TSB—March 2009

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March 2009

School communications in the age of social media blog blog blog blog blog blog blog

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Also in this issue: TSPRA President Julie Jerome Hays CISD

In the Spotlight George Faber Tyler ISD

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TSB CONTENTS Experts discuss school public relations in age of social media


Michelle Moon Reinhardt

TSPRA President Profile: Julie Jerome keeps communication lines open for all


Elizabeth Millard

In the Spotlight: Tyler ISD’s George Faber takes music career to the classroom


Jeff Carmack

photo FEATURES TASA Midwinter Conference attracts 5,500 administrators


Region 4 hosts breakfast at TASA Midwinter




TSB Professional Development & Events Calendar

From the Editor


Young’s Inbox



The Law Dawg  —  unleashed


The Back Page


Who’s News


Advertisers Index


Katie Ford Jim Walsh

John Young

Riney Jordan

On this page: George Faber, Tyler ISD director of visual and performing arts, leads a class at Caldwell Elementary Arts Academy. 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.

March 2009 • Texas School Business


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From the Editor With the emergence of Web 2.0 and social media tools, the way we communicate with each other is changing rapidly — both in the business world and in our personal lives. School districts across the state are having to rethink their communication strategies with parents, teachers, students and the community at large. One-way messaging through press releases simply isn’t enough anymore. Savvy districts are adding social media tools, such as blogs and podcasts, to encourage two-way communication and a sense of community with their stakeholders. After all, the kudos and criticisms posted in the “blogosphere” are the same comments people in your district are making to each other at the grocery store or at football games. Wouldn’t it benefit everyone if school districts joined — or even facilitated — these virtual conversations and offered their perspectives? This issue’s cover story, beginning on page 22, offers insight and advice on how school administrators can embrace the power of Web 2.0 tools to engage and inform on a deeper level. Also in the March issue we feature the new Texas School Public Relations Association President Julie Jerome of Hays CISD. Moreover, we put the Spotlight on George Faber, Tyler ISD’s director of visual and performing arts. Did you know this former road musician once shared the stage with Chubby Checker? As always, you’ll find photos of your peers in public education, plenty of Who’s News and more. At Texas School Business we strive to foster a sense of community by keeping our readers up to date on each others’ whereabouts and achievements. As we move further into 2009, we plan to strengthen that effort by incorporating social media tools into our editorial and marketing. It’s a developing story, so please stay tuned.

Katie Ford, editor

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1601 Rio Grande Street, #441 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 • Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Publisher Ted Siff Editor in Chief Jim Walsh Editor Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Riney Jordan, Jim Walsh, John Young Advertising Sales Manager Jim Johnson Business Manager Debbie Stover Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and for the Bragging Rights issue published in December (11 times a year) by Texas School Business Magazine, LLC, 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas School Business,1601 Rio Grande Street, #441, Austin, TX 78701. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $28 per year; $52 for two yrs; $72 for three yrs. Group rate: 10 or more, $18; single issues, $4.50.

© Copyright 2009 Texas School Business Magazine LLC March 2009 • Texas School Business


THE LAW DAWG – unleashed by Jim Walsh

The ‘so what?’ defense


e careful of what you read in the newspaper about litigation against school districts. Very often the story makes out school officials to be the bad guys, much more so than the facts would justify. This is not entirely attributable to sloppy reporting. It’s also a predictable consequence of how school attorneys defend their clients. Let me explain. When a person is accused of wrongdoing, whether they are 7 or 77 years old, there are four possible responses. 1. Fall on your sword. “You are right. I was wrong. What can I do to make up for it?” 2. No. “I didn’t do it. You are simply mistaken about the facts.” 3. Yes, but… . “I did it, but here’s why it was the right thing to do.” 4. So what? “Yeah, I did it. So what? It did not violate the law or the rules.” In litigation, a good defense attorney will often offer responses 2 through 4 — all at the same time. “We didn’t do it, Your Honor (Response No. 2). But if you should somehow conclude that we did do it, you will find that we had ample justification for it based on what the other guy did (Response No. 3). And besides that, even if we did do it without ample justification, what we did is not a violation of any rule or law, so what’s the big deal?” (Response No. 4). In an effort to be efficient, a good defense attorney will ask the court to address Response No. 4 first. If your attorney can establish that this thing you are accused of is not a violation of law, then the court will dismiss the case before everyone gears up for a trial. There are various legal mechanisms for this, such as a Motion for Summary Judgment, or a Motion to Dismiss. When your attorney asserts the “so what?” defense, the argument goes like this: “Your Honor, my client did nothing wrong. The plaintiff has it completely wrong. But just for the sake of argument, we are willing to temporarily concede that we did everything the plaintiff alleges that we did. So, go

ahead, Your Honor, and assume, just for the sake of argument, that we did exactly what we are accused of doing. Your Honor, even then, we have not violated the law. So you should dismiss this case entirely.” If that argument is successful, your attorney has done you a great service by getting the case dismissed at the earliest (read: cheapest) opportunity. In its decision, the court will spell it out clearly. For example, a recent Supreme Court case opens with: “Because this case comes to us on a motion to dismiss under [federal rules], we assume the truth of the facts as alleged in petitioners’ complaint.” The court then goes on to recite all of the facts “as alleged” rather than as proven. Unfortunately, the later summary of the decision in newspapers and other publications often omits the “as alleged” part, leading readers to conclude that you did all the things of which you were accused. Moreover, your attorney may win the case but lose the public relations battle. With the “so what” defense, the attorney’s argument can often be summed up this way: “Your Honor, my client may have done some really stupid things here. My client may have exercised bad judgment. My client may be incompetent and lacking in social skills. You may wonder who on Earth would hire such a bozo to run a public school. But my client, Your Honor, did not violate the law! Stupidity, bad judgment, rudeness and incompetence are not against the law!” Winning with that argument may feel like losing. So be careful about what you read, and remember: It didn’t always happen the way it is alleged to have happened. JIM WALSH is editor in chief of Texas School Business and the managing editor of Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest. Also a school attorney, he co-founded the firm of Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos PC. He can be reached at jwalsh@walshanderson.com or by visiting www.walshanderson.com. March 2009 • Texas School Business



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YOUNG’S INBOX by John Young

Are we reading too much into it?


ake me a cherry pie, I’ll do just about anything for you. Everyone has a weakness, something that causes all his or her defenses to melt. Strawberry cheesecake ice cream. German chocolate cake. Well, what if, as a child, every time you ate ice cream you had to do a report on it? Or if every time you had a cupcake, you had to do pushups? Now, what if you were given a test for every book you read in grade school? What if the test weren’t about the book’s essence, but more of a “gotcha” exercise to see if you really read it? Maybe you’d still love reading as an adult. Then again, when presented a book, maybe you’d turn and run. I shudder to think how many young people we think we’ve encouraged to read have grown up to think, “I’m out of school. I don’t have to read anymore.” That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Education (as opposed to training) is supposed to impart love — the love of knowledge, the lusting for truth and beauty. And when it comes to reading — well, you are supposed to come out of the enterprise wanting to read like nothing else. But in our fixation on testing, standardization and punitively tinged “accountability,” often what happens is exactly the opposite of what we want. When my youngest son was in elementary and middle school, the program Accelerated Reader (AR) caused my teeth to lose their enamel and him to lose his zest for reading. Compared to his bookworm brother, he was never a big reader. That’s the problem with AR if it is used as a hammer. Few people involved in Texas schools need a description of AR. It assigns points to books and “rewards” students for completing them, relying on the aforementioned self-paced tests. Of course, not every school uses it in the same way. Some use AR simply to encourage and incentivize reading. Others, unfortunately, use it to require and monitor accelerated reading, defending it because of the numbers of books read. But

they cannot defend the duress associated with those books in many minds. As my wife observes, mandatory AR that bears one’s grade is an ego boost for the avid reader. For the less-than-enthused reader, however, it makes him or her less enthused. Reading becomes drudgery, like the piano lessons from which I used to go run and hide. But, of course, you can’t hide.

Education (as opposed to training) is supposed to impart love — the love of knowledge, the lusting for truth and beauty.

Similar to much of what’s happened in public education, the focus is on quantity, not quality, and on gizmos and widgets marketed by people who know their target audiences. (Hint: it’s not children.) As with all learning tools, the problem is not AR itself. Just as we who voice concerns about overemphasis on testing say the problem isn’t tests. It’s how they’re applied. For a child who has low verbal skills or is a plodding reader (my hand is raised for the latter trait), one book is the equivalent of 20 when you compare that child to those who, like my eldest son, zipped through “Anna Karenina” in middle school. Another problem: AR-rated books, at least as I recall seven or eight years since, inordinately were tilted toward fiction and away from biography, sports, music or varied topics that would get a child to read. The goal should be love — reading for pleasure. “The Willie Mays Story” was my gateway to literacy. So were baseball cards and the sports page. If we had AR in my time, who knows? A book might not be considered the sweet refreshment it is today after a long day in the information-age vineyards.

JOHN YOUNG is the opinion editor and a columnist for the Waco Tribune-Herald. He also is the author of “Ghosts of Liberals Past.” He can be reached at jyoung@ wacotrib.com. March 2009 • Texas School Business



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Texas School Business • March 2009


TSPRA PRESIDENT profile Hays CISD’s Julie Jerome keeps communication lines open for all


By Elizabeth Millard

s a child growing up in Arlington, Julie Jerome witnessed firsthand the kinds of everyday struggles and triumphs that come with working in public education and public relations. Her mother, Nancy Dugan, was a schoolteacher and part-time public information officer at Mansfield ISD. Like many kids, Jerome made a solid declaration: I will never follow in my mother’s footsteps. Today, sitting in her office at Hays CISD as the assistant superintendent of information, communications and student services for Hays CISD, Jerome has to laugh. “The last thing I wanted to do was be a public information officer,” says Jerome, who, in February, stepped up as the new president of the Texas School Public Relations Association. “But for me, being raised by a schoolteacher who also did public information turned out to make my eventual career transition pretty easy.” Jerome started her professional life as a journalist, after majoring in journalism and economics at the University of North Texas. For about 15 years after graduation, she worked for daily newspapers throughout North Texas, mainly covering business topics. She then ended up working at the Texas Comptroller’s Office, editing a quarterly publication called Texas Fast Forward. Although she liked the work, she grew tired of the commute, which translated into time away from her two children, Addie and Teddy. So, she began searching for a job closer to home. When a position in the communications office opened up at Hays CISD, she applied, although it meant shifting her professional track. Jerome, who had just turned 40, felt it was a good time for a fresh start. And the transition wasn’t nearly as hard as she’d imagined. “Writing is what you fall back on, so that was seamless,” she says. “I could apply my writing skills in this new

TSPRA President Julie Jerome of Hays CISD worked as a journalist for daily newspapers for about 15 years before she launched her career in public education.

way, and I could also use my love for research. I was also surprised at how strong my understanding was about the education business, and I think that came from my mother.” In her first year in education, Jerome joined TSPRA, an organization to which her mother had belonged. From there, Jerome moved up the ranks by serving on committees and then the board of officers. As president-elect in 2008, she took a closer look into the organization, and she was surprised to find such a diverse group. Members worked as graphic artists, public information officers — even television producers. “There are so many professions that come into TSPRA; it’s wonderful, but it’s also a great challenge,” she says, noting that diversity also comes into play with school district size. “All members should feel valued, whether it’s a public information officer in a tiny, rural school district or a communications director in Dallas

ISD with a staff of 25 people. Texas is a huge state, so the association is reflective of that.” Brad Domitrovich, 2008 TSPRA president, established a diversity committee to address how to better serve such a wide array of members, and Jerome says she looks forward to continuing that work. Jerome also wants to use her time as president to bring a focus on incorporating Web 2.0 tools in school communications plans. “A challenge for us, and for districts, is how to make social media work for our kids and our schools,” she says. “Should districts have a blog? Should students be texting all day long from their cell phones? These are issues on which we should be informed and coming up with new ideas.” In general, Jerome simply looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for the public relations field, which she now See PRESIDENT PROFILE on page 13 March 2009 • Texas School Business


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PRESIDENT PROFILE continued from page 11

finds more personally satisfying than journalism. “As a journalist, all the communication is one way,” she says. “But in this profession, you can start a dialogue with the whole community and really open the schools to parental involvement. The kids do better when everyone is involved, and you can create communication and interaction among fellow TSPRA members, parents, teachers and community members. It’s glorious.” On the home front Two years ago, Jerome married professional photographer Tommy Hultgren. He also has two children and a job a half hour away, so the pair has decided to live separately for now. “With the kids and the jobs, it just didn’t work to live together,” says Jerome. “Some people live together and then get married; we’re doing it the other way around.” Because Hultgren photographs TSPRA conferences — a service he does for free — Jerome jokes that she should schedule more conferences to see her husband more often. “There have been a lot of changes in the last couple years, with the new marriage and my children going through high school,” she says. “In this business, there’s already not much free time, so any that I have is taken up with my family.” Jerome has found some time to study, though. She is in the process of earning an Accredited in Public Relations (APR) designation, which she says will enhance her knowledge, skills and abilities in practicing public relations — a career she has grown to love. “It’s amazing to come in every day to a place that’s affecting children so positively,” she says. “It sounds as mushy as can be, but that’s why all of us do this: it’s for the kids. Whether you’re a writer or Web designer or teacher, you’re able to do something for the greater good, and that’s so inspiring.”

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ELIZABETH MILLARD is a Minneapolis, Minn.-based writer who frequently contributes to Texas School Business and District Administration magazine, which reaches 75,000 school administrators nationwide. March 2009 • Texas School Business


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George Faber’s musical life on the road leads to career with Tyler ISD By Jeff Carmack


or much of his life, music and the open road were it for George Faber II. But with some persuasion from a professional educator and a bit of pressure from his father to get a “real job,” Faber, who now serves as Tyler ISD’s director of visual and performing arts, traded in his concert hall days for the classroom. Before his career in public education, Faber was a keyboardist and pianist in an American Entertainment group called Sunshine Express. The band toured yearround, often backing up other musicians at Disney World and at state fairs and conventions around the country. “We were the most-booked show group in America at the time,” he says. “I thought everything revolved around playing music. The only reason I got a [higher] education in the first place was because my dad told me I was going to go to school and get a degree. That way, if something happened to my music, I’d have something to fall back on. “I loved my dad and respected my dad — and was scared of my dad,” he laughs, “so I did what he wanted.” Faber left the road to attend Kilgore Junior College for two years and then transferred to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches to finish undergraduate and graduate work. He eventually graduated with a master’s degree in secondary education. After school, he took a job as an assistant band director at Tyler ISD’s Hubbard Middle School, expecting to stay no more than two years. Yet, two years later, Faber was named head band director there, and he served in that capacity until 1991, when he became assistant principal. In 1994, Faber received a call from Tyler ISD Superintendent Thomas Hagler. He wanted Faber to step up as principal at Dogan Middle School, where he would be charged with changing the perception

George Faber, Tyler ISD director of visual and performing arts, leads a class at Caldwell Elementary Arts Academy.

of the school, bringing up test scores and improving staff morale. According to Faber, Dogan had good students and teachers, but many of the teachers simply didn’t know how to communicate well with students. “It was their body language, their tone of voice — everything,” he says. “You want a kid to do what you tell him — and at that age, it’s a power struggle. You’re all up in his face, and he wants to come back and get in your face. So, how do you remedy that?” As Dogan Middle School’s principal, Faber taught teachers how to handle confrontations with students. He stressed the importance of not sending mixed signals. “We want kids to enjoy writing, but some teachers were making kids write as punishment,” he says. Faber became the district’s director of visual and performing arts in 2003. He uses his extensive background in music to teach a variety of subjects — not just music.

“We learn a lot by learning a rhythm or a melody — like your ABCs,” he offers, noting that the principle can be applied to many subjects. Faber also started a program of arts integration, using the fine arts to teach core subjects, such as using drama as part of a history lesson. “We might ask history students, ‘What did the explorers look like?’” Faber says. “Then the students would demonstrate how they looked and how they acted. And all of a sudden, the students have a voice.” Musical beginnings Faber found his “voice” at a young age through music. “When I was 5 or 6 years old, I’d listen to my mom and sister play the piano, and then I would go in and play what they played,” he recalls. See SPOTLIGHT on page 17 March 2009 • Texas School Business


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George Faber Tyler ISD

Faber played piano during elementary-school assemblies. In high school, he was in band and orchestra, and he also played for the choir. Largely self-taught, he learned to play an assortment of instruments. “Whatever the band director would let me pick up — or whatever I could sneak in and pick up — I learned to play,” he says. “I played football and basketball in junior high and was torn between being an athlete or a musician. But I decided to go with the music, and after that, my direction was set.” As a professional musician, Faber shared the stage with the likes of Chubby Checker and Percy Sledge. One particular gig that stands out in his mind involves country artist Kenny Price, the 6-foot-tall, 300-pound “Round Mound of Sound” who once starred on television’s “Hee Haw.” Sunshine Express was hired to back the country-western star, who was quick to recognize Faber’s talent. “Price got his guitar and started playing his songs; I wrote out all his changes and then wrote out some bass lines and some horn licks and sort of threw together a show for him,” Faber recalls. “By the end of the run, he was like, ‘Can I buy those charts?’ but I wouldn’t sell them.” Faber says he doesn’t regret giving up his life on the road. With his wife, Anita Faber, a special education teacher at Moore Middle School, he has two children: Candice Faber, a cosmetologist in Dallas, and George Faber III, a student at Abilene Christian University. “Education,” he says, “is the only show in the world that can change the world for the better, if done right.”

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JEFF CARMACK is a freelance writer in Austin. He writes for regional publications and pens a weekly humor column at www.jeffcarmack.com. March 2009 • Texas School Business


The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education and the Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest are pleased to announce the twenty-third annual one-day conference on current issues concerning the education of students with disabilities. Special education directors and other special education personnel, as well as superintendents, principals, school board members, and school attorneys will find this conference valuable.

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Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos, P.C.– Austin

The Parent Revokes Consent: Now What?

JaneT horTon

Thompson & Horton – Houston

What’s The Latest On Services To Students With Autism?

JoSe marTín

Richards, Lindsay & Martín – Austin

Legal Issues In Serving The Student with Medical Issues

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Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos, P.C. – San Antonio

It’s Spring Of 2009: Where Are We On RtI Now?

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Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos, P.C. – Austin

Congress Amends The ADA And §504: What Now?

holly WarDell Schwartz & Eichelbaum, Wardell, Mehl, and Hansen

FbA, bIP, MDR, 10 Days, Changes Of Placement: An Update On The Discipline Of Students With Disabilities

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Texas School Business • March 2009

TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS WEEK OF MARCH 30 March 30-31 TAGT Leadership Conference Marriott Airport, Austin For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org April 1 TACS/UT Tyler Spring Conference The University of Texas at Tyler For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org April 2 How to Interview and Hire the Right People ESC Region 11 offices, Fort Worth For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.hrservices.tasb.org Cost: $145. April 2-4 ATPE Annual Convention Convention Center, Austin For more info, (800) 777-2873. www.atpe.org Cost: $95; after March 4, $105. April 4 TESA San Jacinto Area Workshop For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

April 8 TACS/Hardin-Simmons Spring Conference Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org April 9 Basics of Investing School Funds ESC Region 17 offices, Lubbock For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $140; nonmembers, $180. April 9 Investing School Funds ESC Region 17 offices, Lubbock For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $140; nonmembers, $180. April 9 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop ESC Region 7 offices, Kilgore For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

WEEK OF APRIL 13 WEEK OF APRIL 6 April 6 Budget Boot Camp for Superintendents Location TBA, Richardson For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org April 7 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop ESC Region 1 offices, Edinburg For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

April 15 TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Early registration by March 15, $125 online; $150 purchase order. Regular registration after March 15, $150 online, $175 purchase order. April 15-16 TSTA-Retired Annual Meeting West Loop South Drury Inn, Houston For more info, (877) 275-8782. www.tsta.org

April 16-17 Mentoring the Reflective Principal: Collaborative Approaches to Impact Student Achievement Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members: $1,750; teams of two or more, $1,550 per person. Nonmembers: $2,000; teams of two or more, $1,800 per person. April 17-18 Texas Association of Suburban and Mid-Urban Schools Conference The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, The Woodlands For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org

WEEK OF APRIL 20 April 20 TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Early registration by March 20, $125 online; $150 purchase order. Regular registration after March 20, $150 online; $175 purchase order. April 20-21 Leading Professional Development in Classroom Assessment Highland Park ISD, Dallas For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $350; nonmembers, $400. April 22-23 First-time Superintendents’ Academy Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org See calendar on page 20 March 2009 • Texas School Business


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

April 23 Writing Practical Job Descriptions ESC Region 4 offices, Houston For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.hrservices.tasb.org Cost: $145.


www.tasanet.org TASA members, $675; nonmembers, $800. May 13 Financial Coding for Texas Schools Frisco ISD Career and Technical Education Center, Frisco For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: members, $140; nonmembers, $180.

June 10-12 TEPSA Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org Cost: members, $203 before May 13, $228 after May 13; nonmembers, $442 before May 13, $467 after May 13.


No events listed.

June 11-13 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio For more info, Kathy Dundee, (512) 467-0222, ext. 6171. www.tasb.org Cost: Thursday-Saturday, $325; FridaySaturday only, $255.

May 7 Financial Coding for Texas Schools ESC Region 7 offices, Kilgore For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: members, $140; nonmembers, $180.



No events listed.

June 15 Improving TAKS Scores in Math, Science and Language Arts Ysleta Administration and Cultural Arts Center, El Paso For more info, (888) 529-8672. www.tmsanet.org Cost: TMSA members or teams of 10 or more, $95; individual registration, $109.

May 1 Small Schools Symposium ESC Region 3 offices, Victoria For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: members, $80; nonmembers, $120.

May 7-8 Maximizing Student Success Keller ISD Administrative Building, Keller For more info, (800) 717-2723. www.txacsd.org Cost: $349. May 7-8 Mentoring the Reflective Principal Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, Mark Pyeatt, (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members, $1,750; teams of two or more, $1,550 per person. Nonmembers, $2,000; teams of two or more, $1,800 per person.

WEEK OF MAY 11 May 12-15 Level I Curriculum Management Audit Training Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, Mark Pyeatt, (800) 725-8272. 20

Texas School Business • March 2009


WEEK OF JUNE 1 No events listed.

WEEK OF JUNE 8 June 9 Annual TASSP-Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Legal Digest subscribers/TASSP members, $125 by May 9, $150 after May 9. Nonsubscribers/nonmembers, $175 by May 9; $200 after May 9. June 10 Managing Leaves and Absences TASB offices, Austin For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.hrservices.tasb.org Cost: by May 27, $180; after May 27, $230. June 10-12 TASSP Summer Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: members, $195; nonmembers, $365.

June 15-17 Questioning for Learning: Improving the Thinking and Achievement of All Students Holiday Inn Town Lake, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $675; nonmembers, $800. June 16-19 Curriculum Management Audit Training, Level I Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $675; nonmembers, $800.

TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

June 17-20 TESA Summer Work Conference Marriott Westchase, Houston For more info, (512) 477-1848. www.tesatexas.org June 18-19 Improved Questioning, Advanced Seminar Holiday Inn Town Lake, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $675; nonmembers, $800. June 18-20 TASA Summer Leadership Institute Renaissance Worthington, Fort Worth For more info, Kathy Dundee, (512) 467-0222, ext. 6171. www.tasb.org

Cost: Thursday-Saturday, $325; FridaySaturday only, $255. June 18-20 TREA Summer Conference Hilton Airport Hotel, San Antonio For more info, Janice Brown, (903) 575-2719. www.txrea.com Cost: Team of five, $650; each person in addition to team of five, $130; individuals, $150.

June 28-30 UT/TASA Annual Summer Conference on Education Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org

WEEK OF JUNE 29 No events listed. TSB

WEEK OF JUNE 22 June 26-28 TCWSE Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tcwse.org

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March 2009 • Texas School Business 1/30/2009 12:28:40 PM21

Navigating the Web 2.0 highway School communications is a two-way street in age of social media

By Michelle Moon Reinhardt 00001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 000011100000111000000001110000111000010010010100100000111000011 000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010 000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010 000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100001001001010010 000011100111001110000100100101001000001110000000111000010010010 000011100011101110000100100101001010010010100100000111001110011 000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010 In September 2008, students and parents in Mansfield ISD were buzzing about a change in district policy. In a nutshell, the district had asked parents to pick up their kids within 30 minutes of the end of a sporting event, instead of allowing them to hang out, unsupervised, after the game. If parents didn’t show up on time, students would be taken to a community room until their parents arrived. When the Fort Worth StarTelegram ran an editorial cartoon likening the new policy to housing students in pet carriers, Mansfield ISD met the criticism head on — not through the newspaper, but on the district’s blog, http://yourmansfieldisd. blogspot.com/. “The editorial cartoon challenged the district’s policies,” says Terry Morawski, Mansfield ISD director of communications. “We wanted to make it clear what we were thinking.” Terry Morawski 22

Texas School Business • March 2009

Under the heading “It’s good to have a sense of humor,” the district republished the cartoon and then listed the benefits of the new policy. The blog featured a picture of an actual community room — which, incidentally, looks nothing like a pet carrier. What happened in Mansfield ISD is just one example of how Texas school districts are beginning to tap into Web 2.0 tools to communicate with parents and the community at large, as well as to respond to messages being sent through traditional media, such as radio and print. Just as the Internet linked together organizations and businesses a decade ago, Web 2.0 tools are connecting people. What is Web 2.0? It’s a term that refers

to the second generation of the World Wide Web, especially the movement away from static Web pages to dynamic, shareable content, according to Wikipedia. These new media tools, such as blogs and social networks, increase interactivity and a sense of community. Blogs, or online journals in which readers can post comments, encourage online discussions among people with a shared interest. Social-networking sites help friends and colleagues stay in touch and share photos and information. Sure, the content on these Web 2.0 sites ranges from the insipid to the insightful, but it’s the very conversation among stakeholders that makes these tools revolutionary. Newsletters and press releases represent one-way communication; new media tools encourage conversation, whereby members can add to the discussion or pose questions, which can lead to a deeper level of understanding and, potentially, involvement among stakeholders. “Dallas-Fort Worth is such a crowded media market; it’s tough to get your message out there,” says Morawski, who says the district blog gets 50 to 90 hits a day. “The blog allowed us to speak directly to those affected by the new policy.”

And thanks to new media, the (text message on Twitter) Brad Domitrovich, communications director for Bancommunity can talk back. regarding weather delays. dera ISD and TSPRA’s im“What I’ve found is, the things that Potentially thousands mediate past-president. show up on the blog are the same things of affected students and “Students are not that are being said at the grocery store or parents would get the calling these tools ‘new at a football game,” says Morawski, who message, without the district media’; it’s how they chairs the Web 2.0 committee for the Texas having to manage a database live,” says McCormack, School Public Relations Association. “The of emails or phone tree. Or, who says high school and difference with the blog is that we can what if teachers could “tweet” college students “live their have a conversation with the community. security concerns from their lives” on Facebook or It’s been very illuminating.” classrooms? Administrators MySpace, making plans The Mansfield ISD blog even has and campus police could be with friends and sharing a section called “Rumor Mill,” where alerted instantly. Mansfield their pictures, thoughts district officials can debunk rumors, such ISD and Hurst-Euless-Bedford and opinions. “They use as whisperings that a Starbucks kiosk ISD are two districts that are social networking like was being installed at a local high school. experimenting with Twitter. the previous generation Sorry, latte lovers. No Starbucks at Legacy “New media is as inevitable uses email. High. as Google,” says Ed Schipul, vich Brad Domitro “In order to reach “It’s powerful, but it’s also a doublea frequent guest speaker at [this generation] — especially edged sword,” says Evelyn McCormack, education conferences and CEO once they become parents themselves public information coordinator for a of Schipul, The Web Marketing Company, — districts are going to have to find a cooperative of New York School Boards in Houston. “Schools are trying to wrap way to engage them, and that means and the author of a blog called School their brains around the technology and communicating the way they do,” he Communications 2.0. “You don’t want how to control the message. If my college says. your school blog to become a place for daughter can find out where the best party public diatribe; but, at the same time, if is [using Web 2.0 tools], why can’t teachers Seven minutes of fame you turn off the public comments, it’s not also use these tools to post assignments or Engaging is a good word to describe a blog anymore. organize study groups?” Dallas fifth grader Dalton Sherman, who “We’re in this state right now However, some districts discourage became a YouTube sensation last fall when where we’re betwixt and between,” she their staff members from joining sociala video of his speech to teachers at Dallas continues. “Many school districts are networking sites, or they ask them to ISD received nearly 1 million hits. During intrigued by what’s out there, but they refrain from connecting with students on the seven-minute video, Sherman, who are afraid. Nationwide, I would guess the these sites. Morawski says this is a barrier was the keynote speaker at the beginningnumber of superintendents who have a that needs to be addressed. of-school pep rally, encouraged teachers blog is less than one percent.” “Microsoft has a policy about to believe in the abilities of all students. However, several Texas districts blogging, called Blog Smart,” he says. Ultimately reaching an audience far are starting to dip their toes into the new “The same rules that govern your behavior beyond the teachers who first listened to media pool, as much of their audience — in email, personal communications and Sherman’s speech in person, the YouTube including parents — is already swimming phone calls still govern your activities on video demonstrates the muscle of Web in it. The social-networking site Facebook the Internet. We still must be smart about 2.0. alone boasts more than 150 million users student communication.” “Shared content is powerful; we “I don’t believe teachers and stuworldwide. While still dominated by teens had a similar situation in Bandera ISD,” dents connecting on social media sites is and college-aged students, Facebook’s a danger as long as teachers are properly See NAVIGATING on page 24 fastest-growing segment of users are older trained in using these tools and are made than 35, according to 2009 company data. aware that they need to remain profesWeb 2.0 tools are changing the way sional with their online compeople communicate — and it’s ments and postings,” says not just blogging or 00001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 networking. What used to be an email blast 00001110000011100000000111000011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100 — such as “An adjustment 000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 has been made to the district schedule today” — 00001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010000011 now can be disseminated via text 000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100001001001010010 message to thousands of 00001110011100111000010010010100100000111000000011100001001001010010 cell phones and Web pages 00001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100111001110000100100 through social-networking services such as Twitter. 00001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010 Imagine a district sending a “tweet”

March 2009 • Texas School Business


the [broadcasted] story was all over the Web and could be downloaded from many 00001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 TV stations’ Web sites. A simple, positive 000011100000111000000001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 story really took on a life 000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 of its own.” 0000111000000011100001001001010010000011100011101110000100100101001000001110000111 YouTube is 000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100001001001010010 perhaps the best 00001110011100111000010010010100100000111000000011100001001001010010 example of a ma000011100011101110000100100101001010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 ture Web 2.0 tool. 00001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010 “The audience is already there; they understand the technology and how to Domitrovich says. “A positive story about share content,” says Morawski. to reach students,” he says. “Right now, we one student doing the Heimlich maneuver Yet, Web 2.0 tools are still a new have to communicate in all these different on another student was posted on our local frontier for many; they simply don’t ways to reach everyone.” paper’s Web site on a Wednesday morning. reach all the stakeholders involved in By Thursday, the story appeared on three school district decisions. Consequently, San Antonio television news stations. By McCormack advises that school Friday, the stocommunications departments use multiple MICHELLE MOON REINHARDT ry was on the channels to reach the widest audience is an investigative journalist with more CBS “Mornpossible. than 16 years’ experience in news and “Districts need to send letters to senior ing Show.” communication. She owns Austin-Based citizens, send emails The next week, New Moon Productions, a video production 00001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 to parents and company that has been nominated five 000011100000111000000001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 consider new times for a regional Emmy Award by the 000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 media tools National Television Academy. 000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100001001001010010 See sidebar next page. 00001110011100111000010010010100100000111000000011100001001001010010 000011100011101110000100100101001010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 00001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010 NAVIGATING continuted from page 23

Just as the Internet linked together organizations and businesses a decade ago, Web 2.0 tools are connecting people.

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Texas School Business • March 2009


000011100000111000000001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 0000111000000011100001001001010010000011100011101110000100100101001000001110000111000010010010100 0001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100 0000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010 00001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100111001110000100100101001000001110000000 0001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100111001110000100100101001000001110000 Need-to-Know Lingo: A Web 2.0 glossary 111000010010010100100000111000111010001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010 100001001001010010000011100011101000111000011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100101 00001110000011100000000111000011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011 0001110000011100000000111000011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100101001000001110000 Blog: Short for “web log,” a blog podcasts and other publishing Social networking: Examples are 1000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001 0000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010100100000111000000011100001001001010010000011 is an online journal or column, platforms. An RSS document may Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and 000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100001001001010010000011100111001110000100100101 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010 typically focused on the authors’ contain either a summary of the LinkedIn. These sites allow users 001000001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010100100101001000001110 0100000111000000011100001001001010010000011100011101110000100100101001010010010100100000111 special interests. Readers have content or the full version. to build a network of friends and 0111001110000100100101001000001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010 110011100001001001010010000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010100 the ability to add comments share news, information, photos, 000011100001110000100100101001000001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000000011100001 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000000001110000 and feedback to journal entries. Social bookmarking: Sites such music, videos and more. “Vlogs” contain video content. as Del.icio.us, Digg and Buzz 1100001001001010010000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100001001001010010000011100111001 000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000010010010100100000111001 Up allow users to store and tag Twitter: A microblog and social 0000111000000011100001001001010010000011100011101110000100100101001000001110000111000010010010100 0001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100 Podcast: An audio or video Web sites and other Internet networking service that allows 0000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010 file provided via feeds and resources, which can be later users to send instant messages 0001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010100100101001000001110011100111 0011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100111 syndication and made available accessed from any computer. of less than 140 characters 0000100100101001000001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010000011100001 0001001001010010000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010100100000111 online for users to download. Sites can be ranked by popularity to numerous friends’ phones 0000111000001110000000011100001110000100100101001000001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110 0001110000011100000000111000011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100101001000001110000 Content can vary from news and or shared among groups that and Twitter profile pages 0000111000000011100001001001010010000011100011101110000100100101001000001110000111000010010010100 0001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100 reviews to student reports and have similar interests. simultaneously. 00001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010100 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010 teacher presentations. 10000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100111 0000011100000001110000100100101001000001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100 Tagging: This process labels Wiki: A Web site that allows users RSS (Really Simple Syndication): items such as blog posts, photos, to edit and control content. Wikis 00 01110000100100101001000001110000000111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010 Created to make online research Web pages or video to help are collaborative projects in 0000111000011100001001001010010000011100001110000100100101001000001110000011100000000111000011100 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000000001110000 easier, RSS feeds alert subscribers classify the content and make which information can be shared 0000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010100100000111000000011100001001001010 0001110000011100001001001010010000011100111001110000100100101001000001110000000111000010010 when new content is posted searching and sharing easier. easily among a group. TSB 0000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010 on targeted Web sites, blogs, 0000111000111011100001001001010010100100101001000001110011100111000010010010100100000111000000 0001110001110111000010010010100101001001010010000011100111001110000100100101001000001110000 0000111000011100001001001010010000011100000111000010010010100100000111001110011100001001001010010 0001110000111000010010010100100000111000001110000100100101001000001110011100111000010010010 0111000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010100001001001010010 11000010010010100100000111000111011100001001001010010100001001001010010

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Who’s News Argyle ISD Telena Wright is the new superintendent. She has been serving in that position in an interim capacity. Arlington ISD Jerry McCullough, who has served as Arlington ISD’s interim superintendent since July, is now the superintendent. He came to Arlington ISD in 1969, teaching history at Ferguson, Nichols and Shackelford junior highs Jerry McCullough and Lamar High School and becoming an administrator in 1981 with his appointment to principal of Lamar. A year later, he opened Martin High School as its assistant principal, a role in which he served until 1985, when he became principal of Arlington High School. In 1989, McCullough was named the district’s associate superintendent and was promoted to deputy superintendent in 1993. McCullough’s bachelor’s degree was awarded from Baylor University, and his master’s degree from the University of North Texas. Brent West is Arlington ISD’s new director of accounting. He began his career in 1998, teaching ESL in Taiwan and returning to the United States the following year to teach in Fort Worth ISD. In 2000, he once again travelled to Taiwan as an ESL teacher. Two years later, West joined the firm of Pickens Snodgrass Koch LLP as part of the firm’s audit and accounting staff; in 2005, he was promoted to audit senior. West earned a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., and a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. Birdville ISD The Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators has bestowed its Personnel Administrator of the Year award on Richard Valenta, who has been with Birdville ISD for 15 years, the past 10 as the district’s direcRichard Valenta tor of personnel services. Also at Birdville ISD, Valenta has served as assistant director of personnel services and assistant director of athletics. He began his career in 1981 with Carrollton26

Texas School Business • March 2009

Farmers Branch ISD as a teacher and football coach, moving to Irving ISD in 1985, where he was a biology teacher and head baseball coach at Irving High School and a campus administrator at Sam Houston Junior High. Valenta’s bachelor’s degree was awarded from The University of Texas at Arlington, and his master’s degree from the University of North Texas. He is a doctoral student at Walden University. Brackett ISD Robert Westbrook is the new superintendent, coming to Brackett ISD from Grandfalls-Royalty ISD, where he was also superintendent. He began his education career as a teacher and coach in Milano ISD, continuing there as a principal and interim superintendent. His 20-year career has included a stint as an educator with the Texas Youth Commission. Burkeville ISD The district’s new superintendent is Keith Langfitt. He was formerly superintendent of Nazareth ISD. Chester ISD A new superintendent has been appointed. He is John Kent, most recently principal of Leonard High School in Leonard ISD. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD A new central office administrator is in place for the district, principals have been appointed for two new campuses, and a longtime dance director has received a statewide award. Deanna Swenke Elementary School, opening for the 20092010 school year, will have Donna Guthrie as its principal. She is a 22-year education veteran, coming from Deer Park ISD to Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Donna Guthrie in 1992 as a fifth grade teacher at Metcalf Elementary. She spent two years at Metcalf before becoming the school’s assistant principal, a role she had until 1998. She then spent four years as assistant principal of Millsap Elementary. In 2002, Guthrie was appointed principal of Ault Elementary, a position in which she will continue until the new school opens. Guthrie holds a bachelor of science degree in education from Sam Houston State

University and a master of science degree in administration from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Additionally, she is certified in midmanagement administration. Susan Higgins has been named principal of Jodie Smith Middle School, another new campus slated to open for the 2009-2010 school year. She has been an educator for 20 years, with 12 of those spent as an administrator. Higgins Susan Higgins came to the district in 1993 as an assistant principal at Cypress Falls High School. After seven years, she took a one-year administrative internship; in 2001, she became principal of Arnold Middle School, where she will remain until opening the new school. Higgins earned a bachelor of science degree at the University of Houston and a master of science degree in educational administration from Houston Baptist University. She holds certifications in midmanagement administration, instructional leadership and teacher appraisal. Sally Provenzano, director of Cypress Springs High School’s drill team, Panteras, has been honored as the Texas Dance Educators Association’s Director of the Year. The award — which is given to a director with five Sally Provenzano or more years of service who exemplifies the philosophy, ethics and standards of TDEA — was presented to Provenzano at the organization’s annual convention in Austin in January. She established Panteras at Cypress Springs High in 1997, coming to the district from Deer Park ISD. Provenzano, who is a graduate of the University of Houston, received her teaching certification from Houston Baptist University. Karen Smith is the district’s new controller, providing direction and supervision for accounting, budgeting, accounts payable and payroll, as well as serving as a resource for principals, division heads and directors Karen Smith in understanding and See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

TASA Midwinter attracts 5,500 administrators

Sharrah Stigdon, Waelder ISD; Mary Smith and Tammy Garza, Hays CISD; and Carlos Garza, Waelder ISD.

Dennis Hill and Tim Glover of Llano ISD with Ben Carson, Hutto ISD.

Curtis Haley, Thrall ISD; Melody Haley, Whitley ISD; and Jimmy Adams, Hillsboro ISD.

Gary Hamilton of Terrell County ISD with wife, Beth.

Janie Brooks and Kaye Brookshire, Dallas ISD.

Cynthia Hernandez and Debbie Hernandez, Point Isabel ISD.

Holly Fields and Rebeca O’Neil, Socorro ISD.

Sandra Dowdy and Bernard Blanchard, Del Valle ISD.

Lisa Gonzales, Greg Evans and Rhonda Russell, all of Bowie ISD.

David Pate and Marlene Harbeson, Garland ISD. March 2009 • Texas School Business


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 26

using the district’s financial operations. She has 17 years’ experience in public school finance, beginning in 1992 in the position of assistant director of food service finance at Northside ISD. Smith subsequently served as the internal auditor of Klein ISD from 1993 to 1998, becoming that district’s controller in 1999, a position she held for 10 years. Smith received her bachelor of business administration de-

gree in accounting from Texas A&M University and is a certified public accountant and internal auditor, as well as a registered Texas school business administrator.

Harlandale ISD Robert Jacklich, formerly interim superintendent of Harlandale ISD, is the district’s new superintendent.

Grandfalls-Royalty ISD Janet Hunt has been named the new district superintendent, coming to Texas from Clovis, N.M., where she was director of instruction for the Clovis Municipal Schools.

Hearne ISD Hearne ISD’s new superintendent is Jackie Kowalski who, until her new appointment, has been serving as the district’s director of curriculum and federal programs. Prior to coming to Hearne ISD in 2006, she spent 10 years with Brenham ISD, first as principal of Alton Elementary School, then as the director of community education. Kowalski also has held the position of principal of Milano Elementary School in Milano ISD, and she was a first and fifth grade teacher in Bryan ISD. Her education career began in 1974 as a second grade teacher and Title I math teacher in Omaha, Neb., followed by teaching positions in Laramie and Sheridan, Wyo. Kowalski also has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Texas A&M University, where she earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees; her associate of arts degree in elementary education was awarded from Casper College in Casper, Wyo., followed by a bachelor’s degree in the same field from the University of Wyoming. Lueders-Avoca ISD The new superintendent is Roger Huber, who has been serving as the district’s interim superintendent since August. Prior to joining the administration, he served with Anson ISD for 23 years and with ESC Region 14 for 10 years. McAllen ISD McAllen ISD’s health and physical education coordinator, Mario Reyna, is the new president-elect of the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD). The first person from Mario Reyna the Rio Grande Valley to hold this position, he has been an active member of the organization for 20 years, serving as regional representative and vice president of the P.E. division. As president-elect, he will chair TAHPERD’s finance committee. Reyna has spent his entire 27-year career with McAllen ISD,


Texas School Business • March 2009

Who’s News first as a teacher of physical education and health and then as a basketball coach, before taking on his current position with the district. Both his bachelor of science degree and master of education degree in physical education were awarded from The University of Texas – Pan American. Port Aransas ISD Sharon Doughty has been tapped by the Port Aransas ISD Board of Trustees to serve as the district’s superintendent. With 24 years of experience in education, she has served as assistant superintendent of Southside ISD and as principal of two Edgewood ISD elementary schools, as well as teaching in Africa and Japan. Her most recent assignment was as superintendent of Poteet ISD. Doughty’s bachelor’s degree was earned from Texas A&M University, and her master’s degree from The University of Texas; she earned her doctorate at Texas A&M. Ricardo ISD Maria “Vita” Canales is Ricardo ISD’s new superintendent. A native of Kingsville, she earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. She is a 29-year educator, havMaria Canales ing served as a teacher in both elementary and secondary classrooms, a principal, an educational specialist, a consultant and a superintendent, most recently of Kingsville ISD. Rockdale ISD Walter R. Pond, superintendent for the past 20 years, has retired. He spent his entire 38-year career in Rockdale ISD, beginning in 1971 as a student agriculture teacher at Rockdale High School. He then became a teacher there, Walter R. Pond progressing to assistant principal and then principal. He subsequently served as director of personnel, maintenance and transportation for three years before taking on the job of superintendent in 1988. Pond’s bachelor of science and master of education degrees were earned from Texas A&M University, as were his superintendent and midmanage-

ment administrator certifications. Under his leadership, a $28.8 million bond package was passed that included the construction of a new intermediate school; significant renovation of the high school, and of the cafeteria, kitchen and nurses’ station at the elementary school; and a new wing for the junior high. As Pond leaves Rockdale ISD, all projects are under way, with some nearing completion. Howell Wright takes on the role of superintendent. His education career began in Burkeville ISD. From there, he

went on to serve as a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal and a principal in a number of Texas school districts, including Beaumont, Douglass, HuffmanHargrave, New Waverly, Trinity, Cotulla and Palacios. His most recent assignment has been as superintendent of RosebudLott ISD, where he has served since 2006. Wright’s bachelor of science and master of education degrees were awarded from Stephen F. Austin State University; his superintendent certification was earned from See WHO’S NEWS on page 30

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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 29

Lamar University, where he is pursuing a doctorate. Runge ISD The new superintendent is Randy Ewing, who was formerly the assistant superintendent of Lytle ISD. Schulenburg ISD Walter “Wally” Padgett is the district’s new superintendent. He has 17

Who’s News

years of experience in education, 12 of those as an administrator. He began his career as a special education teacher in Sweetwater ISD, and then became a middle school assistant principal in Alice ISD. This was followed by assignments as a high school principal and central office district operations manager in SkidmoreTynan ISD. In 2004, Padgett accepted the role of superintendent of Hubbard ISD, where he served until accepting his new role at Schulenburg ISD. Padgett earned a bachelor of science degree from McMurry

University in Abilene and a master’s degree in school administration from Abilene Christian College; his superintendent certification was awarded from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Socorro ISD Socorro ISD’s director of fine arts, Nellie Ponikvar, was named the 2008 Texas Music Administrator of the Year by the Texas Music Administrators Conference. Ponikvar has been Socorro ISD’s fine arts director since Nellie Ponikvar 2001, overseeing band, choir, orchestra, piano, guitar, art, theater, mariachi, academic decathlon and UIL competitions. Ponikvar is completing her 38th year as an educator; eight of those have been spent in Socorro ISD. She earned a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music with elementary certification from The University of Texas at El Paso, and her master’s degree in administration from Sul Ross State University. She has taught band, choir, second grade and computer technology. Ponikvar also has served as a campus and central office administrator and participated on several state committees. She is the UIL music executive secretary for ESC Region 22. Snyder ISD The district’s new superintendent is Mark Eads, who comes to Snyder ISD from Medina Valley ISD, where he served as assistant superintendent. After spending several years in private-sector business, he entered the field of education 19 years ago as a teacher and campus administrator in Corpus Christi ISD. He then moved to the San Antonio area, where he served as a principal, ESC Region 20 educational specialist, director of personnel, and assistant superintendent for human resources and public relations. Texarkana ISD The Texarkana ISD Board of Trustees named Sonia Sandford the district’s coordinator of health, physical education and employee wellness. Her role will be to provide leadership in the coordination, improvement, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive K-12 health and physical education program, as well as to coordinate resources related to employee wellness and community outreach efforts in the areas of health and wellness. Sand-


Texas School Business • March 2009

ford holds a bachelor of arts degree in physical education and a master of arts degree in adapted physical education, both from the University of Northern Colorado. She earned her doctorate of Sonia Sandford education in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University. She was a high school teacher for four years and a college instructor for 14 years. In 2006, she came to Texarkana ISD, where, until her new appointment, she served as the Leadership and Ready, Set, Teach instructor for Texas High School.

Who’s News

of Tulsa (Okla.) Public Schools. He has taught not only in public schools, but also at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, and at Texas colleges and universities. He has 21 years’ experience as a superintendent, heading districts in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Under his leadership in Brownsville ISD, the number of recognized campuses and the number of national merit scholars increased. In Judson ISD, overall campus ratings improved two years in a row un-

der his leadership. And while holding the top position in Tulsa Public Schools, the number of national merit scholars and test scores rose in 90 percent of the district’s schools. Zolkowski earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), a doctoral degree in education from California Coast University, and a second doctorate (in philosophy) from The University of Texas. TSB

Valley View ISD The new superintendent is William Stokes, who comes to Valley View ISD from Lipan ISD, where he served in the same capacity. West ISD Marty Crawford is the district’s new superintendent. After attending Baylor University on an athletic scholarship and receiving a bachelor of science degree in education, he spent two years as a minor league baseball Marty Crawford player with the Philadelphia Phillies organization, earning South Atlantic League all-star honors. Upon retiring from baseball in 1998, he simultaneously began his education career as a teacher and coach in the Oklahoma City Public Schools and commenced graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma. He earned a master of education degree and principal certification there. Crawford returned to his native Texas, serving as an elementary teacher and coach in Highland Park ISD, then as a history teacher and head baseball coach for Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD and assistant football and track coach at Euless Trinity High School. In 2003, he took on the role of principal of Hillcrest High School in Dallas ISD, where he remained until accepting his newest position. He earned his superintendent certification and doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University – Commerce. Ysleta ISD The district’s new superintendent is Michael Zolkowski, who arrives in El Paso from his post as superintendent

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Texas School Business • March 2009

REGION 4 continued from page 32

Frances Baccigalopi, Joan Bowman, Vickey Giles and Marna Harper, all of Sheldon ISD.

Jerry Dennis, Pasadena ISD; Kathy Clausen, Goose Creek ISD; and Jim Rubach, Dickinson ISD.

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD administrators Harold Rowe, Pam Wells, Teresa Hull and Tony Barcelona.

James Gwaltney, Aquilla ISD; Dennis Eichelbaum, Schwartz & Eichelbaum Wardell Mehl and Hansen PC; and Jerry Kirby, retired, Blum ISD.




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by Riney Jordan

Learning to make the ‘R’ sound


y friend of over 40 years is Dr. Paul Jennings. When I first met Paul, he was a speech therapist who loved kids and thoroughly enjoyed his work. Paul tells a great story about one of his first students. The school records showed that little Raymond was 6 years old and desperately needed the help of a speech therapist. The first day Raymond came to class, Paul immediately recognized that Raymond had difficulty with the “R” sound. When you asked him his name, he simply said, “Waymon.” Well, for weeks, Paul worked with Raymond to get that “R” sound at the beginning of his name. “R-r-r-r-r-r,” Paul would say. “Look in the mirror with me. Make your mouth the same shape as mine. I know you can do it. Keep trying.” Eventually, Raymond could say his name almost as clearly as Paul could say it. Oh, the feeling of success in the classroom! The sheer joy of realizing that you’ve made a difference in the life of a child! That spring, during the school’s open house, Paul met Raymond’s parents for the first time. “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” they said. “Our little boy really enjoys your class.” “Oh, I enjoy him as well,” Paul responded. “We had a little difficulty at first with the ‘R’ sound, but he’s got it down pat now.” “Very good,” his mother said, “and Waymond will see you on Monday.” “Uh, what did you say?” Paul questioned. “You called him Waymond. His name’s not, uh, uh … Raymond?’” “Why no,” she answered. “Oh, goodness,” Paul said as his face began to turn beet red. “I’ve been working for weeks to get him to make that ‘R’ sound on the front of his name.” “Well, that explains why he’s been calling himself ‘Raymond’ every time he meets someone. Do you mind working with him to go back to Waymond?” 34

Texas School Business • March 2009

“Not at all,” Paul said. “We’ll begin work on undoing my mistake first thing Monday morning.” Oh, we still laugh about it every time we’re together. Hey, no one ever said that we were perfect. Now and then it’s good to admit we aren’t and laugh at ourselves when we make a mistake. It’s also refreshing to laugh at those things that invariably happen in every classroom. I’ll never forget a story one teacher told me about a boy in her class. He had walked up to her desk and asked if he could go to the bathroom. “But we just got back from the bathroom,” she answered. “I know, teacher,” he said. “But that time I had to stand up, and this time I have to sit down.” Oh, kids are so clever. I also remember a day when the grandchildren were playing in our backyard with water guns I had bought them. “Die! Die!” Taylor said to one of the younger kids as he pretended to shoot him. “Taylor, please don’t tell Dustin you want him to ‘die.’ Don’t let me hear you telling anyone to ‘die’ again,” I said. “I’m sorry, Gampy. I won’t.” At that moment, Taylor turned to Dustin, pretended to shoot him and said, “Pass away! Pass away!” You know, some folks think that miracles are a thing of the past. But to me, the real miracles happen every day: when you hear the innocent words of a child, when you see the joy on their faces, or when their words bring a smile to your troubled world. They are, indeed, the cure for many of our worries.

RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book, “All the Difference,” is now in its fifth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@htcomp.net or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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