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THE INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 58 YEARS

May 2012

Technology pain points and remedies Transitioning to a 21st century classroom

In the Spotlight John Bass ESC Region 16

TACS President Paul Vranish Tornillo ISD


It’s Your Future. What Path Will You Choose? Superintendent Certification with Region 4 Both blended and online programs are available. There are many ways to a destination, but only one that really prepares you for your arrival. Our Professional Certification Programs provide the guidance and tools vital to your success. Internships can be completed anywhere in the state of Texas.

www.region4acp.net


TSB contents news and features

In the Spotlight Region 16’s John Bass espouses the importance of collaboration

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by Stacy Alexander Evans

photo features

Technology Pain Points

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Districts, experts share common challenges and remedies by Elizabeth Millard

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented hosts Leadership Conference

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TASBO members meet for annual conference in Houston

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departments TSB Professional Development & Events Calendar

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Who’s News

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Ad Index

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columns

Start a social epidemic of touting our public schools     

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by Mary Ann Whiteker

From the Editor

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by Katie Ford

The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed

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by Jim Walsh

Tech Toolbox

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by Terry Morawski

Game On!

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by Bobby Hawthorne

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The Back Page

TACS President Profile     

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by Riney Jordan

Tornillo ISD’s Paul Vranish has big heart for small districts by Raven L. Hill

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. May 2012 • Texas School Business

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NOW ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS! Sixth Annual Bragging Rights 2012-2013 published by Texas School Business magazine

It’s that time again: Texas School Business wants to brag about you! Submit your nomination today for possible inclusion in the Sixth Annual Bragging Rights 2012-2013 special issue, which honors 12 deserving school districts and their innovative programs. Every winter, Texas School Business publishes and distributes this special issue to more than 8,000 stakeholders in Texas public education. With pass-along readership, the magazine reaches an audience of 25,000 readers! Does your school or district have a program that’s wildly successful? Then you could be featured among our Top 12!

HOW DO I NOMINATE A PROGRAM? Simply fill out a nomination form at www.texasschoolbusiness.com. An independent panel of respected Texas education leaders will review the nominees and provide feedback for the editorial staff, which then will select the final 12. Winners will be announced with the debut of the Sixth Annual Bragging Rights 2012-2013 special issue on Nov. 30, 2012. RULES • • •

Nominated programs must have been in operation for at least one school semester. There is no limit on number of nominations submitted per school or school district. The nomination deadline is Monday, Sept. 3, at 5 p.m.

Questions? Contact Texas School Business Editorial Director Katie Ford at katie@texasschoolbusiness.com.

www.texasschoolbusiness.com

The 25Th AnnuAl TASSP – LegAL DigeST

Conference on education Law for Principals Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Austin Convention Center

Produced in partnership with the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) this conference features presentations on legal issues of particular concern to school principals and other campus-level personnel as well as superintendents, school board members, and school attorneys.

Topics and Speakers include: Transgender & Cross-Dressing Students: The Legal Issues • Jim Walsh, Walsh, anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, P.C., austin What Principals Need to Know About Special Education: A Hearing Officer’s Perspective • luCius D. BunTon, law offices of lucius Bunton, austin Avoiding Common Mistakes in Handling Tough Personnel Issues • sanDra CarPenTer, Walsh, anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, P.C., houston 2012 Legal Update on Student Discipline • DAVID HODGINS, Thompson & horton, houston

25

th

YEAR

Conference on

EDUCATION LAW for

PRINCIPALS

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Student Off-Campus Use of Technology & Their Rights Under the First Amendment JOE TANGUMA, Walsh, anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, P.C., houston The Latest on Religion at School • JOY BASKIN, TasB, austin Complying with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in the Electronic Age ellen sPalDinG, rogers, morris & Grover, l.l.P., houston

visit www.legaldigest.com for more information

Texas School Business • May 2012


From the Editor This past March, Austin hosted the second annual SXSWedu conference, which brings together K-16 educators, thought leaders in academia and companies of education-related products to discuss the next big thing in classroom strategies and education technology. As you can imagine, the keynote speakers and session presenters at this conference bring an influx of ideas, methodologies and inspiration to the table — in other words, a departure from traditional thinking and the usual way of doing things. And along with all that possibility and innovation, there’s often a departure from traditional thinking and the conventional way of doing things. For some, this is a welcome breath of fresh air and cause for excitement. For others, it’s overwhelming and raises a discomfort level that’s hard to overcome. Then there are those of us who feel something in between — a mixture of skepticism, curiosity and inspiration. Our cover story explores the pain points that come with exploring new frontiers in education technology and rethinking how learning takes place in K-12 education. As progressive as it can be to integrate social media and digital devices into the classroom, inevitably there are learning curves to overcome. Writer Elizabeth Millard spoke with Jennifer Bergland of the Texas Computer Education Association, as well as some superintendents, principals and teachers, to identify common technology pain points and possible remedies. Speaking of technology, we at Texas School Business have revamped our website, www. texasschoolbusiness.com. It’s our goal in the coming year to expand our coverage of positive school business news by posting more timely, interactive content that you can only find at www. texasschoolbusiness.com. As we build our online presence, I encourage you to send me your feedback at katie@texasschoolbusiness.com to let us know how we’re doing. Lastly, here’s one more reason to visit our website: We are accepting nominations for the Sixth Annual Bragging Rights 2012-2013 special issue, which publishes on Nov. 30. Twelve brag-worthy school districts will be celebrated in this publication that is distributed statewide to more than 8,000 education stakeholders. Visit us online to fill out an official Katie Ford nomination form today! Editorial director (ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) May 2012 Volume LVIII, Issue 8 1601 Rio Grande Street, #455 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 • Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Publisher Ted Siff Editor in Chief Jim Walsh Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Jim Johnson Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel Office Services Ambrose Austin ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and for the Best in Class issue published in August and the Bragging Rights issue published in December (12 times a year) by Texas School Business Magazine, LLC, 1601 Rio Grande Street, #455, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas School Business,1601 Rio Grande Street, #455, Austin, TX 78701. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $28 per year; $52 for two yrs; $72 for three yrs. Group rate: 10 or more, $18; single issues, $4.50.

© Copyright 2012 Texas School Business Magazine LLC May 2012 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • May 2012

3/7/2012 8:39:52 AM


THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

Gearing up for the game of Life

B

y the time you read these words, the baseball season will be well under way, but I am writing this month’s column on the first day of the major league season. The Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland A’s, 3-1 in 11 innings in Tokyo today. The game ended about 8:30 a.m., and I heard it on satellite radio as I drove to Region 12. Let us consider how baseball provides the best metaphor for Life, or the business of running a school district. Football, basketball, soccer and tennis all carry life lessons, but baseball — of all the games — is the most like Life. Baseball is like Life because baseball is a daily game, not a once- or twice-aweek event. Once the big league season starts, the boys play a real game with real consequences almost every day until October. In baseball, you do not get to practice for five days to play once; you play every day. Sorta like school, dontcha think? Have you ever had a practice day of school? No, you haven’t. Real kids are there every day, and you are expected to be at your best every day. Baseball is like Life because it is the only game in which the defense controls the ball. Have you ever felt really in control of your life? Have you ever felt totally on top of everything in your school district, in control of all events as you survey your domain? If so, I suggest that you are delusional. You are not in control of Life, nor are you in control of the many students, parents, taxpayers, colleagues and teachers you will encounter today. You are not in control of the budget, the law, the curriculum or just about anything else. You don’t have the ball — someone else does. Baseball is like Life because you do not improve your performance simply by trying harder. You have to play smart. You have to be responsive to situations. All you can really do is prepare and make yourself

ready for whatever comes. Basketball and football are adrenaline games — trying harder improves performance. This is why the crowd is such a factor in these emotion-laden sports. But baseball is like golf or tennis. Gripping the bat, club or racket tighter will not improve your game. You can’t play the game with clenched teeth and white knuckles. Life is like that too. Baseball is like Life because every player has to take his/her turn at bat and be a good team player. You can’t be successful with a single skill, as you can in many other sports. You have to be able to play the entire game — hitting, fielding, throwing, running — with some degree of skill. When the ball comes to you, you cannot pass it on to someone more skilled; you have to field it. When it is your turn at bat, you are on your own. (This is why we consider the designated hitter rule an abomination and spawn of the devil). Life is like this. Schools are like this. Every educator has to be a team player but also needs to be able to stand alone and perform, whether that be in the classroom or the office. Baseball is like Life because the whole idea is to get home safely. The batter approaches the plate in a state of alert focus, well prepared for whatever may come his way. If he meets with success, he begins his heroic journey around the bases, moving from station to station, avoiding danger with the aid of his teammates until he reaches the safe port of home plate. Here’s hoping that you play out the rest of this school year with grace and skill. Batter up! JIM WALSH, an attorney with Walsh, Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C., serves as editor in chief of Texas School Business. He can be reached at jwalsh@ wabsa.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JWalshtxlawdawg.

We are now We are now seeking seeking for candidates candidates Assistantfor Assistant Principal and Principal and Principal Principal Positions. Positions. HISD is looking for

promising leaders who want

HISD is looking for to make a deep impact in the promising leaders who want lives of students by to make a deep impact in the supporting their journey to lives of students by college, and beyond. supporting their journey to college, and beyond.

If you are interested in being considered for a campus leadership position with If the youDistrict, are interested beingaconsidered please in submit detailed for a campus leadership position withto resume and cover letter electronically the vgarza2@houstonisd.org District, please submit a detailed resume and cover letter electronically to

vgarza2@houstonisd.org May 2012 • Texas School Business

 

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Texas School Business • May 2012


Tech Toolbox by Terry Morawski

The supersized classroom: Fast food education or genius?

I

met some college professors at SXSWedu in Austin this past March who were experimenting with “supersized” classes. Traditional thinking says that smaller classrooms lead to better learning environments. These educators say that, with the dawning of classroom technology, this idea is no longer 100 percent true. The professors I met from Virginia Tech managed to pull off an Intro to World Regions class that boasted (please sit down before you read this) nearly 3,000 students. Two main ingredients make their classroom work: 1. Risk taking. These professors are willing to test new concepts. They say students typically adjust easily to the nontraditional classroom formats. Not all, but most. 2. Technology. It would be impossible to pull off a supersized class without technological tools to create an engaging learning environment. Two-way communication between teacher and student remains integral to the learning experience, and technology helps facilitate that. As school district budgets continue to shrink, perhaps there are some answers for K-12 schools in this supersized experiment. I caught up with Virginia Tech’s Katie Pritchard, who works with Professor John Boyer to manage the class of nearly 3,000 to further explore this strategy. How important is technology to your supersized class? Extremely important. It allows us to interact with the students in different ways other than just in class and the lecture. By connecting with the students through Facebook, Twitter and online office hours through uStream, the students feel like they are not just a number. The professor is accessible in so many ways and they feel engaged. What single tech tool has had the most impact on learning for the students? Twitter. We have a Twitter assignment where students impersonate a world leader and they have to tweet two to three times a day

as that leader. You can view all the leaders here: https://twitter.com/#!/plaidavenger/ world-leaders and the list of all members here: https://twitter.com/#!/plaidavenger/ world-leaders/members . The students who have done this assignment say they learn so much about how the world works, which leaders partner with each other and who hates who. Those students say they continue to stay up with the news long after class because of their assignment. In your opinion, what barriers do you see to implementing a supersized class in a K-12 environment? I think a supersized class takes a level a maturity that is not seen in K-12. I can’t imagine a 3,000-student class of sixth graders; you would need so much policing to make sure the students are listening and paying attention. I can see maybe getting to 100 or 200 in high school using the technology we’ve employed. What advice would you have for someone wanting to launch such a class? I would say do your research and investigate the tools out there that would help engage the students in a large class. I would even test these tools in a smaller class so you can figure out how they will scale. Don’t be afraid if something doesn’t work. Large classes are somewhat of an experiment. Is there anything else you would like me to know about this concept? Just because we are teaching 3,000 doesn’t mean it is possible with every subject. I don’t think a lab class can really work with that many people. I think it needs to be a survey-like course. As we’re getting close to the end of the school year, please share with me your greatest technology challenges as you look forward into the coming years. As always, thanks for reading, and good luck out there. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. Follow him on Twitter, @terrymorawski, or send an email to terrymorawski@gmail.com.

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www.legaldigest.com May 2012 • Texas School Business

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TAGT hosts annual Leadership Conference In April, the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented hosted its annual Leadership Conference for experienced administrators, coordinators and specialists. The gathering focuses on best practices and programs and attracts about 200 Texas leaders in gifted education.

Debbie Smith of the Texas Education Agency and Krystal Goree of Baylor University.

TAGT Executive Director JJ Colburn and Deborah George of Irving ISD.

Janet Newton of ESC Region 13 and Michelle Swain of Round Rock ISD.

Patricia Rendรณn of ESC Region 1 and Mike Harvey of Round Rock ISD.

Judy Bridges of Midland ISD and Cathy Shaver of Grand Prairie ISD.

Glen Teal of Lubbock ISD and Debbie Midkiff of Grand Prairie ISD.

Patti Staples and Ann Trull of Paris ISD.

Lynette Breedlove of Spring Branch ISD and Julie Martin of Frisco ISD.

Marcy Voss of Boerne ISD and Priscilla Lurz of Northside ISD.

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Texas School Business โ€ข May 2012


GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Athletic directors fire away on personnel issue

B

um Phillips once said, “There’s two kinds of coaches: Them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.” I mention this because I was sitting behind a woman at the UIL state basketball tournament who was angry, bitter, distraught, confused — you name it — that her husband had been fired as an assistant varsity basketball coach. She saw the fingerprints of a grand conspiracy that might or might not involve Free Masons, Opus Dei and the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. Clearly, someone has it out for her hubby. But then I thought: “What a great idea for a column”! So, I set out to collect horror stories or humorous anecdotes. I interviewed a handful of athletics directors (ADs) around the state, and an odd thing happened: Nothing materialized. No anecdotes. No horror stories. No fingerprints. Here’s what the ADs told me — and they all said pretty much the same thing. Keep in mind, we’re talking about individual coaches — not mass turnover due to a regime change. • No one reassigns or releases coaches for lack of something better to do. You’ve invested time in training and mentoring, so you want to reform and rehabilitate, not rehire. • Typically for a coach, the journey to the next item on the curriculum vitae is paved with enough minor omissions and commissions to add up to something major, and we’re not talking about personal misconduct with students or leaking test keys. “Aside from the really bad, obvious stuff, the three things that will get a coach in trouble the quickest are mistreating kids, mishandling money or knowingly violating UIL rules,” one AD said. Almost all of the ADs I interviewed insisted that releasing a coach is rarely about wins and losses. Certainly, the program should show progress, but that doesn’t mean the coach is judged solely on how many gold or silver plaques he or she has hoisted.

Said one AD: “Sometimes a team may not be doing as well as I’d like, but I can look out there and see that they’re doing about as well as they ought to be. Parents don’t always understand that.” Generally, it’s the off-the-field things that land coaches in trouble, and as these things occur, it’s essential to document them as they take place. “We have clear job expectations, and I talk regularly to our athletic coordinators at the campus level. If there are questions about a coach’s performance or behavior, we bring that coach in, and we talk,” an AD said. “If we have an issue that could lead to a coach being fired, we don’t email them or anything like that.” Sometimes, things turn out poorly and coaches lose their jobs. That doesn’t make them bad people, or even bad coaches for that matter. Maybe it was just a bad fit. It’s important that, before the interested parties reach the “Charlie Sheen vs. Denise Richards” stage, the school has exhausted all options. Can the coach be rehabilitated and reassigned, refurbished and repurposed? If not, then so be it. “Usually, by then, the coach sees and understands all you’ve done to try to help them,” an AD told me, “and the whole thing isn’t as uncomfortable as you think it might be.” Said another AD: “We don’t just wake up and decide to fire someone for no good reason.” In short, the decision to release an individual coach is about as arbitrary as the assembly of a DC-10 engine. By the time a coach is fired or reassigned or told to “pack your knives and leave,” he or she should be the least surprised person. And if that coach seems or acts surprised, well then, that may explain a lot too.

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BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League. May 2012 • Texas School Business

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In the

Spotlight

Region 16’s John Bass finds reward in delivering excellent customer service by Stacy Alexander Evans

D

uring an emotionally draining week while tending to his ill father in Houston, John Bass recalled an expression his dad often references: “Don’t ever ask anyone to do something for you that you wouldn’t do yourself.” It is a

philosophy his father, now retired, adopted while serving as a superintendent in the Texas Panhandle for 26 years. Bass now lives and breathes those words as the executive director of the Region 16 Education Service Center in Ama-

John Bass leads the Region 16 Education Service Center in Amarillo. He says the small, rural communities of the Texas Panhandle understand that they must collaborate to prosper. 12

Texas School Business • May 2012

rillo. He refuses to join the status quo in asking what public schools can do for us, but instead wonders: What can we do for schools? He says providing excellent customer service is the best part of his job. “I love that part of what we do,” he says. “Our schools are always so thankful for the services we provide for them, and they always let us know when we’ve done a good job.” The former math teacher and volleyball coach says he never saw himself moving into the ESC arena, “but my work at Region 16 has been so rewarding; I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Growing up, Bass didn’t realize he had a choice to be anything other than an educator. In addition to his father’s career in public education, his two sisters both took jobs in education — one was a teacher and the other is a principal in Illinois. After graduating from a small high school in Stratford, Bass ventured into Bear Country to attend Baylor University in Waco. He enjoyed his freshman year there, but the siren call of his high school sweetheart soon had the young Bass applying as a transfer student to Texas Tech University. He later transferred once more, to Panhandle State University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education in 1983. The high school sweethearts married and had two daughters, Adrienne and Shanda. The girls are pursuing careers outside the public school system — in physical therapy and advertising, respectively. After a stint of coaching girls’ volleyball in Central Texas, Bass returned to school and completed work to satisfy the requirements of his master of education degree in educational administration at Tarleton State University in 1989. He began his career at ESC Region 16 as a director of instructional services in 1996. The following year, he was promoted to deputy executive director. In 2004, he stepped up to his current position.


Of his wife, Christi Bass, a second grade teacher in Amarillo ISD, he says: “She has always smiled and gladly followed every time my job has called for a move or when I’ve had to work long hours. She’s my best friend.” Bass has spent the better part of his life in the Texas Panhandle, where most of the challenges in public education are fueled by isolation. It’s an environment that demands an interdependence among the districts in the region to ensure their survival. That collaboration in itself presents unique challenges, but Bass takes an optimistic stance. “In small communities, the school is the heartbeat of the area,” he says. “I think that West Texas people — and Panhandle people, in particular — understand that working together is the best way to prosper and be successful. They’re very friendly people, and I’ve always enjoyed working with them.” No doubt that collaborative mindset has served as a bit of a salve during rough times — especially in the aftermath of this past legislative session, when both service centers and school districts suffered deep cuts in state funding. Bass says that aside from declaring a moratorium on new hires, ESC Region 16 is striving to offset the

FUN FACTS ABOUT JOHN BASS Five people (living or deceased) whom I would invite to a fantasy dinner party: George Washington, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Tom Landry and Arnold Palmer. One of my favorite meals: Mexican food. A skill I would like to learn but haven’t: Speaking other languages, especially Spanish. If I have free time on the weekend, you’ll likely find me: On the golf course. budgetary constraints by streamlining its operations. The center’s first step? Poll the region’s superintendents about their mostpressing needs. “We wanted to make sure we covered their top priorities first,” says Bass. The poll revealed that superintendents were most concerned about continuing to get ESC support for software training, federal programs assistance and business management. Having worked as a superintendent himself — first in Mart ISD and later in

Plemons-Stinnett-Phillips Consolidated ISD — Bass has a unique understanding of what superintendents need and value. He remembers all too well how navigating school finance and personnel management can be daunting, particularly for novices. “A lot of times, when superintendents first get the job, the business side of it is new,” he says. Although Bass admits that professional development is an integral part of the work that most ESCs do for educators, he says that in his service center in Amarillo, technical assistance and direct services are in much higher demand. “We’re the business manager for about 16 school districts in our region,” says Bass. “They don’t hire business managers. We maintain their books, we attend their board meetings, we do all the payroll. For those 16 districts, that’s the most important thing they need.” It’s clear this Panhandle native is dedicated to the mission of his organization. It’s a commitment that would make his father proud. STACY ALEXANDER EVANS is a veteran journalist who has been published in American Theatre Magazine, Austin Chronicle and Jam Magazine, among others. She is the founder of Dolly Daguerre Media (www.dollydaguerre.com).

Renaissance Austin Hotel • June 24–26

UT/TASA Summer Conference on Education

Featuring Ewan McIntosh “Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker, and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services. He is founder of NoTosh Limited, a startup that develops products and services with creative companies on the one hand, and then takes the processes, attitudes, and research gained there to the world of education. His company works with hundreds of schools and districts, providing ideas, inspiration, and research on how to better engage kids.” Read more from Ewan’s blog at: http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/ewanmcintosh.html

The Summer Conference also features sessions addressing the latest in education practice, policy, and legislation from district practitioners and state leaders.

Register online at www.tasanet.org Texas Association of School Administrators

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10:46 AM May 2012 • Texas School3/19/12 Business 13


Technology pain points Implementing technology into a district can be a boon for education — but it comes with challenges too. by Elizabeth Millard

W

hen Jennifer Bergland was a technology director at Bryan ISD, the district did a one-toone laptop implementation, and she believes it was the hardest thing she’s ever done. “It wasn’t the technical problems we encountered; those were easy to fix,” she recalls. “What was difficult was creating so much change. Many people, no matter how long they’ve been in educaJennifer Bergland tion or what role they have in a district, don’t like change.” Bergland is now the director of governmental relations and membership services for the Texas Computer Education Association. In that role, she sees plenty of districts struggling with the same issues. “This is a fundamental shift, and when that happens, you’re going to have many pain points,” she says. Here’s a look at some common challenges and how districts have addressed them to create a smoother transition: Not understanding what students need from technology. Ask the students. Involving all the stakeholders in any process is crucial, Bergland says. When it comes to technology implementation, that means listening to students. At Bryan ISD, Bergland included students on every technology committee that was formed. She says she was pleased with how they articulated their views and needs. “Having adults listen to students is key,” she says. “It’s very powerful to hear ideas from students about how they want to be taught.” 14

Texas School Business • May 2012

Giving students a voice also creates better advocacy at home for changes being made at school. Bergland notes that many parents want their children to be taught in the same manner that they were — i.e., with textbooks and overhead projectors. When students are able to communicate the benefits of classroom technology, it can win over parental support for district initiatives. Also, student enthusiasm and advocacy can trigger a shift in mindset among teachers who suffer from technophobia. Bergland saw firsthand how some reticent teachers changed their opinions about classroom technology after hearing from students how certain applications and digital devices could be leveraged for learning. Administration isn’t behind technology directives on the front lines. Get buy-in from the highest levels, and let teachers know the larger goals. Just as involvement of students is vital, so is input and support from the top offices. Says Bergland: “The superintendent needs to be totally behind any kind of shift. He or she will set the tone.” Whenever technology is brought into the classroom, teachers need to have a tremendous amount of support, says Taylor ISD Superintendent Jerry Vaughn. Part of that support involves leadership at the administrative level and open communication lines between administrators and staff regarding district-wide technology goals. With everyone on the same page, those on the front lines can feel actively involved in the district’s growth. “As expectations change for students, the way we teach our classes changes,” Vaughn says. “We need to have comfortable, confident teachers. For that, they

need to know the bigger picture on why this technology is important.” Teachers aren’t trained on the technology. Do intensive training at the start of an implementation, based on each school’s need. Ongoing professional development training can help teachers and administrators stay current on technology-based teaching strategies. However, every school has a unique need — some campuses may be clamoring for higher-level technology like laptops and iPads, while others simply need interactive whiteboards and shared computers. The first step in determining technology needs is to look at campuses individually. District technology directors — or their staff — should visit with the principals of each school to determine the type of technology and training each campus needs to reach its goals. In most circumstances, no matter what the technology implementation, training through immersion, whether an afternoon or several days, is the way to go. For example, a school with fewer technology tools might decide to put teachers through one day of training, while another campus with multiple technology initiatives might host a week of teacher training. Full-day immersions might entail learning how to use interactive pens and how to deal with students bringing their personal computers or handheld devices to the classroom. A more involved immersion training could consist of a long weekend of training on education software for lesson planning, classroom teaching, and web-based communication with students and parents.


Teachers can’t keep up with district-wide technology training. Customize training to each campus to avoid redundancy and ensure no one’s time is wasted. Some districts might utilize outsourced training services on a monthly basis, while others might send in-house technology staff to schools that request training on specific devices or topics. To determine a plan, principals and teachers should take a look at what they want to learn and work with their district’s IT department to coordinate training efforts. Catering to the needs of a specific campus is much more effective than a one-sizefits-all, district-wide approach to technology implementation. IT staff should take appointments from teachers and provide one-on-one instruction throughout the year. Teachers are receptive to training and new approaches, but time is always a factor. Training can take many forms; it doesn’t have to be a full-day workshop and long-weekend retreat. It might be a matter of asking teachers to watch instructional videos during off hours or asking them to do independent research on what other districts have done and bring those ideas to the table. For example, a fourth grade who wants to teach a lesson on adjectives could do an online search with the keywords lesson, adjectives, fourth grade and ipad. The search results could include iPad apps, online word games and other web-based tools that could be shared with staff.

teacher was issued an iPad and a laptop, and each student an iPad. Lane Hunnicutt, director of technology services, conducted staff development sessions on the issued devices by modeling the technology to give principals and teachers the “student experience.” He brought together faculty and did training sessions in which they acted the part of students, so they could get that perspective. “Instead of standing in front of faculty with a PowerPoint presentation, we gave them iPads and let them play a role in what they were learning,” he says. “It was very well received, and some teachers who’d been resistant to the change ended up embracing the new method.” Says Hunnicutt: “Getting people involved in their own learning quickly lets them see the power of this approach.”

“They gave us space and freedom to try stuff out, as well as ongoing professional training. That’s transformed the way I think about teaching,” she says. Through her experience, Cato has discovered that an inquiry-based style of teaching is a fantastic way to incorporate technology into traditional lesson plans. For example, a lesson on heroism would move beyond a simple lecture and, instead, evoke the students to define heroism through independent and collaborative research. To summarize their findings, Cato asked her students to produce videos honoring heroes. “They were able to take their iPads and create something that was very personal,” she says. “They were able to answer that bigger question, and I think they love that approach.”

Teachers aren’t sure how to integrate technology with standard lessons.

There’s fear that classroom technology will adversely affect standardized test scores.

Move to an inquiry-based method.

Talk to other districts about what they’ve experienced to get the truth.

Heather Cato, an eighth grade English teacher at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, admits she was experiencing a bit of teacher burnout before she was chosen to participate in her district’s technology pilot program. Now, she Heather Cato says she is rejuvenated.

Any change to an instructional method requires ramp-up time and possible temporary setbacks, says Bergland, but that shouldn’t be a reason to avoid technology altogether. “What we see is an initial test score dip after implementation,” she says. “Any time you introduce something new — not See TECHNOLOGY on page 17

Teachers and administrators are dubious about the benefits of classroom technology. Turn them into students. One way to get buy-in from teachers and administrators is to train them using the same technology that’s being proposed for the classroom. At Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, six classrooms were set up for a technology pilot project last year as part of an initiative called “Developing the Digital Classroom.” Thirty more classes were added this past January. As Lane Hunnicutt part of the pilot, each

Grapevine High School physics teacher Taryn Bauman leads her students in an exercise. Bauman’s class is part of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s “Developing the Digital Classroom” pilot project. May 2012 • Texas School Business

15


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS WEEK OF MAY 28 No events listed.

WEEK OF JUNE 4 June 4

TASBO Workshop: The Three Ps (Payroll, PEIMS and Personnel) Wichita Falls ISD, Wichita Falls For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org Cost: $180.

June 4-July 14

ESC Region 4 Summer Conferences: Connect. Learn. Share. McKinney Conference Center, Houston For more info, (713) 744-6365. www.esc4.net/conferences

June 5

Summer Best Practices Conference: Teaching Diverse Learners Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100. TASB Workshop: MIA (Managing Inevitable Absences) TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $120.

June 6

TASB Workshop: Get a Grip on the Family and Medical Leave Act TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: Members, $120; nonmembers, $180.

June 6-7

nonmembers off line, $175. Regular registration (after May 12): Members online, $180; members off line, $195; nonmembers online, $205; nonmembers off line, $220.

June 13-15

TASSP Summer Workshop Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: Advance registration: Members, $205; nonmembers, $375; student nonmembers, $95. On-site registration: Members, $225; nonmembers, $395; student nonmembers, $95. TEPSA Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 478-5268. www.tepsa.org Cost: By May 15: Members, $304; nonmembers, $543. After May 15: Members, $329; nonmembers, $568.

June 14

STEM Careers in Science and Engineering Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

June 14-15

TASBO Summer Conference Marriott Courtyard, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711 or (800) 338-6531. www.tasbo.org

June 14-16

TASB Summer Leadership Institute Marriott River Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

WEEK OF JUNE 18

All About Grants: Two Day Institute Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1393. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: Early registration: $350.

June 18-22

June 7

June 19

Texas Retired Teachers Leadership Training Conference, District 20 DeLeon Events Center, Floresville For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

WEEK OF JUNE 11 June 12

TASSP/Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by May 12): Members online, $135; members off line, $150; nonmembers online, $160; 16

Texas School Business • May 2012

TESA Summer Work Conference Omni Hotel at the Colonnade, San Antonio For more info, (512) 528-0046. www.tesatexas.org Texas ASCD Southwest Pre-Conference: The Southwest Building Learning Communities (Southwest BLC) Technology and Curriculum Conference Embassy Suites, Frisco For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

June 20-22

Texas ASCD Southwest Conference: The Southwest Building Learning Communities (Southwest BLC) Technology and Curriculum Conference

Embassy Suites, Frisco For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

June 22-24

Texas Rural Schools Association Summer Conference DFW Marriott Hotel and Golf Club, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 423-0293. www.txrea.com Cost: Team of five: $650; each additional team member, $130; individuals, $150.

June 24-26

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

WEEK OF JUNE 25 June 28-30

TASB Summer Leadership Institute Omni Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org

June 30

Texas PTA Summer Leadership Seminar Location TBA, Lubbock For more info, (512) 476-6769. www.txpta.org

WEEK OF JULY 2 No events listed.

WEEK OF JULY 9 July 9-13

Texas Girls’ Coaches Association Summer Clinic Location TBA, Arlington For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.com

July 12-14

TRTA District Presidents Training Conference Airport Hilton, Austin For more info, (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org

July 12-15

TASSP New Principal Academy Trinity University, San Antonio For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

July 13-15

TETA SummerFest San Antonio College, San Antonio For more info, (877) 530-8382. www.tetatx.com Cost: Early registration, $90; on-site registration, $120.


TSB Calendar

Professional Development & EVENTS

July 15-17

TAHPERD Summer Conference Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, Frisco For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Early registration (by May 15): Professional and associate members, $75; student and retired members, $35. Preregistration (by June 15): Professional and associate members, $85; student and retired members, $35. Late registration (after June 15): Professional and associate members, $95; student and retired members, $45.

WEEK OF JULY 16 July 17

TASB Workshop: Asbestos Designated Person TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $425.

July 17-19

TCASE Summer Camp: Keeping the Fires Burning Hilton Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 474-4492. www.tcase.org Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy V Pat May Center, Bedford For more info, (512) 477-8200. www.txascd.org

July 18

TASB Workshop: Integrated Pest Management Coordinator TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $425.

TECHNOLOGY continued from page 15

necessarily just technology — you see a learning curve. You can’t apply technology and see your test scores go up immediately. There needs to be a period of time where the teacher is learning how to use it, dealing with new pedagogies. It’s like any other kind of skill where you have to take the time to get better at it. “But overall, this is a way you can help kids continue to master knowledge and skills,” she says. Today’s learners are less focused on memorizing facts, she notes, because most anything can be answered with a simple Internet query. A more relevant and useful skill set in today’s technology-infused en-

TASPA Summer Law Conference Sheraton at the Capitol, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353 or (800) 346-4111. www.taspa.org

July 18-20

TASPA Summer Conference Sheraton at the Capitol, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353 or (800) 346-4111. www.taspa.org

July 19

TASB Workshop: Environment/Facilities Regulatory Compliance TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222. www.tasb.org Cost: On-site members, no charge; nonmembers, $325.

WEEK OF JULY 23

WEEK OF JULY 30 August 2

STEM Careers in Science and Engineering Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: No charge.

WEEK OF AUGUST 6 No events listed.

WEEK OF AUGUST 13 August 18

Texas PTA Summer Leadership Seminar Location TBA, El Paso For more info, (512) 476-6769. www.txpta.org

WEEK OF AUGUST 20 No events listed.

July 23-26

WEEK OF AUGUST 27

July 27-29

Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 10, Richardson For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by Aug. 8): Online, $110; off line, $135. Regular registration (after Aug. 8): online, $130; off line, $155.

Science Teachers and Industry: Learning About Chemicals and the Environment Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8246. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $100. Texas PTA Summer Leadership Seminar Hilton Hotel and Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 476-6769. www.txpta.org

July 29-August 1

Texas High School Coaches Association Convention and Coaching School Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 392-3741. www.thsca.pointstreaksites.com

vironment is learning how to filter through information and identify the most relevant and accurate data — in other words, educators must shift from fact memorization to teaching digital literacy. All schools will go through a learning curve when it comes to dealing with these issues, and Bergland recommends that districts reach out when they’re feeling challenged. “A lot of schools have already gone through this, and they’re more than willing to help other schools out,” she says. TCEA hosts a listserv on which educators can discuss and resolve common challenges (visit www.tcea.org for more information). Also, Bergland recommends an organization called Power On Texas,

August 28

August 30

Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by Aug. 16): Online, $110; off line, $135. Regular registration (after Aug. 16): Online, $130; off line, $155.

TSB

a project of the Texas Education Agency, which collects examples of best practices for technology implementation. In general, technology implementation and training will depend largely on the individual needs and available resources of each district and campus. But teachers and administrators don’t have to create a plan from scratch. Public schools should work together to resolve common pain points. Through collaboration and open dialogue, technology can be tamed and transformed into an effective learning tool for any district. ELIZABETH MILLARD is a freelance writer who also writes for District Administration. May 2012 • Texas School Business

17


Start a social epidemic of touting our public schools by Mary Ann Whiteker

M

alcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” looks at how major changes in our society often happen due to ideas, behavior and messages spreading in a manner similar to the outbreak of an illness — hence the coining of the term “social epidemic.” Gladwell used Paul Revere’s famous ride to Lexington to illustrate this concept. Following the Boston Tea Party, the American colonists reached a point of no return. Although they had no formal organization or means of communicating with one another, one person emerged as a possible link to keep everyone connected. Revere became the “one man – one voice,” starting a social epidemic that eventually led to the creation of a new nation. Revere started the chain of communication, but those he told carried the message to others — thus the epidemic. The power was in the contagious expansion of the message.

18

Texas School Business • May 2012

It’s time for educators to embrace the power of a social epidemic to uplift our public schools. It is time for your voice to be heard in your communities and at the Capitol in Austin. All Texans need to understand that our public schools face impossible challenges due to critical funding issues, testing/accountability and 21st century workforce demands. Schools have lost their freedom to govern locally. Inequities and reductions in state funding have crippled the abilities of Texas districts to meet 21st century demands. The “one size fits all” model of education is leaving children behind. In response, candidates who are supportive of public schools have entered political contests, and lawsuits have been filed challenging the equity and adequacy of state funding for schools. As educators, we have the unique opportunity to make the difference in the future direction of our public schools. Are you willing to take a stand, get involved and be a part of a social epidemic to change the plight of our public schools? The Public Education Visioning Institute, established in 2006, is one entity that is trying to create a social epidemic of 21st century learning. Rather than focusing on the obstacles in public education, this small group of Texas superintendents, backed by SHW Group and the Texas Association of School Administrators, is envisioning what public schools can be. Their thoughts are published in a working document titled: “Creating New Vision for Public Education in Texas.” This vision embraces schools where all students are engaged in relevant, meaningful activities and where classrooms are rife with innovation, creativity, problem-solving skills, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. In this new vision, daily standardized test preparation and boring fact-memorization skills are replaced with

digital learning, curriculum standards that are relevant to real-world challenges, multiple assessments for student performance and accountability that’s based on a combination of measures, not just a test. This vision also promotes local control of schools, with the state accepting responsibility to provide equitable, adequate funding. In a nutshell, it’s about creating student-centered schools and future-ready students. Although many people may assume the Legislature is the greatest obstacle in making this vision a reality, I fear it will be the lack of unity and support from Texas school districts. So, what can you do to support this vision? You can start by embracing the power of a social epidemic. Share the vision with your staff, your community and your legislators. Encourage all to become messengers, demanding support for student-centered schools and futureready students, not test-driven classrooms and accountability systems. Four lawsuits challenging the funding of public education have been filed against the state of Texas. These lawsuits will address the Legislature’s prior actions from four perspectives: (1) equity for students and taxpayers, (2) arbitrary funding distributions, (3) funding adequacy, and (4) the present taxing system operating as a state property tax. One or more of these issues affect every public school district. Have you taken a stand in support of this litigation? A powerful message will be heard in Austin if 100 percent of the districts join this effort. Public education is facing a $10 billion structural deficit that will continue to plague districts. This is exacerbated by the existing problems of the school finance system: failure to increase the Basic Allotment, failure to update weights and formulas, failure to increase facilities


allotments, and maintaining a funding system with arbitrary and inefficient holdharmless measures, such as target revenue. Embrace the power of a social epidemic and educate your stakeholders about the reductions your district has made and future reductions you will be facing under the present finance plan. Encourage all to become messengers, demanding a school finance plan that recognizes that all children are valued and should have access to a quality education. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.” Are you actively involved in gaining public sentiment by talking with your staff and community about policies and litigation affecting our public schools? The following are interim charges that the Texas Senate and House will be reviewing prior to the next session. It is imperative that you are knowledgeable on these issues and actively involved in analyzing how they might influence the future of Texas’s public education system: • School management practices; • Educator/principal preparation programs; • Demand for virtual schools – review benefits; • Extended learning time for students; • Charter schools; • School choice programs, use of education tax credits/taxpayer savings grants; • School discipline practices/ Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs; • Disproportionate school discipline referrals, including suspensions and expulsions; • Zero tolerance in school discipline; • Models for addressing juvenile delinquency prevention; • Monitor implementation of: o Instructional materials allotment, o Flexibility of board of trustees in management/ operation of schools, o Bullying, and o Accountability; • Review of UIL; • Implementation of STAAR; and • Parental involvement

There can be critical unintended consequences surrounding each of these charges that could become law. As educators, we must educate our voters on these issues — the good and the bad. We must support grassroots-inspired efforts in our communities that ensure politicians will hear our voices. We must showcase our many accomplishments, painting a clear picture of what could be happening in our classrooms with more state support and less state control. Most importantly, we need politicians who support quality

public education. Are you actively supporting political candidates who value public education and who are willing to stand for all children — the future of Texas? What can you do? What will you do? It’s time to embrace the power of a social epidemic. MARY ANN WHITEKER is superintendent of Hudson ISD and serves on the Texas Association of Community Schools executive committee.

VALUE DRIVEN

SOLUTIONS

SAVE THE DATE FOR 2012

BUILDING LEARNING COMMUNITIES

TECHNOLOGY & CURRICULUM CONFERENCE PRE CONFERENCE: JUNE 19, 2012 CONFERENCE: JUNE 20-22 in FRISCO, TX visit www.txascd.org for more information or register today at www.tinyurl/2012SWBLC May 2012 • Texas School Business

19


TACS PRESIDENT profile Tornillo ISD’s Paul Vranish has a big heart for the smaller school districts of Texas by Raven L. Hill

W

hen Paul Vranish was looking for a job several years ago, he couldn’t have asked for a clearer sign that he was meant to be in the Lone Star State. The person offering the job was named Jim Bowie, as in the Alamo. “I never would have dreamed it in a million years,” says Vranish, laughing. That was enough for the Minnesotan to pack up and head south. Since then, he’s come to believe the old adage about good things coming in small packages — and small school districts. This month, he will assume the position of president of the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS), which represents the state’s 700 smallest districts — those with only one high school. The superintendent of Tornillo ISD since 2002,

Vranish also has served as superintendent in Lone Oak ISD and in Buffalo, N.Y. His career in education includes stints as a high school principal, an assistant principal and a teacher. Vranish joined TACS in the early 2000s. He attended his first board meeting after being tapped to fill in for an officer who couldn’t make the meeting. On the agenda was the appointment of a new executive director. The board hired Executive Director Ken McCraw, who still holds the reins today and to whom Vranish gives much of the credit for raising the organization’s profile. “In a group with a larger umbrella, it is a challenge to represent the entire body,” he says. “TACS really works for us.” Like their larger counterparts, many

Superintendent Paul Vranish visits Little Big Horn National Monument in Crow Agency, Mont., with students from Tornillo High School who achieved three commended scores on the TAKS. Twenty-nine students and 10 teachers participated in the field trip that took place in May 2011 as part of Tornillo’s TAKS Trip Program. 20

Texas School Business • May 2012

small, mid-sized and rural districts are struggling with budget cuts and fighting pressure to raise taxes. “There’s a lot of competing interests,” Vranish says. “Public schools right now are fair game, especially for politicians. When you have a strong organization, then you have more of a chance to defend your calling.” Vranish says he wants to help McCraw become even more vocal for the association, and for TACS to partner with other organizations. Says Vranish: “As president, what I am going to do as much as I can is ensure that we have more people in the organization to give it a real robust presence. There’s strength in numbers.” Vranish is no stranger to working for the greater good on behalf of public education. In addition to his work with TACS, he is a member of the Texas Association of School Administrators, American Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of Rural Schools, Texas Rural Educators Association and Texas Association of Secondary School Principals. Vranish says that over the years he has remained active with TACS because he believes in its mission and he has been fortunate to meet many high quality people. “When you’re around high quality people, they make you better,” he says. “I really believe in the organization. I like the director. I like the secretaries. I like the superintendents who sit on the committees.” But mostly, he says, “I like advancing education. This is more of a passion for me, not just a job.” The school district in Tornillo, a town just south of El Paso that sits on the Texas-Mexico border, has an enrollment


of about 1,400 students. Since Vranish has been at the helm, the district has led Region 19 in the overall TAKS pass rate for the past five years. When Vranish arrived in Tornillo in 2002, TEA was prepared to take over the district, which had been lowperforming for three consecutive years. Vranish had new ideas, and he asked for a one-year reprieve to turn things around. As part of his strategy, the superintendent introduced TAKS incentive trips, which provide experiences and opportunities for students who pass all sections of the TAKS test. Staff and students have traveled all across Texas, to cities like San Antonio to see the Alamo, and as far away as Montana to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. In his downtime outside of work, the 6’4” Vranish enjoys playing basketball three nights a week. His wife, Marla, is a high school counselor in Tornillo. They have two adult children: Josh, who lives in Frederick, Md., and Kinsleigh, a student at The University of Texas.

‘Public schools right now are fair game, especially for politicians. When you have a strong organization, then you have more of a chance to defend your calling.’

As he steps up to serve as TACS president, Vranish is rounding out his time with Tornillo ISD. In January, the superintendent submitted to the board his resignation, effective as of June 28, 2013. As for the year ahead, Vranish says, “I’m going to try to get the TACS membership up and keep fighting for those kids.” RAVEN L. HILL is a freelance writer and former education reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.

FUN FACTS ABOUT PAUL VRANISH When I’m not working, you’ll likely find me: Playing basketball in an over50 league. Worst advice I’ve ever received: Get a business degree. My closest friends would tell you that I’m: Truthful, plain-spoken, maybe even blunt. My vision for TACS as president: Enhance efforts to increase membership.

Call Today : 512.454.6864 or visit us online at www.WalshAnderson.com

May 2012 • Texas School Business

21


TASBO hosts annual conference in Houston In early March, the Texas Association of School Business Officials hosted its annual conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The conference offered training and networking opportunities for those involved in school finance and operations.

Outgoing President Frankie Jackson (third from left) of Goose Creek ISD with her daughters, Karsyn and Kendall, and her husband, Scott.

Raymond Weaver of Plano ISD and Mark Vechione of Socorro ISD.

Marianne Junco of Pasadena ISD and Terri Fretwell of Deer Park ISD.

Sherry Gregston, Hester Abadie and Suzanne Owen of Fort Bend ISD.

Sam Sessions and Don Smith of Deer Park ISD.

Kathie McNamee, Michelle Hibner and Norlene Vera of Magnolia ISD.

Laura Allen and Marie Miller of Humble ISD.

Pauline Cameron and Clara Booker of West Orange-Cove CISD.

Regina Henderson, Erich Morris and Paula Hutsen of Magnolia ISD. 22

Texas School Business • May 2012


Who’s News Burnet ISD Keith McBurnett has been named the new superintendent. Prior to taking the top job at Burnet, McBurnett was deputy superintendent at Pflugerville ISD, overseeing curriculum and instruction, human resources, technology, and maintenance and facilities. McBurnett has been an educator for 18 years, first as a special education teacher, then as principal in Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD. He also was a principal and administrator in Keller ISD. McBurnett earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of North Texas. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Schonda Kidd, an assistant principal at Hamilton Elementary School, was named the principal at Warner Elementary School. Kidd brings 16 years of experience in education to Warner. Over the course of her career, she Schonda Kidd has served as a teacher at Fiest Elementary School and as an instructional specialist at Metcalf and Kirk elementary schools. In 2006, as a result of her demonstrated leadership skills, she was promoted to assistant principal at Kirk Elementary. She then took the assistant principal position at Hamilton in 2009, serving three years in that post. Deweyville ISD Superintendent Rick Summer has announced he will retire this summer. Summers has spent 35 years in education and has worked in Deweyville ISD for 21 years. He began his career as a teacher and coach in Tulia ISD and also worked in Lumberton, Beaumont and High Island ISDs. Summers returned to Deweyville High School as principal and was tapped to serve as superintendent 11 years ago. His retirement is effective June 30. Dripping Springs ISD Pamela Carroll will join the district as the new executive director of human resources. Carroll has been with Lake Travis ISD since 2003, most recently serving as director of community programs.

She replaces Ron Hill, who has been with the district since 2000 and will be retiring at the end of the month. The Dripping Springs resident brings more than Pamela Carroll 25 years’ experience in education, having served as a speech pathologist, teacher and administrator in school districts in Texas and Arkansas, as well as at the Texas Education Agency. Jennifer Murray will be the assistant principal at Dripping Springs Elementary School next school year. Currently the district’s elementary instructional facilitator, Murray will replace Jennifer Murray Norma Madden, who is retiring. Murray taught third and fourth grades at all three Dripping Springs ISD elementary campuses from 2004 to 2010. She came to the district with nine years’ teaching experience at schools in Illinois and Texas. El Paso ISD Director of Instructional Technology Tim Holt is the recipient of the Making IT Happen Award from the International Society for Technology in Education. He has been a teacher, an education facilitator in gifted and talented education, and a research and evaluation administrator for 25 years. Fort Bend ISD Philip O’Neal was named the district’s new athletics director, effective March 19. O’Neal has more than 25 years’ experience in education and athletics, ranging from being a student assistant coach to an executive Philip O’Neal director of athletics. For the past three years, O’Neal served as the executive director of athletics at Weatherford ISD. Before that, he was an athletics director and assistant athletics director at Weatherford ISD for more than nine

years. O’Neal has served as a head basketball coach and business and physical education teacher at Weatherford and Copperas Cove high schools. He was an assistant coach and math teacher at Temple High School and Red Oak High School. He began his career as a men’s basketball student assistant coach at Wayland Baptist University, where he played men’s basketball from 1983 to 1986. David Allen Bassham is the new executive director of facilities and school services. Former operations systems manager for East Baton Rouge School District, Bassham has 30 years’ experience in education and David Allen Bassham hospital facilities management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in business administration from American Intercontinental University. Garrison ISD Craig Barker is the new athletics director/head football coach. Barker is known as a strong offensive coordinator with a favorable track record in recent years at Henderson ISD. In 2010, Henderson ISD made it to the state championship under Barker’s direction, while last season the Lions reached the semi-finals. Graham ISD Lane Ledbetter has been named the new superintendent. Ledbetter, who previously served as associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction for Birdville ISD, was named as the Lone Finalist by the board in January. Ledbetter earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from Baylor University and his master’s degree from the University of North Texas. His experience in Birdville ISD includes: director of curriculum and instruction; principal at Birdville High School; principal at North Ridge Middle School; assistant principal at Haltom High; administrator for virtual education; and assistant principal at North Richland Middle School.   See WHO’S NEWS on page 24 May 2012 • Texas School Business

23


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

Granbury ISD Vicki Thomas has retired from her position as testing coordinator in Granbury ISD’s Curriculum Department. With 40 years of experience in education, Thomas has served as the coordinator for testing, advanced academics and other programs since 1999. Having worked in

Vicki Thomas

Granbury ISD since 1990, she previously was the principal at Nettie Baccus Elementary School for nine years. During her career in education, Thomas has been both a teacher and an administrator at the elementary level

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Texas School Business • May 2012

prior to her service in the Granbury ISD administration. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Hardin-Simmons University and a master’s degree in education from Abilene Christian University. Keller ISD Carl Stralow is joining Keller High School as new head football coach. Stralow previously served as assistant head coach/ defensive coordinator at Colleyville Heritage High School since 2007. Carl Stralow Prior to that he was the defensive coordinator at Coppell High School for seven years and served as assistant head coach at Amos P. Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla. from 1988-2000.   Kerrville ISD David Jones is the new Kerrville ISD athletics director and Tivy High head football coach. Jones comes from Cypress Woods High School in Houston, where he has served as head coach and campus athletics director. Wade Ivy is now assistant superintendent for administration and human resources. Ivy will move from principal at Nimitz Elementary School, where he served for 11 years. Ivy has been part of Kerrville ISD for 18 years. Prior to his time at Nimitz, Ivy taught English and served as an administrator at Hal Peterson Middle School. Kevin Jordan is now head band director for Tivy High School after serving for five years in the same position at Hal Peterson Middle School. Prior to coming to Kerrville ISD, Jordan was director of music for 10 years at the Vanguard Institute in Boerne. He earned his bachelor of music studies from The University of Texas at San Antonio and his master’s degree in music from Texas A&M University in Commerce. Jamie Fails will become media and public relations specialist after 10 years of teaching, the past five years at Daniels Elementary School. Fails also worked two years as account executive for Vollmer


Who’s News Public Relations in Houston, serving clients in mental health, entertainment and business industries. She has a bachelor of arts degree in communications, with a concentration in electronic media. Krum ISD Cody Carroll has been named assistant superintendent and will oversee human resources and personnel. He begins his new job July 1. Carroll is currently superintendent at Meadow ISD, a district just southwest of Lubbock. His career as an educator began in 1992 as a junior high football coach in Slaton. He later became defensive coordinator at Slaton High School. After nine years in Slaton, he was hired as head football coach at Meadow High School. He also served as principal at Meadow High School before becoming superintendent in 2007. Midland ISD Executive Director of Secondary Education Patrick Jones has been chosen for induction into the Tarleton State University Athletic Hall of Fame this spring. He is one of nine inductees selected for the honor this year. Patrick Jones He and his family will enjoy a president’s dinner, campus tour and other festivities the first weekend of May. Additionally, he will receive a plaque, and his photograph will be placed on a Hall of Fame wall. Jones has worked in Midland ISD since 1994 in several professional capacities. This past fall, Patty Smith observed her 50th year of consecutive service in Midland ISD. Smith has made a mark on countless lives with her gracious persona and the fervency of her work ethic. At 79, Smith, Patty Smith Midland ISD’s storytelling festival director, says she has no desire to slow down. She began her career in education as a substitute teacher in 1961 and soon was offered a contract. She taught for nearly two decades before tak-

ing a position as the instructional services director at Midland High School. In 1989, she became the district director of social studies. Smith retired as director of social studies three years ago and has worked half time arranging the impactful storytelling festival each year.

Pflugerville ISD Highland Park Elementary Principal José Medina has been tapped to be principal of the district’s 19th elementary campus, Ruth Barron Elementary, which is scheduled to open for the 2012-2013 school year. Medina joined the Pflugerville district in 2008, when he was named assistant principal at Pflugerville See WHO’S NEWS on page 26

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

High School. He accepted the assistant principal position at Highland Park Elementary in 2009 and was named principal at the campus in 2010. Prior to his time in Pflugerville, he served as an assistant principal in Austin ISD and as a teacher in Copperas Cove, Ysleta and Socorro ISDs. Medina earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at El Paso

and a master’s degree from New York University. After spending the last year and a half as principal at Delco Primary School, Tana Ruckel has been named principal of Highland Park Elementary. Ruckel will replace José Medina. Ruckel joined the district in 1995 as a kindergarten teacher at Dessau Elementary after spending the first 12 years of her career in Tyler, Garland and Jasper ISDs. In 2002, she

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moved to Delco Primary to become the school’s kindergarten team leader, and in 2006 she was named the school’s assistant principal. She returned to Dessau as the assistant principal for the 2009-2010 school year and then returned to Delco Primary in 2010 for her first assignment as a principal. Ruckel earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. Pleasanton ISD Cynthia Clinesmith took over as superintendent of Pleasanton ISD in January, replacing Superintendent Bernard Zarosky, who retired in November 2011. Before coming to Pleasanton, Clinesmith was associCynthia ate director for stateClinesmith wide initiatives at ESC Region 13. Clinesmith began her career in education more than 30 years ago, teaching English in Plano ISD. Since then she has worked in numerous districts across the state, serving in roles such as campus administrator, director of special programs and assistant superintendent, among others. Pottsboro ISD Kevin Matthews will take over as superintendent on July 1, replacing Superintendent Kyle Collier, who is retiring. Matthews has been a high school principal for four years and was assistant prinKevin Matthews cipal at Denison High School before that. He holds a doctorate degree in educational administration. Round Rock ISD Jana Stowe has been selected as the new principal for the district’s 33rd elementary school, Elsa England Elementary School, scheduled to open this fall. Stowe is currently the principal of Great Oaks Elementary, a TEA exemplary school. Stowe was an assistant principal


Who’s News at the elementary level for three years; she has been the principal of Great Oaks Elementary for six years. Stowe earned a master of education degree from Texas State University and a bachelor of science degree in applied learning and development from The University of Texas. Prior to her administrative assignments, Stowe was a teacher at Pond Springs Elementary for seven years. JoyLynn Occhiuzzi, the district’s executive director of community relations, has been named the new vice president for the Texas School Public Relations Association. Occhiuzzi was inducted during the association’s annual conference in February. The Texas School Public Relations Association is a nonprofit, professional organization dedicated to promoting public schools through effective communications. San Elizario ISD Arlene Alarcon is the district’s new human resources director. Born in Fabens and raised in Clint, Alarcon also has strong family ties to the San Elizario community. She has more than 18 Arlene Alarcon years’ experience in management. Prior to joining the district, she served as vice president for human resources with Goodwill Industries of El Paso. Alarcon earned her bachelor’s degree in human resources from Park University and has two master’s degrees from Webster University, one in human resources and another in management. She also teaches business courses at El Paso Community College and writes children’s books. Ruben Cervantes has been named assistant superintendent for planning and instruction. He comes to the district from Alpine and has extensive experience in education and administraRuben Cervantes tion. Cervantes most recently worked in Kermit ISD, where he served as principal at both the high school and middle school levels.

San Marcos CISD Carter L. Hutson has returned to the district as the new associate director of transportation. Hudson retired from the U.S. Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel in 1996 and worked in private Carter L. Hutson industry before going to

He began his teaching career in neighboring Clint ISD, teaching and coaching at different elementary and secondary campuses. He also has been a school counselor. Cervantes earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in business, a master’s degree in counseling and a master’s degree in mid-management, all degrees conferred by Sul Ross State University.

See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

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work for public schools. He was a school bus driver, trainer and the transportation safety officer from 2003 to 2007, when he was part of the transportation team that won city, county and state recognition for the “Stop for Red – Kids Ahead” school bus safety campaign in 2007. Hutson moved on to Rockwall, where he was the assistant director of transportation for Rockwall ISD from 2007 to 2009. He then transferred to Judson ISD until returning to San Marcos in March. Mark Soto has been selected as the next athletics director. He brings 17 years’ experience as assistant head football coach, defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in baseball. A native of San Antonio, Soto was Mark Soto team captain of the Judson High School football team that played in two state 5A championships. He later coached the Judson High team in two 5A state championships — in addition to winning a 4A baseball state championship with Calallen High School in Corpus Christi ISD. Soto has coached in the Texas high school playoffs for 11 years and has coordinated a defensive or special teams program for 11 years. His most recent coaching position was with Judson High, where he also taught health and worked in credit recovery. Prior to joining Judson in March 2005, he taught physical education and was assistant head football coach/defensive coordinator at United High School in Laredo. Also, Soto taught and was assistant football/baseball coach at Holmes High School in San Antonio ISD, Calallen High in Corpus Christi ISD, Seguin High in Seguin ISD and Poteet High School in Poteet. Spring ISD Christina Allen-Crowder has been selected to serve as the director of community relations. Her responsibilities will include serving as the district’s liaison with the Spring ISD Education Foundation. Allen-Crowder has served as coordinator for grant development and research for La Marque ISD and direc-


Who’s News tor of disaster housing assistance program for the Galveston Housing Authority and Houston Housing Authority. Allen-Crowder has served on the La Christina Marque ISD Education Allen-Crowder Foundation board of directors for five years. During that time she helped develop a five-year strategic plan for the foundation and assisted with numerous fund-raising projects and special events. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin and a doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Victor Mitchell is the new police chief. He comes from the Houston ISD Police Department, where he has served since 1987, holding the position of assistant police chief since 2007. Mitchell has

an associate’s degree in applied science and law enforcement from Houston Community College and a bachelor’s degree in management and law enforcement from the University of Phoenix. Texas Education Agency Robert Durón, who has served as superintendent of two large Texas school districts, joined the Texas Education Agency as deputy commissioner for finance and administration. Durón, who has 31 years of education experience, most recently served as superintendent of San Antonio ISD. He led this 55,000-student district for more than five years. During his years in San Antonio, Durón played a key role in bringing financial stability to the district by cutting its operating budget by $64 million, increasing its fund balance by more than 20 percent and passing a $515 million bond package in 2010. Prior to working in San Antonio ISD, Durón served as super-

intendent of the 37,000-student Socorro ISD in El Paso from 2003 to 2006. He was an assistant superintendent in Clear Creek ISD in League City for six years and also has worked as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal in various districts. Tyler ISD After 35 years of service to the district, Freeman Sterling, Peete Elementary principal, will retire at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Before becoming principal at Peete in 1994, Sterling was a teacher at Rice, Owens and Jones elementary schools and an instructional consultant at Austin Elementary School. TSB

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THE BACK PAGE Advertiser Index

by Riney Jordan

It’s the little things they remember most

A

s my wife and I sat at the dining table with our friends one evening, we began sharing stories of things long remembered. The other man at the table sat and listened. Then, once we all quieted down, he said, “I’ve got a story. It happened when I was 8 or 9 years of age. We lived in Corpus Christi, several blocks from the gulf.” He then related how his mother would tell him to go down to the piers and catch some fish for supper. “So, I would take my fishing rod, walk the eight blocks or so to the water and when I got there, I would have to sit on my bottom and literally scoot down the side of this high concrete embankment that served as a jetty,” he said. He said he wouldn’t even think about leaving until he had caught several fish of varying types from the shoreline. Then he’d disassemble the fishing rod, put it in his pocket, hang the fish around his neck and proceed to climb up the embankment as best he could. He told us that this became a regular request from his mom, so on many late afternoons, the he would be standing on the shoreline fishing for their supper. One day he noticed a man watching him from a nearby pier that jutted out into the water. The gentleman shouted, “You come here quite often, don’t you, son? You would probably do a little better if you were out in the water a bit.” “Yes, sir, I’m sure I would, but this works all right. It just takes a little longer, that’s all.” “I know the guy who owns this pier,” said the man. “You want me to go ask him if he cares if you fish from here?” “Wow! That’d be great!” replied the boy. “Wait here, son. I’ll go ask right now.” The gentleman disappeared for several minutes, and when he came back, he asked the boy to come over and meet him on the privately owned pier. “The owner said he wouldn’t mind at all,” the man reported. “In fact, he told me to give you this key that will allow you on here anytime you want to fish. But he has one 30

Texas School Business • May 2012

request of you: You must always do it alone. Only you have permission to fish from here.” “Not a problem,” the kid quickly responded. And so, for the next several years, as my friend grew into a young man, he continued to fish regularly from the private pier and oftentimes the gentleman would come and visit with him for a few minutes. When my friend became a senior in high school, a wellknown man in the area was scheduled to give a speech at the school. “As soon as the gentleman walked to the podium, I recognized him,” my friend told us. “He was the one who had given me a key to the pier! It was none other than Howard E. Butt, the owner of the successful H-E-B chain of grocery stores and the resident of the mansion on the opposite side of the boulevard that ran along the coast. “Just before I left for college, I saw him once again when I returned the key to him. I couldn’t begin to express my real feelings about what his kindness had meant to me, but I know he knew. In the scores of times I fished from his private pier, I was always alone. That was our deal, and I wouldn’t have broken it for anything.” As I listened to the story, I realized how meaningful this had been to our friend. Tears had welled up in his eyes, and I knew that this small act of kindness had been something that had shaped him into the kind, generous and highly successful man that he had become. It makes you wonder how small acts of kindness might forever impact a young person. I have no doubt that these life lessons often teach more than any textbook ever could. It doesn’t take much — just a willing heart and a kind word. Yes, Aesop was right: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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CONGRATULATIONS! 2012 REGIONAL FINALISTS Rising Star

Leadership

Zoila Cardenas

Rachael Brunson

James E. Mitchell Elementary

Great Oaks Elementary

Lifetime Achievement Elaine Leibick

Principal Blaine Helwig J. Walter Graham Elementary

Chad Springer

Angela Buckingham

Highland Park Elementary

Lisa Walls

Legacy Early College High School

John H. Reagan Early College High School

Beverly Smith

Armando Chapa Middle School

Dr. Lesley-Anne Balido-Dean

Irene Kistler Bulverde Creek Elementary

Woodridge Elementary

Emily Swoboda

Loryn Windwehen Bernard Harris Middle School

Communications Arts High School

Kristy Mata Fannin Elementary

Joshua Wilkerson Navasota High School

Ana Fuentes

Robert E. Lee High School

Michael Cardona Dr. Catherine Bartlett

Laura Thornburg

Hamilton Elementary

Lemm Elementary School

Jane Ann Brown

W.L. Hauke Academy Alternative School

Naveen Cunha Stephen F. Austin Middle School

Michael Hardy

Sullivan Elementary

Graciela Guzman Homer Hanna High School

Frances Gonzalez-Garcia

Flour Bluff Early Childhood Center

Sam Houston Elementary

Katherine Hewett

Todd Moulder

Richard King High School

Thousand Oaks Elementary School

Sandra Geisbush

Jeanette Cavazos-Gonzales

Christy R. Zamora

Dr. Cordell Jones Woodridge Elementary School

NE ISD STEM Academy @ Nimitz Middle School

Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary IDEA Frontier College Preparatory

Lovejoy High School

Kathleen M. Hinders

Dr. Jo Ann Beken

Roth Elementary

Sherilen Roberts

Arnoldo Benavides

Central Middle School

Freddy Gonzalez Elementary

Norm Sands

Ramiro Guerra

Tabasco Elementary School

Edinburg North High School

David De Leon

Marisa Eddins

Valley View High School

W.C. Andrews Elementary

Susan Geffert

Tracie Rodriguez

Windsor Park Elementary

Collegiate High School

Melanie Mayer Port Aransas ISD

Marvin P. Baker Middle School

Small Districts Argyle ISD • La Vega ISD • Lytle ISD Large Districts Corpus Christi ISD • Cypress-Fairbanks ISD • Edinburg CISD • Kerrville ISD • Mesquite ISD Early Childhood Award AVANCE - San Antonio • ChildCareGroup Bock Early Child Dev. Center Brownsville ISD • Lamar CISD • The Rise School of Houston

Finalists receive the following AWARDS • Teachers receive $1,000 and a matching grant goes to their school. • Principals receive $1,000 and their school receives a grant for $2,500. • Small School Districts receive $2,500. Large School Districts receive $5,000. • Early Childhood facility receives $5,000. All of these finalists will go on to the statewide competition in May where they have a chance to win $5,000 to $100,000 for themselves and a matching grant for their school.

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