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THE INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 56 YEARS

March 2010

Pitching the media How to get positive press

In the Spotlight Judy Farmer of TSPRA

TSPRA President Steven Valdez Weslaco ISD


DISCOVER

A B E T T E R W AY T O B U I L D S C H O O L S .

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CONTENTS In the Spotlight: TSPRA’s Judy Farmer announces retirement

11

John Egan

TSPRA President Profile: Steven Valdez, Weslaco ISD

17

Jennifer LeClaire

COVER: Experts share tips on getting positive stories into the media

18

Whitney Angstadt

photo FEATURES TCASE celebrates 50th annual conference in Fort Worth Thousands gather in Austin for TASA Midwinter Conference TAPE conference attracts leaders in business, education Texas School Health Association hosts statewide conference

DEPartments

25 30 33 37

COLUMNS

From Our Readers

13

In Memoriam

15

TSB Professional Development & Events Calendar

21

Who’s News

26

Advertisers Index

38

From the Editor

5

Tech Toolbox

The Law Dawg  —  unleashed

7

The Back Page

Katie Ford Jim Walsh

Terry Morawski Riney Jordan

9 38

Above photo: Steven Valdez, Weslaco ISD director of instructional television, became president of the Texas School Public Relations Association in February. 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 2010 • Texas School Business

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Robert Chapa, United ISD

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From the Editor I think Clint Bond of Fort Worth ISD summarized school communications brilliantly: “If you don’t tell your story, somebody else is going to tell it for you. And it may not be in the way you want it told.” This statement is at the heart of why it’s so important for school districts to be proactive in communicating positive developments in Texas public schools. We all know how fast dropout rates and lowperforming schools make headlines. But is this a fair and complete representation of what’s going on in your schools? Of course it’s not. For our cover story, writer Whitney Angstadt talked to school public relations officials and consultants about building relationships with media professionals and getting your stories of success in the news. Also this month, we’re putting Judy Farmer in our Spotlight. After 30 years in public education, the executive director of the Texas School Public Relations Association is retiring in May. We also interviewed the incoming president of TSPRA, Steven Valdez, who is the director of instructional television in Weslaco ISD. You’ll also find oodles of images from winter conferences, including the TASA Midwinter, the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education, the Texas School Health Association and the Texas Association of Partners in Education. Technology columnist Terry Morawski explains why your district needs a blog — now. I love hearing your feedback and story suggestions. Keep them coming to katie@ texasschoolbusiness.com.

Katie Ford, editor

Tex. Lic. #10138

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) March 2010 Volume LVI, Issue 5 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, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Jim Johnson Business Manager Debbie Stover Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel Web Manager Andrew Page

Barbara Walker Elementary School, Crandall ISD

ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620

Prince of Peace Christian School

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 and at additional mailing offices. 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.

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Sigler Elementary School, Plano ISD

March 2010 • Texas School Business

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THE LAW DAWG – unleashed by Jim Walsh

Why not race to the top?

G

ov. Rick Perry has announced that Texas is not going to play the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” game. Robert Scott, our commissioner of education, a Perry appointee, has explained in a letter to Senator John Cornyn that the Race to the Top is “the first step toward nationalization of our schools.” It represents “unprecedented intrusiveness by the federal government into the personal lives of our children and their families” and will be strongly resisted by Texas because we have “chosen to preserve our sovereign authority.” Good politics. Bad policy. Kicking around the federal government and claiming to protect families and “sovereign authority” will sell well in the Republican primary. But Perry and Scott are posturing for political purposes and taking our educational policy in the wrong direction. Why should we not have national standards for what kids are expected to learn? What is the concern here? Is math different in Ohio than it is in Texas? Doesn’t everyone in all 50 states want their kids to learn how to read? Is the periodic table of elements different in Miami than it is in Seattle? Are we afraid that the feds will prevent our kids from learning about the Alamo? National standards make sense, as do national tests. How else can you make a meaningful comparison of student achievement? People who want to know how the kids in Texas stack up against kids from other states cannot rely on TAKS scores. Other states test in different ways, so it is an apples-versus-oranges situation. This is why so many people were skeptical when Texas began bragging about its accountability system. We began to hear accusations that Texas standards were watered down, and that too many students were allowed to take alternative tests. Then we got NCLB, which squeezed all of the states much closer together in terms of testing protocol, but states retained considerable leeway in setting standards. Thus, it is still difficult to compare student achievement from one state to another.

That’s why most people who want to know how our kids are doing will look to SAT scores or the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The move toward national standards and a national test became inevitable once we decided to measure student achievement by testing. If you are going to measure students by a test, you have to give them the same test. If they are going to take the same test, you have to teach them the same things. Thus, the takeover with regard to standards and testing is the other shoe dropping — the natural outcome of the accountability reform movement. Scott is right about the federal government seeking to take over public education, but he is wrong to suggest that it is just now starting. It started a long time ago. The feds took over special education in 1975. We have raised an entire generation of children with disabilities who were educated in conformity with detailed and onerous federal regulations that significantly eroded our socalled “sovereign authority.” The feds took over accountability systems when President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush was so proud of the Texas accountability system that he built the federal system on the same foundation — curriculum standards and testing. Thus, it is ironic that Bush’s gubernatorial successor would complain of an invasion of our “sovereign authority” simply because the other shoe is now dropping. And then there is the matter of just how we have handled this aspect of our “sovereign authority.” The State Board of Education sets our curriculum standards, including those in science. If Rick Perry had his way, it would still be headed up by a man who thinks the earth is 6,000 years old. We think the feds can do at least as well. Bring it on. JIM WALSH is editor in chief of Texas School Business. Also a school attorney, he co-founded the firm of Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Gallegos & Green PC. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa.com. March 2010 • Texas School Business

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national association of Elementary school principals comes to Houston, Texas George R. Brown Convention Center April 8 -11, 2010

ExpERt insights on LEadERship, Education and achiEvEmEnt Chris Gardner

Christopher Gardner, an acclaimed speaker and author of the bestselling autobiography The Pursuit of Happyness, which later became a popular movie, will share his amazing life story and inspire principals to overcome obstacles and reach new levels of success. Having conquered seemingly impossible challenges, Gardner shares his philosophies on, and the crucial steps behind, claiming ownership of your dreams and achieving your full potential.

Marlee Matlin

Marlee Matlin is an award-winning actress, advocate for the hearing-impaired, national celebrity spokesperson for the American Red Cross, and is passionate about children. Matlin published a novel for children entitled Deaf Child Crossing in 2002 and the sequels Nobody’s Perfect in 2006 and Leading Ladies in 2007.

Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time, will share his inspiring story about his nonprofit, Central Asia Institute, Pennies For Peace, which provides educational opportunities to more than 25,000 children in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In March 2009, Mortenson received Pakistan’s highest civil award, Sitara-e-Pakistan (“Star of Pakistan”), for his dedicated and humanitarian effort to promote education and literacy in rural areas.

woRkshops oF spEciaL intEREst to schooL pRincipaLs This is just a sample of sessions designed to build your vision of the future. For a complete list of concurrent sessions, visit www.naesp.org/2010. Transformational Leadership Across America: Turnaround Principals in Action

Low-Prep, High-Impact Intervention Strategies that Support Differentiated Instruction and Response to Intervention

Debunking the Myths About Change

Wiring the Brain to Read: The Principal’s Guide to Increasing Reading Achievement

While the term “turnaround principal” is new, some educational leaders have been successful in reversing the downward spiral of struggling schools for decades. These principals will share their compelling stories with an in-depth study of implementing the best practices that all principals can achieve. Explore why people resist change. Know when to lead, when to follow, and when to get out of the way as change happens. Enhance your ability to guide change through conversations and simulations during this session. Apply new strategies in your school that will create a climate in which innovation will flourish.

Learn techniques to tailor discipline, classroom management, curriculum content, and instructional delivery to the unique needs of your at-risk students. The intervention strategies shared in this session will help you constructively and successfully address the pressing learning issues facing you and your staff each day.

Explore a practical framework for putting the implications of current reading, cognitive, and brain research into practice in your school, and leave armed with a toolbox of strategies for improving reading achievement.

stEps to gain suppoRt FRom youR supERintEndEnt

• identify educational sessions that address the current initiatives and specific needs within your school at www.naesp.org/2010 • plan goals and outcomes that can be achieved when you attend the NAESP Annual Convention & Exposition • explore the alignment between the convention program and your vision for your school

Bring your aspiring principal for FREE The NAESP Annual Convention & Exposition is an unmatched opportunity for principals to empower dialogue and change for their schools. REgistER today! www.naEsp.oRg/2010


Tech Toolbox by Terry Morawski

Why your district needs a blog — now “It began with conversations. Then we got into broadcast media. Now we are going back to conversations. It’s a full circle.” — Terry Catchpole, The Catchpole Corporation f you are not familiar with blogs, now is the time to dive in. This valuable, and often free, tool can provide your school district with an informal communication channel and a great platform for feedback and discussion. Coined in 1997, “blog” is short for “weblog” (a contraction of the words “web” and “log”). Since the early years of blogging, these online journals have become a hugely popular medium for sharing information. Many administrators I have spoken to say they do not want to start a blog because they do not want to air their dirty laundry in front of a wide audience. My response is that the issues, questions and complaints that appear on blogs are the same discussions already happening at grocery stores, in football stadiums and in homes in your community. The great thing about a blog is it allows you to intercept those comments and respond as necessary. In other words, you normally aren’t there to correct someone if they take a cheap shot at the district. In the blogosphere, you are able to respond and prove that you are listening to their concerns. Before you start your blog, decide what your policy on commenting will be. In initial discussions, many administrators say they would prefer to turn off the commenting feature. This is enticing, as comments will often not be flattering. But I would caution against this strategy because one of the greatest powers of a blog is its two-way communication. A blog without comments is basically a Web site. The act of prohibiting comments also can give the appearance that you are not interested in community feedback. The online community has grown accustomed to the ability to comment on items they read.

I

I also would recommend posting your blog policies. Our policy in Mansfield ISD lays out the purpose of the blog and the way commenting works. It does this in a relatively informal, yet legally acceptable, way. One important element of our commenting policy is that we do not promise to post comments that are not related to the subject of the initial blog post. Regular blog readers can sometimes engage in side conversations or personal attacks with other individuals commenting on a post, but I do not think this is a valid use of your blog space. The comment feature provides a means for people to thoughtfully praise, criticize or challenge a topic, but not for unrelated conversation. Blogging tools have a feature allowing you to approve or deny comments before they are posted, and I would highly recommend using this feature. You are opening yourself up to legal issues if you allow open commenting without any approval process. These legal concerns would stem from the usual areas of concern like posting student information, open complaints against an employee, et cetera. Starting a blog can be a fun, but sometimes intimidating, exercise. Review a few school district blogs and non-education blogs to determine the desired tone and content of your blog. Two of the most popular public sites to host a free blog are blogger.com and wordpress.com. I would caution you against hosting the blog on an area of your district’s site that is difficult to access. After all, the purpose of the blog is to spur discussion. Good luck and please feel free to share your success and horror stories with me. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. He writes about technology and other topics at www. communicationsjetpack.com. He can be reached at terrymorawski@gmail.com. March 2010 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • March 2010

1/27/2010 4:19:20 PM


In the

Spotlight

Executive Director Judy Farmer to hang up her TSPRA hat and moves into education consulting by John Egan

F

or more than 30 years, Judy Farmer has committed herself to public education in Texas as a professional and a volunteer. This May, she will retire as the executive director of the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) — a position she has held for six years. Though she is leaving the 9-to-5 behind, her commitment to public education will remain steadfast. Farmer says she plans to segue into part-time education consulting work, which will allow her the freedom to pursue one of her great loves — overseas travel. “I’m not walking off into the sunset,” Farmer says. “I have some other things that I want to do in my life, and I want to be able to do them while I’m in good health and can get around. I don’t want to die at a desk.” High on her itinerary are destinations like Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey. Farmer says she’s interested in studying education systems in other countries. Back in Texas, Farmer says she has witnessed numerous improvements since she first volunteered in public education with a seat on the Sinton ISD Board of Trustees in 1977. For instance, she believes the state’s education system is more methodical than it was back in the late 1970s; Farmer points out that a secondgrade student in Texas now gains essentially the same knowledge as any other second grader — whether they’re across the hall or across the state. Nonetheless, she says, “we still have a long way to go.” Farmer cites math and science instruction, school funding and teacher recruitment as areas for improvement. She adds that teaching is not a profession “that’s encouraged or admired, sadly. I don’t see in American society that education is valued as much as sports or entertainment by most people.” Farmer, on the other hand, values education tremendously. Aside from serving on the Sinton ISD board from 1977 to 1983, she sat on the board of the Texas

Association of School Boards from 1980 to 1983. Farmer’s grown twin daughters are products of public education in Texas: Kira now lives in Austin, and Krista lives in Portland, Ore. Farmer launched her professional career in education in 1990 as program coordinator of TASB’s Parent Learning Network. Nine years later, she was hired as Executive Director Judy Farmer speaks at the 2009 TSPRA Conference executive director of in San Antonio. Photo courtesy of Tommy Hultgren. the Texas Association U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. of Partners in Education. Farmer joined Farmer moved to Texas in 1974. TSPRA as executive director in 2004. Following several years as a stay-atTSPRA is a nonprofit organization dedihome mom and volunteer, Farmer went cated to promoting public schools through back to school in the mid-1980s. She reeffective communications. She says the ceived a master’s degree in clinical psyassociation has become much more dichology from Texas A&M Universityverse and transparent during her tenure. Corpus Christi in 1985 and became an asIn 2004, TSPRA opened its memsociate psychologist in Corpus Christi that bership to foundation staff members and same year. In 1989 and 1990, she worked trustees who support public schools. The in psychology in Austin. group mainly comprises public informaTwenty years later and facing her retion and communications professionals tirement, Farmer remains passionate about who serve public school districts and edupublic education. cation organizations in Texas. The associ“I believe that schools are still the ation’s more than 1,000 members also inlast intact social institution that we have,” clude superintendents, school administraFarmer says. “Schools are asked to do tors, principals, executive directors, media so many things in addition to teaching and graphics professionals and education content.” consultants. Farmer hopes to do more things for public education in Texas through Callisto The early years International Consulting Group, her eduAs a college graduate, Farmer didn’t cation consulting business. have her sights set on public education. “I haven’t been able to do much with After earning a bachelor’s degree in interit yet,” she says of Callisto, “but I will get national history from Dunbarton College that up and running this summer after I rein Washington D.C., she worked as an intire from TSPRA.” telligence research analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, the Army and the Library of Congress. That was followed by JOHN EGAN is a writer and editor in Austin. a brief stint as a public relations aide for March 2010 • Texas School Business

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From Our Readers We continue to be impressed with the improvement and quality of Texas School Business magazine and your focus upon the excellence found in public schools. Your coverage of the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA) 2009 Annual Conference held in Austin last December is certainly appreciated. Although Region 4 has enjoyed the opportunity to learn and gain from a long and mutually beneficial relationship with AESA, Region 4 can in no way take credit for hosting the 2009 Annual Conference as the headline in your magazine stated. John Bass, ESC Region 16 executive director, currently serves on the AESA Executive Committee and Dr. Pat Pringle of Region 13 served as the local arrangements coordinator for the conference. They, along with their staff and many other involved AESA members, truly deserve credit for hosting an outstanding and successful conference. Thank you for taking any opportunity available to acknowledge those who earned and deserve the credit for the 2009 AESA Conference. Bill McKinney Executive director ESC Region 4 Thanks for the Twitter article (“Tech Toolbox: To Tweet or not to Tweet?”) in the February issue of Texas School Business. We are making Twitter strides in NISD, albeit small ones: seven schools out of 104. This article will help my principals understand Twitter’s potential better. Pascual Gonzalez Executive director of communications Northside ISD, San Antonio

I received a copy of the January issue of Texas School Business from my associate superintendent. She congratulated me on the “great” article (“In the Spotlight: North East ISD’s Barbara Mainz offers support for homeless students and school-age parents”). I wanted to convey my appreciation to you, Katie, and to your writer Elizabeth Millard. In the past, both NEISD programs have been subjects for articles in the San Antonio Express-News, local neighborhood papers, and campus Web sites and blogs. None now count. I think Elizabeth did a wonderful job of clasping the true essence of what our students are experiencing in the community. Thank you for the visibility and for supporting our students’ plight. It was great working with both of your creative minds! Barbara Mainz Director of family support services North East ISD I thoroughly enjoyed reading [the Third Annual] Bragging Rights. I hope maybe in a future edition that Greenville ISD might be of consideration. Also, thanks for your continued support of Texas public schools and that of Texas ASCD. We are most grateful. Carl E. Key Deputy superintendent Greenville ISD We are truly honored to be a part of this special issue (Third Annual Bragging

Rights 2009-2010). We’ve read your magazine for years and have enjoyed this special edition. We’re kind of pinching ourselves that we are actually a part of it. Thank you for the great honor and opportunity to share with other schools. Lisa S. Winters Public and media relations specialist Kerrville ISD Thanks to you, Katie, and the folks at Texas School Business for selecting the “Seniors Helping Seniors” program for the Third Annual Bragging Rights 2009-2010 issue. As you have seen, it was an awesome community effort! I’ve informed everyone here about the honor and they are bouncing off the walls! Mark Kramer Communications specialist Pasadena ISD Thanks so much, Katie, for selecting us and for sharing our story in the Third Annual Bragging Rights 2009-2010 issue. Can’t wait to read the magazine from cover to cover. … We really appreciate your highlighting our We Care program and for honoring our district and sponsors like this! Congratulations on another great issue! Julie Thannum Executive director of communications and marketing Carroll ISD TSB www.WalshAnderson.com

The information on Twitter was super. I believe the large majority of school administrators do not have a clue about Twitter, and you provided valuable information. Just wanted to give you some positive feedback. Carlene Marak Education consultant Henderson Thanks to you, Katie, and your writer Elizabeth Millard for the exceptional “In the Spotlight” piece on me in the November/December 2009 issue. John Hoyle, retired Administrative Leadership Institute Texas A&M University

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In Memoriam Evadale ISD Special Programs Director Connie Rose Martin Atmar died on Dec. 12. After earning a degree in accounting, raising a family and working several years in business, Atmar decided to follow in her mother’s Connie Rose and sister’s footsteps Martin Atmar and enter the field of education. Her teaching career began at Spurger ISD, where she stayed for three years before moving to Evadale ISD for four years. During these years, Atmar’s sister received her diagnostician certification, and she enjoyed it so much that she encouraged Atmar to get certified, which she did. Atmar then worked for the West Orange-Cove ISD about eight years before returning to Evadale ISD as the special programs director in 2006 until her death. Atmar is survived by her husband, Rex Atmar of Buna; daughter, Pam Gerald Payne of Las Vegas; sons, Martin Gerald and Mark Gerald of Virginia and Ben Atmar of Houston; sister, Carmen Purgahn of Orange; parents, Raymond and Eunice Martin of Bon Wier; and 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Former

Texas

Raymon L. Bynum

Education Agency Commissioner of Education Raymon L. Bynum died on Dec. 10. He devoted his life to public education, starting as a math teacher and coach and rising to become the top public education official in the

state of Texas. The son of Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Bynum, he was born Dec. 29, 1928, in Snyder. Bynum was a 1946 graduate of Snyder High School. While in school, he played football and basketball. He was selected to play in the 1946 Texas High School AllStar Game. Bynum was a 1950 graduate of McMurry University, where he achieved academic honors and played football. He obtained a master’s degree in education from Southern Methodist University and was awarded an honorary doctorate of

laws from McMurry in 1975. He served as president of McMurry’s Alumni Association and as a member of the university’s board of trustees. Bynum was named to the McMurry Athletic Hall of Honor in 1987 and was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1984. Following graduation, Bynum coached for seven years in East Texas and Richardson. His team won five district championships during that time. In 1958, he was named deputy superintendent for administration and finance for Richardson ISD. During his tenure, the district grew from 3,000 students to more than 40,000. He was appointed in 1960 to the Legislative Property Tax Commission, from which came most of the state’s current property tax laws. He served for 22 years as the assistant superintendent of Richardson Schools. In 1975, Bynum served as TEA’s assistant commissioner of finance, moving on to the role of deputy commissioner of administrative services in 1979. In 1981, Bynum was appointed the new state commissioner of education, a post he held for more than three years until his retirement. While at TEA, Bynum led many innovations, including “fast growth adjustment” for districts with underprivileged families, alternative finance formulas, curriculum revisions and teacher certification. Bynum never really retired. After his time with TEA, he served as a consultant. His recognized expertise in public school finance kept him busy with school districts throughout Texas. Bynum was preceded in death by his parents and three of his siblings. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary Esther; his children, Kathleen Lunson, Susan Bynum, and Les Bynum and wife, Lori; a brother, Dr. Lowell Bynum; grandchildren Ashley Bynum, David Lunson, Annalise Bynum and Allison Bynum; as well as many nephews, nieces and in-laws. Former TASA Executive Director Charles F. Mathews passed away Nov. 25, 2009. Mathews was born June 19, 1915, in Bangs to Charlie and Vera Mathews. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Howard Payne University, a master of education degree from The

University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate of education from Texas Tech University. Mathews was involved in various phases of public education in Texas since Charles F. the beginning of his Mathews career in 1936, including serving as a classroom teacher and principal (Santa Anna, Colorado City, and Midland ISDs); director of curricular services (Midland ISD); and superintendent (Longview and Plainview ISDs). He also worked as a college administrator at Kilgore College. Mathews served as executive director of TASA from 1976 to 1985. He provided outstanding leadership during a period of tremendous growth for the association. He led the efforts to secure funding for TASA’s first headquarters building in 1980. During his career in public education, Mathews received numerous honors and awards. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Wayland Baptist College, was named Educator of the Year by Texas School Business magazine (1966), received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Howard Payne University (1967), was selected as the first Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Education at Texas Tech University (1977), received the Golden Deeds for Education Award at Texas A&M University (1980), was selected Administrator of the Year by the Texas Educational Secretaries Association (1983), received the second annual Excellence in Education Award at The University of Texas at Austin (1984), received special recognition from the College of Education and the Professional Administrators and Supervisors Council at North Texas State University (1985), was named National Educational Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Educational Office Personnel (1985), was honored by a State Board of Education Resolution (1986), and received the prestigious Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of School Administrators (1986). Mathews served as TASA president (1959-1960) and was inducted as an honorary life member of TASA (1986). Obituary courtesy of TASA. TSB March 2010 • Texas School Business

15


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TSPRA PRESIDENT profile Weslaco ISD television director takes the helm by Jennifer LeClaire

W

hen it comes to educational television programming, Steven Valdez takes a different approach than many other directors across the Texas public school system. He puts a heavy emphasis on publicity. Beyond addressing student needs and helping teachers, Valdez, director of instructional television at Weslaco ISD, has developed programming that interests a broader viewership: parents. His lineup showcases programs such as varsity sporting events, talent shows and spelling bees. As he sees it, parents who miss their kid’s football game want to be able to turn on the TV and watch it later — sometimes with their child. Valdez’s approach helps drive positive parental and community relations. This public-relations-focused philosophy is one reason why Valdez is poised to make an impact during his tenure as president of the Texas School Public Relations Association. He stepped up to the position at the annual conference in February. TSPRA works to promote effective public relations practices, provide professional development for members, and improve communication between Texans and other public schools. “My perspective on the TSRPA presidency is restoring honor to the profession of public relations, along with a strong work ethic,” says Valdez, 46, who left his career as a television news reporter to serve in education. “The word ‘honor’ used to be assigned to educators. Being a teacher was among the most honorable professions in our society. But we’ve lost some of that honor. I want to help our PR professionals recognize honor and promote people who display honor in education.” Valdez already has brought honor to his position as director of instructional television at Weslaco ISD. He has served there for 19 years and, during that time, built one the state’s largest school television staffs. In his district of only 17,000 students, Valdez has worked from the beginning to establish deep roots for the TV station. By ensuring that the programming meets the needs of the student population, promotes academic

success and caters to the needs of busy parents, the station has weathered budget cuts for nearly two decades. “My background in TV news helped me because as the department started to grow, we didn’t have an engineer on staff,” Valdez says. “It was nice to know what type of equipment we needed to buy, and I was comfortable enough to work behind the camera or on air. In the early days, I would write, shoot, edit, voice — I did everything.” Weslaco ISD’s Steven Valdez stepped up to serve as president at Welasco ISD’s tele- TSPRA’s annual conference in February in Austin. vision station is one of only a handful in the state to broadcast on “People ask me what I am going to do both a cable-access channel and via Interwhen I retire,” Valdez says. “There’s plenty net streaming. Programming streams online of things you can do with tools and with 24/7 for the convenience of parents. Beyond time. The combination of tools and time is sporting events and spelling bees, the stawonderful. I love being alone. I just turn tion also broadcasts school board meetings, on the radio and I can be outside all day graduation ceremonies and other school by myself working on projects with my events. Anything a parent would want to hands.” watch becomes a broadcast assignment for Valdez is currently working to secure Valdez’s department. entertainment icons for TSPRA’s next conValdez earns his keep, in part, by manference. So far, he has booked John Quiaging advertising for the stadium’s Jumnones, co-anchor of ABC’s “Prime Time,” boTron. He sells ads for display on the big and he is working on a yet-to-be-named screen, which generates about $80,000 a television personality from a well-known year for the school district. Valdez’s team comedy show. With his background and members also produce splashy videos that commitment to honor and hard work, Valair on the scoreboard before the game dez says he believes he can make a lasting starts, and they handle the instant replays. impression on TSRPA. Valdez figures the entertainment of Friday “TSPRA installing me as its first presinight football has increased hugely because dent from the broadcasting world is an indiof these efforts. cation of our diversity,” Valdez says. “As a When Valdez isn’t heading up the public relations professional, you can’t just district’s television station, he’s spending be a good writer anymore. You have to be plenty of time with his wife and children. good at social media, photography and vidHe also enjoys working with his hands and eo. Public relations is so much more today often jokes that if he weren’t running a telethan what it used to be.” vision station, he would probably venture into woodworking. He has built everything JENNIFER LECLAIRE has written for from lamps to pergolas. He describes himThe New York Times, the Associated Press self as a weekend carpenter. and The Christian Science Monitor. March 2010 • Texas School Business

17


Making the pitch How to get your positive news into the media

by Whitney Angstadt

eeping a steady stream of positive news about your schools in the public eye can do wonders for building community and confidence among all stakeholders in the district. Yet, administrators and educators know too well how easily a negative story can make it into the media. How do you get those positive stories in the local newspaper and on the morning news? According to some experts, it goes back to building relationships and knowing what makes news. If you want reporters, journalists and bloggers to know about and cover your good news, you need to get to know them. Find out who in the newsroom covers education and start building that relationship. “Sometimes you can talk with them about something that has nothing to do with a story,” says Barbara Griffith, senior communications officer for Fort Worth ISD. “Just check in with them and let them know Barbara Griffith you’re still there.” Staying connected with your local media may seem laborious, but remember: The more you do to maintain

K

18

Texas School Business • March 2010

an ongoing relationship now, the less effort it will take to get your positive stories in the news when they happen. “Once you build a relationship with a reporter, you know that when there is good news in your district, you can pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey something great is going on,’ and the relationship is already there,” says Julie Jerome, Hays Julie Jerome CISD assistant superintendent of information, communications and student services. Keep your media contacts list up to date as well. Routinely verify newsroom and editorial staff rosters, emails and phone numbers. “With layoffs being so common these days, you don’t want to be sending your press release to the person who was laid off last week,” says Kristen Escovedo, a PR consultant and former communications direcKristen Escovedo tor for Eagle Mountain/ Saginaw ISD.

Keep in mind that building relationships with media professionals requires some give and take. Be willing to cooperate on any story. “If you are willing to work with the media when they need help on a story … then you’re establishing that goodwill,” Escovedo says. This relationship, once built, can help your district when bad news occurs. “Most people don’t realize that the most important thing in dealing with the media is that you have to have a relationship with the media before a crisis occurs,” says Escovedo. “If we are cooperative with them, they really appreciate that. When a crisis occurs, they are more likely to give you a fair shake and work with you more.” To make headlines, you must determine which media outlet is most appropriate for the news you have to share. “If you’re pitching a story to television, for example, it has to be visual,” says Clint Bond, external communications coordinator for Fort Worth ISD and a former broadcast news assignment editor. “So, we have to think in terms of action. A school board meeting with a bunch of talking heads isn’t going to get their attention.


“A bunch of kids who are conducting a mock trial or who are setting up cans in the shape of castles — those things are visual and they get a lot of attention,” he says. Read your local print Clint Bond and online publications. Listen to the local radio stations. Watch the local TV news. It’s the best way to understand each news organization’s target audience, as well as its focus and style, Escovedo says. Once you have that information, you can tailor your press releases accordingly. Make it easy The reality is that sometimes reporters and editors don’t have time to pursue stories. By doing most of the legwork in gathering photography, scheduling interviews and providing a thorough press release complete with relevant data, you make it easy for journalists and reporters to pick up your district’s positive news and run with it. Escovedo says the trick is knowing what makes a good story — and what doesn’t. “Not everything that your campuses send you is going to make a good story. Not every bake sale is newsworthy,” Escovedo says. “You have to go through those stories that your schools give you and identify what has good visuals, what has a broad appeal to your media. [Media outlets] get hundreds of press releases every day, and they appreciate you going through and weeding out the ones that are not going to be newsworthy.” Taking the time to craft a compelling press release increases your chances of getting media coverage. Jerome says to think about what the reporter needs to finish the assignment. This could range from interview quotes to supporting data, high-resolution digital images or video footage. The importance of branding A good way to maintain a positive media presence is to brand your school district­ to give it a strong sense of identity and clear goals. “Every district, every organization, has a story to tell, and you have to determine what that story is — what your message is, generally speaking,” Bond says. “A brand is a promise you make,” says Griffith, noting that all the district’s communications reflect standard colors and font styles. She says the visual uniformity sends a message to the public and to everyone in the district. “It really inspires people to understand both internally and externally that you know

what you’re doing,” Griffith says. “It says that you are operating from a place of strength. And you know what you are about.” “Once we hammer out what our message is, we base all of the communication that we have with the media around that vision, that mission,” Bond says. “And we search for stories within our organization that help support that vision.” Timing is everything Knowing the best times to send your press releases to a particular media organization will increase the chances of getting your schools and districts covered. Get to know the deadlines of the reporters and newsrooms you interact with. Griffith, who worked in broadcast news for a number of years, says pitching stories to TV stations on Mondays gives the newsroom the whole week to work your story into the newscast. “It’s always hard to hit the ground running out of a weekend newscast, so sending your stories on a Monday is a good idea,” says Griffith, who also urges her staff to try to avoid sending press releases on a Friday. “The news rolls Monday to Friday; by the end of the week, newsrooms tend to be fully engaged in whatever began in the week that gathers steam throughout the week,” she says. Griffith says schools should avoid pitching stories on days that are predictably preoccupied by other news, such as city

council meetings or local elections. And she encourages pitching around the holidays. “For instance, if the courthouse, city government and county offices are closed around a holiday, there might be a little more opportunity,” she says. “So, we’ll try to find stories that either tie into the holiday or that are easy to cover.” Beyond the mainstream An ever-growing number of people are getting their news from online and mobile sources. These outlets provide more opportunities to get your positive stories in the media. After Fort Worth ISD redesigned its Web site, it started getting upwards of 30,000 unique visitors a day, Griffith says. The Web site features streaming live video and photo galleries, and it’s updated daily. Also, don’t underestimate the power of social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, to share good news instantly with your community. A little bit of positive press can go a long way in promoting confidence and unity among parents, educators, students and the community. The same can be said, however, about the affects of a negative news report. “If you don’t tell your story, somebody else is going to tell it for you,” Bond says. “And it may not be in the way you want it told.” WHITNEY ANGSTADT is a freelance writer in Austin.

Fort Worth ISD External Communications Coordinator Clint Bond gives an interview with a local TV station. March 2010 • Texas School Business

19


The 24Th annual

tCASE - LEGAL DIGEST ConFErEnCE on SpECiAL EDuCAtion LAW Friday, April 9, 2010

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center • San Antonio

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Arlington Convention Center • Arlington

Same Conference – Two Convenient Locations The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education and the Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest are pleased to announce the twenty-fourth 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.

Please visit www.legaldigest.com to register online and save! Topics and Presenters Include:

SAVE $25/rEgiStrAtion At WWW.LEgALDigESt.CoM nEW – EASy – MuLtipLE onLinE rEgiStrAtion proCESS purChASE orDErS AnD CrEDit CArDS ACCEptED

20

Texas School Business • March 2010


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS WEEK OF MARCH 29

WEEK OF APRIL 12

April 16

April 1

April 12

Texas Small Schools Symposium ESC Region 8, Mt. Pleasant For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

TASSP Region 5 Meeting Hardin-Jefferson High School, Sour Lake For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

Purchasing Fundamentals Workshop Garland For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

WEEK OF APRIL 5

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

April 7 TACS East Texas Conference Ornelas Activity Center, University of Texas at Tyler For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org

April 7 TASSP Region 18 Meeting Midland For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

April 8 Fixing Special Education: Celebrating What is Right, Addressing What is Wrong Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com

Cost: Early registration (by March 19), $70; regular registration (after March 19), $90.

April 13-15

April 14

2010 Leadership Academy Cedar Creek For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

First-Time Superintendents’ Academy, Session 4 Marriott North Hotel, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org

Cost: Four sessions, $595; one session, $195. April 14

TASSP Region 1 Meeting Science Academy of South Texas, Mercedes For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

April 15

April 9

April 15

Cost: Early registration (by March 9): $135 online; $160 offline. Regular registration (after March 9): $160 online; $185 offline. April 10-12 National School Boards Association Annual Conference Convention Center, Chicago For more info, (703) 838-6722. www.nsba.org

TESA Area Workshop Killeen ISD offices For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

WEEK OF APRIL 19

NAESP Annual Convention Brown Convention Center, Houston For more info, (512) 478-5268. www.tepsa.org TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com

April 17

Cost: Preregistration (by March 22): $20. After March 22: $25.

TASB Spring Training Workshop Tarleton State University, Stephenville For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

April 8-12

Cost: Members, $80; nonmembers, $120.

TASSP Region 13 Meeting Liberty Hill High School, Liberty Hill For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

April 15-16 Mentoring the Reflective Principal, Session 3 TASA offices, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasaonline.org

Cost: TASA members, $1,575; nonmembers, $1,825. Teams: $1,450 per person for members; $1,700, nonmembers.

April 19

April 20 TASB Spring Training Workshop ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

April 20 TASB Spring Training Workshop ESC Region 9, Wichita Falls For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

April 22 Personnel Policies San Angelo For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

April 22 TASB Spring Training Workshop Cattleman’s Steakhouse, Fabens For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

April 22 TASB Spring Training Workshop ESC Region 18, Midland For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

See CALENDAR on page 22 March 2010 • Texas School Business

21


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

CALENDAR continued from page 21

April 22 Annual TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com

Cost: Early registration (by March 22): $135 online; $160 offline. Regular registration (after March 22): $160 online; $185 offline. April 25-27 Fund Members Conference Hyatt Regency, Austin For more info, Stacy Hobbs, (800) 482-7276, ext. 7233. www.tasb.org

WEEK OF APRIL 26 April 26 Three Ps: Payroll, PEIMS and Personnel Lubbock ISD, Lubbock For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220. April 27 TACS/Hardin Simmons Conference Hardin Simmons University, Stephenville For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org

April 28 Federal and State Compliance Issues ESC Region 5, Beaumont For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

Cost: Members, 180; nonmembers, $220.

April 28

WEEK OF MAY 10

TASB Spring Training Workshop ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 13

WEEK OF MAY 3 May 3 Three Ps: Payroll, PEIMS and Personnel ESC Region 6, Huntsville For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220. May 5 TASB Spring Training Workshop Sul Ross State University, Alpine For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 6 Using Graphic Organizers and Assessment Tools to Make Mathematics Content More Accessible to Struggling Students (session three of three) Joyce Zotz Education Center, Galena Park ISD For more info, (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org

Cost: Texas ASCD members and Galena Park ISD staff, $750; others, $850. May 6 TASB Spring Training Workshop Sul Ross State University, Uvalde For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

TASB Spring Training Workshop ESC Region 14, Abilene For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 13 TASB Spring Training Workshop Temple High School, Temple For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 14-15 TASB Spring Training Workshop Convention Center, South Padre Island For more info, (512)467-0222. www.tasb.org

WEEK OF MAY 17 May 18 TASB Spring Training Workshop Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 18 TASB Spring Training Workshop Texas A&M University, Commerce For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 19 TASB Spring Training Workshop West Texas A&M University, Canyon For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 19 TASB Spring Training Workshop Parkway Church, Victoria For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

May 20 Board2Board Session: Board Focus Location TBA, Nacogdoches For more info, (512) 535-2046. www.foundationinnovation.com

Cost: $45. 22

Texas School Business • March 2010


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

WEEK OF MAY 24 May 26 TASB Spring Training Workshop ESC Region 6, Huntsville For more info, (800) 580-8272, ext. 2241. www.tasb.org

WEEK OF MAY 31 June 3 MIA: Managing Inevitable Absences TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

Cost: Early registration (by May 19), $180; after May 19, $230.

WEEK OF JUNE 7 June 8 Annual TASSP/Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com

Cost: Early registration (by May 9): Members, $130 online; $145 offline. Nonmembers, $180 online; $195 offline. Regular registration (after May 9): Members, $155 online; $170 offline. Nonmembers, $205 online; $220 offline. June 9-10 Curriculum Leadership Academy III (session two of three) Pat May Center, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

Cost: $1500, six-day academy. June 9-12

TEPSA Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 478-5268. www.tepsa.org

Cost: Early registration (by May 12): Members, $221; nonmembers, $460. After May 12: Members, $246; nonmembers, $485. June 10 Three Ps: Payroll, PEIMS and Personnel Rockwall ISD For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

WEEK OF JUNE 21

June 10-12 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio For more info, Kathy Dundee, (512) 467-0222, ext. 6171. www.tasb.org

June 23-26

WEEK OF JUNE 14

June 24-27

NAEOP/TESA Summer Conference Embassy Suites, Frisco For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org New Principal Academy Location TBA For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

June 17-18 TASBO Summer Conference Tivy High School, Kerrville For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

June 25-27

June 17-19 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Omni Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, Kathy Dundee, (512) 467-0222, ext. 6171. www.tasb.org

June 17-20 TREA Summer Conference Marriott Hotel and Golf Club, Dallas/ Fort Worth For more info, (512) 423-0293. www.txrea.com

TCWSE Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tcwse.org

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

Providing great benefits will help your district attract and retain valuable employees. TASB created the Supplemental Employee Benefits Program to help you do just that. Benefits for public school employees and their families are offered at special group rates, saving both employees and the district money. District-paid plans: • Group Term Life Insurance • Group Long-Term Disability Employee-paid plans: • Group Automobile and Homeowner’s Insurance • Flex Spending Accounts/Section 125 Cafeteria plans

supplemental.tasb.org 800.580.8272, ext. 7153 March 2010 • Texas School Business

23


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Park Place Publica law firm tions and Walsh, respec Anders & Galleg on, Brown ted school os, P.C. , enterta ining and have produced Aldridge this have fun educat ional DVD. highly while 504. Attorne you learn Get ready the details to y narrato guides of Section r Paula you throug talented h the legal Maddox Roalso Walsh, actors n law firm bring challen details while ed this situatio school ns to life. ging school have produc respected os, P.C. tions and law ys Jim Walsh © Park Place Publications and Publica e & Galleg attorne sexual issible Park Place Brown, Aldridg book.* In it Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos, P.C. to of imperm e action on, When and Source the forms Anders High School effectiv ed Dorigh ional DVD taking h identify analyz 2009 • ISBN 978-0-9825600-1-3 • DVD • 31 minutes • $99 t takes educat Princip nes for that are ette Mares over al basic (Coach guideli ) he hasn’t as 504 Coord D.W. to three and Marqu and set forth ining scenes rs Order from Park Place Publications, LP to handle inator got a h enterta gets the answe harassment n. Throug 1601 Rio Grande, Suite 441, Austin, TX 78701 the end this new respon clue as to how the viewer of sibility. avoid litigatio Maresh, Phone: 512.478.2113 • Fax: 512.495.9955 you will this highly enterta But by and see that ining www.parkplacepubs.com by Walsh master t? ns: DVD, “Coach ed the ssment? Dorigh e to prevent i legal questio the Rehab basics of Sectio al hara t” has is sexu Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Prepaid, and Purchase Orders accepted he school tak ilitatio it applie • What steps should t n Act n 504 of s iable? educat to students. Your of 1973 as • What is the school l ed this importas well as entertastaff will be • When ant federa ined about its 2009 l law, includ ing amen ed dmen includ ts. ase. Sourcebook purch with DVD © Park ation is Walsh, Place d inform e Sourcebook Anders on, Brown Publications 2009 More detaile and , Aldridg in this 16-pag • ISBN the DVD. e & Galleg provided 978-098256 accompanies os, P.C. 00-0-6 which Order • DVD • 31 minute 1601 Rio from Park Place Grande, s • $99 Publica Phone: Suite 441, tions, LP tions and 512.478.21 os, P.C. Austin, 13 • Place Publica e & Galleg TX 78701 www.p Fax: ©Park , Aldridg Visa, Master arkplacepubs 512.495.99 on, Brown 55 Card, AmEx, Anders .com Walsh, Prepaid, and Purcha se Orders nutes • $99 accepted VD • 33 mi -0 • D 5600-2 LP -0-982 tions, N 978 78701 Place Publica stin, TX 2009 • ISB 5 from Park 41, Au Order Suite 4 12.495.995 ande, Fax: 5 .com 1601 Rio Gr 78.2113 • 512.4 accepted arkplacepubs Phone: www.p se Orders and Purcha Prepaid, Card, AmEx, Visa, Master

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TCASE hosts annual conference in Fort Worth

Julie Moorman and Cindy Lubke of San Angelo ISD.

Marilyn Logan and Laura Hopeck of Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Center.

Stacie Shearer and Brandee Stanley of Hopkins County Special Education Group.

Cindy Gabehart and Melinda Tidwell of Pine Tree ISD.

Janet Taylor, Macmichael Henson and Jacqueline Yancy of Pearland ISD.

Harriet Page of Cherokee County Co-op and Nelda Rodriguez of Floresville ISD.

Ron Chew of Kerrville ISD, Sue Nelms of Ingram ISD and Jeannine Zirkel of Center Point ISD.

Deena Driskill, Trinity Charter School, with Linda McDaniel and Shirley Sanford of ESC Region 13.

April Langston of Boerne ISD and Mary Rosenberg of Klein ISD.

Carol Watson of Granbury ISD (center) with John Mueller and Sunny de la Garza of Yes Preparatory Public Schools. March 2010 • Texas School Business

25


Who’s News Angleton ISD Former Angleton ISD Assistant Superintendent Patricia Montgomery is the district’s new superintendent. Initially a teacher in Angleton High School, her administrative career began when Patricia she accepted the role Montgomery of assistant principal of Angleton Middle School. She then served as principal of Angleton Middle School West and was subsequently principal of Angleton High School. From 2002 to 2005, she was director of academic services, and had served as assistant superintendent in 2005. Additionally, she was an instructor at Brazosport College. Montgomery earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in history from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Her doctorate in educational leadership is from the University of Houston. Canutillo ISD (El Paso) The new interim executive director of financial services is Martha Aguirre. Most recently the district’s external funding coordinator, she has more than 14 years of experience in public

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education. Before coming to Canutillo ISD, she was the capital assets accountant for El Paso ISD. Aguirre has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a masMartha Aguirre ter’s degree in business administration. Ernesto Armendariz has been appointed executive director of facilities and transportation. He has worked not only in the private sector, but also with Clint and Socorro ISDs. With more than 30 years’ experience in Ernesto Armendariz architecture, construction, consulting and project management, he most recently was president and provided consulting services with the Arcon Group Inc. Armendariz holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture. Doris Fernandes is principal of Alderete Middle School. An educator for more than 23 years, she comes to her new position from Socorro Middle School in Socorro ISD, where she was assistant princiDoris Fernandes pal. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in

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education and holds mid-management certification from The University of Texas at El Paso. Centerville ISD The new superintendent is Robert Welsh, formerly the district’s interim superintendent. Chillicothe ISD Coby Norman has been named superintendent. He was a teacher of secondary math at Bowie Junior High and Odessa High School in Ector County ISD, then he served as principal of Olton Junior High and Big Spring Junior High. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in education administration from The University of Texas – Permian Basin. His superintendent certification is from Angelo State University. Copperas Cove ISD Troy Galow has been named deputy superintendent. He comes to his new position with more than 15 years of experience as a teacher and administrator. His most recent assignment was serving as director Troy Galow of employee relations for Leander ISD, where he also had served as assistant director of student support services and as a campus administrator for Vista Ridge High School and Cedar Park Middle School. Galow has taught at the high school and middle school levels. His bachelor of science degree in kinesiology is from Texas A&M University and his master of education degree is from Tarleton State University. He is working toward a doctorate in education at the University of Mary HardinBaylor in Belton. Retiring after 37 years as an educator with Copperas Cove ISD is Gail Milligan, who has served as the district’s assistant superintendent for educational services since 1992. She began her education career in Alabama, Gail Milligan coming to Texas as a


Who’s News high school history and English teacher in Killeen ISD. In 1973 she arrived in Copperas Cove, where she spent eight years as a high school teacher. She then accepted the position of assistant principal of Copperas Cove Junior High, advancing to principal of Copperas Cove High School in 1989, where she remained until taking the assistant superintendent position. Milligan earned her bachelor of science degree in education from Jacksonville State University in her home state of Alabama and her master’s degree in education from Tarleton State University in Stephenville. The new public information coordinator and Webmaster is Katie Rudesheim. While a student at Texas Tech University, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in public relations, she was an inKatie Rudesheim tern for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the South Plains in Lubbock. Prior to that assignment, she served as an intern in the human resources department for the town of Herndon, Va. Crowley ISD Dan Powell has been named interim superintendent, replacing Greg Gibson, who accepted the position of superintendent with Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD. Powell began his career as an instructional aide in Fort Dan Powell Worth ISD, becoming a teacher at the district’s Carlson Elementary in 1975. He then held a number of administrative positions in Fort Worth, including curriculum specialist and evaluator in the Follow Through program; Title I program evaluator; director of planning, research and evaluation; principal of Southwest High School; assistant superintendent for non-instructional services; assistant superintendent for elementary and secondary education; assistant superintendent for administrative services; and assistant superintendent for business services. He then transferred to Everman ISD, where he served as superintendent from 1997 to 2004. After his retirement from public edquadrants 17

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ucation, he became an associate professor of educational leadership at Texas Christian University’s school of education. He also served as an educational consultant, a part-time chief financial officer for Crowley ISD and a school board training consultant for ESC Region 11. Fort Bend ISD Lee Crews is now serving as principal of Clements High School. He formerly was principal of the district’s Quail Valley Middle School. In 2007, he helped open the Gifted and Talented Academy at Lee Crews Quail Valley. He served as assistant principal and subsequently principal of First Colony Middle School, and as associate principal of Fort Settlement Middle School. Crews holds a bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston at Victoria. Garrison ISD Lance Bernard is now principal of Garrison High School, and former Garrison High School principal Darren Webb is the district’s new superintendent.

AM Page 1 11/25/09 10:30

ANTS UADR FOUROUQ THE SO UDENT NEED ST T RTING By Jim Walsh

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is a useful way rant analysis The Four Quad and why studiagram how to explain in a special profor some of the fy quali dents Quadrant offer. The Four grams schools ia that are on the two criter analysis turns education fy for special quali to necessary fy, the stuto IDEA. To quali ant pursu services (2) need a disability and have (1) dent must

, Suite 441 1601 Rio Grande 78701 Austin, Texas 55 • Fax: (512) 495-99 (512) 478-2113 epubs.com www.parkplac

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tions, L.P., Place Publica P.C. © 2009 Park e & Gallegos, on, Brown, Aldridg may be and Walsh, Anders No part of this publication ed. consent of All Rights Reserv t the express reproduced withouPublications, L.P. Park Place

cts. in all other respe Quadrant One the quadrants lines between Note that the scientific in the law with on are not described ents to be made judgm are precision. There nts could fit basis. Some stude an individual , depending on rants quad rent into two diffe the students’ prets inter ol scho how the local and the law. ct’s services, needs, the distri

be used is intended to is not to This publication ation only and for general inform advice. If specific legal be considered , consult advice is sought specific legal an attorney.

Grapeland ISD Kenneth Groholski has been appointed superintendent. Beginning as a teacher and track and football coach, he served in Canton, Calvert, Bangs and Bremond ISDs. He assumed administrative responsibilities in Bruceville-Eddy and Bremond ISDs and Calvert ISD, where he served as superintendent until taking on his new role with Grapeland ISD. Groholski earned his bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University, his master of education degree from Tarleton State University and his doctorate from Texas A&M University. Henderson ISD Stacey Sullivan has been named the district’s new director of human resources and director of the district’s Education Foundation, replacing Mary Beth Fitzgerald, who is retiring from both of those positions. Sullivan began her career as a teacher at Henderson High School, advancing to serve as the English Department chair and ultimately as the school’s principal. During her tenure at Henderson High, the school was named one of the state’s best public schools by Texas Monthly. She then served as Henderson ISD’s director of curriculum and communications until accepting her new See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

The Four QuadranTs: Sorting Out Student Need by Jim Walsh The Four Quadrant Chart is a useful way to explain and diagram how and why students qualify for specially designed instruction. • QUADRANT ONE: General Education • QUADRANT TWO: Section 504 • QUADRANT THREE: At Risk • QUADRANT FOUR: IDEA-Eligible Jim Walsh has used this analysis for decades to train educators on the proper implementation of federal law. Now, in an easy reference chart, this analysis can be readily available to any educator. Perfect for all school administrators. This reference chart measures 17” x 22” and is laminated. Price: $12.95

place your order online: www.legaldigest.com March 2010 • Texas School Business

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

position. Sullivan earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from The University of Texas at Tyler. Her principal’s and superintendent’s certifications are from Stephen F. Austin State University. Kerrville ISD The newly created position of director of student and family services,

which will oversee all of the district’s counseling programs, will be filled by Sharon Mock. She currently serves as principal of Kerrville ISD’s Peterson Middle Sharon Mock school, where she will continue to serve for the remainder of the school year. Mock began her career in Louisiana, where, at the

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junior high level, she first taught English and speech and then led a special education resource classroom. She next was a counselor for grades six through nine. For several years she worked at Baywood Hospital, first as a therapist for students at the day hospital; she was then program coordinator and ultimately clinical coordinator in the same institution. She came to Texas in 1993, coordinating Santa Fe ISD’s special education programs. Mock made a move to Clear Creek ISD in 1995, first as a counselor at McWhirter Elementary School, then as assistant principal of Space Center Intermediate School and finally as an at-risk coordinator for the district. She arrived at her current position in Kerrville in 2006. Mock earned a bachelor of arts degree in fashion merchandising and a bachelor of science degree in English and speech. She earned two master’s degrees, in counseling and guidance and in administration and supervision, from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La. She is completing her doctorate at Texas Tech University. Lazbuddie ISD The district’s new superintendent is Charles Brantner, most recently K-12 principal of Centerville ISD. Los Fresnos CISD The new special services coordinator is Virginia G. Miller. A Texas secondary educator for 24 years, she taught English for 10 years before becoming an administrator. Now a 14year veteran of secondVirginia G.Miller ary administrative service, she has been a high school principal and a Texas high school improvement consultant with the Southern Regional Education Board as part of the Texas High School Redesign Initiative. She now returns to district administration after three years as principal of Los Fresnos High School, during which time she was named 2009 ESC Region 1 High School Principal of the Year. Miller holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Brownsville. Her doctorate in curriculum and instruction is from the University of Houston.


Who’s News Lubbock ISD Mark Ball is the new executive director of athletics. A former head football coach and athletic director in Lake Travis, Whitesboro and Graham ISDs, he began his career in Azle ISD as a high school teacher and Mark Ball assistant football and baseball coach. He subsequently held the same positions in Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, moving to Graham, Whitesboro and Lake Travis ISDs to serve as head football coach and athletic director in each district. In Spring ISD he was assistant head coach and offensive coordinator before making the move to Wylie ISD, where he has been since 1997, serving as head football coach and athletic director. He assumed the fulltime role of athletic director in 2006. Ball was named UIL District Coach of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2003, and Collin County Coach of the Year in 2002. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Wesleyan University. McAllen ISD Mario Reyna, coordinator for physical education and health, was installed as the new president of the Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) in December. A not-forMario Reyna profit organization of more than 4,500 professionals and students, TAHPERD serves students and educators in kindergarten through college. McKinney ISD J.D. Kennedy has accepted the position of superintendent. An educator for 35 years, he spent the previous seven as superintendent of Midlothian ISD. Prior to that assignment, he served in the top poJ. D. Kennedy sition in Decatur ISD. Additionally, he has been assistant superintendent of Waco-Midway ISD; assistant principal and principal in

Allen ISD; and a teacher, counselor and coordinator in Richardson ISD and North East and Southwest ISDs in San Antonio. In addition to his work in public education, Kennedy has been an educational consultant in Kosovo and Haiti, and an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in social science/secondary education from Baylor University, a master of arts degree in counseling from The University

of Texas at San Antonio, and a doctorate in education administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Mission CISD The new superintendent is Cornelio Gonzalez, who comes to his new position after serving as superintendent of Tuloso-Midway ISD since 2005. He replaces See WHO’S NEWS on page 32

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TASA midwinter event attracts 3,800 educators

Adrain Johnson, Glenda Gims, Ronald Wilson and Nakisha Myles of North Forest ISD.

Mary Morrison and Jean Isaly of Huffman ISD and Jessica Johnson and Trudie Dewey of Cleveland ISD.

Don Stockton of Conroe ISD with LaTonya Goffney and Andrea Seale of Coldspring-Oakhurst ISD.

John Wilson, Harris County Department of Education; Jim Nelson, AVID Center executive director and former state education commissioner; Skip Casey, retired superintendent; and Eric Stoddard, Loraine ISD.

Terrence Eaton, Keith McBurnett and Barbara Gideon of Pflugerville ISD.

James Bartosh of Wharton ISD, Pete Pape of Goose Creek ISD and Gene Solis of Whitney ISD.

Greg Quin, Tommy King and Robby McGowen of Alvin ISD.

Susan Thompson and Michael Bergman of Hitchcock ISD, Bob Brundrett of Texas City and Frank Kelly of SHW Group.

30

Texas School Business • March 2010


Israel Cordero and Michael Dang of Dallas ISD with Emilio Castro of Kingsville ISD.

Linda Menius and Patricia Paetow of Katy ISD.

Renee Turncale and Katherine Stover of Wylie ISD.

Cathy Gabro of Northwest ISD (center) with Richard Valenta and David Bach of Birdville ISD.

Judi Whitis of Burnet ISD with Patti Cryer and Amy Jacobs of Marble Falls ISD.

Christie Whitbeck and Kim Lawson of Katy ISD.

Janis Jordan and Bernadine Cervantes of Corpus Christi ISD.

Carmyn Neely of the Foundation for the Education of Young Women and Betty Burks of San Antonio ISD.

Bill Chambers and Doug Coleman of Dayton ISD.

Woodrow Bailey III and Teresa Moore of Midland ISD.

Dee Carter of Navarro ISD and Kevin Curtis of Karnes City ISD.

Maria Whitsitt (front and center) of Moak Casey and Associates with John Folks of Northside ISD and Pat Pringle and Wade Labay of ESC Region 13. March 2010 • Texas School Business

31


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 29

Cornelio Gonzalez

Oscar Rodriguez, who is retiring. (Rodriguez was named 2009 Superintendent of the Year. See the November/December 2009 issue for the full story.) A native of Brownsville, Gonzalez began his career as a

teacher in Brownsville ISD, going on to serve as federal programs director for Progreso ISD and as an education specialist in the Texas Education Agency’s migrant education program. He also has been superintendent of Lasara ISD. Gonzalez earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Brownsville and his doctorate in education administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Mount Vernon ISD The new Superintendent John Kaufman comes to Mount Vernon from Muenster ISD, where he also held the top position. He became an educator in 1993 after a career in the U.S. Air Force, beginning as an elementary schoolteacher and junior high boys’ athletics coach. He then served as Perryton Junior High’s assistant principal, moving to Booker ISD in 1999 to take the position of high school principal. In Seymour ISD, he was high school principal for four years before taking on the superintendency in Muenster, where he remained until accepting his new position. Kaufman holds an associate’s degree from Vernon Regional College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview and a master of education degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University in Stephenville. His superintendent certification is from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. Round Rock ISD A new principal, Kelly McBride, has been named for Anderson Mill Elementary School. McBride, an educator for 23 years in Houston and the Central Texas area, was most recently principal of Mina Kelly McBride Elementary in Bastrop ISD. Her administrative roles have included serving as a principal, assistant principal, instructional specialist and instructional coordinator; she has classroom teaching experience in prekindergarten through fifth grade. She is past president of the Texas International Baccalaureate (IB) Board, and she serves as a trainer, authorizer and IB consultant throughout the state. McBride has a bachelor’s degree in elementary/early childhood education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston. Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD Greg Gibson has been selected to serve as superintendent. He was most recently superintendent of Crowley ISD, See WHO’S NEWS on page 34

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Texas School Business • March 2010


School and business leaders rally at TAPE event

Thelma Salinas, Bobbye Schanen and Patricia Garcia of Corpus Christi ISD.

Dr. Michael White, Pat Rosenberg Award recipient; Cristal Montañéz Baylor, Hashoo Foundation; and Charley Hadley, TAPE.

Angie Mauldin and Kellie Simpson of Hallsville ISD.

Annette Rodriguez of Optimized Systems and Solutions and April Pleasant of Fort Bend ISD.

Rebecca Lyders and Christy Petrie of Fort Bend ISD.

Katy Wampach and Richard Johnson of Fort Worth ISD.

Melody Rosner and Kristi Bajjali of Fort Bend ISD.

TAPE President Allison Murray with volunteer Pat Rosenberg.

March 2010 • Texas School Business

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 32

Greg Gibson

a position he held for more than six years. His career began in 1991 in Graham ISD, where he taught for three years before taking on administrative assignments as an assistant principal, principal, director of

curriculum and assistant superintendent. Gibson’s bachelor’s and master’s degrees are from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, and his doctorate is from the University of North Texas. The new principal of Jordan Intermediate School is Shannon Allen. She was a teacher and administrator in Harlandale ISD for 10 years before moving to Judson ISD, where she was principal of Candlewood Elementary until accepting

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Texas School Business • March 2010

her new position with Schertz-Cibolo-University ISD. Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and her master’s degree Shannon Allen in educational administration is from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Also new to the district is Luis A. Chavez, who serves as assistant principal of Corbett Junior High. He came to his new job from South San Antonio ISD, where he was an administrator and counLuis A. Chavez selor. He began his career as a bilingual elementary teacher in that district and also has been a teacher in North East and Judson ISDs. His bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and master’s degree in guidance and counseling are from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Sarah Dauphinais is the assistant principal of the new Schlather Intermediate School. A 12-year veteran of public education, she began as a second grade ESL teacher in Spring Sarah Dauphinais Branch ISD. She has spent most of her career in Judson ISD, seven of those as an elementary teacher and three as a campus curriculum and instruction specialist. She was most recently that district’s federal programs and grants administrator. Dauphinais earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University in Austin. Rose Garden Elementary School has Amy Denman as its new assistant principal. She has served as that school’s librarian for the past four years. Prior to joining the district in 2005, she spent six years as a librarian Amy Denman and classroom teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree


Who’s News from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Jennifer Keller is assistant principal of Sippel Elementary. An educator for nine years, she came to the district as a teacher at Northview Early Childhood Center. She then transferred to Schertz ElJennifer Keller ementary, where she also served as an administrative intern. She earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Texas State University and a master’s degree in education from the same institution. Trinia McArthur is the new assistant principal of Steele High School. Initially a high school teacher in Bakersfield, Calif., and in San Antonio, she then served as an assistant principal of Foster High Trinia McArthur School in Richmond ISD. McArthur holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Julie McCleland is assistant principal of Schertz Elementary School. She began her education career in Belton ISD as an assistant athletic trainer and has been a teacher and athletic trainer in Van Julie McCleland Vleck, Comal and North East ISD. In North East ISD, she also served as an instructional technology specialist and administrative intern. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton and her master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University in Austin. Marie Riley is the principal of the new Schlather Intermediate School. Riley was a school nurse for 20 years and a classroom teacher for four years before beginning her administrative career in McAllen ISD. Now in her third Marie Riley year with the district, she was most recently principal of Jordan In-

termediate School. She has an associate’s degree in nursing from The University of Texas – Pan American and bachelor’s and masters’ degrees from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Van Vleck ISD Joseph Ros, formerly assistant principal of Van Vleck High School, is the new principal of Herman Middle School.

Victoria ISD The new principal of Crain Middle School is Lisa Cortez, who will take on her new role at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year. She will replace Lisa Blundell, who will move to lead the newly opened Cade Middle School. Until that time, Cortez will continue in her See WHO’S NEWS on page 36

Save the Date:

October 24 - 26, 2010

Westin Galleria in Houston, TX

Texas ASCD

2010

Annual Conference

Designing Boundless Futures for 21st Century Learners Mark your calendar for the 2010 Annual Conference! This year’s conference will focus on best practices through: Curriculum and Technology Integration Curriculum Design Addressing Challenges and Change Multiple Measures of Assessment Instructional Coaching and Leadership Building Community College and Career Readiness

www.txascd.org

Register today and Save!

March 2010 • Texas School Business

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 35

position as assistant principal of Memorial High School, where she has served since 2004. She began her career in Victoria ISD as a fifth grade teacher at Hopkins Academy. She also Lisa Cortez has held positions in the district as the director of Even Start, a parent liaison for homeless students and

an elementary school assistant principal. Cortez has an associate degree from St. Leo College in Virginia and a bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Houston at Victoria, where she also earned her master’s degree in administration. Ralph Escalona, who has been serving as the district’s assistant athletic director, has been named athletic director. A graduate of Tarleton State University in Stephenville and a veteran of the U.S.

MEDICAID  FINANCE AND CONSULTING  SERVICES  A  Division  of the  Houston  Independent  School  District

SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN PARTNERSHIP TO ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE Providing Professional Consulting and Decision Support Services as well as Expertise in Medicaid Program Requirements for Texas ISD’s

SHARS Billing & Financial Cost Reporting Contact us for Professional School-Based Medicaid Services at an Affordable Cost Web-Based SHARS Billing Application IEP and One-Way Transportation Ratios Quarterly Certification of Expended Funds On-Site Annual SHARS Cost Report Training Gap Analysis of Billing and Financial Protocol Maintain Audit Protocol & Regulatory Compliance PHONE: 800.381.6334 WEBSITE: eSHARS.com EMAIL: mfcs-shars@houstonisd.org

Ralph Escalona

Army Reserve, he came to Victoria in 1994 as a teacher and coach. He has served as head coach for baseball and cross country and as assistant coach for varsity football and golf.

Waxahachie ISD Magda Hernandez is the assistant superintendent of human resources. An educator since 1992, she spent her entire career with Irving ISD until coming to her new position in Waxahachie. She began as a long-term biMagda Hernandez lingual substitute teacher at Good Elementary School, moving to a permanent position as a second grade bilingual teacher and as a second- and fourth-grade gifted and talented teacher in the same school. She then transferred to Townley Elementary School, where she was a second- and third-grade multi-age bilingual teacher. She took on her first administrative assignment in 2002 when she accepted the role of assistant principal at Townley, where she remained until 2007. At that time, she became coordinator of elementary staffing and recruiting. Hernandez is a cum laude graduate of Texas Woman’s University with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Her master’s degree in educational administration was earned from the same institution, and she is completing work on her superintendent’s certification from the University of North Texas. TSB

TASSP - LEGAL DIGEST Summer Conference Austin, Texas

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Registration Now Open www.legaldigest.com

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Texas School Business • March 2010


Texas School Health Association hosts statewide conference in Austin

Elizabeth Avitia, Christian Caldarera and Patricia Guzman, all of Brownsville ISD.

Ray Langlous of Leander ISD and Karyn Beauchamp of Irving ISD.

Cheryl Myers of ESC Region 13 and Clara Contreras of ESC Region 1.

Matthew Lee Smith of Texas A&M Health Science Center’s School of Rural Public Health and Janet Realini, M.D., of Healthy Futures.

Anita Wheeler-Hill of Texas Department of Health Services and Pat Sleth of Belton ISD.

Texas State University health students Janelle Hibbing and Chelsea Nooney.

Texas State University health students Sally Moody and Ashley Andreano. March 2010 • Texas School Business

37


THE BACK PAGE Advertisers Index

by Riney Jordan

Character: Who we are when no one is watching

I

don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart to read of school personnel who have lost character and moral responsibility. Let me give you some examples. In Chicago, a school superintendent brazenly used his taxpayer-funded credit cards for personal expenses and doled out cash advances to his sister and girlfriend, whom he placed on his payroll. A school administrator in Michigan was charged with making numerous cash advances and credit card purchases that were of a “purely personal nature.” They included using his officeissued credit card to buy nearly $800 in plane tickets for his children to travel to Mississippi, where his mother lived. He also allegedly charged thousands of dollars at expensive restaurants and for car rentals and limousine services. In Michigan, an assistant principal was arrested on drug charges. In San Diego, a school administrator was charged with molesting a child for six years. I mean, the list goes on and on. A Google search revealed thousands of examples of school administrators and teachers who have been charged with every inappropriate behavior you can imagine. What in the world is going on here? And I don’t accept the theory that those things “used to happen, but we just have more news coverage now.” Trust me: Lack of character is becoming more evident in our schools. Surely common sense tells us that character, morals, integrity and virtues should be essential in the lives of those who teach our children. John Wooden, in his book “They Call Me Coach,” said that a person with character “is one who considers the rights of others before his own feelings, and the feelings of others before his own rights. You should care more about your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are. Your reputation is only what people think about you.”

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Texas School Business • March 2010

I’ve always felt that education today must consist of more than just the academics. The best teachers, the most effective administrators and the most influential individuals in my life have been those who framed their lives with such qualities. I remember a group of us in school once jokingly told a teacher that “we want a teacher, not a preacher.” That teacher/preacher, however, remains one of the most influential people in my life. When we would procrastinate, she would say, “Time and tide wait for no man” and “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” She often reminded us: “One bad apple spoils the barrel,” “birds of a feather flock together,” and “practice makes perfect.” And her favorite: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This belief of mine was recently reinforced when I read a statement made by the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, who wrote, “Not education, but character, is man’s greatest need and man’s greatest safeguard.” Yes, in order to safeguard our schools, they must be filled with educators who have character. It simply is not enough to have only the academic knowledge. More important is how we respond to situations, how we treat others and the choices we make in life. To sum it up in one word, that is “character.” If only all of those who have been removed from office would have heeded the words of one of our nation’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, who said: “Ability may get you to the top, but it is character that will keep you there.” RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book, “All the Difference,” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@htcomp.net or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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