people and help them get involved. Make sure the message is communicated clearly and all stakeholders are part of the greater vision and purpose. There are many advocacy strategies, but employing a clear message and making it visible are two major elements where arts educators can begin. Take stock of your efforts and what you already do for students. One strategy many arts educators use is the student exhibition; however, I see many missed opportunities because the work is exhibited and that is it. Activate your next exhibition. Begin with the most professional presentation you can produce. A professional exhibition includes: •
strong student work;
cohesive mounting or matting;
consistent name tags; and
signage that tells the narrative of your work with students. For instance, what were the learning goals for the work? What Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) did you cover?
Social media is an important tool for activating your exhibition and, in turn, activating an advocacy network. Use hashtags to organize comments and posts for your exhibition or program. Be sure to advertise the hashtags on signage. Post your efforts on social media to engage your audience and extend your exhibition reach. (Check out @rrisdart or @ rrisdfinearts on Twitter as examples.) These tactics are only a few ways you can advocate beyond school walls. Another way to advocate and use all three “basics” is through an organized Youth Art
y An advertisement touts the range of
student creativity one can find at a Round Rock ISD Visual Arts Exhibition.
Month (YAM) program. NAEA and TAEA support the YAM effort, but what can you do at the local level? There are numerous ways you can support YAM: •
Big Art Day. Organize a Big Art Day on March 2. Big Art Day is an art happening on a statewide scale to raise awareness of arts education and art as a creative force in our communities. It is an attempt by TAEA to engage all art educators and their students and communities in a single-day art event. Join the movement at www.bigartday.org or check out #bigartday17. Shirts. Create walking billboards by creating a YAM shirt. Many districts
Now more than ever, children need to be strong visual learners to achieve success and access knowledge in the 21st century. As arts educators, it is our job to promote quality visual arts education by advocating it as an integral part of a balanced curriculum. Advocacy is sustainable when it is a regular, planned activity and given the importance it is due. To learn more about advocating for arts education, check out the TAEA advocacy toolbox at www.taea.org and NAEA advocacy materials at www.arteducators. org/advocacy. TIM LOWKE is the assistant director of visual and performing arts in Round Rock ISD and past president and advocacy chair for the Texas Art Education Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
THE BACK PAGE
Making it to the end of the school year by Riney Jordan
ell, the first half of the school year is gone in what seems like a flash. Now, only a few months remain to teach, to inspire and, most importantly, to encourage as much as you can. I believe the most important lesson you can “teach” your students is that they can succeed at anything if they believe in themselves. And that comes about from encouragement. Look at that word for just a moment; right in the middle of it is the word “courage.” That’s there for a reason. It takes courage, on both the part of the giver and the receiver, if things are going to improve. I often cite a Scudder N. Parker quote, which says, “People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be — not what you nag them to be.” Oh, so true! Encouragement can produce simply amazing results in ourselves — and in others. Be liberal with your praise, your compliments and your encouraging words. Help others to see that success doesn’t come overnight, but, with determination and persistence, it will come. I’m reminded of a story I heard years ago about Thomas Alva Edison. One winter evening, his entire business was destroyed by fire. The loss exceeded $2 million. Even more tragically, Edison’s life’s work had gone up in flames. He was 67 years old at the time. Yet, Edison had been shown throughout his life that encouragement can make a difference. So, as it was reported, when he arrived at the factory the next morning to view the building’s charred remains, he stood amid the rubble and said: “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”
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And, here it is: a new semester to “start anew.” So, what if there were disappointments the first half of the school year? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and be optimistic. I don’t need to tell today’s educators that kids need encouragement more than ever, but so do we! The adults around you can be discouraged too. Make it a point to lift their spirits, compliment their efforts and help them anyway you can.
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If you want this school year to be a resounding success — and I know you do — look differently at those around you. Search for those students who are loners, who rarely smile, who appear angry most of the time. These are the ones who need encouragement. One sincere, kind word can be the catalyst that turns a child around. Be that encourager he or she so desperately needs.
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Remember: Kids don’t need a pal. They need a role model who will encourage, support and believe in them and show them that success can come to all of us with a renewed effort.
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And, by the way, here’s the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would always say. Three weeks after that devastating fire, Edison proudly introduced the first phonograph to the world. He started over and refused to let disappointments, negativity and discouragement get in his way. Here was a man who understood the meaning of encouragement, and his persistence and tenacity demonstrated that quality to others throughout his life. If you want to finish this school year knowing that you made a positive difference, begin today to instill determination in others through encouragement.
For specs and rates, contact email@example.com or by calling (800) 725-8272 RINEY JORDAN is the author of two books and a frequent public speaker. To invite him to speak at your convocation, graduation or awards banquet, visit www.rineyjordan.com.
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Texas School Business JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
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