TSB—May/June 2018

Page 1



The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas

Texas School Business



A move to self-assessment Student-led conferences help kids understand and drive their academic success Also in this issue: TACS President Eddie Bland TEPSA President Yolanda Delaney Spotlight on Alton Frailey

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Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

22 TACS President Profile Eddie Bland serves and advocates for Texas' rural schools by Laura Cherry

18 24


TEPSA President Profile Yolanda Delaney brings a love of adventure to leadership role

In the Spotlight Alton Frailey nurtures community/school relations through hard work and communication

by Laura Cherry

Cover Story A move to self-assessment Student-led conferences help kids understand and drive their academic success by Dacia Rivers

Departments 7 Who’s News 31 Calendar 36 The Arts 38 Ad Index


5 From the Editor by Dacia Rivers 13 The Law Dawg— Unleashed by Jim Walsh 15 Digital Frontier by Ronnie Gonzalez, Ed.D.n 17 Game On! by Bobby Hawthorne

Photo Features

12 TCEA convention offers five days of learning and networking 16 TSPRA conference brings school communications staff to Frisco

38 The Back Page by Riney Jordan 29 TCASE members gather in Austin 30 TASBO’S annual conference brings members to Fort Worth

The views expressed by columnists and contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or Texas School Business advertisers. The publisher also makes no endorsement of the advertisers or advertisements in this publication.

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From the editor


tudent-led conferences are a new trend popping up in schools across the country. For this issue of Texas School Business, I spoke to a few educators who have introduced the technique on their campuses to find out just what a student-led conference looks like and how they might be of benefit to teachers, parents and students. Turn to page 18 to get the details on this method and see if it could be the kind of thing that would work in your school. Also, don’t miss our spotlight on Alton Frailey, a Texas public education luminary with more than 30 years of experience under his belt. Discover his unique perspective and hope for Texas’ education future on page 26. On page 36, we’re pleased to feature a unique column for our The Arts section, one from Dr. J. Medgar Roberts in Duncanville ISD that discusses the importance of debate, especially for minority students.

Texas School Business

I hope that the end of the school year finds each of you looking fondly at the school year over your shoulder and simultaneously ready for a well-deserved summer break.

MAY / JUNE 2018 Volume LXV, Issue 3

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620)

406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Dacia Rivers

Dacia Rivers Editorial Director


Phaedra Strecher COLUMNISTS

Bobby Hawthorne Riney Jordan Ronnie Gonzalez, Ed.D. Jim Walsh ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER

Ann M. Halstead


Johnny L. Veselka



Amy Francisco

Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978) is published bimonthly with a special edition, Bragging Rights, in December, by the Texas Association of School Administrators, at 406 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701. Periodicals postage paid at Austin, Texas, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. © Copyright 2018 Texas Association of School Administrators

Ann M. Halstead

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018



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Who’s News Angleton ISD After spending the past three years as the offensive coach of Angleton High School’s football program, Kevin Berneathy has taken on the role of head football coach. During his 10-year career, he has also coached in Pasadena, Dickinson, La Marque and La Porte ISDs. Superintendent Patricia Montgomery has announced her upcoming retirement, effective June 15. She has served the district for 41 years, the past 10 in the top position.

Arlington ISD Eric White, the district’s new director of athletics, served as assistant athletic director for Mansfield ISD since 2012. Prior to that, he was an athletic trainer in that district and in Joshua and Fort Worth ISDs. He is a graduate of Baylor University.

Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) ATPE executive director Gary Godsey has announced his upcoming retirement, effective August 1. He has led the organization for the past five years, spending 35 years prior to that in local, state and national nonprofits, including the United Way.

Austin ISD Bob Cervi, former chief operating officer of Round Rock ISD, has been appointed director of construction management and facilities. In addition to his time in Round Rock, Cervi was executive director of facility operations for Eanes ISD, director of maintenance and project manager for Oklahoma City Public Schools and director of central services for Norman (Okla.) Public Schools.

Austin High School theatre teacher Annie Dragoo was recognized as 2017’s K-12 Theatre Teacher of the Year by the Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA) at their annual conference in Galveston in January. Dragoo has worked at Austin High since 2004, codirecting the school’s entries in the UIL

one-act play competitions and winning the state champion trophy in 2012. She also developed the curriculum adopted by the Texas Education Agency for musical theatre programs. Eastside Memorial Early College High School now has Miguel Garcia, III, as principal. He was the campus interim principal since September. Garcia holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Texas State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Concordia University Texas. The new principal of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is Kristina Waugh, who was the school’s academic dean for the past 10 years. Waugh is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a master’s degree in counseling from Central Texas College.

Boerne ISD Newly appointed director of public information and community relations Jocelyn Durand joins Boerne ISD from South San Antonio ISD. Before working in Texas public schools, she was a news reporter in Little Rock, Ark., and in Abilene and San Antonio. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and master’s degrees from Syracuse University.

Bonham ISD Bonham ISD’s new athletic director, Harold Colson, comes to the district from Bridgeport ISD, where he worked since 2014 as assistant principal, UIL coordinator and assistant administrator of athletic events for Bridgeport High School. He earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M University at Kingsville and is pursuing his doctorate in education from Northcentral University. Bonham High School’s new head football coach is John Fish. Most recently a teacher and coach at Lone Star High School in Frisco ISD, Fish began his career in Del City, Oklahoma, after completing his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Central Oklahoma. Now serving as the district’s early childhood program director is Suzanne Kennedy, who was most recently Inglish Early Childhood Center’s assistant principal.

Texas Association of School Administrators Alamo Heights ISD Superintendent Kevin Brown will become the fourth executive director of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) July 1, succeeding Johnny L. Veselka, who has served as TASA executive director for 32 years. Brown has a wealth of experience in public education having served in Southwest, Round Rock, New Braunfels and Alamo Heights ISDs as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, and in district-level positions in human resources and communications. He also has taught graduate courses at Texas State University and guest lectured at Trinity University. A member of TASA since 2000 and superintendent of AHISD since 2008, Brown is the immediate past president of TASA, chair of the TASA 2025 Task Force and chair of TASA’s Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network. He also has served as the president of the Texas School Coalition, as a member of the Legislative Council for the University Interscholastic League, and as a member of the Steering Committee for the Go Public Campaign in Bexar County. He has served on the executive board of the Texas Association of Mid-Size Schools, as past president of the San Antonio Association of Personnel Administrators, and on the executive board of the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators. Brown holds a doctorate in education administration from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in education administration from Texas State University, and a bachelor’s degree in government with honors from The University of Texas at Austin. Brown’s awards and recognitions include: Region 20 Superintendent of the Year and finalist for Texas Superintendent of the Year (2015), ECEA Excellence in Educational Leadership Award (2013), San Marcos High School Distinguished Alumnus Award (2012), New Braunfels ISD Silver Unicorn Award (2000), Texas State University Outstanding Graduate Student (1996), and Southwest ISD Teacher of the Year (1992).

> See Who’s News, page 9 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


Who’s News > Continued from page 7

An educator for 25 years, she has been with BISD for 23 of those. She is a graduate of East Texas State University with a master’s degree in education administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Rory Lacy is the new director

of early childhood education. An employee of the district for seven years, she has been a classroom teacher and a pre-K-12 technology integrationist. The Bonham High School graduate earned her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University. The new assistant principal of Finley-Oates Elementary School is Christi Uland, who came to the district in 2016 as Evans intermediate School’s instructional coach after holding teaching positions in Duncanville and Sherman ISDs. Her bachelor’s degree in sociology was awarded from the University of North Texas and her master’s degree in education from Concordia University.

Bryan ISD Assistant superintendent of business services Amy Drozd, who has been with the district for 25 years, will retire in June. A CPA and a graduate of Bryan High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Texas A&M University. The BISD board of trustees has approved Warren Lanphier to fill the position of transportation director. He had served as assistant director of the department since July. He has worked in the logistics and transport fields since 2006, beginning in the U.S. Army and going on to serve in the private sector in Wyoming and in Idaho public school districts.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Bobby Burns, an employee of the district for

30 years and superintendent for the past 10, has announced his upcoming retirement, effective in July. An educator for 39 years, he began his career as a teacher and coach in Garland and Richardson ISDs before joining CFBISD in 1988. Burns earned both

his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University at Commerce) and his doctorate in educational administration from the University of North Texas.

Cedar Hill ISD Former Dallas ISD chief of transformation and innovation Billy Snow has been named superintendent of Cedar Hill ISD. Previously a teacher and administrator in Mesquite and Corsicana ISDs, he also held a position similar to his new one in Caddo Parish Public Schools in Louisiana. Snow received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in educational leadership from Texas A&M University at Commerce. His doctorate was awarded from Tarleton State University.

Chico ISD Chico ISD has selected Clayton Sanders as its athletic director and head football coach. He was previously Chico High School’s defensive coordinator. In addition, he has coached in Brookshire, Garrison and Venus ISDs and at Houston’s Kinkaid School and the Episcopal School of Dallas.

DeSoto ISD A new head football coach has been approved for DeSoto High School. Mike Robinson held the same position at North Mesquite High in Mesquite ISD since 2007 following coaching stints in WilmerHutchins, Lancaster and Hillcrest ISDs.

Decatur ISD Jim Cain, previously assistant principal

of Bridgeport ISD’s intermediate school, has been named principal of Decatur Intermediate School.

Denton ISD Now serving as director of student and campus support services is Jeff Russell, former principal of Decatur High School in Decatur ISD. He began his career as a special education teacher in Lewisville and Birdville ISDs and has 15 years of experience as a campus principal. After 10 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Russell earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and his master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University. He is nearing completion of his doctorate at Dallas Baptist University.

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD A new principal has been named for Danish Elementary School. Rocio Braley was the school’s assistant principal since 2007 after serving as its at-risk testing coordinator for two years. A graduate of the University of the Americas in Mexico, she has been an educator for 17 years. Abe Lozano, a product

of Cy-Fair schools, is the new principal of Holbrook Elementary School. He has been an educator for 11 years, all of them in CFISD, serving as assistant principal of Kahla Middle School and at Cypress Springs and Cypress Park high schools. Lozano received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University and his education in professional leadership from the University of Houston. The district’s new assistant superintendent of secondary administration, Sheri McCaig, was formerly principal of Goodson Middle School. She is in her 25th year as an educator after beginning her career with CFISD, then teaching in Giddings and Katy ISD before returning to her original district in 2003. McCaig is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University.

El Paso ISD The district’s new assistant superintendent for middle schools is Angela Henderson, former principal of Coronado High School. She has been an educator for over 30 years, earning her bachelor’s degree from Toccoa Falls College and her master’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. Cynthia Severns-Ponce, former assistant

principal of Del Valle High School in El Paso’s Ysleta ISD, is now principal of Austin High School. The 27-year educator earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Forney ISD Former deputy superintendent Justin Terry has been promoted to superintendent. With more than 18 years of experience as an educator, he joined Forney ISD in 2013 as assistant superintendent of accountability and learning. Terry holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and kinesiology from East Texas Baptist University, a master’s degree > See Who’s News, page 11 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


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Who’s News > Continued from page 9

in educational leadership and policy study from the University of Texas at Arlington, and a doctorate in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Fort Bend ISD The new assistant principal of Cornerstone Elementary School is Kellie Isaac, who began her career in FBISD as an aquatic science and biology teacher, going on to serve as a counselor for Travis and Austin high schools. She then was assistant principal of Crockett High School. Isaac is a graduate of Texas State University with a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Houston at Victoria and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Houston.

Fredericksburg ISD Former Gainesville superintendent Jeff Brasher has accepted the top position in Fredericksburg ISD. He led Gainesville ISD since 2011.

Garland ISD The district’s new chief financial officer, Brent Ringo, was previously assistant superintendent for business services in Highland Park ISD and executive director of finance for Allen ISD. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas. His master’s degree in educational administration was earned from Texas State University and his doctorate in the same field from Texas A&M University at Commerce.

Granbury ISD Superintendent James Largent has announced his upcoming retirement, effective in July. He has led the district for six years after working as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal and as superintendent of Chireno and Rusk ISDs. A graduate of Lamar University, he holds a master’s degree in administration and a doctorate in educational administration from Sam Houston State University.

Hays CISD James Baker, recently

appointed chief human resources officer, comes to his new position from Tomball ISD, where he was director of human resources. He began his career in CypressFairbanks ISD as a teacher, going on to serve as an assistant principal, assistant director of professional staffing and assistant director of human resources before joining Tomball ISD in 2013. He is a graduate of Marycrest International University and earned his master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. Max Cleaver is the district’s chief operations officer, coming to his new position from Stantec Architecture in Houston, where he was a senior construction team leader. Prior to that, he spent four years as chief operations officer of Fort Bend ISD and seven years working at the facilities director and executive director level in Killeen, Temple and Copperas Cove ISDs. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in environmental studies from Baylor University.

Former Nacogdoches ISD superintendent Sandra Dowdy has accepted the position of chief academic officer of Hays CISD. After graduating from Texas A&M University, she spent 10 years teaching before earning her master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University. She then worked as an assistant principal, executive director for elementary instruction and assistant superintendent of Del Valle ISD. From 2011 to 2015 she taught at Texas State University, served as a consultant for ESC Region 12 and as an independent consultant, joining Nacogdoches ISD in 2015. A new head football coach has been named for Hays High School. Les Goad, former head football coach and athletic director of Navarro ISD, has 33 years of coaching experience, 22 of those as head coach. Previous assignments have included Lockhart, New Braunfels, Liberty Hill, San Marcos and Corpus Christi ISDs. Goad has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Eastern New Mexico University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Newly appointed Hemphill Elementary School principal Monica Salas was most recently assistant principal of the Provan

Opportunity Center in Pflugerville ISD. Prior to that, she was assistant principal of Northwest Elementary and an assistant principal of Springhill Elementary, both in Pflugerville. Salas holds two associate degrees and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction was awarded from Texas State University, where she is at work on her doctorate in educational policy and planning. Bruce Salmon is the new head football coach and athletic coordinator for Lehman High School. He comes to Hays CISD from Marion ISD with 23 years of experience as a football coach, having worked in Gonzales, Comal and Pflugerville ISDs. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University.

After 15 years with the district, deputy superintendent and chief operations officer Carter Scherff retired at the end of January. Initially HCISD’s interim director of finance, he subsequently served as interim assistant superintendent for business operations, taking the position permanently for six years before being named deputy superintendent. Cynthia Vasquez, former principal of

Hemphill Elementary School, has been chosen to lead Uhland Elementary, which will open in August. An educator for 20 years, she began her career in Kyle ISD as a bilingual teacher before joining Hays CISD in the same capacity and going on to serve as principal of Tom Green Elementary.

Highland Park ISD (Dallas) After a 43-year career, Highland Park High School head football coach Randy Allen has retired. Allen, who was with the district for 19 years, led the Scots to two state championships during the past two years and another in 2005. He has served as president of the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA) and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2006. The district has a new assistant superintendent for business and finance. Mike White comes to Highland Park ISD from Crandall ISD, where he was chief financial officer for the past three years. In addition, he served in the same position in Lake Worth ISD, as chief budget manager at Dallas County Schools and as business manager at Canton and Sunnyvale ISDs. White received > See Who’s News, page 28 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


Photo Feature

TCEA CONVENTION OFFERS MEMBERS FIVE DAYS OF LEARNING AND NETWORKING The Texas Computer Education Association held its 2018 convention and exposition in Austin, where members convened for numerous opportunities to learn and connect with their colleagues from across the state.

▲ Convention attendees test out virtual reality equipment between sessions.

▲ Speaker Judge Glenda Hatchett addresses convention attendees.

▲ The 2018 TCEA Convention brought thousands of educators to Austin.

▲ The TCEA Convention offers several days of learning opportunities.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

▲ Keynote speaker Marlee Matlin addresses TCEA members.

▲ Attendees gather for small group roundtables.

▲ TCEA members spend time networking at the annual convention.

▲ TCEA members chose from the many learning opportunities at the convention.


Another naked picture case


by Jim Walsh

don’t think that seventh-grade boys these days are more interested in female bodies than my cohort was when we were in seventh grade. It’s just that kids today have powerful tools readily available to explore and discover. All we had was National Geographic in the school library. The same is true of adult morality. I don’t think it has changed much over the years. But these days we have so many tools. Like cellphones that take pictures. And websites that promote adultery. I first heard of the Ashley Madison website while listening to satellite radio. An ad came up with the tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The site was a meet-up, dating site specifically targeting married people. Have a fling! Disregard the Sixth Commandment! I instantly knew that this website would someday come up in a court case involving an educator … … which leads us to the very interesting case of Wallace v. Desoto County School District, still pending in a federal court in Mississippi. Mr. Wallace was head football coach until word got out that there was a naked picture of him (“full frontal,” as the court delicately puts it) on the Ashley Madison website. The district fired Mr. Wallace. It’s not surprising, is it? Consider, for a moment, how your community would react to news that your head football coach had an account on this website, and on top of that, had promoted himself with a nekkid picture. Sheesh. The court seemed quite sympathetic to the school: Indeed, this court believes that a jury may well have considerable sympathy for the school district’s position that it would rather not have a head football coach who was publicly associated with nude photographs on his Ashley Madison account … But Coach Wallace sued, claiming wrongful

termination. And the court ruled that he just might have a valid point. Coach Wallace’s primary claim is that 1) he didn’t put the pictures on the website — his ex-wife and her “friend” (or “boyfriend” according to the coach) did it; and 2) the district refused to give him a hearing to clear things up. The court held that this was enough to get the case to a jury to decide. So we shall see what happens. Significantly, the district admitted that it knew a whole year before this that the coach had an account on Ashley Madison. So the district had to admit that the “immoral conduct” it charged the coach with was not solicitation of adultery. It was about the posting of the picture. And the coach provided “very substantial, bordering on overwhelming” evidence that the picture was posted by an angry wife and her friend. Both of whom, by the way, were also school district employees and defendants in the suit. There is one more school employee involved in this tangled romantic drama. Ms. Rivera sent a racy picture of herself to her new boyfriend, Coach Wallace. His ex-wife’s “boyfriend” got ahold of this one also, and distributed it to several other school employees. The court noted that a photo of “a female’s nude backside” may be quite different from one of “a male’s full-frontal nudity.” Exercising admirable judicial restraint, the court noted that “this is certainly not an issue upon which this court is prepared to make a pronouncement as a matter of law.” Horace Mann once advised school board members that they should think of themselves as “sentinels,” stationed at the door of each school house to ensure that each teacher who enters is “clothed in garments of virtue.” That’s a worthy aspiration. But in our digital age, and an era when traditional notions of morality are under attack, it’s challenging, to say the least.

JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle PC. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg. Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


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What is your plan for future internet bandwidth? by Ronnie Gonzalez, Ed.D.


ast week I visited a kindergarten classroom, not to fix a computer problem, not to check the room temperature, and not to make sure all the light fixtures were working properly. I stopped by to say hello and to witness students engaged in their learning. I noticed students working at different classroom stations using manipulatives and technology, both individually and in small groups. Students were wearing headphones and working on Chromebooks or iPads; others were whispering to each other, perfecting the pronunciation of new words, while others worked individually with their teacher. Not one person in the room seemed to worry about a streaming video download lagging, or their learning application not loading properly, or if the wireless connection would connect. The use of technology was ubiquitous, and it was an amazing feeling to see kids enjoying their learning environment. This didn’t happen overnight. It has been an ongoing process of upgrading our network infrastructure and internet bandwidth capacity to support our vision for learning.

We’ve come a long way from 3 Mbps In 2006, our school district, which was composed of 2,969 students, was finalizing contract negotiations with our internet service provider to increase the total bandwidth from 3 to 10 megabits per second (Mbps). The priority for the increase had developed from ongoing conversations with our superintendent, assistant superintendent for curriculum, and campus principals. These conversations included a discussion of our vision for learning in the classroom and how we would support teachers and students in leveraging current and future digital resources. The thought was that digital resources and access to the internet were imperative to future learning environments, and we needed to prepare for that transformation. It’s now 12 years

Broadband access for teaching, learning and school operations

2014-15 school year target

2017-18 school year target

An external internet connection to the internet service provider (ISP)

At least 100 Mbps At least 1 Gbps per 1,000 students/ per 1,000 staff students/staff

Internal wide area network (WAN) connections from the district to each school and among schools within a district

At least 1 Gbps per 1,000 students/ staff

At least 10 Gbps per 1,000 students/staff

Published by SETDA 2012 http://www.setda.org/priorities/equity-of-access/ the-broadband-imperative/ later; our district currently serves 3,068 students and has 5 gigabits (Gbps) per second of bandwidth available for students and teachers to effectively access educational resources online. Collaboration and collegial conversations with district level administrators are key for developing a vision for future classrooms. Defining a vision for your district of how digital learning tools will be used to enhance student learning is an important step in planning for the future. The growing trend of digital learning tools, cloud-based collaboration, digital textbooks, online courses, web-based assessments, and video resources all require adequate bandwidth to be used productively. These tools are not a silver bullet for learning, but they can further engage students, creating a more personal and relevant learning experience.

Preparing for the future In 2012, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) released a technology report to assist school technology leaders with planning for future internet bandwidth targets. The report, “The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs,” shared future broadband recommendations for schools for the 201415 and 2017-18 school years. This report

allowed us to continue our conversations about planning and preparing our network for future educational use in our district. Our administrative team and school board were all very supportive in meeting these recommended targets, bringing high-quality access to our students and staff. By the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, we committed to upgrading our bandwidth capability to 300 Mbps for our district of 3,051 students. This more than doubled our 100 Mbps from the previous year, allowing us to meet our next projected target of 3 Gbps by the 2017-18 school year. This target goal was surpassed this summer with our last broadband upgrade to 5 Gbps. In 2016, SETDA updated their recommended targets for bandwidth in schools with their latest report titled, “The Broadband Imperative II: Equitable Access for Learning.” This update continues to advocate for high-capacity internet access for students in schools and begins the conversation of providing equitable access to students outside of school. The broadband targets were refined, allowing school districts of different sizes to meet targets more appropriate for their student population. These are merely recommendations, but they should be seriously considered if our goals > See Digital Frontier, page 33 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


Photo Feature

TSPRA CONFERENCE BRINGS SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS STAFF TO FRISCO In February, members of the Texas School Public Relations Association got together for the group’s annual conference for four days of networking, informative sessions and inspirational speakers.

▲2017-18 President Melissa Tortorici, Texas City ISD, and 2018-19 President Kristin Zastoupil, Corsicana ISD and ▲Corsicana ISD attendees displaying TSPRA’s new logo. Education Foundation. (Left to right: Susan Johnson, 2018-19 TSPRA President Kristin Zastoupil, Superintendent Dr. Diane Frost, and Rob Ludwig.)

◄TSPRA VP Anne Marie Espinoza, Uvalde CISD, discusses branding with attendees including Jamie Mount, Humble ISD.

►Members of Cypress-

Fairbanks ISD. (Left to right: Nicole Ray, Joel Weckerly and Leslie Francis.)

▲Laurel D’Antoni (center) receives TSPRA’s first “Partner in Public Education” Award. (TSPRA 2017-18 President Melissa Tortorici, Texas City ISD, left, and Awards Chair Ronnie Zamora, Los Fresnos CISD, right.)

▲Rachel Hicks, Terrell ISD, speaking at a session.

▲Well-attended pre-conference sessions included one on video. (Left to right: Johnny Tejeda and Ruben Moreno, Southwest ISD; presenter Scott JuVette, Fort Worth ISD; and Jacob Walker, Tyler ISD.) ▲Immediate Past President Ian Halperin, Wylie ISD, presents 2017-18 TSPRA President Melissa Tortorici, Texas City ISD, with a gavel plaque honoring her year of service. ▲Carroll ISD presenters included Superintendent David Faltys (left) and TSPRA Past President, NSPRA President and recipient of TSPRA’s 2018 Most Valuable Member Award, Julie Thannum, APR (center). 16

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

▲TSPRA Education Foundation members (left to right) Teresa Benden, College Station ISD Education Foundation; Paige Ridout, Friendswood ISD Education Foundation; Erin Yarborough, Galveston ISD Education Foundation; and Deborah Laine, Texas City ISD Foundation for the Future.

▲TSPRA members attend roundtable sessions.


Sharing my brother’s Kennyesian principles


by Bobby Hawthorne

’m not sure what my youngest brother does for a living, but I know it involves something to do with computer software for healthcare professionals and the people who market, sell and use it. I understand what a volatile mix that can be because I once chunked a laptop out a second-floor window after it crashed for its second to last time. At any rate, my youngest brother and I had some free time recently to catch up because we were together at a funeral, and, as you know, funerals involve a lot of standing around, stammering and awkward silence, so we filled the empty spaces with shop talk. As I listened to my brother, I realized how similar his reality in the healthcare industry is to your reality in education administration, so I jotted down four of his major principles. Here goes: • Test small. Implement big. Seems simple enough to understand. Don’t jump, both feet first, on the new new. In other words, before you build a million widgets, build a dozen. Test them. Collect and assess data. Seek input from the bottom up. Adjust as necessary. Then build the other 1,999,988. Why would I mention this? Standardized testing. Writing across the curriculum. Open classrooms. Backward design. • Focus and finish. It’s the opposite side of the “test small/implement big” nickel. Focus on what you want and how you plan to get it. Then, get it. All effort is exerted toward the goal, and the goal isn’t to simply exert effort. Someone asked me recently how to write a book. My response: You don’t write a book. You write a sentence. Then another. Then a paragraph. Then another. Then a chapter. Then another. Eventually, you have a book. Easy. The hard part, I added, is getting published. The harder part is getting paid, the lesson being: Recognize and appreciate the real challenges. That’s my principle, not my brother’s.

• You can’t fix what you won’t face. I once worked with a guy who seemed unable or unwilling to finish any task greater than lunch. He was the Bermuda triangle of projects. Because I do not like conflict, I avoided confronting him until it was absolutely necessary. “Produce for me a list of the projects you’ve completed for my department,” I asked, and he sent me a copy of his job description. “I didn’t ask you what you’re supposed to do,” I replied. “I want to know what you’ve done.” He took great umbrage at this and informed me that he had received excellent evaluations, and I could not argue with that. He had. Someone else apparently disliked conflict, too. But that didn’t solve my problem, so I simply cut him out of our loop. From that point on, we kept everything inside the department. He moved on shortly thereafter. He’s the kind of guy about whom you might say, “If you need someone like him, he’ll do you a good job.” • To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Years ago, I taught a girl who might have become the one of the best writers I’ve ever taught, but I’ll never know because her teacher had a rule, and every student was required to follow the rule, and she refused. The rule involved some menial task, and she was a writer, and she didn’t want to waste her time and talent cleaning chalkboard erasers, or whatever. So, she refused, and when he insisted, she quit. Maybe the girl was wrong. Perhaps she should have complied. It’s not my place to say. But I do know this: My friend was more invested in his rules than talent. He couldn’t tell the difference between a nail and a daffodil. Well, that’s it. By the way, about that funeral: The service was lovely. Everything said good about Mom was true, and that’s rare for an East Texas funeral.

BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” published by UT Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


A move to self-assessment Student-led conferences help kids understand and drive their academic success by Dacia Rivers


chool administrators get hit with a lot of flash-in-the-pan ideas. There’s always something new, something cutting edge that you “should” be doing in your schools. You might think of studentled conferences and assessments as one of these bright ideas that has no staying power, but administrators who’ve been using the method for years say that making the switch and giving students more insight into their school progress has reaped profound benefits for students, parents and teachers. If you’re a numbers person, the data is there to back up their experiences. In 2004, a study published in the School Community Journal found that schools that switched to student-led conferences experienced improved scores on standardized tests, a reduction in disciplinary actions and fewer parent-teacher conflicts, even with increased parental involvement. If you still think student-led conferences might be more trouble than they’re worth, talking with administrators who are letting the students take more control over their personal assessments might make you think twice.

▲Irene Martin, a third-grade bilingual teacher at Woodlawn Academy in San Antonio ISD, helps a student understand her academic standing.

The change Karen Rose has served as an administrator in San Antonio ISD for many years and recently moved to the principal’s office at Woodlawn Academy. For her, the decision to switch to student-led conferences at the beginning of the school year was driven by a desire to encourage students to take a more active role in their own educations. “I really saw a need for students to be able to vocalize where they are and where they want to be,” Rose says. In Ysleta ISD, Malinda Villalobos, principal of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, says she’s been using the method in several schools for more than a decade. “The big part of doing student-led conferences is about empowering students to have ownership over their learning and their progress,” Villalobos says. “Typically in a parent-teacher conference, a student doesn’t have a voice, and they’re often only held because something is going wrong.” To introduce the new method at Woodlawn, teachers and students went through training to learn how to discuss their educational data and lead conferences with parents. “We wanted the kids to understand where their student data folders were and where that data comes from,” Rose says. Teachers at the school completed professional development to learn the

student-led method, then modeled it to their students before getting parents involved. Teachers practiced conferencing with each other, then brought that practice to their classrooms, where they modeled the student-led method for their classes, practicing the technique until students became comfortable enough to lead their own conferences with their parents present.

Her colleague, Irene Martin, a third-grade bilingual teacher at Woodlawn, agrees. “One of the main things we like to see is that they are able to view their growth, and to actually measure and vocalize,” Martin says. “That brings a lot of self-awareness, and this can make them proactive in their own learning.”

How self-assessment works Everyone is familiar with the traditional parent-teacher conference. Parents schedule with the teacher, then come in once, or maybe twice per year, usually without students present, to discuss how their children are performing. According to Jo Ann Trinidad, a third-grade teacher at Woodlawn Academy, letting the students lead the conferences instead gives them a much better understanding of their academic progress. “Now we teach the students their data first as it comes in and have them understand it first and then get to the point where they’re able to articulate and communicate where they’re at so that their parents can understand,” Trinidad says. “In doing so, they can gain a greater understanding of their own self, of their own data, and it can be more reflective in the goals that they set.”

If you still think studentled conferences might be more trouble than they’re worth, talking with administrators who are letting the students take more control over their personal assessments might make you think twice.

> See Self-Assessment, page 21 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


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At both schools, students are taught to understand the performance data their teachers compile and use this information to form detailed goals regarding where they want to grow. “Students take pictures of their work for their portfolios, and maybe share their best work, but also, they’re being honest with themselves and asking ‘Where am I in this other piece and what can I do differently to improve next grading cycle?’” Rose says. “They could set a new goal for time management, homework, follow-through or coming to tutoring.” Trinidad says she’s seen her students handle the new information the self-assessment process with aplomb. “Sometimes we shortchange kids and think they can’t handle all that information,” Trinidad says. “But once you get into it, they have a good understanding and they can talk the talk. They understand the terminologies; they understand what their data is.”

Feedback When the actual parent conference is held, students are able to clearly communicate how they’re doing, and according to Villalobos, these conversations are more in-depth than parent-teacher conferences of the past and do more to get parents involved in their students' educations. “The feedback we get from parents is really positive; they’re most impressed with the way their children really know their academic standings, where they are, and where they’re going next, Villalobos says. “Normally kids are leaving school and getting in cars, sharing papers, but the conversations aren’t as in-depth, because there’s not a guiding factor around how to have those conversations.” Angela Davila, also a third-grade teacher at Woodlawn Academy, says studentled conferences open up better lines of communication between teachers and parents throughout the school year. “Whenever we meet with parents, our students already know where to go for their data, they already know to start with their strengths, then talk about their weaknesses,” she says. “And as we get closer to the end of the school year, the assessments are more often, even on a weekly basis.” In Ysleta, Villalobos has seen parental involvement increase as a result of studentled conferences, since students now have

the tools and the drive to continue these conversations beyond the classroom. “The parents help keep their children accountable for meeting the goals that they set for themselves, so it’s not like the students are all by themselves,” Villalobos says.

Results In Martin’s third-grade students, she’s seen a reduction in stress as a result of kids better understanding their strengths and weaknesses. “Because our students are used to looking at their data, they aren’t stressed,” she says. “They’re just looking at, ‘Oh, I need to work more on this,’ or, ‘I’m doing great here.’” As a teacher, Trinidad says student assessments have helped her plan lessons that better caters to her students’ needs. “It’s tremendous because it guide our instruction,” she says. “It’s like a roadmap, it guides us to what we need to reteach, and it helps with small grouping and interventions, creating IEPs.” Davila believes that all students can benefit from a switch to self-assessment, and has seen firsthand how helpful it can be. “It helps our struggling students,” Davila says. “The ones that are working hard, and when they meet their goals, they’re able to report that back to their families.” At Woodlawn, student-led conferences begin in kindergarten and run all the way through eighth grade, and after a successful inaugural year, the staff will be attending more professional development to continue to incorporate self-assessment methods in the future. Woodlawn is an International Baccalaureate school, but with Rose’s experience working for other schools, she

“What we’re doing here with studentled conferences can and should be done in every campus across San Antonio ISD or anywhere.” —Karen Rose, principal of Woodlawn Academy

feels student-led conferences are a change that could be made anywhere. “What we’re doing here with student-led conferences can and should be done in every campus across San Antonio ISD or anywhere,” Rose says. “It doesn’t matter if they are IB or not.” The Young Women’s Leadership Academy in Ysleta is a unique school as well, but Villalobos has seen for herself the difference student-led conferences and self-assessment can make in any school. “We’ve seen students own their personal growth so their learning isn’t about what adults do for them or tell them, but they are actually part of the learning process and equally responsible for their own progress,” Villalobos says. “For me, the biggest part of it is about students taking ownership of their learning and their achievement.” DACIA RIVERS is editorial director of Texas School Business.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018



Texas Association of Community Schools

Eddie Bland serves and advocates for Texas' rural schools by Laura Cherry


ddie Bland, the incoming president of the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS), hails from Rochester, about 75 miles north of Abilene. There were fewer than 20 students in his graduating class, so he knows something about the needs and personality of the rural school districts his organization represents. The economic base in his hometown was either farming or public education, and the latter was a big influence on him growing up. Despite having grown up with dreams of teaching history and coaching football, Bland began his career in the finance world. He got a bachelor of business administration in finance from UT Arlington and went into commercial real estate, where he spent the next 11 years. Around 1987, with the savings and loan crisis, he began thinking about going back to his roots in West Texas and the career he had dreamed about growing up. After a few years managing foreclosed real estate for a failed savings and loan, he says, “I thought, if I can do this, I can teach government to seniors in high school.” He cut his hours and got his teaching certification.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

“I started my career in Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD,” Bland says. “I taught social studies for a few years, and then I was a middle school principal in Knox City, just eight miles from where I grew up.” He moved to Haskell, and served as an assistant superintendent for three years, then superintendent for four years. From Haskell, he went to Bridgeport for 11 years, then last May made the move to Snyder. Bland’s involvement with TACS began in 2003. “Initially, I was drawn to the organization because one of my mentors, Danny Bellah, was an active member,” he says. “He was one of my teachers and coaches in high school. He encouraged me to get involved with TACS, and I appreciated what strong advocates they were for public education. I had respect for the work they did advocating at the legislative level, and they gave us a lot of support working with TEA and the State Board of Education. I’m passionate about public education, and I recognized TACS was equally committed to promoting and supporting Texas public schools.” As a member, Bland served as a regional representative, and gradually became more involved in the direction of the organization. He was later elected vice president, and will begin his tenure as president in

June. “It just seemed like a natural progression. When you’re involved in this as long as I have been, it feels like it’s my duty to serve. It will be an honor to follow in the footsteps of all of the past presidents, including Skip Casey, Mike Motheral and Mary Anne Whiteker.” One of the great benefits of a TACS membership, Bland says, is that the organization provides a legislative voice to small rural districts that might not have the resources to effect change at the legislative level. “It’s an odd paradigm, because the majority of the districts in the state of Texas would qualify as small or mid-sized districts, but the majority of the students are in the large districts,” he says. “Having a voice in Austin is crucial, because the shifting demographics of the state have reduced the number of representatives for rural areas. The senators that represent West Texas have huge territories because the communities are so spread out and sparsely populated.” TACS, Bland says, provides a very important role in providing a voice and support in that legislative process for small and rural districts. As for Bland’s intentions for his tenure as TACS president, he says, “I’m a believer in the tenets of servant leadership, and it’s really my job to support the goals and objectives and strategic plan that’s already in place.

Regardless of what you might gather from the political rhetoric of late, the reality is that public schools are underfunded.

return on investment, or ‘bang for the buck’ … you can’t beat public education, and I will argue that with anybody, anytime.

“We’re going to oppose vouchers in any form if they’re taking money from public education. We’re going to oppose consolidation of small schools. Rural schools are the hearts of those communities. If the school is gone, the community dries up. We’re always going to maintain our stance supporting the mid-size school adjustment and the small school adjustment in the formula, because it’s critical that the schools maintain those funding formula adjustments.”

“Public schools do more with less than I think people realize. Regardless of our resources, our job is to take care of students, and that’s what public schools do every day. You’d be hard pressed to find any industry that has been asked to do more with less and has been as successful as we have been in public education.”

Bland notes that TACS is a strong supporter of regional education service centers. ESCs, he says, provide tremendous support and services for small districts that they can’t afford on their own. TACS also supports local control of resources at the district level because of the diversity of Texas districts. “We’re all different,” he says, “and it’s almost impossible to put together a one-size-fits-all education code. We need local control.” Public education will always be under a microscope, but Bland says he’s OK with that. “If you look at the data, Texas public school are succeeding, graduation rates are up, and academic performance rates are up,” Bland says. “Does that mean that we’re comfortable where we are? No, we’re always striving to do better, but if you want to measure the actual

Bland feels that although Texas’ rural schools are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, it’s disastrous to continue to raise the expectation of student outcomes without providing adequate resources. “We will continue fighting to get more at the Capitol, while at the same time we’ll be on the home front doing everything we can to take care of our students with less,” he says. “It’s disheartening that the political will doesn’t invest sufficient funds to take care of the state’s most valuable resource: our students. Texas public schools and teachers do an awesome job. TACS’ goal is to provide them the support and advocacy they need for continued successes.” LAURA CHERRY is an education content specialist and former teacher in Austin. She has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2010, covering food, gardening and education topics for a variety of magazines and individual clients.

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Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

Yolanda Delaney brings a love of adventure to leadership role by Laura Cherry


or some people, adventure means scaling the highest mountains. For others, it could mean world travel or whitewater rafting. For Yolanda Delaney, learning is the greatest adventure, and she hopes to share that love of learning with everyone she meets. Delaney is the newest president of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). She grew up in Dalhart, Texas, and started out as a pre-law major at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. In her junior year, she started substitute teaching for extra money and fell in love with the job. “I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to change my major and work with children,” says Delaney. She moved back to the panhandle and graduated from West Texas A&M University. She began teaching


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

first grade in 1997 at Sleepy Hollow Elementary in Amarillo ISD, and three years later received a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from WTAMU. She began leading technology classes after school and at the service center in her free time. She moved within her campus from first grade to a tested grade level and taught fifth grade for the next four years. In 2003, she received her mid-management certification and began her administrative career in Canyon ISD with the opening of Canyon High School in 2004. “I served my first three years as an assistant principal at a high school, but my goal was to become an elementary school principal, because that was the age I fell in love with teaching, and that was my passion,” she says.


Delaney moved to Greenways Intermediate School as an assistant principal and was there for a year before becoming principal at Gene Howe Elementary. She spent six years in total as a campus administrator before moving to the district office to take on the role of elementary director, where she has served for the past eight years. “I’ve been in education for a total of 21 years,” she says, “and my favorite role by far has been supporting principals in their work. I enjoy helping principals, and I love fostering good conversations around how we can best help children experience success.” While serving as assistant principal at Greenways Intermediate School, Delaney first joined TEPSA. Soon after, she began attending the regional meetings and was nominated to a board position. In that role, she was able to serve on the state board of directors for TEPSA. “That experience inspired me to run for state office,” Delaney says. “I wanted to make a difference for our state and represent the Texas Panhandle through advocacy work and leadership.” Delaney was elected to the executive committee in 2014-15. As president of TEPSA, she will serve in year five of a sixyear term on the state executive committee. She is proud to note that the organization also provides its members with outstanding professional development. “Actually, my theme — Learning: Life’s Greatest Adventure — was inspired by the excellent professional development I’ve received through TEPSA summer conferences, TEPSA Tour, the K-2 Conference and Courageous Principals,” Delaney says. “One of the greatest resources TEPSA provides is the opportunity to network with other TEPSA members around the state.” When Delaney began serving on the TEPSA board for her region, she knew she wanted to be involved in the organization on a greater level. “It just made sense to go on to the next level, because I wanted to make a bigger impact in our state advocacy at the state and national level,” she says. “I was elected as the state secretary under Dr. Belinda Neal during her tenure as TEPSA president, and she was a big inspiration to me. I was able to learn and grow under so many great leaders in this organization. I love my job, and I love working with kids — it’s the greatest gift.”

As president, Delaney will have the opportunity to serve Texas and the needs of the 6,000 practicing principals and supervisors across the state who are also TEPSA members.

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“Some of the critical issues that are facing public education are funding and resources,” Delaney says. “We need better mental health resources available to campuses. I’m a teacher and a parent, and I use my experience to help our kids in many ways, but I don’t always know how to help a child with a mental illness. I can make a referral, but I can’t make the child or the family follow up with that referral. “If we had the ability to bring mental health professionals to the child and families at the school, I think that could make a big difference. This could be funded through Title IV funding at the national level, and our state can look at additional ways to support our school children with mental and emotional wellness. There’s not a one-sizefits-all solution, and districts need autonomy to identify needed resources for their schools and use them in the way that best fits their communities. “I wanted my theme to represent something about me as a person and my family. We love the outdoors — we like to travel, camp, hike, go to the beach, ski, et cetera. Education is also an adventure. It’s always changing, and every day can pose challenges and new experiences. My year as president will be a legislative year, and that, too, will be an adventure. Most importantly, the life we live, our journey, is an adventure. We are always learning new things. As TEPSA state president, I hope to inspire others to keep learning and to lead in a positive and determined way that ultimately fosters success for our students across the great state of Texas.” LAURA CHERRY is an education content specialist and former teacher in Austin. She has been a freelance writer and copy editor since 2010, covering food, gardening and education topics for a variety of magazines and individual clients.

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Thought leaders and innovators in education

Alton Frailey nurtures community/ school relations through hard work and communication By Dacia Rivers

“I fell in love with being a superintendent, because it really allowed me to work with a number of folks to make a lot of good things happen in terms of the school environment for the teachers and the students.”


rowing up on a small farm in East Texas, all “dirt roads and pine trees,” Alton Frailey didn’t imagine he’d someday be a school superintendent with a list of accolades under his belt. With a 33-year career in education just over his shoulder, Frailey recently received the Distinguished Service Award from AASA, The School Superintendents Association, a group that, along with the Texas Association of School Administrators, he has previously served as president. This is just one of the many recognitions Frailey has received in his career — what he’s more focused on is the work he’s done in the districts he’s navigated through changing times and attitudes.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

Frailey graduated from Central Heights ISD in Nacogdoches County and attended Stephen F. Austin University, where he now sits on the board of regents. Unsure of his career path at first, Frailey waffled between communications and business classes before remembering his passion for serving as a camp counselor in high school. Those fond memories helped him decide on a career path, and he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education and education administration at the university. In 1983, Frailey began his career in Goose Creek CISD, where he worked with special needs students. His principal was quick to see Frailey’s potential, and suggested a move to administration. Frailey worked as an administrator in Baytown and then Spring Branch, where he was serving as assistant superintendent when a consultant looking for a new superintendent for the schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, tapped him for the job. Home is where the heart is, and after two years up north, the native Texan came back to serve as superintendent of DeSoto ISD and Katy ISD, where he held the top position for nearly a decade. Most recently, Frailey was picked to serve as interim superintendent of Nacogdoches ISD.

“It was aimed at improving public education, but it kind of morphed into controlling public education to pretty much attacking public education,” he says. “I think it’s weakened the confidence communities have in their schools.” Community involvement in public schools is of large importance to Frailey. He says communities own their schools and should have more input into how schools operate and what their outcomes are. “I always try to have conversations in the community and get them to tell me what their hopes and dreams are,” Frailey says. “Invite folks in to have conversations, encourage them to speak up and to speak out on behalf of their school systems, their community and their children.” Frailey believes that local communities have the most to benefit, or to lose, depending on how their schools perform, and he’d like to see them more involved to boost that relationship and work together to bring about positive change. “They should demand that elected officials be more responsive to their communities than to political parties playing to a platform,” he says. “That needs to start in the community.”

“I fell in love with being a superintendent, because it really allowed me to work with a number of folks to make a lot of good things happen in terms of the school environment for the teachers and the students,” Frailey says. “It’s all about folks working together, being focused and bringing their best talents together.”

Through a partnership with Stantec, a design and consulting firm that has worked with many districts across the country to create schools that better meet the needs of their communities, Frailey is working to build a leadership cohort that will provide mentorship and coaching to up-and-coming superintendents.

Frailey’s unique leadership style revolves around him providing support to and empowering campus leadership. He says he has always laid out clear expectations and fostered a school environment that focuses most on students’ needs.

“We’re going to take what I’ve learned and make it available to young superintendents, and I’m very excited about that,” he says. “I love Stantec, they look beyond brick and mortar and actually work to build communities and leadership capacities.”

“You have to continue to work with your principals to grow their toolbox and to sharpen their focus,” Frailey says. “I did that with monthly conversations with them, and just going out and visiting with them. I tend to wear the coaching hat more than the boss hat, so they were never afraid to share with me what they were doing and to take risks. They knew I would support them.”

With a passion that lies in building relationships between schools and their local communities, Frailey remains committed to creating the best possible learning environments to help students grow. It’s a life goal that he feels will have huge benefits in the long run, as children are the ones who will help mold the future.

Shortly after Frailey entered the world of public education, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 72, which brought about huge changes, such as teacher certification and the “No Pass, No Play” rule. In Frailey’s eyes, this bill began a shift toward an anti-education sentiment in Texas that he still feels today.

“The future isn’t someplace you go,” Frailey says. “It’s what you create. You create it by what you believe in your heart and what you put your hands to work on.”


Austin 2018

DACIA RIVERS is editorial director of Texas School Business. Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018 Convention_TLSMay2018.indd 1


4/18/18 10:48 AM

Who’s News > Continued from page 11

his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas and his master’s degree in business from Baylor University.

Houston ISD After serving as Houston ISD’s chief academic officer since 2016, Grenita Lathan has been named the district’s interim superintendent. She has been with HISD since 2015.

Katy ISD Charlotte Gilder will lead Schmalz

Elementary School when the new academic year begins in August. An educator since 1994, she began her career in Port Arthur and Cypress-Fairbanks ISDs and Goose Creek and Lamar CISDs before joining Katy ISD, where she was most recently assistant principal of Morton Ranch Junior High. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University and two master’s degrees, in education and counseling, from Prairie View A&M University. Jaime Shipley has been named

principal of the district’s new, as-yet-unnamed Elementary School #41, set to open in the fall of 2018. An educator for 19 years, she has been a principal for nine of those, currently leading Schmalz Elementary. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Baylor University.

Keller ISD

Tyler and Belton police departments and as an investigator with the Bell County district attorney’s and country attorney’s offices. He joined Killeen ISD in 2015 as a criminal justice teacher, going on to serve as a professional standards investigator.

La Vernia ISD A new superintendent is in place for La Vernia ISD. Trent Edward Lovette comes to the district from Crowley ISD, where he served as chief of governance, policy and program evaluation. Prior to that, he was principal of North Crowley High School, executive director of school operations, chief school administration officer, deputy superintendent and chief of school leadership. Lovette earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington and his doctorate from Texas Christian University.

Little Elm ISD The district has hired a new executive director of construction and operations. Rick Martin comes to Little Elm from Dallas ISD, where he spent the past five years as a project manager and with bond construction services. Prior to his time in Dallas, Martin was with Eagle MountainSaginaw ISD for three years. Doug Sevier has been

promoted from principal of Chavez Elementary School to the district’s director of curriculum and learning. Prior to his two years at Chavez, he led Northbrook Elementary in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD.

After 38 years as an educator, 27 with Keller ISD and the past 17 as the district’s athletics director, Bob DeJonge has announced his retirement, effective the end of June. In addition to that role, he has been a classroom teacher, coach and KISD’s director of secondary curriculum. In 2017, he was inducted into the Hall of Honor of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association (THSADA).

Lubbock ISD

Killeen ISD

A new head coach and athletic coordinator is in place for Lubbock High School. Shane Stephen, most recently assistant head coach at Mansfield High in Mansfield ISD, earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Northern Colorado and his master’s degree in

Now serving as police chief is Ralph Dishner, a 38-year law enforcement officer and investigator. He has served as a corrections officer for the Texas Department of Corrections and with the


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

Joe Clueley has been named

athletic director and head football coach for Estacado High School, a promotion from his previous assignment as associate head football coach, defensive coordinator and academic coordinator. He was previously a coach and athletic coordinator at Wichita Falls High School in Wichita Falls ISD. Clueley’s bachelor’s degree in kinesiology is from Sam Houston State University.

sports administration from the University of Wyoming.

McKinney ISD The new head football coach at McKinney High School, Marcus Shavers, comes to his new position from Lubbock ISD’s Estacado High School, where he also served as head coach. Prior to that, he spent seven years coaching at West Mesquite High School in Mesquite ISD and two years as assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator for Wichita Falls High in Wichita Falls ISD.

Miles ISD A new head football coach and athletic director has been hired for the district. Charles Boles was most recently with Lindsay ISD, where he served in the same capacity. He is a graduate of East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University at Commerce).

Monahans-Wickett-Pyote Mel Maxfield has been named the district’s

head football coach and athletic director. He began his career in Forney ISD, then coached in Burleson ISD for eight years before taking on the job of head football coach and athletic director at Amarillo High School in Amarillo ISD in 2010.

Navasota ISD Casey Dacus is the district’s new head football

coach and athletic director. A product of Navasota ISD schools, he received his bachelor’s degree from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree in sport management from Baylor University. He began his career in the scouting department of the Houston Texans football team, going on to coach in Stephenville and Early ISDs before joining the coaching staff of Cooper High School in Abilene ISD in 2008. He spent the past seven years in Graham ISD as Graham High School’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.

Paradise ISD Former Vega ISD superintendent Paul Uttley now holds the top position in Paradise ISD. He was initially a teacher in Everman ISD and in Burleson ISD, where he also served as an assistant principal, principal and director, before taking the role of principal of Stratford High School in Stratford ISD. He earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Evansville, his master’s > See Who’s News, page 35

Photo Feature

TCASE MEMBERS GATHER IN AUSTIN The Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education held its annual Great Ideas Conference in February with a keynote speech on making a difference by turning disabilities into possibilities.

▲ Cindy Fussell, ESC Region 5, and Angelica Rodriguez, El Paso ISD.

▲ Great Ideas attendees visit the conference exhibit hall.

▲ Kimberly Fernandez, Western Bowie County SSA, and Joi Roberts, Paris ISD. ▲ Felicia Garcia and Daniel Garza, Harlingen CISD. ▲ An attendee gets a quick massage between sessions.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


Photo Feature

TASBO’S ANNUAL CONFERENCE BRINGS MEMBERS TO FORT WORTH More than 3,000 school finance and operations professionals took a trip to Fort Worth to get together for the Texas Association of School Business Officials' annual conference.

◄ TASBO Executive Director Tracy Ginsburg and Board President Randy McDowell greet conference keynote speaker and best-selling author Isaac Lidsky. and Carol Sue Shipp, Port Aransas ISD.

▲ Participants of the “Heroes in Harvey” documentary met in Fort Worth at the premiere: Tracy Ginsburg, TASBO; Karen Wilson, Spring Branch ISD; Pete Cowen, Port Aransas ISD; Cheryle Stansberry, Aransas Pass ISD; Karen Smith, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD; Ron Wilson, Gregory-Portland ISD; and Carol Sue Shipp, Port Aransas ISD.

▲ On TASBO Spirit Day, conference attendees were honored as “TASBO Heroes” for their dedication and hard work for Texas students.

► Coppell ISD CFO Kelly Penny accepts the 2018 TASBO Commitment to Excellence Award.

▲ Outgoing Board President Randy McDowell from Plano ISD (right) presents 2018-19 Board President Jonathan Bey from Fort Worth ISD with a framed feature article in Texas School Business magazine.

▲ CTASBO Board President Randy McDowell and board members Jeff Baum and Darrell Dodds hang out with Norman in the TASBO Lounge.

◄ TASBO Board Member Darrell Dodds thanks Tom Canby for his years of service at TASBO and the TEA. Tom announced his retirement as associate executive director for governmental relations effective May 31. ► TASBO’s Tom Canby and Tracy Ginsburg welcome


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

Amanda Brownson (left) to the organization as associate executive director for governmental relations. Prior to this new role, Brownson served as the director of state funding for the Texas Education Agency and, more recently, the director of research and Policy for Raise Your Hand Texas.

Calendar Professional development & events

S TA N D O U T F R O M T H E C R OW D ! Get premium placement and get noticed! For a nominal fee, you can showcase your conference, workshop or seminar on the opening page as a Featured Event. Contact Ann Halstead at ahalstead@tasanet.org for more details. JUNE June 5 TASB Workshop: Managing State and Federal Leave TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: TASB HR services members, $200; nonmembers, $250. June 6 TASB Workshop: Get a Grip on the FMLA TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: TASB HR services members, $200; nonmembers, $250. TASPA HR 311 for Administrators Dickinson ISD, Dickinson For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org June 7 TRTA District Spring Leadership Development Conference Floresville Event Center, Floresville For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org TSPRA Central Regional Meeting Georgetown ISD, Georgetown For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org June 8 TAHPERD Summer Workshop for K-12 Physical Educators University of Texas, Arlington For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Professional members, $25; professional nonmembers, $40; student members, $15; student nonmembers, $35.

June 8-9 TGCA Satellite Sports Clinic Monterey High School, Lubbock For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.org Cost: $70. June 11-13 Texas ASCD Ignite Conference Convention Center, Irving For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org June 12 Legal Digest Education Law for Principals Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration (by March 19), $205. Regular registration (after March 19), $235. June 13-14 TGCA Satellite Sports Clinic Hall Stadium, Houston For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.com Cost: $70. June 13-15 TASSP Summer Workshop Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: Through May 22: Members, $259; nonmembers, $459. After May 22: Members, $309; nonmembers, $509. TEPSA Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org June 14-16 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Gifted Plus Conference Eilan Hotel, San Antonio For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org Cost: TAGT members, $210; nonmembers, $310. June 15 TGCA Satellite Sports Clinic Smithson Valley High School, San Antonio For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.org Cost: $70. June 15-17 TETA SummerFest Blinn College, Brenham No phone number provided. www.tetatx.com Cost: Early Bird registration (by May 15), $90. Regular registration (after May 15), $120. June 19-20 Learning Forward Texas Annual Conference Convention Center, Irving For more info, (512) 266-3086. www.learningforwardtexas.com June 20 TASBO Workshop: School Safety from A-Z Update for CSRM American Bank Center, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org June 21 TASB BoardBook Workshop TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org June 24-26 TASA/UT Summer Conference on Education Hyatt Regency, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org/summer June 28-30 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Omni Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org

JULY July 10-12 TGCA Summer Clinic Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.com July 11 TASPA Summer Law Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: Early registration (through June 29): Members, $110; nonmembers, $130. Regular registration (June 30-July 5): Members, $165; nonmembers, $185. July 11-13 TASPA Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: Early registration (through May 11): Members, $250; nonmembers, $375; retired, $100. Regular registration (May 12-June 29): Members, $270; nonmembers, $395; retired, $115. Late registration (June 30-July 5): Members, $280; nonmembers, $405; retired, $130. Onsite registration: Members, $290; nonmembers, $415; retired, $140. July 12 TASBO New Business Managers Boot Camp Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, Georgetown For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $215; nonmembers, $265. July 15-17 TAHPERD Summer Conference Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center, Frisco For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Early Bird registration (by May 15): Professional and associate members, $85; student and retired members, $35. Pre-registration (by June 15): Professional and associate members, $95; student and retired members, $35. Late registration (after June 15): Professional and associate members, $105; student/retired members, $45. Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018


July 17 TASB Asbestos Designated Person Class TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org July 18 TASB Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Class TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 457-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org July 19 TASB Environmental/Facilities Regulatory Compliance Class TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 457-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org July 19-20 TGCA Satellite Sports Clinic Location TBA, El Paso For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.com Cost: $70. July 22-24 THSCA Convention and Coaching School Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 392-3741. www.thsca.com Cost: Pre-registration (by July 10), $60. Regular registration (after July 10), $80. July 23-25 TCASE Interactive Convention Marriott Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org

July 24 TASPA Documentation Basics Workshop Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Schertz For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: TASPA members, $100; nonmembers, $125. July 25 TASPA Documentation Workshop Klein ISD, Klein For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: TASPA members, $100; nonmembers, $125.

AU G U ST August 1 TASPA HR 311 for Administrators Klein ISD, Klein For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org August 1-2 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 1 of 4) Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org August 2 TASPA Documentation Workshop Midland ISD, Midland For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $250.

SEPTEMBER September 5-6 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 2 of 4) Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org September 9-11 TACS Annual Conference Hilton Palacio del Rio, San Antonio For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org September 10 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration, $145; regular registration, $175. September 12 TASPA Documentation Workshop Seguin ISD, Seguin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $250. September 13 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 10, Richardson For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration, $145; regular registration, $175.

www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration, $145; regular registration, $175. September 19-20 TASBO PEIMS Boot Camp Courtyard Marriott Dallas/ Allen, Allen For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: TASBO members, $215; nonmembers, $265. September 26 TASPA Documentation Workshop Elgin ISD, Elgin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $250. September 27 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 20, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: Early registration, $145; regular registration, $175. September 28 TASBO CSRM Administrators Course Frisco ISD, Frisco For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org September 28-30 TASA/TASB Convention Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasa.tasb.org

September 14 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop Offices of ESC 11, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 478-2113.

Texas School Business

THE News Magazine for Public Education in Texas!

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

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


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

> Continued from page 15

Internet service provider recommendations School year

2017-18 targets

2020-21 targets

Small school district (fewer than 1,000 students)

At least 1.5 Mbps per user (Minimum 100 Mbps for district)

At least 4.3 Mbps per user (Minimum 300 Mbps for district)

Medium school district (3,000 students)

At least 1.0 Gbps per 1,000 users^

At least 3.0 Gbps per 1,000 users

Large school district (more than 10,000 students)

At least 0.7 Gbps per 1,000 users

At least 2.0 Gbps per 1,000 users

^Published by SETDA 2012; Adopted by the FCC in 2014 http://www.fcc.gov/general/ summary-e-rate-modernization-order *User: students, teachers, administrators, staff and guests

are to effectively prepare students for college and future careers. Internet bandwidth is just part of the conversation. There are many more facets to delivering high-capacity internet access to classrooms that should be included in a conversation with your chief technology officer or technology director. As an

administrator, you should be aware that it takes many pieces of network equipment, from network switches, routers, servers, network wiring, fiber, and content filter, to wireless access points to support technology resources in the classroom. Any one piece of network hardware that is not current or functioning at high capacity can hinder

learning or critical district operations. It is up to all of us to continue to work together to support access to high quality learning in all our classrooms so that our faculty, staff and students don’t have to think about using or not using technology. They simply need to know it is always there and ready to facilitate their learning. When they need to use technology as a tool for learning, they don’t have to worry if it will work for them or not. References Fox, C., Jones, R. (2016). The Broadband Imperative II: Equitable Access for Learning. Washington, DC: State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). Fox, C., Waters, J., Fletcher, G., & Levin, D. (2012). The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs. Washington, DC: State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). RONNIE GONZALEZ, ED.D., is the assistant superintendent of operations for Navasota ISD. He also currently serves as a TCEA board member. Find him on twitter at @RonnieGonzalez.

2018 UT/TASA

Summer Conference on Education: Engaging Communities to Protect Students June 24-26, 2018 | Hyatt Regency Austin

With school safety as the focus of the 2018 summer conference, expect a robust lineup of informative presentations and sessions in which school leaders will share their successful strategies for keeping schools safe. Keynoters include Alissa Parker, co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, and Michael Dorn, an international authority on school safety. Don’t miss this important conference. Learn more and register at tasanet.org/summer

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018



Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

Who’s News > Continued from page 28

degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University, and his doctorate in educational administration from Baylor University.

Pflugerville ISD Pflugerville High School’s new head football coach and boys’ athletic coordinator is Charles Taylor, who most recently was head football coach and athletic coordinator at Austin ISD’s McCallum High School. Other assignments include Austin ISD’s Kealing Middle School and Akins and LBJ high schools and Stony Point High School in Round Rock ISD. Taylor received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and his master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University.

Sharyland ISD Deborah Garza has returned to the district from which she graduated high school to serve as human resources director. An employee of Mission CISD for the past 11 years, she has also worked in La Joya, McAllen and North East (San Antonio) ISDs.

Socorro ISD (El Paso) Hector Reyna, SISD's chief technology officer, has been honored with the Grace Hopper Award as Chief Technology Officer of the Year from the Texas K-12 CTO Council. Presented at the association’s annual conference in Austin in January, it recognizes a district chief technology officer who represents a model of leadership in the field.

Stanton ISD Former Richland Springs ISD coach Jerry Burkhart has been named Stanton ISD’s head football coach and athletic director.

United ISD (Laredo) The district announces the appointment of Jose Coss as athletic coordinator and head football coach of United South High School. Most recently with Cedar Ridge High

School in Round Rock ISD, he previously was first assistant head coach at United ISD’s Alexander High and also coached powerlifting, track and wrestling. Carlos Valdez has accepted the position of

principal of United South Middle School. An educator for 20 years, he was most recently assistant principal of Alexander High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio and his master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M International University.

Adriana Vela has been promoted from assistant principal to principal of Benavides Elementary School. She began her career in McAllen ISD before joining United ISD as a teacher at Garcia Elementary. Vela received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Texas A&M International University. She is at work on her doctorate from Texas A&M University at Kingsville.

Valley Mills ISD New superintendent Mike Kelly was previously China Springs ISD’s middle school principal. He has been an educator for 17 years.

White Settlement ISD Former DeSoto ISD head football coach Todd Peterman has been named head coach and athletic director of Brewer High School. In addition to his 17 years in DeSoto, Peterman has coached in Denison, Terrell and Tyler ISDs. He is a graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Texas School Business

Submit Who’s News to: news@ texasschoolbusiness.com

Texas School Business provides education news to school districts, state organizations and vendors throughout the state. With ten issues a year, Texas School Business can be an effective news source for your organization.

Ysleta ISD (El Paso) Superintendent

Xavier de la Torre has

been elected chair of the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents, a network of Texas’ largest urban school districts. An educator for 30 years, he took the top position in YISD in 2014. When the new Del Valle Middle School opens for the 2018-19 school year, Ida Perales will be in place as principal. She began her career in Ysleta ISD in 2001, then worked in El Paso and Socorro ISDs for six years before returning to Ysleta in 2008. She has led Camino Real Middle School since 2016.

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Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018



News in fine arts education

The art of rhetoric: Minorities in debate by J. Medgar Roberts

▲Dr. J. Medgar Roberts (center) poses with students Melanie Hernandez and Marvin Mendoza on the University of Texas at Austin campus during a state debate competition.


t is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” — Joseph Joubert High school debate students, discussing tactics: “So, wait. If we counterplan, that means we have to fiat all 50 states, right? How do we defend the power to do that?”


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

“Yeah, that’s, like, really unfair, isn’t it? They only get the power to control the federal government and we get all 50 states?”

“All right. Let’s do it. You get the counterplan text ready. I’ll make sure the federalism position is good to go.”

“But I think we can claim the power to do anything the affirmative chooses not to do. Besides, education is a state power. They don’t have the right to fiat either.”

Welcome to the world of interscholastic debate. If it feels like the students I quoted were speaking a foreign language, you are not alone. Cross examination debate, what many people consider to be the grandfather of all the forms of debate and the oldest academic UIL event in the state of Texas,

“And it will get us the net benefit to the federalism disad.”

has a steep learning curve. It has technical language so foreign and rules so nuanced, it easily confounds the uninitiated. Students pour over endless progressions of newspaper articles, peer-reviewed journals, magazines, databases and books, all for the honor of spending their weekends debating other young scholars on the finer points of topics most adults avoid. And they do it with panache. Cross examination debate is a 2-on-2, no holds barred, fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled debate adventure. There are two teams: affirmative or “in favor of,” and negative or “against.” In each debate, or “round,” each debater speaks twice: an eight-minute constructive or “building arguments” speech, and a five-minute rebuttal or “answering arguments” speech. Each team gets a total of eight minutes of preparation time. In other words, if the teams aren’t prepared before they get to the tournament, they are, as the kids say, toast. It isn’t enough for them to master one side of the debate. At most contemporary debate tournaments, cross-examination debaters compete in four preliminary debates: two affirmative and two negative. It is common for a team to leave one round debating for

the topic and debate the next round against. They handle the vertigo that can accompany that philosophic switch with ease. They learn that it is not about their opinions; it’s about the argument. In a world of echo chambers, partisanship and tribal politics, these kids are learning to analyze and discern sources, conduct indepth research, think on their feet, and find the core argument amongst a profusion of possible truths. Nowhere else will students have the opportunity to go mano a mano against like-minded, erudite teens, testing their intellectual might. If we are looking for ways to have students think critically, read incessantly, and explain their arguments concisely, then this is an activity that educators should promote and perpetuate, especially within populations of traditionally at-risk students. But the world of debate is missing minority voices. There are few African-American and Hispanic participants. Cut along socio-economic lines, the picture is even bleaker. Debate is expensive. Debaters need computers, travel expenses, tournament fees and access to databases. As they progress in the activity, the ability to attend sometimes costly summer camps is a major advantage. Students without financial means to acquire those resources often find themselves on the outside looking in. Debate has been my world since my high school principal, Ed Dyson, and my debate coach, Bruce Rogers, insisted I participate. I was a unicorn in those days. I rarely saw another minority student at a competition. It was my hope then that more minority students would populate the activity. It frustrates me to still see so little minority representation. Of the roughly 200 adults at this year’s State UIL tournament, I counted on my fingers the number of adults who looked like me. If I throw in my toes, I’ve covered the number of Black and Hispanic debaters out of 400 total qualifiers.

▲Two of Roberts' students, Maru Rojas and Ariel Benson, display their certificates of achievement at a state debate competition.

I teach in a school district that is almost 90 percent black and Hispanic. We are well over 70 percent low income and at-risk. My students have been able to compete at the highest levels, and I’m thankful for that. But there should be more. We need more kids of every persuasion to compete in this activity regardless of their ethnic background or ability to pay.

The development of critical thinking and ability to research and reason are tools students will carry with them for their entire lives. A friend of mine, Dr. Melissa Wade, legendary debate coach at Emory University and champion of the earliest Urban Debate League, conducted a study many years ago. She discovered profound correlations between minority and at-risk participation in debate and long-term success for those students. There are several studies showing links between competitive debate programs and student achievement on standardized tests such as SAT, ACT and, yes, STAAR. My own debate students have achieved great things after high school. I have students at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, one at Stanford, and one who qualified for the University of Texas McCombs School of Business on full scholarship as a freshman; she’s currently studying abroad in Bulgaria. My former debaters are college professors, published poets, filmmakers and high-powered executives. And yes, more than a few became lawyers and politicians. While I can’t know whether they would have achieved similar accolades without debate, they often send me notes detailing how they still use the lessons they learned in their current endeavors. If we are serious about educating our students to excel in high school and beyond, it is our duty to do more to support our students who participate in debate. It isn’t enough to admire their poise, their perseverance, and their mastery of the arcane art of rhetoric. Our students need us to provide the proper environment and the resources to excel. DR. J. MEDGAR ROBERTS started debating in 1984. Since 1992, Dr. Roberts has coached more than 200 students in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. His teams have won several state titles in Georgia and North Carolina and qualified for the Tournament of Champions and Nationals. He is the first African-American coach to be recognized as Debate Coach of the Year in Georgia (1997). He is currently a teacher specialist for Duncanville ISD and claims the title of director of debate for the district.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018



Texas School Business Advertiser Index

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The kid who understood “Auggie” by Riney Jordan


ay I recommend a children’s book that every educator ought to read?

I’m suggesting the book “Wonder.” It’s a heartwarming, emotional story about a little boy who was born with a rare medical facial deformity. His name is August, but everyone calls his “Auggie.” His mother homeschools him until he’s ready for fifth grade, and then they make the decision to enroll him in a mainstream middle school. When the movie was released, we were caring for four of our grandchildren while their parents were attending a retreat. When asked if there was something special they wanted to do, they almost unanimously said, “Could you take us to see ‘Wonder’?” So, it was there that we were all touched by the movie, and a young boy who sat behind us. Just before the lights dimmed, we heard a bit of a commotion as a mother and her son made their way to two of the few remaining seats that were located right behind us. In somewhat of a loud, distorted voice, he kept apologizing for having to make his way down the crowded aisle. All the while, his mother was saying ever so softly, “It’s OK, Christopher. It’s OK.” When they were finally seated, he loudly asked his mother, “When will we see Auggie? When will it start?” She responded with a soft voice, “In a few minutes. Just be patient. I know you love this book, don’t you, Christopher? I wonder how many times you’ve read it?” she asked quietly. “I don’t know, Momma. A bunch! I love Auggie!” “I know you do, honey. Now just sit quietly. The movie is about to begin.” Well, the minute the opening scene came on the screen, he began shouting and clapping. “Mommy, it’s Auggie! It’s Auggie!”

Throughout the entire movie, he did a running commentary. When one of the more tender moments was shown, he shouted, “Here come the waterworks! Get ready!” Sure enough, the “waterworks” were obvious as he started crying uncontrollably. Some in the theatre laughed, others turned and jeered. As a special needs child, it was obvious that Christopher related to Auggie. No doubt, he had been laughed at and ridiculed. No doubt he had experienced the cruel remarks that can cut to one’s very soul. That evening, when the credits started rolling at the end of the movie, Christopher stood up and shouted, “Standing ovation for Auggie! Everyone stand up for Auggie!” As people began to exit, my wife and I turned and quietly told the mother how much we had enjoyed seeing her son’s excitement and listening to his comments. “He made this one of the best movie experiences we’ve ever had,” we told her. “Thank you for that,” she replied, with a smile on her face and tears welling up in her eyes. “There are some people who don’t appreciate his exuberance.” When we got to the car, our grandkids echoed our sentiments. “That was such a neat kid behind us,” they said. “You could tell that he knew that story backward and forward!” We all agreed that his commentary would be missed if we ever saw the movie again. Today, take a moment and be thankful for all children. They fill a need that we don’t get anywhere else. Although the author is unknown, I love the poster I once read in a special needs classroom. It simply said, “Bless those who see life through a different window … and bless those who understand their view.”

RINEY JORDAN is the author of two books and a frequent public speaker. To invite him to speak at your convocation, graduation or awards banquet, visit www.rineyjordan.com.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2018

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March 4–7, 2019 | Austin, Texas




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You can help Texas School Business brag on your schools! Back cover ad 8” x 8.25”

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

HOW DO I NOMINATE A PROGRAM? Simply visit texasschoolbusiness.com and fill out the Bragging Rights online nomination form. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Winners will be announced with the debut of the 12th Annual Bragging Rights 2018-19 special issue, out on Dec. 1, 2018.


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

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

Questions? Contact drivers@texasschoolbusiness.com

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