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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 61 Years

May 2015

Recruiting talent to rural districts

TACS President Jeff McClure Henrietta ISD

In the Spotlight Jon Kitna Waxahachie ISD


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TSB contents news and features

Cover Story Small, rural schools share challenges, strategies in recruiting, retaining talent

photo feature

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by Raven L. Hill

TSPRA hosts annual conference in San Antonio

18

SXSWedu attracts thousands of rock-star educators to Texas

21

departments Who’s News

In the Spotlight

22

Former NFL player trains Waxahachie teens for the game of life by Bobby Hawthorne

6

Texas Schools in the News

26

Ad Index

30

columns From the Editor

5

The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed

7

Tech Toolbox

9

by Katie Ford by Jim Walsh

TACS President Profile Henrietta ISD’s Jeff McClure draws on business background to drive change at district, TACS

by Terry Morawski

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by Elizabeth Millard

Game On!

11

The Back Page

30

by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan

Student Voices

29

A nostalgic senior reflects on her public school experience in far West Texas by Marissa Garcia

On the cover: Shutterstock.com, Copyright: Cate Frost 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 2015 • Texas School Business

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ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS NOW! Texas School Business wants to brag about you! Submit your nomination today for possible inclusion in the Ninth Annual Bragging Rights 2015-2016 special issue, which honors 12 deserving school districts and their innovative programs. Every winter, Texas School Business publishes and distributes this special issue to thousands of stakeholders in Texas public education. Does your school or district have a program that’s wildly successful? Then you could be featured among our Top 12! Simply visit www.texasschoolbusiness.com and click on Bragging Rights in the menu to fill out a nomination form. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Questions? Contact Texas School Business Editorial Director Katie Ford at katie@texasschoolbusiness.com.

www.texasschoolbusiness.com 4

Texas School Business • May 2015


From the Editor In 2008, I attended the first-ever Trans-Peco Festival of Music and Love in Marfa. It marked the beginning of my love affair with far West Texas. In the years since, I have paid many extended visits, making friends in Marfa, Alpine and the tiny ghost town of Terlingua. These towns have become like second homes to me; they no longer feel like vacation destinations. I guess I say this because my extended visits have allowed me to look beyond the usual tourist suspects (Big Bend National Park, McDonald Observatory, Chinati Foundation) and get a closer look at daily life out there in the Chihuahuan Desert. During my latest visit to Marfa in January, I stopped by Marfa ISD’s Central Office to visit with Superintendent Andrew Peters, who gave me a grand tour of their recently renovated K-12 campus (which includes a very impressive Montessori program). It was during this tour that I saw the “richness” of what Marfa ISD has to offer the children of this small ranching community and artists’ enclave in far West Texas. I wanted others to see this richness, so it only seemed natural to invite a young Marfan to contribute to our new “Student Voices” column. (See page 29.) Thank you, Marissa, for your collaborative spirit! It’s an honor and a privilege to offer you a platform to share your thoughts and observations as you look back on your school years in Marfa. We at Texas School Business wish you the very best as you prepare to graduate and move on to the next chapter of your life!

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) May 2015 Volume LXI, Issue 8 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Bobby Hawthorne, Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Ann M. Halstead

Tex. Arch. Lic. #17326

Moore Middle School and MST Magnet Tyler ISD Image from Building Information Model (BIM)

Texas Association of School Administrators Executive Director Johnny L. Veselka Assistant Executive Director, Services and Systems Administration Ann M. Halstead Director of Communications and Media Relations Amy Francisco ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and the Bragging Rights issue published in December by Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701.

© Copyright 2015 Texas Association of School Administrators May 2015 • Texas School Business

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Who’s News Abilene ISD Del Van Cox has been selected to serve as Abilene High School’s athletic coordinator and head football coach. He has been part of the Eagles coaching staff for 19 years, working as the team’s offensive coordinator since 2005. Also a math teacher, he was named Abilene High’s Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014. Before joining Abilene ISD, Cox was a coach and teacher in Mineral Wells and Rotan ISDs. He is a graduate of Angelo State University. Five longtime Abilene ISD administrators have announced their upcoming retirements, effective at the end of this academic year. David Adams has been with the district for 35 years, the past 12 as principal of Taylor Elementary School. He began his career at Reagan Elementary, then spent five years as a math teacher at Franklin Middle School before taking his first administrative job, as assistant principal of Bowie Elementary. He was Ortiz Elementary’s first principal when the school opened in 1992, remaining there for 11 years before taking the helm at Taylor. He was named ESC Region 14’s Principal of the Year by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. Linda Case, principal of Martinez Elementary School since it opened in 2012, has been an educator for 39 years, 35 of those with Abilene ISD. In addition to her current position, she has been an elementary and middle school teacher, coLinda Case ordinator of the district’s middle school gifted and talented program, a curriculum coordinator and an assistant principal. She spent 14 years as principal of Jackson Elementary and was also principal of College Heights and Fannin elementaries. Jerry Gayden, a native of Abilene and product of Abilene ISD schools, was a football coach before returning to his hometown as athletic director. He has been named District Coach of the Year four times. Steve Hodges’ reJerry Gayden tirement will bring to a close a 27-year career with Abilene ISD. He began as a fourth grade teacher at Dyess Elementary School and then taught at Jackson Elementary. He was assistant principal of Bassetti Elementary before joining Ward Elementary, where he has served as principal since 2003. 6

Texas School Business • May 2015

Gaile Thompson, executive director of career and technical education, will complete 30 years as an educator when she retires. Initially a teacher and administrator in Brownsville ISD, she Steve Hodges also taught and worked as an assistant principal at Clyde Elementary School in Clyde ISD. Prior to coming to Abilene ISD, she spent 12 years as a curriculum consultant with ESC Region 14. She joined the district in 2004, Gaile Thompson working for 10 years as executive director of secondary education before taking her most recent position. Aledo ISD The district’s new police chief is Fred Collie, who was most recently chief deputy in the Dallas County Constable’s Office, Precinct 5. He brings more than 20 years of public service experience, including 15 in the Arlington Police Fred Collie Department, from which he retired as chief deputy in 2004. Collie, an adjunct professor at Corinthian College, also teaches at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and the Constables Leadership College. Allen ISD Jeff Turner has been appointed director of fine arts. He has been Plano ISD’s instrumental music coordinator since 2007, after serving as director of orchestras for seven years at Plano Senior High, where he was also head of the Fine Arts Department. He served as the Texas Music Educators Association’s orchestra division vice president from 2009 to 2011 and is currently the Texas Music Adjudicators Association’s orchestra vice president. Turner received his bachelor’s degree in music education from New Mexico State University and his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of North Texas. Alvin ISD Raymond Root, now associate principal of Manvel High School, will be the first principal of the new Manvel Junior High when the campus opens in August. He has been

with the district since 2004, working at Harby Junior High and Manvel High as a teacher and coach since 2004. He was named assistant principal of Manvel High in 2010, serving in that position Raymond Root until becoming associate principal in 2013. A graduate of The University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in government, Root’s master’s degree in educational leadership is from Lamar University. Arlington ISD Two assistant athletic directors have been named for the district. Bruce Chambers comes from The University of Texas, where he was an assistant football coach and football recruiting coordinator since 1998. Prior to that, he was with Dallas ISD’s Carter High School from 1984 to 1997, the final two years as head football coach and athletic director. Kim Peach, assistant principal of Gunn Junior High since 2012, was with Arlington High School from 1996 to 2002 as a teacher, head girls’ soccer coach and assistant volleyball coach. She then spent five years as a teacher and head girls’ soccer coach at Mansfield High School and was a teacher and assistant cheerleading coach at Arlington High from 2007 to 2012. Bastrop ISD Bastrop High School alum Jon Edwards has been named head football coach and athletic coordinator for Cedar Creek High. He returns to his hometown from Katy ISD, where he coached at Cinco Ranch High since 2000 and, since 2005, served as the team’s offensive coordinator. Edwards received his bachelor’s degree from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and his master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University. Birdville ISD Lon Holbrook has been appointed head football coach and athletic coordinator at Birdville High School, where he has taught science and has worked as the team’s offensive coordinator since 2000. His 17 years of coaching experience include serving as Smithfield Middle School’s assistant coach from 1998 to 2000. Holbrook earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas. See WHO’S NEWS on page 8


THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

Looking back on the 2015 session

S

nort, here. Rip Snort. Intrepid Reporter and Friend of the Truth. Dawg, we now look back at the 2015 legislative session as a watershed for public education. It all began with the courageous speech of Sen. Donna Campbell as the Senate Education Committee opened discussion on vouchers. Campbell labeled the entire system of public education in Texas a “monstrosity.” The committee decided to dig into the issue. If Campbell is right, then whose fault is it? Ultimately, the committee found the answer in Article VII, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution. That provision makes it the responsibility of the Texas Legislature to “establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” In a dramatic speech on the Senate floor, Campbell relayed the shocking finding. “Colleagues,” she said, “our investigation has revealed that we are the ones responsible for this monstrosity. I am proposing a bill that will grade the Legislature on the A-F system so that the public will have a clear understanding of who inflicted this monstrosity on the citizens of Texas. Moreover, my bill requires that we give ourselves a grade of F.” The bill passed. Then Campbell got to work on fixing the problem. She introduced a bill to break up the public education monopoly. Fact finding by the committee revealed that the educrats do not have a monopoly on serving the students of Texas. In fact, there is strong competition for students who speak English, come from families with two parents who graduated from college, have no disabilities and have enough money to pay for private schools. But the government schools have selfishly created and maintained a near complete monopoly in serving English Language Learners, students with disabilities and poor kids. So Campbell pushed through the Statue Of Liberty Bill of 2015, so named because it requires all schools in Texas to accept “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… .” Henceforth, any child in Texas can attend any school in Texas —

public or private. We look to Hockaday, St. Stephen’s and other elite schools to fight hard to enroll kids with serious emotional disturbances, the medically fragile and 15-year-old refugees from Guatemala who have never been in any kind of school. No more monopoly! Public schools will no longer have this market to themselves. Freedom at last!! Speaking of competition, the committee heard from private sector industry leaders. Those leaders predicted that education would soar to the heights once there was genuine competition. But they all emphasized that competition in the private system works because (1) it is fair, and (2) there is no cap on the amount of money the winners can make. Consequently, Campbell introduced the Fair Competition Act of 2015, which also passed. It requires all private schools that accept state money in any form to (1) accept any student with no restrictions whatsoever; (2) provide evidence, based on standardized testing, that low-income students, English language learners, students with disabilities and all racial minorities are achieving; (3) comply with all provisions in the Education Code, including those pertaining to student discipline, teacher contracts, procurement, record keeping, PEIMS, the Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act; (4) comply with all federal laws that public schools must comply with, including IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA; and (5) provide constitutional guarantees to their students and employees, especially the right of free expression and the right to due process. Accompanying this was the Good Enough For Michael Dell, Good Enough For The Local Superintendent Bill. This takes the lid off of administrative salaries in Texas. Dell makes a gazillion dollars and we are all better off for it. That’s what makes America great. So no more will there be any requirement that public schools must spend most of its money on classroom teachers. No — just as in the private sector, the money will now flow to the top where it belongs. Sure, some superintendents will make a boatload, but the overall product will be better for all of us.

Finally, the Legislature, led by Campbell, completely torpedoed STAAR testing. Campbell said we don’t need STAAR tests to provide accountability. Parents do that. Parents are the ultimate local control. So we don’t need any more stinkin’ STAAR tests. In keeping with the Fair Competition Act, this applies across the board to private and public schools. What a session! Thanks to Senator Campbell, education will never be the same in Texas. JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa. com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg.

May 2015 • Texas School Business

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 6

Canyon ISD Superintendent Michael Wartes, who has led Canyon ISD since 2005, has announced he will retire at the end of August. He has been with the district since 1986, when he was named head football coach and athletic director at Canyon Michael Wartes High School. Two years later, he became the district’s athletic director. In 1994, he was appointed assistant superintendent of district operations, a position he held until accepting the role of interim superintendent in 2004. He was ESC Region 16’s Superintendent of the Year in 2012. Wartes began in Borger ISD in 1975 as a coach and American history teacher. During his 40-year career, he also has worked in Muleshoe, Denver City and Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISDs. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University). Corpus Christi ISD Kimberley James, former principal of Rockport-Fulton High School in Aransas County ISD, has been named principal of Corpus Christi ISD’s new Veterans Memorial High School, scheduled to open its doors in August. She was with Aransas County ISD since 2002, working as a secondary curriculum consultant and middle school principal

LAWYERS ADVOCATES LEADERS

prior to her most recent position. Before that, she worked in Aldine ISD as a teacher, magnet school coordinator and associate principal. James received her bachelor’s degree from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and her master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. She was 2014’s ESC Region 2 Principal of the Year. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Laura Ann Novacinski has been named principal of Andre Elementary, where she has served as assistant principal since 2008. She began her career in North Carolina, teaching for two years before joining Cypress-Fairbanks Laura Ann ISD as a third grade ESL Novacinski teacher in 1996. She also has taught fourth grade and served in a mid-management intern role. She was named assistant principal of Farney Elementary in 2000 and then moved on to Walker Elementary to serve in the same capacity. She remained at Walker until accepting her most recent job at Andre. Novacinski, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, received her master’s degree in administration from the University of St. Thomas. She is at work on her doctorate at Texas A&M University.

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El Paso ISD Angela Henderson, principal of Hornedo Middle School since 2008, is now principal of Coronado High School. Prior to that, she was an assistant principal at Hornedo and at Brown Middle School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Georgia’s Toccoa Falls College and a master’s degree in education administration from The University of Texas at El Paso. Now leading Bowie High School as principal is Michael Warmack, former principal of Lincoln Middle School. Before leading Lincoln, he spent two years as principal of White Elementary School and was assistant principal for guidance and instruction at Jefferson High School. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at El Paso, where he also earned his doctoral degree in educational leadership and administration. Fort Bend ISD The new director of Fort Bend ISD’s Department of Student Affairs is Dawn Carlson. She has 23 years of experience as an educator, beginning as a general and special education teacher in Lubbock ISD. She taught in Round Rock ISD and took her first administrative position in Austin ISD. Carlson came to Fort Bend ISD in 2005 as assistant principal and was named principal a year later. In 2011, she was appointed director of special education. Carlson received her bachelor’s degree in education from Nebraska’s Peru State College. She holds two master’s degrees, one in special education from Texas Tech University and one in educational administration from The University of Texas, where she also received her doctoral degree. Kamilah Holmes has been named assistant principal of McAuliffe Middle School. She comes to her new position from working as a fourth grade math and science teacher at Schiff Elementary. She has been an educator for 14 years, also teaching second and third grade and at the high school level. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College and her master’s degree in education from the University of Houston. Now serving as principal of Drabek Elementary School is Wendy Nunez, who was the school’s assistant principal. She began her career as an elementary teacher. She also has worked as a Head Start program coordinator. An educator for 25 years, she received both her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of New Orleans. See WHO’S NEWS on page 10

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Texas School Business • May 2015


TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

Checking in on an old friend: the printed book

“I

remember when I used to really be into nostalgia.” — comedian Demetri Martin Although I own a Kindle (my second) and love my Audible subscription, I could be counted among those who pine for the days gone by of print. The evidence of the decline of print is all around, including the noticeable lack of books in many libraries. The market for digital is also outpacing print. A survey this year of publishers and manufacturers by Education Market Research showed sales of supplemental materials at 82.6 percent for online/digital delivery and 65.2 percent for print. The survey credits this growth to greater access to digital devices, like whiteboards and tablets, in schools; the new standardization available through national curriculum; and the general swelling of the digital market itself. How will this impact the future of print materials in schools? It is not necessarily an encouraging one for those who value print. The National Literacy Trust in the UK surveyed nearly 35,000 young people ages 8-16 and yielded some interested results. They found: 39 percent of children and young people read daily using electronic devices, including tablets and e-readers. Only 28 percent read printed materials on a daily basis. Children say they prefer to read on a screen. More than half of those participating said they would rather read on a device, while one-third said they would rather read in print. Girls are more likely to read in print than boys — 68 percent and 54 percent, respectively. Girls are also more likely to read via several different devices, like mobile phones (67 percent to 60 percent of boys), e-readers (84 percent to 69 percent) and tablets (70 percent to 67 percent). Naomi Baron, author of “Words On-

screen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World” (available in both print and Kindle version on Amazon, by the way), reflects in her book on the impact and side effects of digital books. Baron points out the positive qualities of e-books as the inexpensive or free access to the written word for a wide audience, as well as the convenience of owning and shopping for books. These positives come with their share of negatives, such as many authors and publishers trending toward shorter works that do not lend as often to study, reflection or re-reading. Also, reading on a device that is not solely an e-reader can encourage multitasking or distraction, which ultimately lead to only partial engagement with the written material. Baron also touches on one other point, which is not wholly positive or negative. Devices, and their connection with the Internet, are changing the reading experience into more of a social activity than a solitary one. She says this is a reason e-readers have taken off more in the United States and the UK than in Japan or France. I also recognize this new social aspect in the young people in our schools. I have seen the digital revolution play out in my own house. Interestingly, my wife and I both primarily read on our Kindles. But my kids (ages 9 and 11) choose to read a mixture of print and digital books. Perhaps my kids like, as Baron suggests, the tactile feeling of knowing you are halfway through the pages of a favorite book. It is also much more fun to collect all of the printed Harry Potter books than their digital counterparts. Feel free to send me an email if you have thoughts on print versus digital. And happy reading, friends! TERRY MORAWSKI is the deputy superintendent for Comal ISD. He is earning his doctorate from Dallas Baptist University. Email him at terrymorawski@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @terrymorawski.

Reach Texas School Decision Makers Texas has more than 4.6 million public school students and over 1,000 school districts that need your company’s products and services. Let us help you reach this vast market – advertise in Texas School Business magazine. Published since 1954, Texas School Business is the only monthly magazine that solely targets Texas school administrators. Each issue is packed with robust stories on major Texas educational topics, engaging profiles on Texas educators, coverage of industry events, personnel announcements from across Texas and much more. In addition to the print magazine, we also offer a digital magazine edition, which you can access on our website. Every issue of Texas School Business magazine reaches more than 3,200 key school leaders in the state. In addition to all members of the Texas Association of School Administrators, who receive TSB as a membership benefit, we have a host of paid subscribers including board members, business managers, principals, curriculum directors, technology directors and other central office personnel — people who serve as key members of leadership teams across the state.

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Who’s News

WHO’S NEWS continued from page 8

ard has been named Red River Coach of the Year, Far West Texas Coach of the Year, Van Zandt Coach of the Year and District Coach of the Year. He is a graduate of North Texas State University with a degree in secondary education. Edwin Young, principal of STARS Accelerated High School, will retire at the end of the academic year. An educator for 29 years, he has been with Granbury ISD for 16 years and has led STARS since 2006. He also has Edwin Young led the district’s Behavior Transition Center since 2013. Prior to those assignments, he was assistant principal of Granbury and Acton middle schools. Young began his career in Waxahachie ISD as a teacher in 1976 before departing to serve as a teacher with the Peace Corps in Western Samoa. He returned to Texas in 1990 as a vocational teacher and then technology and computer applications teacher in Fort Worth ISD. Young’s bachelor’s degree was awarded from Tarleton State University and his master’s degree from the University of North Texas.

Freer ISD Steve Van Matre, former interim superintendent, is now the superintendent. Gilmer ISD The Gilmer ISD Board of Trustees has named Rick Albritton head football coach and athletic director. He has been the Gilmer High School Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator for the past 12 seasons and also has coached in Jacksonville and Marshall ISDs. Granbury ISD Granbury ISD Human Resources Director Tom Howard has announced his plans to retire in August. He has been with the district in his current position since 2009. Before that, he was athletic director and head football coach in Tom Howard Fort Stockton, Henrietta, Edgewood, Bruceville-Eddy and Fort Davis ISDs. He also was an assistant coach in Leander and Channelview ISDs, coaching baseball, golf, track and football. The head coach at the 2005 Texas-Oklahoma Oil Bowl, How-

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Gruver ISD The district’s new superintendent, Troy Seagler, was previously the high school principal in the district. Harris County Department of Education Ecomet Burley is director of the Center for Safe and Secure Schools, which was established to provide school safety and security training for districts in the greater Harris County area. A school administrator for 26 years, he spent six years as superintenEcomet Burley dent of La Marque ISD. Burley earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas Tech University and then went on to receive a master’s degree in public administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Bell High School has welcomed Mike Glaze as head football coach. He was most recently Cedar Hill High School’s offensive coordinator, holding that job since 2008. He has been a coach for 15 years, working in Pflugerville, Mike Glaze Weatherford and Everman ISDs. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University. Irving ISD Juan Carlos Martinez is the district’s new director of human resources for secondary staffing and recruiting. He comes to his new position from serving as director of campus operations and attendance initiatives. An educator Juan Carlos for 18 years, he has been Martinez with Irving ISD for the past 12. He began his career in Dallas ISD in 1996 and has been a classroom teacher, school counselor, assistant principal and district-wide program coordinator of Irving ISD’s parental involvement program. Martinez earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from East Texas Baptist University and two master’s degrees, in teaching and school administration, from Texas A&M University at Commerce. He is at work on his doctorate in educational leadSee WHO’S NEWS on page 15

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Texas School Business • May 2015


GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

The ripple effects of retiring

B

y the time anyone reads this, so many good men and women will have uprooted their families, packed up and placed their houses on the market, said tearful goodbyes to friends and colleagues, and joined the annual spring caravan of athletic coaches in search of a new gig. They’ll search for a new school in a new community where the kids are eager to please and the parents are supportive but not too pushy, where the school board members are patient and generous, and teachers and administrators understand that coaches are educators too and treat them with the respect they deserve. I hope these good men and women all land the jobs of their dreams in a place their children will forever call home. I hope it’s a job they can’t imagine leaving. Ever. And yet, if all goes right, one day, they will. They’ll announce to their families first and their players second that it’s time. It’s something they know; although, how they come to know it is anyone’s guess. “I talked to a lot of coaches about that very thing. When do you know it’s time to retire?” said Steve Warren, who has coached for 32 years — the past 19 at Abilene High, where he won the 5A-II state football title in 2009. “What I figured out was when I could not bring 100 percent effort and passion into my job, then it was wrong for me to just keep it.” He said he wasn’t interested in another coaching job. “I just felt it was time for me to try to do something else,” Warren said. El Campo’s Bob Gillis said much the same thing. He’s retiring because it simply feels right. “I coached for 37 years, and it’s all I ever wanted to do,” he said. “I never much thought about retiring, but, in time, opportunities arise that may never appear again.” Specifically, Gillis was offered a chance to help an orthopedic surgeon ex-

pand his sports medicine outreach program. Of course, there were other factors: the prospects of new administrators and new school board members, old friends retiring or moving, a loyal assistant waiting in the wings. It all adds up, even if you can’t quantify it. You’re going to leave eventually, and now seems as good a time as any, which makes it particularly tough because you’re forced to abandon the underclassmen who expected you to be there when their time arrived. This isn’t exclusively a sports phenomenon either. “It’s going to be very hard to leave this room,” said Rhonda Moore, who has coached UIL journalism and advised student publications at Austin’s McCallum High since 2000. “I just turned 60,” she said. “I was planning to teach until I was 62, but my mother moved here into assisted living three years ago. I’m taking care of her and teaching full time and I am totally exhausted.” The decision may have been forced upon her, but that makes it no less painful. “Before I told anyone else, I told my newspaper staff. I knew that would be the hardest,” she said. “I explained to them that something had to give, and I can’t exactly retire from my mother.” And so it goes. “Priorities change,” Gillis said. “My grandson is about to turn 5, and he has signed up for flag football. If I coach next year, I won’t get to see him play. Besides, this opportunity should free me up some while still allowing me an opportunity to work with coaches and be involved with kids. You know, I’m still struggling with my decision because, as excited as I am about my next opportunity, I think I’ll always miss coaching.” 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.

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May 2015 • Texas School Business

11


Small, rural districts share challenges, strategies in recruiting, retaining talent by Raven L. Hill

A

ttracted to the small size of Point Isabel ISD and its beachfront location, Lisa Garcia waited five years for the superintendent’s job to become available. She believed she had found the perfect match in the South Texas school district. Three years ago, Garcia finally landed her dream job. But she soon learned that one woman’s dream job is another’s tough sell. Point Isabel, like other small, rural districts, struggles with staff recruitment and retention. “We are geographically isolated,” Garcia explains. “For us to recruit teachers, it’s diffiLisa Garcia cult for them to make the decision to come to our community.” Small, mid-sized and rural school districts make up roughly 80 percent of the state’s total. Over the years, more rigorous certification standards and the economic downturn have made what was always a tough recruiting job even tougher, particularly in the smaller and more rural districts. The farther away a school district may be from an urban center or large suburb, the harder superintendents must work to get them in the door — and keep them. “You have to start early,” says Barry Haenisch, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS), which represents school districts 12

Texas School Business • May 2015

with an average daily attendance of fewer than 12,000 students. A former superintendent in West Texas school districts, Haenisch said recruiting posed an annual challenge throughout his 20year career. “No matter how small your district is, Barry Haenisch you’re always looking,” he says. “The challenge

was finding the teacher you felt fit a job best and then getting them to your school.” There are many barriers. Salaries in smaller school districts tend to be significantly lower than large urban or affluent suburban districts. And the small towns themselves pose hurdles. Housing options can be limited, and the social scene nonexistent. Often, there are few professional opportunities for one’s spouse, which makes staff retention challenging. The problem many small-district of-

Point Isabel ISD students learn about college life and potential career paths at the district’s annual College and Career Fair.


ficials find when recruiting job candidates has little to do with what happens inside the classroom and more to do with life outside of it. “Are there places to eat out? Are there activities for their families? Are there plays and movie theaters and amusement parks — those kinds of things?” Haenisch says. “That’s the biggest challenge, to me, in trying to attract teachers to the small towns.” Many smaller, rural districts are investing in more professional development opportunities to sweeten the deal as well. Garcia admits it’s often simply a matter of being pragmatic. “It’s easy in a large district to just cut your losses,” Garcia says. “I don’t have that luxury in this size of a district and our geographic location. It really encourages us to work with what we get and grow them up.” And money talks. Smaller districts have trouble matching higher-paying jobs in neighboring districts and the larger number of job openings. On both sides, employer and potential employee tend to have deep concerns about whether working in a small town will be a good fit, particularly for employees without ties to the area. Garcia notes that turnover tends to be highest among Point Isabel’s three- to fiveyear teachers. “They may come for a year or two if they’re a beginning teacher because they think that living at the beach is going to be great. Then they realize the financial impact of what it costs to live here or what it costs to drive in every day,” she says. “As soon as they have an opportunity elsewhere, they go elsewhere.” Looking at turnover rates, the percentages in smaller districts are often on par with state averages. Yet, even one departure a year can create long-term problems, particularly in critical-need areas, such as math, science, special education and bilingual education. “If I lose a chemistry teacher, that’s the only one I have,” Garcia says. “It might only be one position that turns over, but it’s a critical position when it’s a standalone department of one.” Case in point: Two years ago, Point Isabel ISD lost an advanced placement chemistry teacher to a nearby district. Until the superintendent can find another teacher with an advanced degree in chemistry, there is no AP chemistry course. More stringent certification standards also make it harder for small districts to fill vacancies or create strong leadership teams, says Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Ann

Whiteker, a former TACS president. “I believe in qualification over certification,” she says. “Years ago, districts had the flexibility to find quality people, hire them and then work on the necessary certifications. That was the greatest advantage to small, rural districts. We no longer have that type of option. That has had a very tremendous negative impact not only on hiring teachers but adMary Ann ministrators. Whiteker “You can find staff members within your school that demonstrate excellent leadership qualities, but you have to wait for them to get all the way through the program before you can put them in that position, rather than being able to move them in that position and work on certifying them,” she explains. Giving school districts more flexibility in assigning teachers to courses that they are qualified to teach, even if they are not certified in those subjects, would be a big help, Whiteker says. Strategies that work In the meantime, districts have found that hiring from within yields the best results in recruitment and retention efforts. They lean heavily on job candidates who grew up

in the area or have family ties. They tap into the private sector, looking for employees whose spouses have education backgrounds as well. Rounding out the candidate pool are retired educators who are moving to a new area. “Our most successful strategy is growing our own,” says Garcia. “People who live in this community and who grew up in this community and are loyal to this district will grow up through the ranks — being a paraprofessional and working on their degrees and then getting their degrees and becoming teachers. And then we grow those teachers into leaders. We’re continuously growing our next layer of employees at every position that we can, including maintenance and bus drivers.” Some districts are taking a community-wide approach to addressing the issue, creating partnerships with area universities and chambers of commerce to market themselves and recruit talent. Regional education service centers also help fill the pipeline by hosting teacher job fairs. Attendance is expected to be up at Region 16’s Panhandle Teacher Job Fair early this month. Approximately half of the region’s 62 districts recruit at the fair, which typically attracts more than 200 candidates. “I see good participation from graduates who represent a wide swath of Texas, See SMALL, RURAL DISTRICTS on page 14

Students at Point Isabel ISD, which serves approximately 2,500 students from several neighboring towns, show off their academic awards. May 2015 • Texas School Business

13


from the city to the country,” says Travis Longanecker, Region 16 director of instructional leadership. “Folks are willing to travel to find a good job.” Outside organizations also are investing in this effort. Teach For America has created the Rural School Leadership Academy (RSLA) and Rural Principal Fellowship to support corps members in these types of school districts, including the Rio Grande Valley. The academy has expanded this year to 35 participants, up from 20 in 2014. The three-year fellowship program al-

lows participants to earn principal certification and a master’s degree in educational leadership from a university partner while giving them handson leadership experience. Teach for America Travis Executive Director for Longanecker the Rio Grande Valley Paula Garcia (no relation to the Port Isabel ISD superintendent) served as a corps member in the late 1990s. In the past 17 years, she has been a teacher, principal and central office administrator. She says she was in-

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spired to come back to the organization after working in a rural district. She says rural school districts should emphasize the many opportunities for growth when recruiting candidates. She points to her own experience as a prime example. “I was in charge of supervising and managing principals. I was in charge of technology infrastructure. I dabbled in some of the federal program work and community outreach,” she says. “I was able to learn a lot of different things. I had my hands in a lot of different pots. We really need to amplify that message and see those things as assets.” In addition, she says small districts should look to the business community for help in acclimating new hires from outside the area and providing perks beyond sal-

‘I was in charge of supervising and managing principals. I was in charge of technology infrastructure. I dabbled in some of the federal program work and community outreach. I was able to learn a lot of different things. … We really need to amplify that message and see those things as assets.’

CLARK TERRELL

SMALL, RURAL DISTRICTS continued from page 13

— Paula Garcia, a Teach for America executive director, reflecting on her experience in a rural school district.

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ary. She also recommends working with local colleges and universities to get tuition breaks for advanced degrees. Haenisch says he often hears encouraging reports from TACS member districts. “Due to smaller class sizes, collaborative relationships and parental support, it’s easier to keep them once we attract them,” he says. RAVEN L. HILL is a freelance writer and former education reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.


Supporting learners and transforming lives

May 2015 • Texas School Business

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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 10

ership from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jacksonville ISD A new superintendent is in place for the district. Chad Kelly was most recently superintendent of Taft ISD, serving there since 2007. Prior to that assignment, he was a high school principal in San Marcos CISD and Sinton and Mathis ISDs. Chad Kelly In addition, he taught graduate courses as an adjunct professor at Texas State University and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. He holds a bachelor’s degree in earth science, a master’s degree in educational administration and a doctorate in educational leadership. Judson ISD (San Antonio) New Superintendent Carl Montoya comes to Judson ISD from Brownsville ISD, where he has been superintendent for the past three years. He has 36 years of experience in Texas public education, working as an educator in Dallas ISD and as superintendent of Aransas Pass ISD. In addition, he was appointed vice chairman of the Texas School Safety Center Board by then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Montoya is also a member of the National Council of Urban School Districts.

Who’s News

before returning to public education as superintendent of Hedley ISD in 1996. He then served in the top position in Hamilton ISD for two years before joining Muleshoe ISD in 2000. Sheets received his master’s degree in education from Abilene Christian University and his doctorate in education from Texas Tech University. Natalia ISD A new superintendent has been hired for the district. Michael Steck comes to his new position from Marlin ISD, where he was superintendent. He worked as a teacher and coach for 14 years before transitioning to administration. In his 22 years as an administrator, he also has been a director of special services in Dallas ISD, a high school principal in Hawley ISD, and superintendent and instructional leader in Veribest ISD. He has taught and coached in Dumas, Pearland, Channelview and Leuders-Avoca ISDs. Steck earned his bachelor’s degree in vocational agriculture from Tarleton State University, where he also received his master’s degree in administration. Pflugerville ISD Karen Jackson, the newly appointed

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Texas School Business • May 2015

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Leander ISD Lee Bridges has been named athletic director. He has been with the district since 2013, when he was hired as Leander High School’s athletic coordinator and head football coach. He began his career as an English teacher and coach at Victoria High School in Victoria ISD. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and a master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Muleshoe ISD When Superintendent Gene Sheets retires in June, he will bring to a close a 15-year career with the district. He plans to take a new position as an associate professor in the Graduate Education Department at Lubbock Christian University. After Gene Sheets earning a bachelor’s degree in math and biology from Abilene Christian University, Sheets taught and coached in Abilene ISD. He then spent five years as high school principal of Abilene Christian School

executive director of special education, was most recently executive director of student support services in Comal ISD. She also has served as an adjunct professor at Sam Houston State University. An educator for 13 years, Jackson received her bachelor’s degree in speech therapy from Hardin-Simmons University and her master’s degree from Abilene Christian University. A new assistant superintendent of elementary education has been named for the district. Kettisha Jones comes to her new job from Oklahoma, where she was instructional leadership director of the Tulsa Public Schools. Prior to that, she spent 20 years as a Texas educator. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and her master’s degree in education from the University of Houston. Karen Shah has been appointed executive director of accountability and compliance, coming to Pflugerville from Comal ISD, where she was director of accountability, data integrity and research. Before joining that district in 2012, she worked for 13 years in public schools in Texas and Florida. Shah holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas State University.

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TSPRA hosts annual conference in San Antonio

ESC Region 4 Print Center showcases its services in the exhibit hall.

Tim Carroll of Allen ISD serves as a conference emcee.

“Connection coach” Jonathan Sprinkles delivers the keynote address.

Lynda Queen of ESC Region 16 and Heather Willden of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD partake of the cupcakes. Carmen Rendon, Roni Yunes, Paola Arcos, Rocio Moore, Gloria Rendon, Karla De La Garza and Alex Meyer of United ISD attend the Star Awards banquet.

Judy Rimato and Denise McLean of Klein ISD join Lorette Williams of Corpus Christi ISD (center). Immediate past President Denise Blanchard accepts a check from Heather Willden, representing the Texas Association of Partners in Education.

TSPRA President Lorette Williams with Jim Santiago Zavala III of Pharr-San JuanAlamo ISD. 18

Texas School Business • May 2015

Former FBI agent Jeff Lanza of Mission, Kansas, gives a talk on crisis communications and the media.

Curtis Buyrn of School Maps Online chats with Verone Travis of ESC Region 11 and Jennifer Marshall-Higgins of ESC 12.


Joe Perez of Harris County Department of Education takes a selfie during lunch break. Members from ESC regions 16 and 17 decorate their tables and celebrate their regions at the installation luncheon. Star Awards chairperson Brian Morris of Lubbock ISD, Cathy Brandewie of O’Connell Robertson (sponsor of the Rookie of the Year Award), 2015 Rookie of the Year Jamie Fails of Kerrville ISD and TSPRA immediate past President Denise Blanchard of Amarillo ISD.

Rick Hill of Elementary Schoolmate presents the Bright Idea Award to Nancy Sharp and Sarah Ancell of Lubbock ISD.

TSPRA members arrive at the Star Awards banquet.

Immediate past President Denise Blanchard of Amarillo ISD and TSPRA Executive Director Linsae Snider lead a membership session. Past President Julie Thannum of Southlake Carroll ISD greets a peer at the conference.

TSPRA members enjoy live entertainment at the Star Awards banquet. May 2015 • Texas School Business

19


WHO’S NEWS continued from page 16

Spring ISD Hafedh Azaiez has been named assistant superintendent of administration for the district’s middle schools. Initially a science teacher in Houston ISD, he spent 13 years with that district. He moved into administration in 2007 when he was appointed house principal and dean of students of Johnston Middle School. Most recently, he held dual responsibilities, as principal of Revere Middle School and as lead principal for Fonville and Clifton middle schools, where he served as a mentor and supervisor of other principals. Azaiez earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry from La Faculte des Sciences de Tunis in Tunis, Tunisia, and his master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. The new assistant superintendent of administration, Isaac Carrier, will oversee Spring ISD’s high schools. An educator for 20 years, he comes to the district from Dallas ISD, where he was executive director of school leadership. In addition, he has been an administrator in Aldine and Houston ISDs. Carrier received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture and master’s degree in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. He is at work on his doctorate in urban schools curriculum and instruction at Texas A&M University. Kelly Cline is the director of federal and state programs. She was most recently senior manager of Houston ISD’s Federal and State Compliance Department. She spent 10 years with ESC Region 4 as an education consultant and has worked in parent engagement and as an elementary teacher. Now serving as assistant superintendent for research, accountability and testing is Jennifer Cobb. She has more than 15 years of experience in research and data and comes to her new job from Spring Branch ISD. Cobb completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Baylor University and earned both her master’s degree in sociology and her doctorate in education from the University of Houston. Walter Hunt, who was previously principal of Twin Creeks Middle School, has been named principal of Westfield High School. He has been with the district for five years. A graduate of Texas A&M University, he holds a master’s deWalter Hunt gree from Prairie View A&M University and a doctorate from the University of Houston. Keith Kaup, director of transporta20

Texas School Business • May 2015

Who’s News tion, comes from Sheldon ISD, where he was director of support services since 2004. With more than 19 years of experience in the field, he has a bachelor’s degree in mathematical science from the University of Houston at Clear Lake and a master’s degree in leadership from Grand Canyon University. Matt Meekins has accepted the position of head football coach at Westfield High School. He served in the school’s athletics program from 2000 to 2005 and, from 2007 to the present, as offensive coordinator, academic coordinator Matt Meekins and assistant head coach. Meekins earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Sam Houston State University and his master’s degree in professional administration from Prairie View A&M University. The district’s new multilingual director is Marie Mendoza. She brings 25 years of experience to her new job, including work as a bilingual teacher, English language learner program director and ESC Region 20 educational specialist. Before coming to Spring ISD, she was Irving ISD’s director of world languages. Mendoza, who received her bachelor’s degree in bilingual education from St. Edward’s University, holds a master’s degree in instructional leadership from Trinity College. She is pursuing her doctorate in school philosophy at Texas State University. Ann Westbrooks has been appointed interim chief financial officer. She has been with the district since 2006, working as controller and assistant superintendent of financial services. A certified public accountant, she received a bachAnn Westbrooks elor’s degree in accounting from Sam Houston State University. Tameka Williams-Bruce, now serving as executive director of human resources, has more than 12 years of experience in human resources operations in both the public and private sectors. She was previously executive director of human resources at the Lone Star College System. She is a graduate of Sam Houston State University with a degree in criminal justice. Her master’s degree in business administration was awarded from Texas Woman’s University and her doctorate in organization and management from Capella University. Walnut Bend ISD Kelly Carrell, the district’s new su-

perintendent, was formerly a principal in Miami ISD. Weatherford ISD Patricia Melendez is the director of accounting. She was with ESC Region 11 for the past 14 years. A graduate of Western New Mexico University with an associate’s degree, she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration Patricia Melendez from Texas Christian University. Wylie ISD Beverly Burr, an educator with 36 years of experience, has announced her upcoming retirement. She has been serving as director of special services since joining the district in 2013. Burr began her career as an elementary teacher in Beverly Burr Crandall ISD, going on to work as an assistant principal and principal. She became an administrator in 1996 when she served at the director and assistant superintendent levels in Terrell ISD. She then worked as a consultant prior to coming to Wylie ISD. Diana Garcia Pecorino, assistant principal of Tibbals Elementary School, is moving over to Cox Elementary to serve as principal. She came to Wylie ISD as a bilingual teacher in 2005 after a career in criminal justice. She was named Diana Garcia assistant principal of TibPecorino bals in 2008. Pecorino earned her bachelor’s degree from Austin College and her master’s degree from Dallas Baptist University. Moving into the position of director of special services is Renee Truncale, who has been principal of Cox Elementary School since 2004. She has been an educator for 30 years, 18 of those with Wylie ISD. She spent nine years as Renee Truncale a teacher and three as an administrator before opening Cox in 2004. Truncale, who received her bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, holds a master’s degree from East Texas State University and a doctorate from Texas A&M University at Commerce.TSB


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Kristi White and Stephanie Jaracz of Pasadena ISD.

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Leah Pendleton and Nancy Watson of Plano ISD.

Jessica Andrews and Gladys Andrews of Center ISD.

Maggie Susong of the Association of Texas Professional Educators with Dan Susong of Austin.

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Jennifer Datray, Douglas Torres-Edwards and Sabrina Provencher of Houston ISD. May 2015 • Texas School Business

21


IN THE

Spotlight

As new head coach, former NFL player trains Waxahachie ISD teens for the game of life by Bobby Hawthorne

W

axahachie High School’s new head football coach isn’t banking on the proposition that he deserves or will receive extra credit because he’s a former NFL quarterback. Oh, he might if his last name were Brady or Manning or Romo, but it’s Kitna, and he knows he must offer more than the fact that he began taking snaps in the pros before most of his players were born. Fortunately, Jon Kitna has much to offer. Expert instruction. Boundless enthusiasm. Prospects of a new team identity. Hope. “Dude is passionate,” a sophomore told me about midway through a cloudy and windy morning practice, and two teammates agreed. “Passionate, for sure,” a junior varsity running back added. “He’s got it goin’.”

“What else about him has impressed you?” I asked. “Well, we have about 350 new plays,” the sophomore said, shaking his shaved head in disbelief. That the 42-year-old Kitna played briefly for the Cowboys is cool, but it’s not “the thing,” they said. What is “the thing” is his precision-guided presence and his “show, don’t tell” coaching style, and they are trying to figure out what it means when an assistant says, “Switch your mind,” or when Kitna barks at his defensive linemen, “I will fire you” if this happens again, or if that doesn’t. Fire you? Who says that to high school kids? Well, Kitna does. A walk-on, he led Central Washington to the 1995 NAIA national championship, then bounced

Waxahachie ISD’s new head coach Jon Kitna greets members of the Waxahachie Indians football team. Photo courtesy of Scott Dorsett, Waxahachie Daily Light. 22

Texas School Business • May 2015

around the NFL for 16 years, finishing in 2012 with the Cowboys. He then returned home to Tacoma and his alma mater, Lincoln High, an inner-city school as poor as the mostly fatherless kids who attend it. Though the school has zero budget for football, Kitna built a winner through faith and fortitude. He and his wife, along with various friends and relatives, raised enough cash to purchase supplies and new weight equipment, upgrade safety standards and pay the volunteer assistant coaches their $4,500 annual stipends. They even helped kids with their academic studies and their personal hygiene, and they occasionally fed those who might otherwise not have had a hot meal that day or week. It was noble but unsustainable. A few of his assistants had to quit coaching because they were at risk of being fired from their real jobs, and Kitna himself was earning only $40,000 per year to coach and teach math, so when he was notified that the Waxahachie job was available, he and his wife and their four children prayed and asked God: “Is this where you want us?” Clearly, it was, and fortunately, it’s where they wanted to be as well. “I have an intense affinity for Texas,” Kitna said. “I loved it when I was here, and my kids love it.” Better still, Waxahachie offered a growing school in a thriving community full of supportive parents and hard-working kids who want to win, which is something the Indians haven’t done that much of recently. Last year, they finished 2-9, not that that matters, Kitna said. “I wanted to come in with fresh eyes and a fresh mindset,” he said. “A lot of times, what can happen is that when you’re around players for a couple of years, coaches start thinking about what the kids can’t do. We want to focus on what they can do. We want to give them a chance to play to their strengths.”


More importantly, Kitna and his assistants want to help them grow into responsible adults — what he calls “real men.” “The first time I met with them, I basically told them, ‘We’re going to use football to train you to be real men. At some point, football is going to end and, for most of you, that’s sooner than later. When you leave here, we want you to be a productive member of society.’” Kitna subscribes to the philosophy of Joe Ehrmann, the former NFL defensive lineman who wrote “InsideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives.” “Whatever sport it is, coaches have an opportunity that no one else has,” Kitna said. “Not their parents. Not their youth pastor. Not their teachers. We are with them for extended and focused amounts of time, so we better be instilling in them character and integrity.” For example, he said his proudest moment in his three years at Lincoln High was a 45-0 loss in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. “We were up against Bellevue High, which was ranked fifth nationally and had already beaten Euless Trinity that season,” Kitna said.

“The first time I met with them, I basically told them, ‘We’re going to use football to train you to be real men. At some point, football is going to end and, for most of you, that’s sooner than later. When you leave here, we want you to be a productive member of society.’” In the midst of a 67-game winning streak, Bellevue was led by Myles Jack, who started the next year at tailback and linebacker for UCLA and was the Pac-12 freshman offensive and defensive player of the year.

“Our kids played as hard as they could from the first snap to the last,” Kitna said. “They gave us everything they had. Now, that’s winning.” Conversely, his team last year demolished back-to-back opponents 91-0 and 63-0. “But we didn’t play as well in that 63-0 win as we did in the 45-0 loss,” he said. “We had far superior talent, so, the way I see it, that was actually a loss. What we want is for the kids to give us the best they have, every time.” In short, do your job. Work hard. Play with passion and attitude. Switch your mind. Be a man. “I am willing to lose a game to train character,” Kitna added. “It’s that important to me.” He knows he can bank on it. 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.

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May 2015 • Texas School Business

23


TACS PRESIDENT PROFILE Henrietta ISD’s Jeff McClure draws on business background to drive change By Elizabeth Millard

A

s a young insurance agent, Jeff McClure began mentoring an up-and-coming farmer who was looking for career alternatives. The pair began talking about education, because McClure had been serving on a school board and also appreciated the educational efforts of the local farming organizations. As he shared insights about the influence of public education on society, McClure realized he was really convincing himself.

“Once I listened to the points I was making, I began to realize: Hey, I want to do this,” he says with a laugh. “So, I got my certification and began teaching, and I’ve never looked back. What I said about education changing society is true, and I love being part of that.” McClure, who steps up this summer to become the president of the Texas Association of Community Schools, began his educational career at Rotan ISD

It’s storytime with Henrietta ISD Superintendent McClure! 24

Texas School Business • May 2015

as a math and science teacher for at-risk students, but it wasn’t long before he made the leap to administration. After only three years of teaching, he became the principal at Cotton Center ISD, which felt like a natural transition given his background in business management. Before going into insurance, McClure had worked in sales and promotion for a chemical company and had served as vice president in a family business.


The combination of his management and corporate experience, along with his passion for education, made him a perfect fit for administration. In 1998, he became superintendent at Roby CISD, and, six years later, he took on a similar role at Henrietta ISD, where he has been ever since. Making a difference Every day, McClure draws upon his experience in the business world to create change at Henrietta ISD. In his decade there, he has developed processes that focus on continuous improvement, rigorous goals, and stronger communication among central administration, the school board, campuses and the community. “As a superintendent, you have to set the tempo for change,” he says. “Even though you have a board and other stakeholders, there are so many times when a final decision is up to you, and you have to focus on long-term goals when you make those decisions.” But as much as possible, McClure focuses on team dynamics and collaboration, which are what drive companies toward growth and also help school districts to be more effective. Education is based on relationships, just like business, says McClure, so refining and improving those connections can only bring successful outcomes. One example of that method in action was the recent implementation of budgetary reduction measures that McClure says didn’t adversely affect employee or student performance. That effort helped facilitate the passage of a $12.3 million bond election and the completion of an associated $15 million district-wide construction project. Another major focus for McClure is empowering outstanding educators. He spends considerable time developing more resources for instructors and setting high expectations and accountability. As a result, the district has achieved exemplary ratings. This year, McClure came up with a formula to guide future efforts: Engaged Stakeholders x Efficient Use of Time and Resources x Effective Implementation and Assessment = Exemplary in All Endeavors.

Once a math teacher, always a math teacher. “Those factors compounded have a greater product than any of them independently,” he says. By focusing on those areas, McClure says he believes the district will continue to see positive effects in academics, community impact, extracurricular activities and other aspects of district operations. Looking ahead In addition to his work at Henrietta ISD, McClure has been involved in numerous professional organizations, from serving as vice president of Young Farmers of Texas to participating in the Executive Leadership Academy at Lamar University. He has served in numerous leadership roles for the Texas Association of School Administrators. He is also a past president of the Red River Superintendent Association. As the president of the Texas Association of Community Schools, he hopes to focus significant energy on legislative advocacy. “As we look toward setting new goals and collaborating with other association groups, I hope we can find ways to move the Legislature toward recognizing the value of the districts within our membership and the impact they have on education, so they can validate that with policies and laws that help students rather than hinder them,” McClure says.

Meanwhile, back in Henrietta ISD, he continues to refine the district’s processes, communication strategies and collaboration opportunities. “My goal is that we never stagnate; we always reach for excellence, so that there’s a sense of ownership for everybody,” he says. ELIZABETH MILLARD also writes for the American City Business Journals.

Fun facts about

JEFF MCCLURE An ideal Saturday would entail: family activities and visiting. Three words to describe me: introspective, responsible and fair. Proudest moment of my life so far: marrying my wife, Darla, to begin our family journey. A bad habit I’d love to break: going back for seconds.

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25


Texas Schools in the News Texas minority graduation rates outperform national percentages

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ccording to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics latest figures, the class of 2013 high school graduation rate for Texas African-American and Hispanic students topped that of similar student-groups across the country. In addition, various student groups in Texas — including white, Asian, economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities — ranked in the top five nationally in national class of 2013 graduation rate comparisons. “Across the board, student groups in the Texas class of 2013 easily outpaced the national graduation rate of their counterparts in other states,” said Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “The class of 2013 comparisons confirm Texas as a national education leader committed to helping every student earn a high school diploma, and that bodes well for our state’s economic future.” Numbers compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) showed that the Texas class of 2013 set a high school graduation rate of 88 percent, topping the national average of 81.4

percent. The Texas graduation rate hit 88 percent for the second consecutive year, tying Wisconsin for the nation’s third highest. Only Iowa, at 89.7 percent, and Nebraska, at 88.5 percent, posted higher graduation rates for the class of 2013. (Note that NCES updated its class of 2013 data to include percentages to the first decimal point, which has adjusted Texas’ overall national ranking to third. Figures released earlier this year had initially indicated Texas ranked second, tied with four other states for the class of 2013.) The NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations. Since 2010, states, districts and schools have used a common metric — the adjusted cohort graduation rate — in reporting graduation rates to the federal government. Use of the adjusted cohort graduation rate allows for an accurate and uniform comparison among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Source: Texas Education Agency

Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate

National

TEXAS

Ranking

African-American

70.7%

84.1%

1st

Hispanic

75.2%

85.1%

1st

American Indian/Alaska Native

69.7%

86.0%

1st (Tied)

White

86.6%

93.0%

2nd

Economically Disadvantaged

73.3%

85.2%

2nd

Students with Disabilities

61.9%

77.8%

3rd (Tied)

Asian/Pacific Islander

88.7%

93.7 %

5th

Limited English Proficiency

61.1%

71.3%

9th

CLASS OF 2013 (TOTAL)

81.4%

88.0%

3rd (Tied)

12 Texas schools make ‘Best Communities for Music Education’ list

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welve Texas public schools were among 120 schools to receive the SupportMusic Merit Award, ranking them among the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) in the nation. The recognized schools were: Ball High School, Galveston ISD Cockrill Middle School, McKinney ISD Frank D. Moates Elementary School, DeSoto ISD Georgetown High School, Georgetown ISD Jefferson Davis High School, Houston ISD Memorial High School, Edgewood ISD Muleshoe High School, Muleshoe ISD Parker Elementary, Houston ISD S.H. Rider High School, Wichita Falls ISD San Marcos High School, San Marcos CISD Stephen Collins Foster Elementary School, Dallas ISD Vandegrift High School, Leander ISD In its 16th year, the BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction. Researchers at the Center for Public Partnerships and Research, Kansas (an affiliate of the University of Kansas) led the data review. The national awards program is run by the SupportMusic Coalition, a national initiative that unites nonprofit organizations, schools and businesses to keep music education strong in U.S. public schools. SupportMusic is run by the NAMM Foundation. “Ensuring that every child has access to music in schools requires commitment by students, teachers and those who determine school budgets,” said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director. “We commend the districts and schools that have earned the Best Community designation this year. They join with so many that believe as we do that there is a vital link between do-re-mi and the ABCs.” Source: NAMM Foundation

26

Texas School Business • May 2015


National Center for Urban School Transformation honors 15 Texas schools

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ifteen Texas public schools received top honors in the 2015 National Excellence in Urban Education (NEUE) Awards program. The National Center for Urban School Transformation, which is part of San Diego State University in California, bestows the NEUE awards annually to the nation’s highest performing urban schools. Executive coaches fly across the country to make site visits, meet with principals and observe lessons at the finalist schools. The Texas schools receiving top honors include: ■ Aldine ISD: Anderson Academy and Mary Walke Stephens Elementary School ■ Brownsville ISD: A.X. Benavides Elementary, Daniel Breeden Elementary and Solomon P. Ortiz Elementary ■ Dallas ISD: John Quincy Adams Elementary School, Brashear Elementary School, John J. Pershing Elementary School and Walnut Hill Elementary School ■ Fort Worth ISD: Charles Nash Elementary School, North Hi Mount Elementary School, W.C. Stripling Elementary School and Young Men’s Leadership Academy ■ Houston ISD: George I. Sanchez Elementary School ■ Sharyland ISD: B.L. Gray Junior High To be considered for the national awards program, a school must be located in a metropolitan area with 50,000 or more residents. For elementary schools in which the highest grade is grade six or lower, at least 60 percent of the students enrolled (both in the prior and the current year) must have met eligibility criteria for free- or reduced-price lunch. For middle schools (grades nine or lower), at least 50 percent of the students must have met the same criteria. In high schools, at least 40 percent of the students must have met the criteria. More awards criteria can be found on the National Center for Urban School Transformation’s website at go.sdst.edu/ education/ncust.

Seventh and eighth grade students at Small Green Tech Academy receive hands-on learning in the greenhouse.​

National Wildlife Federation recognizes Austin ISD school

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he National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA program has awarded the Small Green Tech Academy, which is part of Clint Small Middle School in Austin ISD, with the national Green Flag Award. Small Green Tech Academy is the first school in Texas — and the 40th in the country — to achieve the Green Flag status. The academy received the award “for going above and beyond to teach and implement sustainability initiatives in the school and surrounding community.” To be considered for the Green Flag award, an eco-school must show it is succeeding in three program pathways. According to the federation, Small Green Tech Academy completed outstanding programs in the energy, school grounds and healthy living pathways. Energy: Students completed classroom energy audits. They addressed potential energy-saving strategies within the classrooms and educated their peers and larger school community to do the same. School grounds: Over the years, students, teachers and volunteers have transformed more than 4,000 square feet of barren space into native habitat for ruby-throated hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, song birds, small mammals and more. They have built a greenhouse, a meditative labyrinth, wildflower gardens,

a rain garden and a reconstructed prairie. They also have productive food gardens, orchards and habitat corridors. Healthy living: Students polled 50 non-Small Green Tech Academy  students to see how often they were given opportunities to learn outside,  what they were doing outside and what activities they enjoyed most while being outside. Students evaluated the results and promoted outside opportunities and environments to teachers outside of the Small Green Tech Academy. They also designed different outdoor learning environments  for students and teachers to enjoy. Small Green Tech Academy also introduced an environmental curriculum, featuring courses about native species, sustainability, green building, horticulture and nutrition. Green Tech Academy, which has been in operation since 1999, offers this advice for others beginning their eco-schools journey: Start small. Accomplish one pathway or one habitat project in a semester or a school year. After you have gone through the process once, you’ll be able to build your way up to accomplishing multiple projects at a time. Implementing and monitoring your work becomes easier each time you complete a project.
 Source: National Wildlife Federation May 2015 • Texas School Business

27


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TCPN-0531_January Resize-Texas Business.indd 1 Texas School Ad Business • School May 2015

1/5/15 3:04 PM


STUDENT VOICES

A nostalgic senior reflects on her public school experience in far West Texas by Marissa Garcia

W

here have my school years gone and what’s next? For the last 12-plus years, the only thing I could think of was: I can’t wait to finish school. And now, here I am: a senior with less than a month and a half left of school. What have I gotten out of my years in this town, the time spent in this school system, with all these classes, friends, teachers and coaches? I’m sure most people cringe at the thought of public schools as they revert back to the way they are portrayed in movies, with nerds getting bullied and their heads being shoved into toilets, with the popular girl dating the cutest guy. But my experiences at my public school are way different. Marfa High School has impacted my life socially, educationally and, of course, mentally. I have made some of my most memorable moments in this place, met my best friends, and had the opportunity to open up and break away from my insecurities.  I have been able to better myself in this place. Playing sports here also has given me the opportunity to see so many things and experience a lot. In junior high and high school, I was able to play all

“Student Voices” is a regularly featured column in Texas School Business. It’s an opportunity for students of all ages from across Texas to share their experiences in K-12 public schools. Contact Editorial Director Katie Ford at katie@texasschoolbusiness. com for publishing guidelines.

sports in our small-town school, including cheerleading. Although many people might wonder what sports have to do with school or what grades have to do with sports, the reality is that it has a lot to do with it. I have learned to be punctual and hard working through athletics. I have visited and toured college campuses, thanks to softball, and even learned to discipline myself in order to reach my goals. I’ve learned that if you work hard enough to obtain a dream, you can make it become a reality. I’m sure the things I have learned during my time here will help me succeed after high school as well. Participating in UIL academics and our school’s early college program has also opened my eyes to the importance of balancing social activities and assignments at the same time. The reality of what a deadline is and what time management means really hit home this year as I was enrolled in several dual-credit courses. I had to train myself to be organized and prepared. By granting me the privilege to participate in dual-credit courses, Marfa

High School has given me a jumpstart on my college education with minimal cost to my family. But, more importantly, these courses have prepared me for what to expect when I begin my higher education next year. As I reminisce about all my years here in this public school system, I recall the many teachers who have done so much for us, taken so much time to help us, guide us and prepare us for our lives outside of our sheltered environment. If I had a choice between staying in a public school and choosing another form of education, I would without a doubt pick public school. I am the person I am today because of my experiences here at Marfa, and I look forward to making my school proud in the years ahead of me. MARISSA GARCIA is a senior at Marfa High School in Marfa ISD, which, geographically speaking, is the secondlargest district in the state (nearly 3,000 square miles, or larger than the state of Delaware). Marfa ISD maintains a student population of 320 to 340 students per year. May 2015 • Texas School Business

29


THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

Advertiser Index Harris County Dept. Education..............16 www.hcde-texas.org

The reward for enjoying the journey

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remember hearing a story years ago that has spoken again and again to me over the years. It was a simple story about an old Japanese man and his young son. The father believed in taking life at a leisurely pace, while the son was a gogetter, always in a hurry over something. Periodically, they would load up the old ox-driven cart and carry their vegetables and homegrown items to the nearest town to sell. One morning, they loaded up the cart and began the journey. The son, eager to get there in one day, kept encouraging his father to hurry, while the father kept saying: “Take it easy, son. You’ll live a lot longer.” After a few hours, they came to the house where the father’s brother lived. “Let’s stop and visit your uncle. We rarely get to see him.” Of course, the son was not at all interested. He pleaded with his father to keep moving. “We’ve already lost time,” the young man complained. “Then what will a few more minutes matter?” asked the father. So, for the next hour, the old man and his brother had a much-loved visit, while the son fumed. Once they were on their journey again, they came to a fork in the road. The father turned the oxen to the right. “What are you doing?” the young man asked. “This way to the left is so much shorter.” “Oh, yes, you’re right,” he responded. “But the view this way is so beautiful.” For the next few hours, the old man led the boy and the oxen through green meadows, fragrant wildflowers and babbling brooks. The son missed most of it as he seethed with anxiety. As the sun set in the west, the father pulled off the road and said: “This is such a perfect spot. Let’s spend the night here.”

30

Texas School Business • May 2015

“I’ll never take you on one of these trips,” the son snapped. “You’re only interested in flowers and birds! You’re not interested in money like you should be!” The next morning, the father and son came upon a man whose cart was in a ditch. “Let’s help him,” said the old man. Of course, the son objected, but the father reminded him that he might be in a ditch someday and need some help. As they helped the stranger, a great flash of light appeared across the sky. The earth shook as what sounded like thunder roared. The sky grew dark beyond the hills. Assuming it was rain, they continued toward the darkened city. By afternoon, they reached the hill overlooking the city. They stopped and looked at it in disbelief for a long time. Neither of them spoke. Finally, the young man looked at his father and said: “I see now what you have been trying to tell me. Forgive me, father.” They turned their cart around and began the journey back to their home — and away from what had once been the city of Hiroshima. Yes, we often miss the best part of any journey, whether it be traveling or working or simply living, because we’re more interested in the destination than the joy along the way. Teaching is one of those journeys that can provide so much pleasure, but we may have to focus once again on children instead of curriculum. We may need to spend time listening instead of talking. We may discover that it’s more rewarding to develop a relationship than a routine. Simply stated: Enjoy this journey, for it passes much too quickly! RINEY JORDAN’s “The Second Book” is now available at www.rineyjordan.com, along with his other publications. You can contact him at (254) 386-4769, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter: @ RineyRiney.

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