TSB—July/August 2018

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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas

Texas School Business



Super strong

A check-in with some of the Texas school districts hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, one year later

Also in this issue: Texas ASCD President Abigayle Barton TCEA President Roland Rios

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Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

18 26


Texas ASCD President Profile Dr. Abigayle Barton shares her passion for lifelong learning

TCEA President Profile Roland Rios brings “geeky” tech love to his role as TCEA president by James Golsan

Cover Story Super strong A check-in with some of the Texas school districts hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, one year later by Dacia Rivers

by James Golsan

Departments 7 Who’s News 34 Calendar 39 The Arts 42 Ad Index


5 From the Editor by Dacia Rivers 13 The Law Dawg— Unleashed by Jim Walsh 15 Digital Frontier by Frankie Jackson 17 Game On! by Bobby Hawthorne

Photo Features

12 Annual TACS Presidents Luncheon honors longtime and retiring members

33 Student Voices by Rachel Widder 42 The Back Page by Riney Jordan

31 TAGT members meet for leadership conference in Plano

Cover photo: Sheldon ISD Superintendent King Davis poses in the restored King High School gymnasium. The wood floors had to be replaced following Hurricane Harvey due to severe water damage. 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


nce classes wound up for the summer, I headed east to visit three districts that had been hit by Hurricane Harvey nearly a year ago. I listened to their incredible experiences and was shocked by their tales of destruction, but even even more so, I was heartened by their stories of recovery, of community, of perseverance. It’s my pleasure to share those stories with you here, beginning on page 18. I hope their experiences will be as inspiring to you as they were to me. In this issue, we also have columns that came from two other storm-affected districts. First up is “Student Voices” on page 33, where a 2018 Galveston ISD graduate shares her experience as a student teacher. And on page 39, “The Arts” comes from Humble ISD and focuses on a program where high school students work to build tiny homes for veterans in need. If you have a student or an educator who’d be interested in penning either of these columns for us in the future, have them drop me a note at drivers@texasschoolbusiness.com. I am always eager to share your stories and theirs on these pages. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy your summer days to the fullest. Thank you, as always, for reading.

Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) JULY / AUGUST 2018 Volume LXV, Issue 4 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Dacia Rivers DESIGN

Phaedra Strecher

Dacia Rivers Editorial Director


Bobby Hawthorne Riney Jordan Frankie Jackson Jim Walsh ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER

Ann M. Halstead


Kevin Brown



Amy Francisco

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 2018 Texas Association of School Administrators

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Who’s News Abilene ISD Jon Kraemer has been promoted from assistant band director to band director. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from East Texas Baptist University, a master’s degree in music and a doctorate in fine arts from Texas Tech University. He previously was band director in Pampa ISD and at Lubbock ISD’s Roosevelt High School.

After serving Madison Middle School as a teacher, coach, athletic coordinator and assistant principal, Joshua Newton will now lead the campus as principal. A graduate of Abilene ISD’s Cooper High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from HardinSimmons University and a master’s degree in education from Sul Ross State University.

Aldine ISD The district’s new superintendent, LaTonya Goffney, comes to Aldine from Lufkin ISD, where she served in the top position for the past five years. Prior to that, she was superintendent of ColdspringOakhurst ISD. She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Sam Houston State University.

Allen ISD Former Assistant Director of Special Revenue for ESC Region 10 Amber Lasseigne has been appointed Allen ISD’s executive director of finance. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio State University and worked as a project development specialist for Fort Worth ISD and as a project coordinator for the Ohio Department of Education.

Angleton ISD Jason Brittain has taken on the job of athletic director and head football coach, stepping up from his most recent role as assistant athletic director and defensive coordinator. He has been with the district for eight years.

The Angleton ISD board of trustees announces the appointment of

Philip Edwards as superintendent. An educator for 29 years and an administrator for 19, he led Kemp ISD for the past three years. In addition, he worked in Mesquite, Edgewood and Aldine ISDs. He is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Anna ISD Former Sherman High School Associate Principal Shelley Anderson has been named principal of Anna ISD. Now in her 25th year as an educator, she has also worked as a middle school English and Spanish teacher and elementary and secondary school counselor.

Austin ISD Kelly Friede has accepted the role of

principal of Summit Elementary School. She comes to her new job from Round Rock ISD, where she was assistant principal of Canyon Creek Elementary. An educator for 11 years, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and a master’s degree in education administration from Concordia University.

Melinda Gardner, Lost Pines Elementary School principal, has been selected to participate in the 2018 Raise Your Hand Texas leadership program. One of 100 public school leaders from across Texas, she will begin the year-long program this summer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Principals’ Center. Andy Sexton has accepted the

role of director of athletics and administrative services, coming to his new job from Tomball ISD, where he was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Tomball Memorial High School. The 26-year educator graduated from the University of Houston, where he played football, remaining there to work as a coaching assistant and to earn his master’s degree.

Bay City ISD A new principal is in place for Bay City Junior High. Dollie Coleman has held the position on an interim basis since January. An educator for 30 years, she was most recently El Campo High School’s dean of instruction and served on the board of trustees of that district.

A new police chief is in place for the district.

Big Spring ISD

Norwalk, Conn., where he was deputy police chief.

Former Assistant Superintendent Jay McWilliams has been tapped to serve as superintendent. An educator for 35 years, he previously worked in McCamey ISD.

Ashley Gonzalez comes to Austin from

New Operations Officer Matias Segura comes to Austin ISD from the private sector, where he spent the past 12 years with engineering firms URS and AECOM. An alumnus of AISD’s Bowie High School and a graduate of Texas Tech University with a degree in civil engineering, he received his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas.

Bastrop ISD The Bastrop ISD board of trustees has announced the hiring of Barry Edwards as superintendent. Edwards, who served in an interim capacity since January, has spent the past 10 years of his 29-year career in the district, working as deputy and assistant superintendent. He was also an administrator in El Paso’s Socorro and Ysleta ISDs. He received his bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree in school leadership from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Bridgeport ISD Bridgeport ISD trustees have promoted Mallory Marr from assistant principal to principal of Bridgeport Intermediate School. She has been with the district since 2013, also working as an English teacher, coach and ESL campus coordinator.

Bryan ISD Kevin Beesaw, who was

director of financial services, has been promoted to assistant superintendent of business services. He was employed in the private sector since the 1980s, joining Bryan ISD in 2012. Beesaw, a CPA, earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and business from Macalester College in Minnesota. > See Who’s News, page 9 Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


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Who’s News > Continued from page 7

Now serving as executive director of school leadership is Brian Merrell, who was principal of Waller High School in Waller ISD for the past nine years. An educator for 20 years, he also worked as a teacher and administrator in CypressFairbanks ISD. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University.

Shashawn Campbell, former principal of Thompson Elementary, has been named the district’s coordinator of assessment for learning.

Rosemeade Elementary will greet Laura Gutierrez as principal when the 2018-19 school year begins. Most recently assistant principal of Sheffield Elementary, she served in that position at Stark Elementary as well. Now leading McWhorter Elementary School as principal is Eddie Reed, who was the school’s assistant principal. After beginning her career in Houston ISD, she was an assistant principal and instructional specialist in Lewisville ISD. Luz Soto-Dimas is the new principal of

Bullard ISD The Bullard Early Childhood Center will have a new principal when the 2018-19 academic year begins. Amanda Goode, an educator for 17 years, will move into the post from serving as assistant principal of Bullard Intermediate School. She has also worked as a teacher at the elementary and secondary levels and as an assistant curriculum director and testing coordinator.

Caddo Mills ISD New Superintendent Luke Allison comes to Caddo Mills from Normangee ISD, which he led for the past four years.

Carroll ISD The new athletic director and head football coach at Southlake High School is Riley Dodge. He is a graduate of Southlake, where he was quarterback for three championship teams, going on to study and play football at the University of North Texas and McNeese State University. The district has announced

Robyn McCoart as head coach

of girls’ varsity basketball. A Carroll graduate and former member of the Lady Dragons basketball team, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University. She previously coached at Colleyville Heritage High School in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Robert Atchison has transferred from serving as principal of Central Elementary to the top job at Thompson Elementary.

Central Elementary, having been promoted from assistant principal of Davis Elementary. Prior to joining Carrollton-Farmers Branch, she was a bilingual reading tutor and substitute teacher in Lewisville ISD.

College Station ISD Pebble Creek Elementary School’s new principal, Blaire Grande, spent the past two years as assistant principal of Spring Creek Elementary. She came to College Station ISD from the Broward County (Fl.) Public Schools in 2012, to teach special education at South Knoll Elementary.

Conroe ISD Now serving as assistant superintendent of secondary education is Gregg Colschen, who comes to his new position after 16 years of service as principal of The Woodlands High School. Brian Lee, former associate

principal of The Woodlands College Park High School, has accepted the position of principal of York Junior High School. He has been with the district since 2009, working also as a social studies teacher, coach, assessment coordinator and assistant principal. The Conroe ISD board of trustees has appointed former Deputy Superintendent Curtis Null as superintendent. He has spent the past 16 of his 18 years as an educator with the district, working as an athletic trainer, assistant principal and principal of Peet Junior High and Conroe High. John Williams is the new principal of Hauke Academic High School. He was assistant principal of Conroe High School 9th Grade Campus since 2016.

Coppell ISD Coppell ISD’s new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Angie Applegate, has been with the district for 17 years, the past seven as principal of Town Center Elementary School. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University. Town Center Elementary School will begin the new academic year with Jennifer Martin as principal. An educator for 18 years, she has spent the past 12 with Coppell ISD as a teacher and, most recently, assistant principal of Austin Elementary. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hardin-Simmons University. Diana Sircar has been

approved as the district’s executive director of finance. She has 13 years of professional business experience, the past four with Coppell ISD. A graduate of Rutgers University, she holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas.

Copperas Cove ISD A new athletic director and head football coach has been named for the district. Jack Alvarez, a graduate of Henderson State University, worked as a graduate assistant at McNeese State University and Northwestern State University and was Ennis ISD’s head football coach for the past seven seasons.

Crosbyton CISD


Hector Dominguez is now principal of Crosbyton CISD’s secondary school. The former Gonzales ISD administrator is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a master’s degree from Walden

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Meredith Akers, assistant principal of Ault Elementary School since 2011, has been named principal of Rennell Elementary School. She has been an educator for 12 years, all of them with CypressFairbanks ISD. She received her bachelor’s degree from Houston Baptist University > See Who’s News, page 11 Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


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Who’s News > Continued from page 9

and her master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University. Postma Elementary School will begin the new academic year with Terry Bell at the helm as principal. She comes to her new position from Hairgrove Elementary, where she was assistant principal. An educator for 23 years, she received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree in education leadership administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. Former Cypress Ridge High School Associate Principal Richard Dixon now leads Goodson Middle School as principal. He has spent his 19-year career in the district, beginning as a teacher at Dean Middle School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a master’s degree in education from the University of Houston. Rusty Rohan, former co-

defensive coordinator at Cypress Springs High School, is now campus athletic coordinator and head football coach. He has 16 years of experience in coaching, the past six at Cypress Springs. Rohan holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M University.

Decatur ISD Former Sherman High School (Sherman ISD) Principal Chris Mogan has been named principal of Decatur High School. Prior to his time in Sherman, Mogan was principal of Frisco ISD’s Wakeland High School and worked in Little Elm and Plano ISDs. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, he holds a master’s degree in education administration from the University of North Texas.

Denton ISD Buddy Dunworth , former Davis School

principal, is now principal of McMath Middle School. He began his career in Massachusetts before joining Denton ISD as a chemistry teacher and swim coach in 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Westfield

State University, a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of North Texas. James Whitfield, the new principal of Myers

Middle School, is a former leadership development strategist for the Flippen Group, where he provided training and staff development for Texas central service and campus staff. In Birdville ISD, he was principal of Richland Middle School and assistant principal of North Ridge Middle School. Whitfield earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwestern Adventist University and is at work on his doctorate in educational leadership from Dallas Baptist University.

Duncanville ISD The district announces the appointment of Dana Harper as director of counseling services. She was previously a counselor at the elementary and secondary levels and an early childhood specialist. Her bachelor’s degree was awarded from East Texas Baptist University and her master’s degree in educational guidance and counseling from Angelo State University. Duncanville High School Collegiate Academy’s new principal, Pamela Thomas, was previously dean of instruction for Cedar Hill Collegiate High School in Cedar Hill ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.

Eanes ISD (Austin) West Ridge Middle School’s new principal, Dianne Carter, spent six years as an assistant principal in the district before joining Austin ISD as a teacher and coach at Akins High School. She was most recently that district’s magnet director at Kealing Middle School. Susan Fambrough has

accepted the position of principal of Cedar Creek Elementary School. Her most recent position was with Quanah ISD, where she worked as the testing, textbook and student success coordinator. Fambrough earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine and her master’s degree in education from Baylor University.

Georgetown ISD Forbes Middle School will begin the 201819 academic year with Justin Del Bosque as principal. He was the campus assistant principal since 2016 as well as testing coordinator and administrator for English language learners and for science and math learning. He received his bachelor’s degree from Tarleton State University and his master’s degree from Texas State University.

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD A new director of advanced academics has been named for the district. Julie Martin Leslie, an educator for 20 years, she was previously with Plano and Frisco ISDs and most recently worked in the private sector as an academic coach and consultant. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University and holds a master’s degree in secondary and higher education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. She is at work on her doctorate in educational leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

Hardin ISD Gerald Nixon is the district’s new

superintendent. He was most recently executive director of human resources for Sweeny ISD, where he also served as interim superintendent. He attended Lamar University and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University.

Hardin-Jefferson ISD Dwayne DuBois, former athletic director for

Bridge City High School in Bridge City ISD, has accepted the position of athletic director and head football coach for Hardin-Jefferson ISD. He previously coached in HardinJefferson and Vidor ISDs.

Hays CISD Hays CISD has hired three deputy chief academic officers to fill these newly created positions. Jennifer Garcia was most

recently principal of Baty Elementary School in Del Valle ISD, where she also worked as an assistant principal after serving as a teacher in Austin ISD. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in elementary education and doctorate in > See Who’s News, page 30 Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


Photo Feature

ANNUAL TACS PRESIDENTS LUNCHEON HONORS LONGTIME AND RETIRING MEMBERS The Texas Association of Community Schools hosted its annual President’s Program and luncheon at a steakhouse in Austin this May.

▲ TACS President Bill Alcorn poses with TACS’ retiring deputy executive director, Linda Valk.

▲ TACS Executive Director Barry Haenisch presents a plaque to President Bill Alcorn.

▲ Barry Haenisch honors Danny Twardowski of Waller ISD with a plaque.

▲ Bill Alcorn presents an honorary lifetime TACS membership to Ronnie Kincaid, executive director of ESC Region 14.

▲ Barry Haenisch offers a plaque to Steve Long, superintendent of Reagan County ISD.

▲ Bill Alcorn offers an honorary lifetime membership to retiring TACS staff member Angela Petreczko.

▲ Barry Haenisch hands an honorary lifetime TACS membership to Monty Hysinger, superintendent of Dumas ISD. 12

Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

◄ Dacia Rivers, editorial director of Texas School Business, presents a framed article to TACS President Bill Alcorn.



TCC KNOWS TEXAS Over 875 Local Education Agencies rely on TCC products and services

Are you ready for more student walkouts? by Jim Walsh


hen the students from Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, held a rally after the horrific shooting incident, a number of the kids displayed excellent English language arts skills. Their speeches were well-written and well delivered. But the one student who stood out for me was Emma Gonzalez. She called on her fellow students to raise their voices, to take action, to get involved. And she cited Tinker v. Des Moines! This aging school lawyer’s heart soared like an eagle.

Let me offer five neutral standards you might want to require before any “walkout” gets administrative approval.

That call for action resonated across the country as kids organized and executed walkouts and rallies, culminating in the big rally on March 24. For the most part, all this went off without a hitch. But I wonder how things will go next school year.

Second, there should be a critical mass of students to justify a school-approved protest. It’s not workable to allow any small group of students (three? five?) to declare a cause and demand your approval of their walkout.

My impression is that school administrators want to encourage students to take an active part in the social/political issues that affect them. When students express well-informed opinions on hot button issues such as gun control, they are displaying the higher order thinking skills schools seek to nurture. But expressing an opinion is one thing — walking out of school is another. You can’t let this get out of control. Nor can you endorse one point of view and suppress an opposing view. You can’t approve a student walkout for the causes you support and disapprove the ones you oppose. If you permit students to “walk out” for 17 minutes in honor of the slain students in Florida, or in support of more restrictions on access to firearms, you can expect other students who support other causes to make a request for “equal time.” How to respond? It’s not workable to allow kids in any number at any time to declare a “cause” and demand time to “walk out” without consequence. So what to do?

First, it should be planned well in advance. If students decide at 10 a.m. to walk out at 11 a.m., you have no time to plan for the interruption of the school day. Consider adopting a requirement that any student walkout be planned well enough in advance to ensure that school activities are disrupted to a minimal extent. You can’t be having a walkout while STAAR testing is going on.

Third, consider requiring parental consent, especially for students younger than high school age. Fourth, there should be a faculty member willing to sponsor the event. Fifth, there should be a time limit. There’s good precedent for this, since the walkouts inspired by the Florida shooting were for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students who were killed. All of this goes to “time, place and manner.” You cannot make your decisions about student expression based on the content of the expression. That would be viewpoint discrimination. But you can impose neutral restrictions regarding “time, place and manner,” that are designed to ensure that a student protest can take place without undue interruption of school activities. Before school starts, you might want to think about adopting criteria along these lines.

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Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


Chief technology officers as strategic leaders and enablers of education: What are we doing to increase professional development and continuously improve?

by Frankie Jackson


started my professional career as a software engineer back in the 80s, supporting NASA’s space shuttle transportation program. Because the industry was predominantly male, there was a strong push to move women with technical skills into leadership positions. I was at the right place at the right time. Within 10 years I moved up to a program manager of the safety, reliability and quality assurance contract. It sounds glamorous, but I was married with three young daughters and caught between balancing career and family. That’s when I decided to start a new career in public education as a director of technology. I remember thinking, I’ll step down, take an easy job at a school district, be off during

“As technology continues to evolve, the pace is faster than ever before. It will require a greater focus on professional development and a team of experienced mentors working to help one another if we are to survive and continuously improve.”

the holidays, get the kids through elementary school and then get back in the game of leading complex technology programs. Now, after 25 years serving as a chief technology officer (CTO) in public education, I can say this job is more complex than I ever imagined. It’s easier to transport and sustain astronauts in space than it is to transport and sustain the technology networks and systems needed to educate students. The role of the CTO is more demanding and more strategic than ever. Technology is a key enabler for delivering education. I remember walking into the administration building one morning and I thought, there must be a fire drill. Everyone was walking out. I said, “Where is everyone going?” One of the administrators said, “The network is down. We’ll return when it comes back up.” “Really?” I thought to myself. “How did we get this job done 20 years ago?” Now every process requires technology. Administrators can’t get their jobs done without the network. This generation of students can’t imagine learning without technology. It’s an integral part of their lifestyle. Teachers can’t envision teaching without technology either. It’s a critical component of the learning process. Testing is online. Instructional materials including textbooks are web-based. Business systems are in the cloud. The cost of devices such as tablets, laptops, smartphones and wearable technologies are affordable both for school and home use. Students and teachers bring two and three devices to school expecting to be ubiquitously and wirelessly connected at all times. Cybersecurity concerns are at an all-time high. While budgets for education continue to shrink, the demand for more technology continues to grow exponentially. > See Digital Frontier, page 32 Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


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Leadership that knows what it’s doing


by Bobby Hawthorne

wo years ago, Lucy Gentile joined Kristen Scott’s team with a realistic idea of what she wanted to accomplish. It didn’t come naturally at first, but she worked and worked and achieved a modicum of success, and that success motivated her to work some more, thus confirming the platitudes regarding perseverance, diligence and accountability. Lucy exhibited these traits, and her teammates couldn’t help but be inspired. After all, such commitment is the lifeblood of leadership. Lucy led, not by decree, but by example. She studied those who came before her and chiseled their holes to fit her pegs. She streamlined and fine-tuned and dared her teammates to imagine being the best. Ever. It took great sacrifice, but Lucy embodied the “There’s no ‘I’ in team” cliché. She surrendered all her other extracurricular interests, even competitive dancing. She devoted countless hours helping others to finesse this or muscle that. When a kid left halfway through the semester, Lucy picked up the slack. When an assignment was late, Lucy reeled it in. When a new girl joined the team mid-term, Lucy brought her up to speed. Lucy kept the machine humming, not because she saw herself as a leader — but because that’s what leaders do, and the good ones don’t expect to be recognized for it. They just do it. Well, last April, Lucy Gentile was recognized for it. She named by the UIL as the best in the entire state of Texas at her position. “It is rare to find a student with such a singular focus,” Scott said. “I can’t wait to see what she does next.” Others saw it too. They mentioned her fierce determination, her tireless efforts and her calm and clear demeanor in the face of fluky computer and teen meltdowns. “She was always working and reminding others to stay on task,” a friend said. “Instead of sugar-coating things, Lucy did exactly what needed to be done.”

To paraphrase her principal, Lucy illustrated how a committed student can lead a professional-grade team. Scott said she’s confident the skills Lucy learned this past year will serve her well as she embarks on her next great adventure: the ninth grade. That’s right. Lucy was an eighth-grader last year, and Scott is not a basketball or track or softball coach. She’s Austin Kealing Middle School’s yearbook adviser, and she nominated Lucy for the UIL journalism department’s Editor of the Year award. Last April, when UIL journalism director Jeanne Acton called Lucy’s name, the 600 or so students and teachers sitting in the LBJ Auditorium on the UT-Austin campus gasped. No way. A middle school kid? Beating newspaper and yearbook editors from 4A, 5A and 6A schools? Unbelievable. Well, believe it, said Principal Kenisha Coburn. “Lucy is a testament,” she said, “to the incredible potential that lies within students and what can be accomplished when they are given the opportunity to take ownership.” After reading her that quote, I asked Lucy if she thought of herself as a leader. “No,” she replied. “I tried to keep people on track, and I tried to help them improve. I tried to improve myself, too, because people gravitate toward leadership that seems to know what it’s doing.” No wonder Scott told me, wistfully, “I wish I could keep her forever.” I told her it was OK to cry. Kids like Lucy are the reason people like us teach. It remains to be seen whether Lucy will win any individual medals, but I guarantee the yearbook will clean house. In fact, I bet the 2018 Vespa will be remembered just as Lucy imagined it could be and worked so hard for it to be — the school’s best ever.

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 JULY / AUGUST 2018


Super strong

A check-in with some of the Texas school districts hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, one year later by Dacia Rivers


n Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey came ashore on Texas’ Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm, bringing with it catastrophic wind and rain that caused massive destruction along the coast and into the Houston area. People across the country gathered in front of their televisions to watch the videos and photos of the devastation, praying for the local residents and feeling powerless to help. Among them were many administrators of affected Texas school districts — forced out of their homes by the storm, and into hotels, or relatives’ houses, to sit and wait. To hope that their students, staff and their families were safe. To pray that their schools would stand strong. To wait through long, wet days and sleepless nights just to see what the damage looked like. These are some of their stories — tales of destruction, struggle and obstacles, yes, but also tales of perseverance and revival, of community and strength.

Port Aransas ISD Superintendent: Sharon McKinney Estimated damage: At least $12 million Nearly one year after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas’ Gulf Coast, Sharon McKinney, superintendent of Port Aransas ISD (PAISD), still hasn’t been able to move back into her home. It’s the last thing she mentions, offhand after discussing Harvey’s destruction to her district, showing where her priorities lie. It’s also indicative of how a lot of folks in the small coastal community, best known as a vacation destination for scores of Texans, are still faring, nearly a year after the storm. But for McKinney, the urgency was in getting her schools reopened and her students back in their classrooms, and when the first bell rings this August, that’s exactly where they’ll be. When you live in a coastal town, you get used to tropical storms and Category 1 hurricanes. You take precautions, of course, but you stock up, stay put and wait the thing out. On Wednesday, Aug. 23, two days before Harvey landed, it was still classified as a tropical storm. School officials in Port Aransas weren’t overly concerned. However, by 10 the next morning, predictions had changed. Harvey was expected to hit Port Aransas directly, as a very strong storm, possibly reaching Category 4 or even 5. Local authorities called for a mandatory evacuation, asking residents to be clear of the area by 9 that night. When McKinney heard of the mandatory evacuation during an emergency weather briefing Wednesday morning, all three Port Aransas schools were in session, with students on each campus. She turned to social media and district communications to get the word out to parents: Come get your kids, if you can. The district also ran kids home on buses, and by noon, the campuses were empty of students. With this most important priority, getting the kids home safe, finished, McKinney turned to preparing the schools as much as she could. The district normally has a 72-hour plan for storm preparation, and she now had an 11hour window to get the schools ready. “We didn’t really get to follow our plan because the timeline was so incredibly short,” McKinney says. “I told my staff, ‘You do the bare minimum to get ready here at school, and then you get out of here and go take care of your family and your home.’ It was quick and crazy that day.”

▲ The facade of Port Aransas High School suffered major brick loss during Hurricane Harvey.

Maintenance workers were the last folks to leave, driving kids home on buses, then returning to board up all of the windows in the district. McKinney says she was amazed with the dedication maintenance staff displayed. Thanks to their work, the windows would wind up being one of the few materials left mostly undamaged after the storm had passed. Watershed McKinney returned to Port Aransas on Monday, just three days after the storm hit. She sums up the destruction she witnessed in the district with one word: shocking. “When you find parts of your roof across the street … the wind damage was evident,” she says. Though the windows had held, every roof in the district with the exception of the one on the new high school gym had been damaged. Combine that with the storm surge, which brought up to 4 feet of water into the district’s buildings, and it was obvious that the school had sustained massive damage.

▲ Port Aransas ISD Superintendent Sha-

ron McKinney poses with the repaired high school brick.

Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


“It was enough to ruin every square foot of flooring in the district,” McKinney says. “And every ceiling tile. A lot of sheetrock. We had wind and water damage in every single building, there were no usable buildings, and we had nowhere else to go.” With no space to house students, PAISD closed for seven weeks. During that time, most of the displaced students attended classes in Flour Bluff ISD, a district about 20 minutes down the road that had sustained less damage. “They were fantastic,” McKinney says of the staff in Flour Bluff. “They welcomed all of our students in with open arms.” A bunch of staff members from PAISD traveled to Flour Bluff to check in on their students during this time, greeting them in the mornings, having lunch with them and even teaching some classes to help out. It’s a testament to the dedication and care the district has for its community, especially when you consider that 80 percent of staff members in the district were left homeless after the storm. Back in PAISD, recovery started right away, despite a lack of communication capabilities — cellphone, landline phone and internet services were down throughout the stormravaged town. McKinney and others would travel to Corpus Christi at night, after working in the schools all day, to check email and make phone calls, filling everyone in on the damage and repairs. When previous, smaller storms had hit the district, the administration worked with Gerloff, a restoration company, to do damage repair, and they reached out to them again after Harvey. When a storm hits, expediency can be the key to minimizing damage from standing water, and so just one day after McKinney had returned to the district, employees from Gerloff arrived and went straight to work. “They showed up in huge trucks with a huge amount of manpower and they worked their tails off getting these buildings clean,” McKinney says. “It’s their expertise, they knew what to do, and I’m very thankful. They did a wonderful job.” Recovery On Oct. 16, PAISD reopened to students and staff, while still under massive construction. Every single class was housed in a portable building, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Only one cafeteria, the one at the elementary campus, was usable, so students shared, making do with what they had available to them. “All this major construction was going on,


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▲ High winds from Hurricane Harvey

▲ Storm surge filled most of Port Aransas

and we had fences everywhere,” McKinney says. “It was like a maze around here for all the kids.”

In January, elementary and high school students were able to get back into their schools, with most of the construction completed. Middle schoolers finished out the year in portables, but by August, all students will be back in their regular classrooms. It’s an impressive accomplishment, repairing three campuses within a year of a Category 4 storm, but for McKinney, it’s been a long process, especially when it comes to funding.

caused major damage in Port Aransas ISD.

The middle school gym, which had been renovated and completed just two days before Harvey hit, was destroyed in the storm. The track and field facility was also damaged, along with the tennis courts and softball fields. This is where the local community pitched in, opening their facilities to help PAISD students resume some semblance of normal life. Administrators in Flour Bluff ISD scheduled their gym use so that the basketball teams from Port Aransas could use it for practices. Locally, donors erected a temporary basketball court at the Port Aransas Civic Center for the teams to use as well. “This town has always been extremely supportive of our schools,” McKinney says. “I think we realized once again that public schools are the heart and soul, the foundation of small communities across the state and across the country.” PAISD wasn’t the only business to reopen on Oct. 16. The town’s Whataburger also opened its doors for the first time post-Harvey on that day — two flagship enterprises in any small Texas town. To Port Aransans, McKinney said it felt like hope, a visible sign that the community was on the road to recovery. “Our cross country teams are very successful, and on that first morning back, they did their early morning runs and people were honking and waving, stopping and cheering them,” McKinney says.

ISD's buildings with water.

The insurance company has been helpful, writing the district a large check after the storm to get construction started. But McKinney says working with FEMA has been a more drawn-out process than she could have imagined. “We are still waiting on FEMA,” McKinney says. “They don’t do anything for you, it’s all reimbursement. You have to go out on a limb and hope you’ve dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s, pay for it yourself and hope they reimburse you.” McKinney says she and her staff have spent nine months working for hours every week to file more than 23 “project worksheets” to get reimbursement from the government. So far, they have been reimbursed for only two of those projects. This has put a the district in a financial strain, one that worries McKinney especially when she considers the impact of being a Chapter 41 school district after a major storm hits. An estimated 95 percent of structures in Port Aransas suffered significant damage from Harvey, but the district’s current recapture payment amount

is based on pre-storm property values, even though actual tax collections for the district will be much lower, due to the damage. “I think there should be some kind of allowance break when a district suffers catastrophic damage to not have to send so much money to the state to be redistributed,” McKinney says. “I hope lawmakers take a close look at this in the next session, because it’s not just us. There are districts in this situation all over the state.” Resiliency After the storm, third graders in PAISD put together a memory book of sorts, full of their drawings and stories about how Harvey affected them. Flipping through

it is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, seeing the details of the destruction, combined with the sheer resiliency that only found in school-aged children. “I was really scared before Hurricane Harvey. I didn’t want anything bad to happen,” reads one. “When we got back to Port A, our house had too much damage, so we couldn’t live in it,” another. But many of them end with the students’ elation upon returning to their school: “I can’t believe I am back. I’m glad to be back.” “When I went in I was shocked because everything was in the portables: my textbooks, journals, chairs, tables and school supplies. I knew everything was going to be OK.”

Everything is going to be OK in Port Aransas. Though McKinney and her staff have seen and experienced firsthand the devastation that has also affected their students, it’s brought an already tight community even closer, and given them empathy for people in similar situations, in and beyond their own neighborhoods. “As educators, when we rally around kids or even staff members who are in crisis, that’s what we’re good at,” McKinney says. “We were all kind of in the same boat. It’s hard, living out of a suitcase, or not knowing where your things are. I think we all had a little more empathy for each other in the midst of all this.”

▲ Flood waters from Hurricane Harvey destroyed numerous gym floors in Sheldon ISD.

Sheldon ISD Superintendent: King Davis Estimated total damage: $25 million An old adage tells us to “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” But what if the worst lies beyond your imagination? When Hurricane Harvey came ashore on the Texas coast, it slowed down a bit, and then headed for Houston, creeping along at a snail’s

pace and dumping continuous rain on the region. The flooding was catastrophic and unprecedented. “Based on the projections, we did not realize the level of disaster that it was,” says King Davis, superintendent of Sheldon ISD, which lies on the northeast side of Houston. “We were not prepared, because we didn’t realize it was going to be that level of devastation.”

That level of devastation was some 50 to 60 inches of rain, which lead to immense flooding, rendering four campuses of the district’s 10 unreachable and unusable, with standing water up to 15 inches in classrooms, hallways and even the high school’s football stadium. The high school’s auditorium was under water that crested the stage and the bulk of the seats. A lone bass swam in the aisles, a confused victim of Harvey’s massive rainfall. In the high school and middle school gymnasiums, Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


flood waters caused the wood floors to buckle and roll like the rails on a roller coaster. Once the substantial level of damage was obvious, Davis’ first response to the crisis was to respond to the community’s most basic needs. Sheldon ISD is located in unincorporated Harris County, and with no mayor or municipal support, the superintendent becomes a community leader by default. Davis had only served as superintendent in the district for a year and a half when Harvey hit, but he stepped right into the leadership role, setting up a distribution center to help people get the supplies they needed. Using the district’s unharmed transportation facilities, Davis and his staff collected donated items and handed them out to the local community, providing such basic needs as water and food. Once that effort was underway, the focus changed to what could be done to get the schools up and running again, and fast. Helping hands As luck would have it, Sheldon ISD was in the middle of a large bond project when Harvey hit, with engineers on the campus working to construct a new high school building. For Davis, having these experts on hand helped him navigate the recovery waters and get the process started quickly and correctly. “We were very fortunate to have these gentlemen on board, really,” Davis says of Van Franks and Dowen Sims of Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, Inc., the engineering and program management group that was working on the bond program. “We had architects and other folks in their industry who were able to come in and help us assess the damage pretty quickly. That was a blessing.” The crews were able to get into the damaged campuses (C.E. King High School, two middle schools and an elementary school) quickly to begin clean-out, from ripping out water-soaked furniture and fixtures to trying to extract as much moisture from inside as possible. “When you get infected by storm water, it’s either going to get better, or it’s going to get worse, because you have a perfect storm for mold introduction into a building” says Sims. The combination of natural materials, such as books and wooden doors and furniture, combined with the heat from the sun and extreme moisture can cause mold to grow rapidly, and crews knew they had to act fast to get the water out.


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▲ The auditorium at King High School in Sheldon ISD was filled with water during Hurricane Harvey. Crews worked to remove all moisture from the building.

Because so much of the Houston area was in the same boat, getting contractors to Sheldon’s schools quickly was a challenge. School staff along with community volunteers stepped in to get their hands dirty and mediate the damage as much as possible. Davis says students and former students showed up to help. Local restaurants showed up to donate meals to the volunteers, a perfect circle of neighborly support. Even some of the people who had received donations and aid from the school’s distribution center came back to repay the favor. “Some of the volunteers we saw later, those we the people that we had helped out,” says Franks. “We had kids coming up to the schools saying, ‘How can I help?’” Creative thinking Sims remembers meeting Davis and Principal Demetrius McCall at King High School for an initial walkthrough to determine what needed to be done to get school back in session.

“We met within two or three days after the storm, and I saw the looks on their faces as educators, they were thinking how they could get their babies back in,” he says. Davis gave the team the go-ahead to do what needed to be done in regards to removal and restoration while he focused on the task of how to reopen his schools as quickly as possible. The other option was to displace Sheldon students to other districts, a move Davis hoped he wouldn’t have to make, as he was worried about what doing so would mean for the district in the longterm. Would the students ever come back? It wasn’t a chance he wanted to take. “We left no stone unturned, we were thinking of everything,” Davis says. “There was a lot of pressure.” In the end, Sheldon ISD was closed for around three and a half weeks before welcoming back all of its students. The reopening took some creative reshuffling. King High School is home to the majority of the district’s students, about 1,500 of a total 9,000 kids. With the high school completely

use of one of their fields to the team while construction was ongoing. The takeaway Administrators in Sheldon learned by fire as they dealt with Harvey’s devastation, and they came away with some crucial lessons that could better prepare the district if, heaven forbid, another natural disaster were to hit. Right after the storm hit, plenty of flyby-night business popped up, looking to make a quick buck off of repairs. They were unscrupulous groups, charlatans preying on those in need, and having trustworthy experts on hand potentially saved the district time, money and headaches. “It was almost like vultures,” Davis says. “It became a money-making project for many companies and people.” While the district’s insurance company has covered most of the damages, Davis stays he is still trying to recover some losses via reimbursement from FEMA. It’s an arduous process, one for which he again was lucky to have experts on hand to document the removal and repair process — a crucial step in applying for the government assistance.

▲ Flood waters caused the wooden gym floors in Sheldon ISD to buckle. They have since been replaced, one plank at a time.

unusable, Davis moved its students into two unharmed elementary campuses that stood next door to each other. Each campus held about 700 students, and the remaining who could not fit went to San Jacinto Community College, whose administration stepped in to help. Davis made room for these high schoolers by redistributing the elementary students to other campuses in the district, and some attended classes at a local church that opened its doors to the district. That just left the middle schoolers to figure. With one of the middle schools unoccupiable and the other partially useable, Davis decided to split the students into two shifts: morning and afternoon. The students all shared the same campus, some attending before noon and some after, a unique solution to a singular problem. The changes weren’t easy, to be sure, but they were necessary. And luckily, they were temporary. When school resumed in January after winter break, the campuses were mostly

ready to welcome their students back. The gyms, stadium and auditorium were still under construction, but recovery crews had worked on getting the most important parts of the buildings — the classrooms — back in business. They may not have been pretty; many had concrete floors and water-stained walls, but they were safe, mold-free and usable. Week by week, the students returned to their campuses, with the high schoolers going first, making way for the elementary students to reclaim their classrooms. Then the middle schoolers went back to their original campuses and full-day schedules. It was a fast and forward-thinking plan that worked, and one that ensured Sheldon’s students got to stay in the district. By the time school resumes in August, all of the campuses will be back and open, including the gyms with gleaming new floors, the auditorium with all new seating and audio visual equipment, and the football stadium at King High School, which boasts an AstroTurf field donated by the Houston Texans, who had also donated

“Most of us had not had this experience,” Davis says. “You’re so quick to get the wet damage out, you don’t think to take pictures of it, to take inventory of it. It can be frustrating because we’re in the process of recovery; we’re not thinking about proof.” The team who helped rebuild the schools took the possibility of future storms into consideration, too, taking steps that could protect the campuses and their property if flooding occurs again. “Instead of going back with fixed furniture, we’re going with mobile, portable future that can be elevated to the second floor or pushed up stairs as opposed to just sitting there,” Sims says. “A hurricane doesn’t sneak up on you, so those kinds of preemptive actions can save the district a lot of time and money getting back up.” In the district, Davis says they are also training staff to be better prepared for potential disasters in the future. “Many of us are in a huge learning curve as to how you go about procuring services,” Davis says. “We’re training someone within operations in the district to better understand how to respond to these types of things.” Davis says that he’s realized that response goes beyond just repairing a school’s structure, but also nurturing the spirit and the emotions of its staff and students. Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


“It’s all the stuff you can’t see, the emotions, the psyche,” Davis says. “When kids came back here, even when it would rain again, they would have this anxiety and fear. I think we forget about that, because the flood waters have receded, but we’re still dealing with things. It’s going to take some time to heal.” In May, as he gave his address to the graduating seniors from King High School, Davis reminded them that to him, they will always be the Sheldon Strong Class of 2018. It was a challenging year, but they persevered, and then some. “This has been a life-changing event,” Davis says. “It’s a game changer, but it made us stronger as a community and as an organization.”

Ingleside ISD Superintendent: Troy Mircovich Estimated damage: More than $10 million In 1969, a gentleman named Gilbert Mircovich took the superintendent’s post in Ingleside ISD, a small coastal school district located north of Corpus Christi. Months later, the area was hit by Hurricane Celia, then the most damaging storm Texas had ever seen. It was undoubtedly a huge event for the brand-new superintendent, and when his son, Troy Mircovich, moved into the post in 2005, he almost followed directly in his father’s footsteps. Within weeks of him taking the position in 2005, Hurricane Rita was barreling down on Ingleside and expected to cause major damage. But at the last minute the storm took a turn, and the younger Mircovich, and all of Ingleside, got lucky. Of course nobody’s luck holds out forever, and Mother Nature is nothing if not indiscriminate. Mircovich was still at the helm in Ingleside ISD on Aug. 25, 2017, when Hurricane Harvey became the worst hurricane to hit the area since Celia. “As it rolled in, and it became a Category 3, that’s when I had to make a decision of whether I was going to stay in town,” Mircovich says. “I usually plan on riding them out, because I want to be here if things happen.” Mircovich decided to evacuate, to ensure he could keep his family safe. They left town Friday morning, bound for College Station. Initially, Mircovich regretted his decision to leave Ingleside, his sense of responsibility


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▲ Wind damage was evident in Ingleside ISD following Hurricane Harvey. for his district’s six campuses causing him constant concern. “I was kicking myself because I felt like I needed to be there; I needed to know what was going on,” Mircovich says. “Even though I couldn’t have done anything.” In the end, Mircovich was glad that he left town, because the distance allowed him to maintain access to communication, including television, phone service and the internet. He stayed glued to the news and social media for updates out of Ingleside, reached his recovery team on the phone and had them all on standby, and as soon as flood waters on his route home allowed, made his way back to his hometown. “As the pictures were rolling in, I just thought, I have got to get there, I have got to get back,” Mircovich says. “But as soon as I got there, I lost everything. No communication, no cellphone service.” When he got back to Ingleside, Mircovich had to drive 20 minutes out of town to get a cellphone signal, and as soon as he did, his phone would start buzzing, as the calls and messages came pouring in: “How damaged are your schools?” “What are you going to do?” And the big one: “When can you get your schools open again?”

An ounce of prevention When Mircovich made it back to Ingleside, he noticed that every tree in the town was missing its leaves. Even worse, the larger oaks had been completely uprooted by storm winds, 100-year-old trees torn from the grown and left to die. When he began to survey the damage the hurricane had done to the schools in his district, his first thought was where to even begin repairs. All of the six campuses in Ingleside ISD had suffered in Harvey’s record-breaking winds and rainfall. All three gyms in the district were a loss, two at the high school, and one at the junior high. Two schools were damaged by wind-driven rain in such a way that old asbestos tiles were destroyed, meaning remediation to safely remove the materials would be necessary. One campus lost its roof, and thus suffered major water damage. At the elementary school, 20,000 square feet of flooring was destroyed. At the high school’s football stadium, both field goals and all of the light poles were either ripped from the ground or rendered useless. “We were torn up,” Mircovich says. “And we weren’t even the worst of it.” The saving grace in Ingleside is that a new high school, which was then under

construction, and the district’s brand-new sports complex emerged from the storm largely unscathed. But Mircovich was still facing more than $10 million in damages, thanks to the one-two punch of violent winds and merciless rain. Although this was the largest hurricane Ingleside had seen up close since 1970, it wasn’t exactly Mircovich’s first ball game. After Rita skirted his district in 2005, he began taking storm preparedness seriously. Through the district’s insurance company, The Reliance Group, Mircovich had been holding yearly storm preparedness meetings during the summer. At these meetings, experts from the insurance company would offer lessons they’d learned from dealing with storm damage in other areas, and as a result, administrators in Ingleside considered their storm preparedness annually, something Mircovich feels helped his schools fare better in the storm than they would have otherwise. This partnership also helped Mircovich get boots on the ground and restoration started quickly. Harvey hit Friday night; by Sunday, recovery teams were already at the district, working on getting the flood waters out of the buildings and tearing out waterlogged fixtures, furniture and supplies. Mircovich’s goal was to get students back in school as soon as possible. The school board held an emergency meeting in one of the district’s parking lots, voting to approve time and money, and they were off and running. It was a quick move that paid off. Ingleside ISD was the first seriously damaged school district in Texas to reopen after Harvey hit.

In total, the schools were closed for just 17 days. The comeback At one point, 100 restoration professionals were working in Ingleside’s schools alongside students making their way to class. The teams worked overnight and on weekends to make spaces available for the district’s students, plus many from neighboring districts who needed a place to learn while their own schools were being recovered. Remediation was important, due to the presence of asbestos as well as mold, and luckily when the governor declared the area a disaster zone, it allowed crews to get to the schools faster, and get testing samples from the schools processed in a day. Teams worked to shuffle the classrooms as they passed testing. In one weekend, Mircovich and his team relocated an entire campus into a new building, then back again one week later when they were cleared to do so. While these round-the-clock repairs were going on, the local community started pouring in the support. The district received so many donations from the community that Mircovich appointed a staff member to take charge of donations, finding needy families in the community who needed the donated goods and gift cards, and encouraging people to donate to the district’s foundation instead, because Harvey was nothing if not expensive. Ingleside ISD had a deductible of $1.3 million. Their insurance policy would replace all damaged items fully, which was a huge help to the recovery effort, along with the district’s healthy fund balance. Still, $1.3 million is no small amount for a smaller district to foot, and Mircovich had hoped FEMA could help meet the difference. However, the first time Mircovich sat down with FEMA, they told him he’d have to stop his rapid reconstruction if he wanted to apply for federal funds. Because repairs were moving so fast in Ingleside, the agency wanted them to pause so they could send out their own inspectors and adjusters. They also wanted Mircovich to focus on the mountainous piles of FEMA paperwork.

Getting the schools open and students back in the classrooms was their first priority, and they weren’t keen on letting any red tape slow them down. Ingleside is a Chapter 41 school district, and during the recovery, Mircovich learned that after Hurricane Ike, other such schools were able to use part of their recapture money to cover their deductibles, due to a special provision set by the governor. He looked into whether this provision might apply for Harvey-damaged schools and was told that it would be available again — to districts that had filed with FEMA. The new normal Mircovich still isn’t giving up. He was selected to serve on a Texas Department of Emergency Management committee, and the post allowed him to have a meeting with the head of FEMA for Texas, who said that Ingleside received misinformation regarding its initial ability to file with FEMA. It’s not surprising that confusion might have ensued in the days following a catastrophic weather event, but the fallout from bad information can be damaging in its own right. “I’m still not done,” Mircovich says. “I’m in the process of working with FEMA; we still feel there is an opportunity that they could help us with our deductible, because we have done everything right.” It’s been a tough year in Ingleside ISD, but when school starts in August, all of the district properties will be repaired, remediated and ready for students. With the challenges that hit the district during the last year, Mircovich credits his staff and his students for being resilient in the face of catastrophe. One-third of the district’s teachers were displaced by the storm, along with some 400 students of the district’s total of nearly 2,300. “We’ve survived,” Mircovich says. “We call it the new normal. We had a hurricane that none of these kids had ever experienced, at a Category 4, which many people never experience in their lives. We have had a snowstorm. We’re just waiting for locusts.”◄

“We were being punished for having our ducks in a row,” Mircovich says. “We prepared, we had the right insurance, we did everything to put us in the best situation if this were to ever happen, and yet we’re being punished.”

▲ Ingleside ISD Superintendent Troy

Mircovich has worked to restore his district in the year since Harvey hit.

Mircovich met with his school board, and they decided to keep on keeping on, and chance losing out on any FEMA money. Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018



Texas Association for Curriculum and Development

Dr. Abigayle Barton shares her passion for lifelong learning by James Golsan


or most educators, the job is more than a job: It’s a calling. For some, that call comes later in life, following years of success in another field. Others hear it during their own education, perhaps inspired by an excellent teacher or professor of their own. And some educators, maybe the rarest group of all, are simply born to do it. Dr. Abigayle Barton, the new president of the Texas Association for Curriculum and Development (Texas ASCD), is among the latter.

Texas roots beckoned her home. Barton’s next stop was Corpus Christi ISD, where she taught in both general education and special education classrooms.

The first in her immediate family to attend college, Barton credits her early passion for education to her hardworking parents, along with her aunts and uncles (educators themselves), and a tolerant younger sister during her childhood days in South Texas.

It was during her time in Corpus Christi that Barton began expanding her professional horizons. Describing herself as someone who’s always sought leadership opportunities, Barton accepted a grant-funded position in the district to provide mathematics professional development to teachers in the area. Shortly thereafter, she accepted a principal position in Sinton ISD, where she oversaw the district alternative education (DAEP) program, in addition to serving as the district’s curriculum coordinator.

“Being teachers, my aunts and uncles had old lesson plans lying around the house, so whenever we’d visit them, I’d use those plans to pretend to ‘teach’ my younger sister in our little classroom of one,” she recalls fondly.

“My job at Sinton ISD broadened my view of how a district functions,” Barton says. “It showed me the importance of asking ‘How is this good for students?’ when a new district or state driven initiative is put into place.”

It’s a passion from which she’s never wavered. Upon graduating from high school in the Corpus Christi area, Barton attended Texas Tech University, where she received a degree in mathematics. Her career in education began at Slaton ISD, but it wasn’t long before her South

Remarkably, Barton found time to wear a “student” hat herself during her time in Sinton, in addition to the assorted roles she played for the district. She completed a Master of Arts from Texas Tech University while there, and followed that with the completion of her doctorate


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from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Barton credits an educational law class she took at the master’s level with further broadening her perspective on Texas public education. “Everyone’s heart is in the right place,” she says, regarding the state’s education stakeholders, “But that class gave me a sense of how the education community and the Texas Legislature could work better together to improve public education in Texas.” Barton currently serves as associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Abilene ISD, and has a chance to put her broad perspective on Texas education to work in a statewide leadership role since her year-long presidency of Texas ASCD began in June. Barton will have the opportunity to impact professional learning for educators across Texas with the muscle of a global organization at her back; the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development boasts 170,000 members worldwide, with Texas ASCD being one of the organization’s largest affiliates. When asked about her personal goals for Texas ASCD during her tenure as president, Barton stresses the

importance of continuing the good work and professional development services the organization has been providing educators for decades. “We’ve built a strong team over the last few years with an emphasis on putting students first,” she says. “We’ve expanded professional learning opportunities for Texas educators and provide them with top-notch information they can use to grow and expand their skill sets as classroom teachers and district leaders.” Barton will also have a chance to use her “global” knowledge of the Texas public education world when the 86th Texas Legislature kicks off in January 2019. Texas ASCD plays an important role in communicating member priorities to lawmakers, and Barton’s passion for her work and diverse experience as an educator and education leader promise to serve her well as a mediary between educators and lawmakers. Reflecting on her new position, Barton describes herself as very excited to see what the next year will bring, but says she’s humbled by the opportunity as well, especially given

that her presidency coincides with a seminal year in the organization’s history. 2018 marks ASCD’s 70th anniversary, which means Texas ASCD’s annual fall conference will have an especially festive air this October, with national ASCD board members on the guest list. Entitled “Legacy of Leadership,” Barton says the conference will be a celebration of ASCD’s legacy of developing leaders in education, whether that’s curriculum leadership, district leadership or classroom leadership. For someone who believes that, “As a teacher, I should be a learner,” the next year promises to be an education for Barton, as she balances her responsibilities as president of Texas ASCD with her full-time job at Abilene ISD. But that her new role humbles her doesn’t mean it intimidates her. Barton’s passion for Texas ASCD — and Texas public education as whole — is as apparent as it is vibrant. It’s no understatement to say she was born for this. JAMES GOLSAN is a writer and education professional based in Austin.

Reimagining school design When we invest in our future, we move forward together. We design innovative, forward-thinking educational facilities that support our greatest asset: the next generation of students who will reimagine what’s possible. stantec.com/education Featured project: Shadow Creek High School, Alvin Independent School District

Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018



Texas Computer Education Association

Roland Rios brings “geeky” tech love to his role as TCEA president by James Golsan


assion for education is a defining character trait for many who enter the profession, especially so among those at the top of their chosen field. For Dr. Roland Rios, the new president of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA), his passion and belief in the mission of his organization are just as apparent as his love of teaching and learning technologies.

transition into the education field wasn’t born of a long-held desire to teach: He simply wanted a more stable profession.

“It’s the best organization in the state for advancing technology in the classroom,” he says, adding that if you’re an educator who works with learning technologies and you’re not currently a member of TCEA, “Become one! It’s an incredible network of passionate and dedicated educators who just love kids.”

“I absolutely fell in love with [teaching],” he says, and considers himself lucky to have found a career he loves so much.

Those sound like the words of a man born to be a leader in education, yet Rios’ career started off headed in a different direction. Following completion of a radio-television-film degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Rios went to work for SeaWorld, and his initial


Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

“I got into it for the hours, believe it or not,” Rios says, noting that he had recently married and was looking to start a family. Once in the classroom (Rios began his teaching career as a math teacher in the greater San Antonio area), he realized he’d found his calling.

Following four years in the classroom, Rios became an assistant principal and then joined Fort Sam Houston ISD as a middle and high school principal. He held the position for seven years, but notes he harbored a “nerdy, geeky love of technology” the entire time. When an opportunity to move into the district’s technology director role presented itself, Rios eagerly made the transition. While he might have found his passion for teaching later in life, his interest in tech-

nology goes back as far as he can remember. “Anything with a battery or a plug, I wanna try it,” he says, noting that before he pursued an RTF degree at UT, he majored in computer science. It was during his early years as Fort Sam Houston’s technology director (a position he’s held for the last 10 years) that Rios first became involved with TCEA. Rios says he likes to dive into things “head first,” and began volunteering for roles with the organization. He also picked up committee positions within TCEA as they became available. The more he worked with TCEA, the more Rios realized he wanted a leadership role within the organization. Leadership at TCEA is composed of an executive committee and a board of area directors representing each of Texas’ 20 education service centers, and Rios joined the latter as Area 20 director in 2010. He held the position continuously until he was chosen to serve as president of the Executive Committee earlier this year. When asked about his goals for TCEA during his time as president, Rios quickly stresses an emphasis on continuing the great work the organization is already doing for students and teachers alike, highlighting the

assorted conferences, contests, academies, webinars and professional development opportunities TCEA puts on. “If it’s ed tech, TCEA can deliver engaging staff development on it,” Rios says, and is quick to re-emphasize the benefits of being a TCEA member of education technology professionals, with professional support and networking being high on that list. “We connect people,” Rios says, noting that if a teacher is struggling with a technology issue in their classroom, chances are another TCEA member has run into the same problem before and can help. With that in mind, Rios also lists expanding TCEA’s membership among his top priorities. “I want to create ‘Wow!’ moments for members,” Rios says, the kind of moments that will impress current and prospective members alike, making both appreciate that TCEA is an “unbelievable organization.” Rios’ presidency will also coincide with 86th Texas Legislature, and while TCEA will have a presence in Austin come January when the Legislature convenes to, among its many tasks, rework the state’s long-term education technology strategy, Rios says he feels that on the whole Texas is doing “really well” when

it comes to bringing tech into the classroom. While acknowledging that funding is always a concern in the public education tech arena, as well as broadband access (especially for rural school districts), he also touts the successes many districts are having with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) learning tech initiatives, and says many internet service providers are stepping up to help Texas school districts out with broadband access. “It’s an exciting time to be a teacher,” Rios says, and wants to see the day that technology in the classroom is so widespread that its presence in schools is something people don’t even think about. “We don’t have ‘pencil’ initiatives; we just use them,” he jokes, and hopes someday people will see classroom technology the same way. Rios may not have started his career in education, but his passion for as much, especially learning technologies and TCEA, is infectious. Both of Rios’ children, now grown, work in the education field. Given their father’s love for what he does, it’s not hard to understand why. JAMES GOLSAN is a writer and education professional based in Austin.

-a legacy of leadership-

Douglas Fisher

Nancy Frey

George Couros

Deb Delisle

Horseshoe Bay Resort October 21-23 www.txascd.org Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


Who’s News > Continued from page 11

school improvement from Texas State University. Sami Kinsey comes to the district from Nacogdoches, where she served as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction since 2017. Prior to that, she was an administrator in Bastrop and Del Valle ISDs. She attended Texas Tech University before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in education administration from Texas State University. Michael O’Guin was principal of Nacogdoches High School since 2016. Additionally, he was an assistant principal in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and taught in Fort Bend, Galveston and Van Vleck ISDs. His bachelor’s degree was awarded from Sam Houston State University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration from Texas Southern University.

Highland Park ISD (Dallas) The new principal of Highland Park Middle School, Jeremy Gilbert, is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in education administration from the University of North Texas. He began his career in 1998 in Richardson ISD and worked as an assistant principal and principal there, joining Highland Park ISD in 2008 as principal of Hyer Elementary. Laurie Hitzelberger will bring her 23-year

career in education to a close when she retires at the end of this school year. She has been principal of McCulloch Middle School since 2003 and of Highland Park Middle School since 2005.

Now serving as principal of McCulloch Intermediate School is Skip Moran, former principal of Armstrong Elementary. He began his career in the district in 1996 as a history teacher at Highland Park High, going on to serve as assistant principal of McCulloch and of Highland Park Middle School. He holds a master’s degree in political theory from the University of Essex, a master of divinity from Yale University, and a doctorate in educational administration from Columbia University.


Houston ISD Former Assistant Superintendent of the District’s Office of School Choice Noelia Longoria has been named interim chief academic officer. In her 25-year career, she has also been a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal, dean and school support officer. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and her master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria.

Irving ISD Irving High School’s new athletic coordinator and head football coach, Eric De Los Santos, has 16 years of teaching and coaching in North Texas schools. He has spent the past four years in Coppell ISD and, prior to that, served in Plano, Liberty and Lewisville ISDs. Hal Wasson is now Irving

ISD’s executive director of athletics. He spent the past 11 years as head football coach at Southlake Carroll High School in Carroll ISD, taking home a state championship in 2011 and a total of nine district championships. The Abilene Christian University graduate was named National Coach of the Year for 2011 by USA Today.

Katy ISD Gwen Coffey, who was

principal of Rylander Elementary School, has been named director of compliance for special education. She began her career in 1997 as a teacher in Corpus Christi ISD, joining Katy ISD two years later. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and two master’s degrees, in elementary curriculum and instruction and in counseling. She is at work on her doctorate in educational leadership at Texas Tech University.

Kenedy ISD The district’s new superintendent, Diana Barrera, was previously executive director of elementary curriculum in Somerset ISD. A campus administrator for 13 years, she has served in district administrative positions for the past six years. She is nearing completion of her doctorate in school improvement from Texas State University.

Killeen ISD David Manley, an educator for 31 years,

has been named Killeen ISD’s assistant

Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

superintendent of instructional leadership services. He has been the district’s executive director of secondary leadership since 2015 and prior to that was principal of Ellison High School and executive director of athletics.

La Vernia ISD The new director of safety and security is Josh Gutierrez, the district’s former hearing and truancy officer. He has been a licensed police officer for 17 years and also served as a criminal justice instructor and an assistant principal. Chris Taber is now the district’s athletic


Lamar CISD George Ranch High School has a new athletics coordinator and head football coach. Nicholas Cavallo worked at Terry High School since 2013 as a teacher and coach and, prior to that, coached football at Perdue, Rutgers and Campbell universities. He is a graduate of Perdue University and is at work on his master’s degree from Lamar University. Filling the district’s new position of deputy superintendent of support services is Leslie Haack, who opened George Ranch High School as principal in 2009. Prior to joining Lamar CISD, she was with Sealy ISD as principal of Sealy High School and with Katy ISD as a teacher, administrator and coach. She is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University. Anitra Wilson, the newly appointed principal

of Williams Elementary School, was most recently assistant principal of Ray Elementary and prior to that was employed in Fort Bend and Houston ISDs as a teacher, teacher development specialist and team leader. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Downtown with a master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria.

Leander ISD Four Points Middle School now has LaToya Easter as principal. She began her career in 2006 as a teacher in Alvin ISD, going on to work as a head coach and assistant principal there. She was most recently an associate principal in Round Rock ISD.

Lewisville ISD Will Skelton has been named

principal of Marcus High School. He comes to his new job from Flower Mound High School, where he was the school’s 9th grade campus > See Who’s News, page 36

Photo Feature

TAGT MEMBERS MEET FOR LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE IN PLANO ThIn April, the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented hosted its annual Leadership Conference, where approximately 300 attendees gathered for two days focused on best practices and promising programs for administrators, coordinators and specialists.

▲ Christina Flores of Belton ISD takes a coloring and reflection break during lunch.

▲ Colin Seale, thinkLaw, and Christina Dearman, Denton ISD, celebrate during the Toast to TAGT.

▲ Brenda Porsch of Dimmitt ISD visits with Kelly Threadgill, owner of MathStackers.

▲ Karen Green enjoys a moment with two of her colleagues, Jessica Fair and H. Trey Wright from McKinney ISD.

▲ Linda Autrey, Nacogdoches ISD, learns more about the Emerging Leaders Program during an afternoon meet-up. ▲ The 2018 Leadership Conference honored many of TAGT’s past presidents, including (top) Susan Johnsen, Michelle Swain, Ann Wink, (bottom) Krystal Goree, Mary Christopher, Marilyn Swanson and Cecelia Boswell. ▲ Theresa Biggs, Plano ISD, and Luke Hurst, Wylie ISD, catch up in the exhibits area.

▲ Michelle Swain, Round Rock ISD; Susan Johnsen, Baylor University; and Joel McIntosh, Prufrock Press; reflect on TAGT’s history during the 40th anniversary Toast to TAGT. ► The graduating members of the TAGT

Emerging Leaders Program 2017-18 Class were honored during the opening session.

▲ Leadership Conference attendees take notes during one of the many advancedlevel breakout sessions. Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


> Continued from page 15

What does this mean for education? Technology leadership is a strategic position. We are enablers of education. With higher expectations, regardless of the amount of experience, education technology leaders need superior skills. We must collaborate and continuously improve if we plan to be successful. We need well-defined strategies to deliver education better, faster and cheaper. That’s why the Texas K-12 CTO Council, a state chapter of the Consortium for School Networking [CoSN], is rolling out a new education technology leader mentorship program in 2018-19. As a premier organization for CTOs in Texas schools, the purpose of the organization is to assist Texas’ K-12 school districts in understanding how to plan for the use and successful implementation of information technology in Texas schools and advocate for districts’ technology needs to improve student learning. The Council’s mentorship framework is based on CoSN’s Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) program, which is composed of three primary categories that sum up the work we do in the education technology field. These categories encompass 10 specific skill areas that hone in on the responsibilities and knowledge needed to be a successful education technology leader. CTOs are innovation officers and security leaders. We are at the core of all major decisions because school districts are

powered by technology and the “internet of things.” Our roles will continue to grow and change. We must elevate our thinking by adding value through knowledge intel-

ligence with high-capacity and high-resiliency services. As technology continues to evolve, the pace is faster than ever before. It will require a greater focus on professional development and a team of experienced mentors working to help one another if we are to survive and continuously improve. The council’s mentoring program was introduced at the summer conference in Austin. For more information on the Texas K-12 CTO Council or to become a member, visit www.texask12ctocouncil.org. FRANKIE JACKSON is the chief technology officer of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, serving on the board for the Texas K-12 CTO Council as the chair of the Leadership Advisory Committee and past chair, as well as the past president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials.


Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


The BESTT part of Galveston Ball High School “Bridging the Educational Scene for Teachers of Tomorrow” by Rachel Widder


hen reflecting on my senior year as a BESTT student, I discovered that it means so much more than what the acronym reads: Bridging the Educational Scene for Teachers of Tomorrow. This life-changing program brings together seniors from all four Ball High School Communities. Each of the communities offered at BHS is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed for their career choice. No matter what career you have in mind, BESTT will bring out the teacher in you. After impacting young minds and touching the hearts of students, you might even decide you would like to become a teacher. The hands-on experiences and relationships built through BESTT are only a few of the things that make it an outstanding program. BESTT is the perfect way to prepare and allow high school students to preview the day-to-day life of a teacher. Though only a few students are selected, each and every one of us brings something different and special to the program. I have met so many unique people because of BESTT, whether it is our incredible teacher, my classmates, my campus teacher or my campus kids.

I first noticed how structured the class was, and then noticed something I had never heard of called a “Brain Break.” The teacher, Ms. Dupla, explained to me that if the students stayed focused and well behaved, she would play a video and let them sing or dance. Each student lit up with excitement as the video played. I knew at that moment that I was in the right place and couldn’t wait to help as many students as possible.

year that will always be with me: Teaching is a lot like the story of the young man on the beach who throws starfish into the water to save them from dying. When the young man is asked, “Do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!” He replies, smiling, by picking up another one and throwing it, adding, “It made a difference for that one.”

As the year went on, I was able to help the kids with their spelling words, nouns, poems, and even got to create a lesson plan on plant parts. To help the students connect with my lesson, I selected books from the library, planted flowers and created foldable activities. As the year came to a close, several of my students told me how much they loved having me in their class and that each time they saw a flower they would think of me. Between going on field trips, spending recess together and the hugs I received coming and going, it was a rewarding year that I will always remember.

The BESTT class makes such a difference in your life, your students’ lives, and everyone else’s involved in the program. I am really happy to have had been in BESTT with such an unforgettable group of seniors. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the smiles shared, the learning experiences taught and the friendships made, have forever changed us. RACHEL WIDDER is a recent graduate of Galveston Ball High School. In the fall, she will attend West Texas A&M University, where she plans to major in electronic media and communications.

As I say goodbye and embark on college in the fall, there is one lesson I learned this

Our teacher, Mrs. Polzin, has taught us many important lessons, both in the classroom and in life. She reminds us each day, “When I send out my students for their internship, it feels as though I am sending little pieces of myself throughout Galveston ISD … You should always be on your BESTT behavior.” On the first day I arrived on my selected campus, I had reminiscent nervous feelings from my own first day of school. Even though I didn’t know anyone and had no idea what to expect, I was beyond excited. Walking into my second-grade classroom for the first time, I was surprised at how much it had changed since I was in second grade. “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 drivers@texasschoolbusiness.com for publishing guidelines. Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


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 ahalstead@tasanet.org for more details. AU GUST August 1 TASPA HR 311 for Administrators Klein ISD, Klein For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org August 1-2 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 1 of 4) Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: All four sessions: TASA members, $695; nonmembers, $795. Any one session: TASA members and nonmembers, $250. August 2 TASPA Documentation Workshop Midland ISD, Midland For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $250. August 8 TASPA Workshop: Personnel Skills for Supervisors of NonExempt Staff Nacogdoches ISD, Nacogdoches For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org

SEPTE M BE R September 5-6 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 2 of 4) Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: All four sessions: TASA members, $695; nonmembers, $795. Any one session: TASA members and nonmembers, $250. September 9-11 TACS Annual Conference Hilton Palacio del Rio, San Antonio


Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org Cost: TACS members, $325; nonmembers, $375. September 10 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. September 12 TASPA Documentation Workshop Seguin ISD, Seguin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $250. September 13 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 10, Richardson For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. September 14 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 11, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. September 19-20 TASBO PEIMS Boot Camp Courtyard Marriott, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $215; nonmembers, $265. Texas ASCD Conference: Learning Transformed Richardson ISD, Richardson For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

September 24 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 13, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. September 25 TASBO Course: Approaches to Leadership and Management O. Henry Middle School, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org TASBO Course: Administrator Overview of PEIMS O. Henry Middle School, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

OCTOBER October 1 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 7, Kilgore For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. October 4 Texas ASCD Workshop: Empowering Leaders to Align and Adopt Resources ESC Region 5, Beaumont For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

September 26 TASPA Documentation Workshop Elgin ISD, Elgin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $250.

October 5 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 19, El Paso For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175.

September 26-29 TETA Theatrefest Renaissance Addison Hotel, Dallas No phone number provided. www.tetatx.com

October 8-9 TASPA Fall Support Staff Conference Embassy Suites, San Marcos For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org

September 27 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 20, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175.

October 9-10 TASA Academy for Transformational Leadership (session 1 of 4) San Angelo ISD, San Angelo For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: $1,995 for all four sessions.

September 28 TASBO CSRM Administrators Course Frisco ISD, Frisco For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

October 10 TASBO Operations and Facility Masters Conference Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, San Marcos For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $225; nonmembers, $275.

September 28-30 TASA/TASB Convention Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasa.tasb.org Cost: Pre-registration (through Sept. 14): TASA/TASB members, $375; nonmembers, $475. Onsite registration (after Sept. 14): TASA/TASB members, $475; nonmembers, $575.

October 14-15 TEPSA Assistant Principals Conference Omni Southpark Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org

October 15 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Harris County Department of Education, Houston For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. October 16 TASBO Personnel and Payroll Academy Courtyard Marriott, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $295; nonmembers, $345. October 17 TASBO CSRM Course: Measuring School Risks TASBO offices, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org October 18-19 TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org October 19 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 2, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by July 13), $145; regular registration, $175. October 21-23 Texas ASCD Annual Conference: A Legacy of Leadership Horseshoe Bay Resort, Horseshoe Bay For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

October 23-27 Texas ASCD Five-Day Workshop: Rigorous Assessment Strategies for Math and STAAR M.O. Campbell Educational Center, Houston For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org October 25 TASPA Documentation Workshop Little Elm ISD, Little Elm For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org October 29 TASBO Accounting and Finance Symposium Courtyard Hotel, Pflugerville For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $295; nonmembers, $345.

N OV E M B E R November 6-7 TASB Conference: Asbestos Maintenance and Operations TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org November 7-8 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 3 of 4) Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: All four sessions: TASA members, $695; nonmembers, $795. Any one session: TASA members and nonmembers, $250.

November 7 TASBO Purchasing Boot Camp Courtyard Marriott, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $215; nonmembers, $265. November 8 TASBO Purchasing Academy Courtyard Marriott, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $295; nonmembers, $345. TASPA Certification Fundamentals Workshop Little Elm ISD, Little Elm For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org November 11-14 TASA Assessment Conference Hilton Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org November 13 TASBO Accounting and Finance Symposium Courtyard Marriott, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $295; nonmembers, $345. November 14-17 Texas Counseling Association Annual Professional Growth Conference Sheraton Hotel, Dallas For more info, (512) 472-3403 or (800) 580-8144. www.txca.org Cost: Early Bird registration (until June 30): Professional members, $125; new professional, retired and

Texas School Business

student members, $85. November 27-28 TASA Academy for Transformational Leadership (session 2 of 4) San Angelo ISD, San Angelo For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: $1,995 for all four sessions. November 28-30 TAGT Annual Conference Location TBA, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org November 28-December 1 TAHPERD Annual Convention Moody Gardens Convention Center, Galveston For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Early Bird registration (by Oct. 1): Professional and associate members, $105; student and retired members, $35. Pre-registration (by Nov. 1): Professional and associate members, $125; student and retired members, $35. Late registration (after Nov. 1): Professional and associate members, $145; student and retired members, $45. November 29-30 Dr. John R. Hoyle Memorial Administrative Leadership Institute Texas A&M University, College Station For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org/ali â—„

THE News Magazine for Public Education in Texas!

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

Annual subscription rate: $24/year Subscription includes 6 bimonthly issues, plus our annual Bragging Rights special issue Subscribe online today at www.texasschoolbusiness.com Reminder: Active, Associate and Student members of the Texas Association of School Administrators receive a copy of Texas School Business magazine as a membership benefit. Subscribe now for board members and other members of your leadership team. Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


Who’s News > Continued from page 30

principal since 2014. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, he holds a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.

Livingston ISD The Livingston ISD board of trustees has approved Finis Vanover as athletic director and head football coach for Livingston High School. He has 32 years of coaching experience, including six years as athletic coordinator and head football coach at Tomball ISD’s Tomball Memorial High. He has also worked in Angleton, Diboll, Seminole, Fort Worth, Hardin and Jefferson ISDs.

Lubbock ISD Lori Alexander has accepted

the position of executive principal of the Estacado High School feeder pattern and Talkington School for Young Women Leaders. An employee of LISD for 28 years and a principal since 2003, she most recently led Dunbar Preparatory Academy. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a master’s degree in elementary education from Lubbock Christian University. Damon McCall, principal of

Slaton Middle School since 2016, now serves as executive principal for the Lubbock High School feeder pattern. Before joining LISD, he spent 20 years with Roosevelt ISD. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and his master’s degree in educational administration from Wayland Baptist University. Now serving as executive principal for Coronado High School’s feeder pattern is Melissa Portwood, who began her career in Lubbock ISD in 1986. A former teacher and assistant principal, she was principal of Hardwick Elementary since 2007. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Lubbock Christian University. Amy Stephens, former Bayless Elementary

School principal, has been named executive principal for the Monterey High School feeder pattern. She came to Lubbock ISD in 1997 as a teacher and has worked as


Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

Joyce Stewart, Nichols

a principal since 2008. A graduate of Angelo State University, her master’s degree in educational administration was awarded from Lubbock Christian University.

Sawmill Elementary, has been with the district since 2005, most recently serving as librarian at Nichols Sawmill. She holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University. In addition, three principal assignments have been made.

Lumberton ISD Gerald Chandler has been promoted from assistant superintendent to superintendent of Lumberton ISD.

Tommy Burns, Bear Branch

Intermediate School, was previously principal of Bear Branch Sixth Grade Campus.

Lisa Bertrand, Magnolia

Magnolia ISD

Intermediate School, comes to her new position from the Magnolia Sixth Grade Campus, where she also served as principal.

Seven new assistant principals have been named for the district. Tyler Behrens, Magnolia


Elementary School, most recently worked at Lyons Elementary. The 13-year educator holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State

Matthew Braun, Magnolia

High School, has been an educator for 25 years and comes to his new position from Magnolia Junior High, where he also served as assistant principal. His master’s degree in educational administration was awarded from Prairie View A&M University.

Bryan Cooper, Alpha Academy, is the former assistant principal of Bear Branch Junior High.

Marion ISD Ryne Miller has been selected as athletic

director. He played football for Texas State University while a student there, going on to serve as a graduate assistant in the school’s athletics program. From there, he coached in Deer Park ISD and at Holmes High School in San Antonio’s Northside ISD, and most recently was co-offensive coordinator at Northside’s Harlan High School.

Sheri Cantu, Bear Branch

Junior High, earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University. She has spent her 17-year career with Magnolia ISD, most recently as the Bear Branch Junior High librarian. Jim Gassaway, Bear Branch Intermediate School, brings 16 years of education experience to his new job. He spent the past three years as an assistant principal at Nichols Sawmill Elementary. Angela Martinez, Magnolia Intermediate School, was formerly a teacher at the Magnolia Sixth Grade Campus. She has 15 years of experience as an educator. Greg Quinn, Magnolia High School, has been a secondary educator for 25 years, 14 of those as an administrator. His master’s degree in educational administration is from Prairie View A&M University.

Matagorda ISD Susan Phillips has agreed to serve as

Matagorda ISD’s superintendent after serving in an interim capacity since 2017. She holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University.

Mesquite ISD Assistant Superintendent for Strategic Planning and Innovation Denise Kutch has announced her retirement. She began her 44-year career in Houston ISD, joining Mesquite ISD 40 years ago. During her time with the district, she has worked as a teacher at all levels, and as a counselor, registrar, assistant principal and principal as well as a university adjunct professor.

Midland ISD A new chief of police has been appointed for Midland ISD. Arthur Barclay is a 30-year veteran of the Fort Worth Police Department, having served as a patrol

officer, detective, department sergeant, patrol command deputy chief and investigative and support command deputy chief. Lee High School has announced the hiring of Doug Gordon as boys’ basketball coach. Gordon comes to Midland from Stanton ISD, where he also headed the basketball program. A graduate of McMurry University, he has taught and coached in Breckenridge and Wall ISDs as well.

Miles ISD Clint Askins has accepted the position of

superintendent. He comes to the district from Floresville ISD, where he was director of special education, 504 programs and student services.

Mumford ISD After 48 years in education, 41 of those as superintendent of Mumford ISD, Pete Bienski has announced he will retire at the end of June. During his tenure, Bienski has led the district’s growth from its original K-8 arrangement with a single building, built in the early 1900s, and three portables to the addition of a high school, two gyms and a sports complex. The student population has grown in those decades from 90 to over 600.

Northside ISD The following administrative appointments are announced by Northside ISD: Kris Cotton, principal, Scarborough

Elementary School;

Teresa Cuellar, principal, Jay Science and Engineering Academy; Jeff Davenport, principal, Nichols

Elementary School;

Norma Farrell, principal, Colonies North

Elementary School;

James Mears, vice-principal, Construction Careers Academy; Deborah Ruel-Schaefer, director of career

and technical education;

Mark Rustan, director of auxiliary/classified/

substitute employees;

Julie Schweers, principal, Stevenson Middle


Priscilla Sciano, principal, Northwest

Crossing Elementary School;

Travis Weissler, assistant principal, Harlan

High School.

Northwest ISD (Fort Worth) Love Elementary School’s new principal is Lisa Crosslin, who comes to Fort Worth from Oklahoma, where she spent the past 20 years as an educator. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, she earned her master’s degree in education from East Central University. A second master’s degree, in educational leadership, was awarded from Adams State University, and she is at work on her doctorate in school administration.

Pine Tree ISD Steve Clugston has accepted the position of superintendent. He comes to Pine Tree ISD from Callisburg ISD, where he also held the top job.

Plainview ISD

A new principal has been approved for Hatfield Elementary School. Jim Mahler was previously assistant principal of Roanoke Elementary, having joined the district 11 years ago. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Butler University and also earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University.

H.T. Sanchez has been approved to lead the district as superintendent. He comes to Plainview from Tucson, Ariz., where he served as superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District since 2013. Prior to that, he was interim superintendent and deputy superintendent of Ector County (Tex.) ISD. Sanchez, who graduated from Angelo State University, earned his master’s degree from Sul Ross State University and his doctorate in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Olton ISD

Richardson ISD

Newly appointed Superintendent Kevin McCasland comes to Olton from Seminole ISD, where he was principal of Seminole Elementary School.

Paradise ISD After 42 years of coaching, Athletic Director and Head Coach Ronnie Gage has announced his retirement, concluding a career that included two state championships and five Coach of the Year awards.

Pflugerville ISD Carolyn Parker is the new principal of Dessau Elementary School. The former assistant principal of Dearing Elementary previously worked in the same capacity at Pflugerville Middle School. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University.

Pflugerville ISD’s new chief operating officer, Ed Ramos, returns to the district where he began his career 21 years ago, as a staff accountant. He spent the past 13 years with Hutto ISD as deputy superintendent and twice served that district as interim superintendent.

Lisa Beutel has been named executive director of pre-K-12 teaching and learning services. She returns to Richardson ISD from ESC Region 10, where she was director of teaching and learning since 2016. Beutel earned bachelor’s degrees in education and Spanish from Texas Christian University, a master’s degree in bilingual education from Southern Methodist University and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas.

Round Rock ISD Terry Worcester, former district director of construction, has been appointed Round Rock ISD’s chief operating officer. With more than 30 years of experience in architectural design, he served in two Arizona school districts and worked as a project manager and architecture firm partner and director.

Roxton ISD New District Principal Sabrina Rosson comes to Roxton with over three decades of experience as an educator, having worked as an assistant principal, reading coach, and state and federal programs supervisor at Paris ISD.

Shallowater ISD The new principal of Shallowater High School is Rob Hollis, a 29-year education veteran. He comes to Shallowater from Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


Who’s News Muleshoe ISD, where he was assistant principal of Muleshoe High School. Hollis, a graduate of New Mexico State University, holds a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Texas-Pan American.

Smithville ISD Smithville ISD has hired its first female superintendent. Cheryl Burns had been serving as interim superintendent since March and prior to that was assistant superintendent. Her 33-year career has also included assignments as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and director of curriculum and instruction. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and her master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University.

Socorro ISD (El Paso) Jennifer Parker, Purple Heart Elementary School principal, has been honored as Texas’ 2018 National Distinguished Principal by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). She was chosen for the award from a field of more than 100 nominees. A principal for eight years, she earned her master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Splendora ISD After six years heading the police department at Cleveland ISD, Rex Evans has accepted the position of chief of police at Splendora ISD. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he was captain of the sheriff ’s office of Liberty County and a field training officer for Harris County.

Sudan ISD

Texas Association of Rural Schools Leigh Ann Glaze, former superintendent of

San Saba ISD, is now assistant executive director of the Texas Association of Rural Schools (TARS). She spent 27 years as an educator, 20 of those as an assistant superintendent and superintendent. She has also served on the boards of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) and ESC 15.

The new executive director of the Texas Association of Rural Schools (TARS) is Michael Lee, former superintendent of Booker ISD. Since his retirement from that position in 2016, he has served on the board of directors of ESC 16 and on the board of trustees for Booker ISD. In addition, he spent 14 months as interim superintendent of Higgins ISD.

Troup ISD The district’s new superintendent, Tammy Jones, was formerly assistant superintendent of Palestine ISD.

Tuloso-Midway ISD (Corpus Christi) An educator for 46 years, Superintendent Sue Nelson retired at the end of the 2018 school year. She initially led the district from 1986 to 1998, retired then returned for an additional nine years in 2010. She began her career in Oklahoma, where she earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Tyler ISD Zack Cazares has transferred from Bonner

Former Florence ISD Offensive Coordinator Keith Virdell now serves as Sudan ISD’s athletic director and head football coach. He also coached at Midland ISD’s Lee High School.

Temple ISD Temple ISD’s new superintendent is Bobby Ott, who served as the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the past six years. Prior


to that, he was deputy superintendent of Copperas Cove and Killeen ISDs and program director for the University of Texas System. He also worked with the Texas Education Agency’s division of curriculum and professional development. His doctorate in educational administration was awarded from the University of Texas.

Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

Elementary School, where he was principal, to the top position at Hogg Middle School.

Eddie Dunn, most recently principal of Hogg Middle School, is now dean of students at RISE Academy Early College High School.

Griffin Elementary School now has Stephen Ladd, former assistant principal of Boulter Middle School, as principal. Former Lee High School Principal Susana Royo is now principal of Peete Elementary School. Julie Schumake has been promoted from

assistant principal of Bonner Elementary

School to principal. Brett Shelby, former assistant principal of

Three Lakes Middle School, now leads Jack Elementary as principal.

Utopia ISD Superintendent John Walts retired at the end of May, bringing to a close his 34-year career in education. He has led Utopia ISD since 2003 and, prior to that, was superintendent of Panhandle and Reagan County ISDs as well as teaching and serving as a principal.

Victoria ISD Victoria’s next superintendent, Quintin Shepherd, comes to Texas from Iowa, where he led Linn-Mar Community School District for the past three years. He also served as superintendent of Skokie/ Morton Grove School District 69 in Illinois and of Amboy Community Unit School District, also in Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University and his doctorate from Illinois State University.

Weatherford ISD Lorie Boswell, who previously

worked as the district’s director of accounting, has been named assistant superintendent of business and finance. Most recently, she was with Fort Worth ISD as budget manager, controller and senior officer of business and finance. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Kim Tuggle has accepted the position of director of special programs. She began her career in Amarillo ISD as a life skills teacher, going on to work in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD as an educational diagnostician and, for the past 10 years, as coordinator for special education. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a master’s degree in education from West Texas A&M University. Patty Young, executive director of special programs, has retired, concluding a 25-year career. She also served in the communications department and as principal of Seguin Elementary School. ◄


Cypress Fairbanks ISD Rocio Braley was named principal of M. Robinson Elementary School, and not Danish Elementary School as printed in the in the May/June 2018 Texas School Business.


News in fine arts education

Big heroes, tiny home Students helping veterans by Jamie Mount photos by Jonathan Frey

▲Kingwood Park and Summer Creek high school students in Humble ISD collaborated to create the student-led initiative, Big Heroes, Tiny Homes – Students Helping Veterans. Back row, from left: Nicholas Logan, Abner Flores, Stuart Hebert, Stephen Wilson, Blayne Adams, Claire Slaughter, Sarah Dalby, Kaylie Lyle. Front row, from left: Alyssa Irvin, Melissa Rasmussen, Addison Young, Chloe Berry, Madison Taylor and Madilyn Engelhardt. “Whatever good things we build end up building us.” – Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and speaker


t’s every teacher’s aspiration: Develop a lesson that sticks with your students throughout their lives. A group of teachers are accomplishing that in Humble ISD by involving students in designing

tiny homes for big heroes. Students from Humble ISD’s Summer Creek and Kingwood Park high schools are working to create a community of micro houses for homeless veterans. Micro homes are defined as residential structures with utilities, designed for fulltime occupancy, in less than 350 square feet.

These tiny homes feature clever, spacesaving furniture, such as wall-mounted drop-down tables and beds. Micro homes are appealing to people who desire a minimalist lifestyle focused on experiences instead of possessions. Across the nation, micro homes are also being used as transitional housing for

Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018


community in Austin, with architecture teachers. Segura knew students are most engaged when applying learning to realworld problems. “I was caught by the student-led part,” said Kaylie Lyle, a member of Summer Creek High School’s class of 2019. “I definitely want to lead my school in the direction of helping others. It’s not just those who can actually build a building who can become involved. Art students can help decorate. Choir kids can sing at the village. Culinary students can cook. Any student can help. This puts our skills to the test, and shows what we’ve learned since middle school. It gives me a challenge.”

▲Natalia Andrade and Andrew Bost discuss the design and layout of their tiny home people in need. Charitable organizations have created micro home communities in Austin, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Olympia, Portland, Seattle and Syracuse. Humble ISD students are working to add Houston to that list. For the teachers and students, this is not education-as-usual: The outcome is unpredictable. The project’s success depends upon variables outside of the schools’ control. For example, the students must get others to buy into their vision. They are working to entice philanthropic donors to fund the building materials, purchase land and manage the community. Also, unlike typical assignments in which teachers determine the sequence of students’ work, other professionals, such as city building permitting officials, will be consequential to the process. •

Teachers and students learn in tandem. The teachers don’t know all the answers before their students.

Success may take years.

Logan added: “It’s mind-blowing that high school students have been able to put together architectural plans that will actually become a house. And, we’re going to have someone live in our work — so someone will have a home that otherwise would not.” The inspiration for “Big Heroes, Tiny Homes – Student Helping Veterans” began with Summer Creek High School Assistant Principal Al Segura sharing a video about Community First! Village, a micro home

By being involved in the project, Lyle said she and her peers are strengthening their work ethic and skills in perseverance, self-advocacy and balancing school, work and life. This educationally aligns with the district’s Portrait of a Graduate: a commitment Humble ISD has made to provide all students with opportunities to develop skills as critical thinkers, communicators, creative innovators, leaders and collaborators, global citizens and personally responsible individuals through their academic and elective courses. Kingwood Park and Summer Creek students have designed the houses on computer-aided drafting software, built models out of balsa wood and printed models from a 3D printer. The students have interacted with professional architects, making revisions based upon experts’

Nevertheless, learning has never been better. “It’s given me a purpose,” said Nicholas Logan, a member of Kingwood Park High School’s Class of 2019, who was preparing for a presentation to potential donors. “I’m not just going to school today. I’m going to school so I can attend a meeting, so I can get the funding to help other people, so they can have a home.”


Texas School Business JULY / AUGUST 2018

▲Madilyn Engelhardt and Sarah Dalby review the framing model that helped build the project budget and sectional drawings.

feedback. The teenagers selected paint colors, ceiling heights and flooring materials. They improved aesthetics and comfort by adding a porch and bay window. They obtained prices for the foundation, framing, roofing, walls, doors, windows, air-conditioning, electrical wiring and more, determining that each house will require $25,000 in materials. The students are marketing their vision to prospective donors and partners. They have prepared pitches, slide deck presentations and gallery walks. Donors can support the project with designated tax-deductible contributions to the Humble ISD Education Foundation (humbleisdfoundation.org). “I believe this is the best way to learn,” said Stuart Hebert, a member of Kingwood Park High School’s Class of 2019. “Students need some sort of activity to keep them connected to what they learn. Learning is collaborative. We have met deadlines. We’ve taught ourselves.” Summer Creek High School architecture teacher James Gaylord said taking learning beyond the confines of the classroom has required a leap of faith for teachers. “I’m used to being in control,” Gaylord said. “This is different. There will be obstacles that we can’t see around. But this is 10 times better. I could have never generated this level of excitement.” Teaching like this — involving students from across curriculums and schools, having students interact with professionals other

▲Sarah Dalby shows off a 3D-printer model of a tiny home designed by students. than just their teachers, and not being able to control all factors — is complicated. “There’s a leap of faith that’s required, and the high-stakes testing environment doesn’t encourage teachers to love the leap of faith,” Humble ISD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen said. “But all of the research shows that the integrated approach creates longterm learning because that’s the way the brain learns. Learning does not occur in isolation. It occurs by connecting neurons

across related concepts. The kids who can critically think and problem solve are going to do better on any test we put in front of them.” To learn more about Big Heroes, Tiny Homes, please visit https://www.humbleisd. net/bigheroestinyhomes or email studentshelpingveterans@humbleisd.net. JAMIE MOUNT and JONATHAN FREY work in Humble ISD’s Public Communications Office.

You can help Texas School Business brag on your schools! Submit your nomination today for possible inclusion in the 12th Annual Bragging Rights 2018-19 special issue, which honors 12 deserving school districts and their innovative programs. Every winter, Texas School Business publishes and distributes this special issue to thousands of stakeholders in Texas public education. Does your school or district have a program that's wildly successful? Then you could be featured among our Top 12!

HOW DO I NOMINATE A PROGRAM? Simply visit texasschoolbusiness.com and fill out the Bragging Rights online nomination form. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Winners will be announced with the debut of the 12th Annual Bragging Rights 201819 special issue, out on Dec. 1, 2018.


Nominated programs must have been in operation for at least one school semester.

There is no limit on number of nominations submitted per school or school district.

Questions? Contact drivers@texasschoolbusiness.com Texas School Business JULY/AUGUST 2015



Where to turn when the answers don’t come easily by Riney Jordan


hy?” It seems that almost daily, I ponder that question: “Why?”

I ask myself “Why?” regarding our new great-grandbaby’s unimaginable illness. I ask the same question regarding school shootings. I ask myself “Why?” regarding political issues. I ask the same question regarding patriotism in this country. Strange as it may seem, I’ve only recently come to the realization that I am getting old. Oh, I don’t feel old. I’m not sure that I even act old. But, more and more often, I find myself thinking old. I’m discovering that my ideas, my values, my opinions, it seems, are, more often than not, in the minority. Our granddaughter and her husband recently gave birth to an absolutely beautiful baby girl named Scarlett. It was a perfect pregnancy, but things started to seemingly go wrong during the delivery. Some 30 hours after our granddaughter was admitted to the hospital, Scarlett was born. After a couple of days in the hospital, they were sent home. Almost immediately, the mother became ill and had to be readmitted to the hospital. Two days later, our little Scarlett became ill, and she was taken to the hospital when she momentarily stopped breathing. A few hours later, she was rushed to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth where they are equipped to deal with such traumatic illnesses in children. Now, I won’t elaborate on all the details, but for the next two and a half months we dealt with four brain surgeries, MRIs, tube feedings, and so much more. At this writing, we are not encouraged. What the future holds for this precious little girl who hasn’t reached her 3-month birthday, none of us knows. In my lifetime, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of sadness, but rarely like this. And I ask myself, “Why is this happening?”

Then, as I sit down to visit with friends, I’m told there has been another school shooting, this time in Texas. Ten people are killed, a dozen more injured. I had spoken in Santa Fe ISD a few years ago, and I visualized the building, the auditorium, and the amazing staff of teachers and administrators that I had met. And I quietly closed my eyes, shook my head, and pondered, “Why?” I’ll admit, I don’t understand a great many things going on in our country. I love America! I’ve wept when the flag goes by, and I think of the men and women who have sacrificed their very lives that I might live in the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. The National Anthem stirs my heart. It is an honor to speak the Pledge of Allegiance. Is this nothing more than the sentimentality of an old man reflecting on his values? Are my ideas of morality and patriotism and love for my fellow man long outdated? Yes, our politicians make mistakes, on both sides of the aisle. Our policemen make mistakes, but so do the individuals they are arresting. Oh, so much “blame” to go around. So, I continue to weep alongside the parents of school shooting victims as they struggle to express their grief. My heart continues to break for young parents who approached their first child’s birth with such excitement and anticipation, only to discover that things aren’t going to be as they always imagined. My voice wants to scream out to the world to “Wake up! Be grateful! Love one another!” What can we do? Where can we turn? How can we make this better? I’ll admit I have far more questions than answers. And suddenly, much like John Wesley, whose heart was “strangely warmed,” I’m reminded that the answers and the strength for which I yearn are right in front of me. And it is then that I close my eyes and begin to pray, “Oh, Lord, help us!”

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 JULY / AUGUST 2018

Texas School Business Advertiser Index

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