TSB—April 2014

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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 60 Years

April 2014






RISE UP, WEST! The one-year anniversary of an explosion that brought a community together

In the Spotlight Houston ISD’s Robert Mock

TCASE President Mary Sellers Hutto ISD

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TSB contents news and features

West ISD One-year anniversary of an explosion that brought a community together


by Terry Morawski

photo feature TCEA hosts ‘Get Inspired’ annual conference TSPRA members gather in Austin


8 10

Rider 70 for Senate Bill 1 aims to streamline TEA regulatory systems

departments Who’s News


by Theresa Parsons

Ad index


columns From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Katie Ford

In the Spotlight Houston ISD’s new police chief gives back to community


by Leila Kalmbach

by Jim Walsh

by Terry Morawski

Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan


TCASE President Profile Hutto ISD’s Mary Sellers brings innovation to programs serving special needs kids by Ford Gunter

Correction On the table of contents in the March issue, we erroneously listed the association of which Denise Blanchard is president. Blanchard serves as the president of the Texas School Public Relations Association. We regret the error.

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. April 2014 • Texas School Business


Superintendents: ould you like to see your board recognized for the outstanding service they provide your district? Nominations for the 2014 Outstanding School Board Award

will be accepted by your Education Service Center through June 30, 2014. For full information about the program and how to nominate your board, go to www.tasanet.org and look for Awards › School Board Awards.

Texas Association of School Administrators


Texas School Business • April 2014

From the Editor To me, the April issue feels full of heart, from Terry Morawski’s cover story on West ISD’s resilient comeback to the reflective commentary that Jim Walsh and Bobby Hawthorne offer in their columns this month. I hope you find what we publish in Texas School Business inspiring, relevant and affirming to the work you do in Texas public schools. I say it often and it’s because it’s true: There is no shortage of good news to publish. I’m constantly receiving leads on progressive programs, innovative strategies and dedicated educators who are making waves of the positive kind. Sure, the naysayers out there will continue to report the failures and disappointments — which are absolutely out there, because that’s real life, people — but there’s always another side to the story. And that’s the part we’re interested in telling. Speaking of which, beginning April 1, we’re accepting nominations for the Eighth Annual Bragging Rights 2014-2015 special issue, which publishes on Dec. 1. To learn more about this archival-quality, celebratory issue that honors 12 brag-worthy school districts, see the advertisement on page 6 or visit the Bragging Rights section of our Website, www.texasschoolbusiness.com. You’ll find the official nomination form there as well.

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) April 2014 Volume LX, Issue 7 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Bobby Hawthorne, Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Lance Lawhon

Castleberry Elementary School Castleberry ISD

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

© Copyright 2014 Texas Association of School Administrators April 2014 • Texas School Business


Now accepting Bragging Rights nominations! LENC EL


Do you have a brag-worthy program? Visit the Special Editions section of www.texasschoolbusiness.com to fill out an official nomination form. Describe your program, how it came about and some of the program’s noteworthy results. Winners will be announced in the Eighth Annual Bragging Rights 2014-2015 special issue, which releases December 1.


In December, Texas School Business will publish its Eighth Annual Bragging Rights 2014-2015 special issue, which will honor 12 deserving school districts and their innovative programs.

Nomination deadline: September 1 Questions? Send an email to katie@texasschoolbusiness.com.

Send us your success stories. Texas School Business wants to brag about you!

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Texas School Business • April 2014

THE LAW DAWG –Unleashed by Jim Walsh

In praise of the liberal media


hen I hear people complain about the “liberal media,” I have to confess that I sometimes feel a bit defensive. What they don’t know is that when they bash the “liberal media” they are talking about my brother. My brother worked for the Houston Chronicle in the late 1960s. Then he obtained a fellowship to serve as an intern in Washington for Senator Adlai Stevenson and Representative Morris Udall. Both Democrats. From there, my older brother got on with The Washington Post, where he served as a political reporter, covering

I was fortunate enough to purchase Texas School Business in 2005. When I did so, I told everyone that our goal was ‘to produce a magazine my brother will be proud of.’ every presidential campaign from 1976 to 2004. He was the White House correspondent during the Carter years. He covered Watergate-related stories. He worked at the Post until 2004 and then moved to Portland, Ore., where he worked for the Oregonian until his retirement in 2009. So, he was a journalist, an old-fashioned news hound, a member of the media. And he was liberal. Not wildly so, but definitely leaning to the left in a JFK/ LBJ sort of way. I always found him to be even-handed in his private assessments of the many famous politicians he knew. He saw the flaws in the Democrats and the strong points in the Republicans. But I’m pretty sure he voted for the Democrats. Thus, Edward Walsh Jr. — “Ted” to members of the family — was a cardcarrying member of the Eastern Establishment Mainstream Liberal Media. Ted had an influence on this maga-

zine. I was fortunate enough to purchase Texas School Business in 2005. When I did so, I told everyone that our goal was “to produce a magazine my brother will be proud of.” He made one suggestion that permanently improved the magazine. He told me that the cover of a magazine was the most important thing, and that we had to get away from the historical custom of featuring a head shot of a school administrator. With all due respect to MiddleAged White Guys, that’s what our covers were, for the most part. Head shots of MAWGs. Ted said we had to change that, so we did, beginning in January 2008. In January of this year, I sold the magazine to TASA. I was pleased to do this, as I am confident that TASA will provide a good long-term home for this little gem of a publication that means so much to many of you. I was ready to sell the magazine because it had become, under the stewardship of Ted Siff and the leadership of Katie Ford, a magazine that my brother was proud of. Ted died on Valentine’s Day this year. He was 71. Cancer. His death has caused me to reflect on many things, including how our personal experiences color our political and worldviews. Knowing my brother, his fairness, his integrity, colored my view of those who rage about the “liberal media.” In the same way, when people know school administrators and teachers — their dedication, courage and tenacity — that knowledge will color their views when they hear the enemies of public education rant. This magazine will continue to be a beacon, calling attention to the good work you do. I am pleased to have served as editor in chief for several years and pleased that my brother played a small part in this as well. JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa. com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg.

The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 60 Years Since 1954, Texas School Business has published the good news for and about Texas educators and the vendors who serve the public schools. Today, Texas School Business is considered an institution among school leaders and decision makers. Each issue includes: • In-depth features on Texas public education • Who’s News • The Law Dawg – Unleashed • Photo features of association events • Educator and administrator profiles • Riney Jordan • Bobby Hawthorne • T erry Morawski • And more…

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April 2014 • Texas School Business


TCEA members ‘Get Inspired’ at conference Education technology experts from districts across the state gathered in Austin for the Texas Computer Education Association’s annual conference. Photos courtesy of Spencer Seldridge and TCEA.

An attendee and her conference swag.

Bird’s-eye view of Digital Square, where attendees can get online and recharge.

Meritte Threadgill of Klein ISD and John Quinones of ABC News.

Holli Horton of ESC Region 2.

Luis Medina of Clear Creek ISD.

Keynote speaker Rosalind Wiseman and Susan Borg of Klein ISD.

Kari Murphy of Deer Park ISD and State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock.

Attendees get cozy as they learn about cutting-edge classroom tools.

Victor Villegas of Irving ISD and Jaime LeRoy of GrapevineColleyville ISD. 8

Texas School Business • April 2014

TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

Fake Twitter profile for the Superintendent? #Help


es, it is indeed the Wild West out there these days when it comes to social media and online communication. In my home district of Mansfield ISD, new Twitter accounts pop up at a staggering rate. Most represent a positive effort to communicate with coworkers, students and the community. Yet, it’s always a good idea for school districts to monitor the Twittersphere for the following: Principals, Teachers, Administrators: Education professionals typically establish Twitter accounts with good intentions. If their goal is to share facts with the public — and people pay attention to them — consider them part of your team. Yet, it’s still a good idea to monitor these accounts in the event that they share confidential information or post anything that limits their ability to be an effective educator. Students: Much of what students say on Twitter can be protected as free speech. However, it is completely appropriate to notify parents of objectionable material posted to student Twitter accounts, whether or not the post actually violates a disciplinary rule. Fake Profile for District, Superintendent or Staff Member: Twitter makes it possible to report an account that falsely claims to be a person or entity. Just this school year, we have encountered several fake accounts pretending to be the Mansfield ISD superintendent. The language below is pulled directly from the Twitter site: “If you are reporting an account that is impersonating someone else, you will need to provide proof that you are authorized to act on his or her behalf. If you are attempting to report for another individual and you are not their legal representative, we will not take action on your removal

request.” (Source: support.twitter.com) That said, what should you do when you discover a fake Twitter profile for a staff member, a school or the whole district? 1. Who is the account claiming to be? If the account falsely claims to represent the school district or a specific school, first verify no district staff member is in charge of the account. If a staff member does not manage the account, then report the account as an imposter immediately. If the account falsely represents a staff member, go to Step 2. 2. Read the posts. Scan the account’s posts to determine if any objectionable or inappropriate information has been shared. If there is objectionable material in the posts, then report the account to Twitter. If there are no posts or the posts are not inappropriate, then you should monitor the account and go to Step 3. 3. Check their followers. Many impersonator accounts do not accumulate many followers. If the account has a large number of followers or if significant people from media or state organizations follow the account, then you should take action immediately to report the account to Twitter. How has your district used Twitter for outreach and educational impact? Has your district experienced any of the above issues? Feel free to share them with me. Twitter is an important tool for districts, and one that should not be ignored. TERRY MORAWSKI also wrote about the amazing people of West ISD in this issue. He serves as the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. You can email him at terrymorawski@gmail.com or follow the real Terry (not an impersonator) via @ terrymorawski.

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TSPRA gathers in Austin for annual conference School communications specialists rallied in February for networking and training at the Texas School Public Relations Association’s annual conference. Photos courtesy of Brian Morris of Lubbock ISD.

Denise McLean, Klein ISD; Denise Blanchard, Amarillo ISD; and Judy Rimato and Cindy Doyle, Klein ISD.

Patti Pawlik-Perales, Alamo Heights ISD; Julie Zwahr, Little Elm ISD; Tamerah Ringo, Coppell ISD; and Julie Thannum, Carroll ISD.

Presenter Dan Korem of Korem and Associates.

In the spirit of Austin, TSPRA attendees enjoyed food trailer fare during a lunch break.

Sharon Cox of Denton ISD. Craig Eichhorn of Alief ISD and and Helen Williams of Highland Park ISD.

TSPRA members “keeping it real” and participating in roundtable discussions. 10

Texas School Business • April 2014

Mike Rockwood, Lamar CISD; Joe Perez, Harris County Department of Education; Rachel Frost, Terrell ISD; and David Hicks, Highland Park ISD.

Patti Pawlik-Perales, Alamo Heights ISD; Louise Henry, Harris County Department of Education; Craig Eichhorn, Alief ISD; and presenter Joel Zeff.

GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Bob, Ted and Jim’s excellent adventure


fter you turn 60, most things seemed to have happened five or six years ago. The Beatles play “The Ed Sullivan Show”? Five or six years ago. Watergate? Five or six years ago. Daughter graduates from high school? Five or six years ago. And so on. Well, five or six years ago, I was sitting at a Southwest airlines gate in Denver, waiting on my flight back to Austin, and I noticed a skinny guy with a long face and a salt-and-pepper goatee. I knew I knew the guy, but I couldn’t place him, so I returned to my book. A moment later, the guy was standing in front of me, and he said in a lovely sonorous voice: “You’re Bobby Hawthorne,” and the instant I heard his voice, his name popped into my head. “And you’re Jim Walsh,” I replied. We had been part of the same sewing circle five or six years earlier, but I had lost touch, so we had a lot of catching up to do. I told him that I was remarried and had retired from the UIL and was trying to eke out a living as a freelance writer and dog-and-pony show educator. He told me he was still practicing law and had recently purchased this magazine. “Let’s get together soon,” he suggested, and I agreed. Then we boarded the plane, and I expected to never hear from him again. About five or six months later, Jim called and asked if I wanted to meet with him and Ted Siff, his chief operating officer, and discuss a special issue of the magazine devoted exclusively to the UIL, for whom I’d worked 28 years. “Absolutely,” I replied, and so we met at Starbucks, and they said: “We’re thinking about 12 stories covering the full range of UIL competition.” “Splendid,” I replied. “Now, how many do you wish to write?” they asked. And I replied, “All of

them.” For reasons I’ll never understand, they let me. Five or six weeks later, I turned them in. They dealt with girls’ volleyball and mariachi and several people who’d overcome daunting obstacles to succeed. One story involved a country boy who had built a dynamite debate program in inner-city Houston. Another told of a Rockwall ISD football player who had raised his four younger siblings after their mother died of cancer. My favorite piece, though, involved a Raymondville ISD eighth grader who overcame a crippling automobile accident to become an extraordinary percussionist. I made only one major gaffe. I misspelled a lovely young lady’s last name. To this day, I have no clue how it happened and I remain much embarrassed, but Katie Ford forgave me and fed me more stories, my favorite of which involved Greg Smith of Clear Creek ISD, who was named 2012 Superintendent of the Year. No one wins this honor accidentally, so as I thumbed through a packet of his accolades, I wondered, “Has this guy ever failed at anything?” In fact, that was my first question for Smith — and I think I might have shocked him with it. But he told me the story of the death of a middle school boy and how it changed him, and how that horrible day altered the trajectory of his career. It’s one of my favorite anecdotes. In teaching, I use it all the time. Well, my 600 words are up, but I wanted to thank Jim and Ted for their confidence and friendship and support. I’m glad Katie is staying on as editor, and I’m looking forward to working with the new management. It’s been a fun gig, and I’d love to hang for a while longer — say, five or six years. At least. BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.



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April 2014 • Texas School Business


West ISD

One-year anniversary The explosion that brought a community together by Terry Morawski


n April 17, 2013, at 7:53 p.m., an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West sent a mushroom cloud billowing into the sky. “Hollywood will never be able to replicate the sound of the blast,” says West ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford, remembering that night. He was at home watching a baseball game on TV when Marty Crawford the explosion occurred. The first thing on his mind was the proximity of the schools — especially the high school and middle school — to the fertilizer plant.


Texas School Business • April 2014

What followed was a flurry of activity. The high school football field became the primary triage site. Crawford remembers not getting any sleep that night as city and school officials rallied to survey the human impact and the destruction to the town itself. Fifteen people died and 300 people were injured in the tragedy. Three of the district’s four campuses were damaged or destroyed. For perspective, West is a town of about 3,000 people, and the closest major hospital is located 20 minutes away in Waco. West ISD trustee Missy Sulak and her son spent several hours that night pushing nursing home residents in wheelchairs down the street from a nearby nursing

home to the football field for medical treatment. Sulak and her son then rushed to the West Assisted Living Center and searched for medical supplies for the triMissy Sulak age center. Their search was difficult, as the roof in the building had collapsed and there was no lighting. Next, they stopped to pick up cases of water from the Czech Stop on Interstate 35, a well-known spot among locals and travelers passing through. Sulak’s home was left intact, but the homes of her grandmother, in-laws, aunt, uncle and two cousins were destroyed. Her

Demolition begins at West High School. In its place, the district plans to build a high school and middle school campus focused on 21st century learning.

The show must go on! West ISD students do the Trojan polka at the homecoming pep rally in the district’s remaining gym.

cousin, Joey Pustejovsky, lost his life as a volunteer firefighter that night. Despite the immense challenges her family has faced in the aftermath, Sulak has found solace in the spirit of her community. “Our community and school district have selected to focus on the positive effects of this devastating event,” she says. “It would have been easy to wallow in pain and anger and just tell ourselves we can’t do this, but instead we have focused on the fact that we will rise up and restore our district and community. The spirit of West is truly God-sent, because without our faith, the tragedy would have beat us.” The explosion occurred on a Wednesday night. Crawford and his team quickly determined school would need to be canceled for Thursday and Friday. He knew one of the best services he could provide the West community was providing school for students by Monday of the following week. To do this, they made the most of the facilities that were operational in West ISD and enlisted the help of Con-

nally ISD. Connally ISD, which is located about 10 minutes away, turned over a vacated building to West ISD to house the district’s seventh through 12th graders because the middle and high school buildings were no longer structurally sound. “We all shared a common goal to get students back in school as soon as we could,” says Crawford. “First, because we are a kid-centered institution, it was the most important thing to get them back in school. Second, it was a benefit for the adults of West that we could take care of their children while they worked on getting their lives back together.” Crawford says he was also impressed by his staff’s response to the crisis. He says nearly 30 staff members lost their homes or were displaced, yet very few of them asked for time off to take care of their personal business. They wanted to be “on deck” for the kids of West ISD. The Insurance Council of Texas estimated more than $100 million in damages to the city of West. Initially, the

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rejected the city’s request for aid. A letter in June 2013 from FEMA says the blast explosion was “not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration.” Gov. Rick Perry, with the support of other legislators, appealed the decision in July and August. In February of this year, FEMA announced funds would be granted to the city, including nearly $20 million to rebuild West High School and West Middle School as one integrated campus. Crawford says he is surprised at how politically charged the rebuilding effort has been. “In some cases, it has been an advantage,” he says. “And in some cases, it has been a disadvantage.” He adds that he couldn’t put a monetary value on the support the district has received from Governor Perry, state Rep. See WEST on page 14 April 2014 • Texas School Business


Huckabee’s rendering of the proposed West High School and Middle School campus, which the district hopes to open during the winter of the 2015-2016 school year.

WEST continued from page 13

Kyle Kacal, Education Commissioner Michael Williams, state Sen. Brian Birdwell, U.S. Rep. Bill Flores and a host of others, to include Huckabee Inc., an architecture, engineering and construction firm that had an established relationship with West ISD. Following the explosion, a Huckabee team mobilized to figure out how it might help the district rebuild. It was approximately a week before the team received clearance through state and federal authorities to begin a detailed analysis of a destruction area known as “Zone 1.” Chris Huckabee remembers sending a text to his wife after visiting West, telling her the damage was worse than he had imagined, but he was grateful the tragedy hadn’t happened during school hours. After about two weeks of on-site evaluation, the Huckabee team hatched a plan that would unfold in two phases. The first phase involved erecting a network of temporary classrooms and facilities in West ISD for the start of the 2013-2014 school year. School trustees, administrators and construction experts had only four months to accomplish the first phase, but they all agreed it was an important step toward normalcy. Following delays related to insurance, FEMA and other factors, the team managed to complete the temporary facilities in a short six-week window. The Huckabee team and Bartlett Cocke, the construction manager, sought help from a variety of sources to make it happen. Several area school districts stepped up and offered the use of their temporary buildings, including Grand 14

Texas School Business • April 2014

Prairie, Mansfield, Killeen and Northwest ISDs. Ramtech Building Systems stepped in to transform the buildings into temporary science labs, restrooms, a full kitchen and a cafeteria. Contacts in Fort Hood assisted in building a temporary gymnasium that mirrored military gyms used in remote locations. The second phase involved rehabilitating the football field so high school football could resume on time for the 2013-2014 school year. The stadium had experienced some structural damage, and the use of the field as a triage facility had necessitated a full-scale cleaning, to include replacing the grass and sod. All of this collaborative work resulted in students starting the 2013-2014 school year back at home in West. Even the fieldwork was completed on time, and football practice began in August. Board President Larry Hykel remembers standing among the temporary buildings as students arrived for class on the first day back. He says he remembers a young lady walking up with tears streaming down her Larry Hykel cheeks. He asked her if she was afraid. “She told me, ‘Sir, I’m not scared. I’m just happy,’” he recalls. As the district plans the construction of its permanent facilities, stakeholders are keeping 21st century learning top of mind.

“It’s exciting to have this opportunity to rebuild our schools,” says Crawford. “It’s been great to design a school building for the way students learn in such a digital and social way. We feel our new designs reflect the needs of 21st and 22nd century learners.” The new high school and middle school campus is designed as an “urban village” so that learning can happen “anywhere and everywhere,” according to Huckabee Principal Josh Brown. A traditional library has been replaced by two learning resource centers. These LRCs resemble university student unions. The high school also has spaces much like a living room for small-group breakout study sessions. The interior designs borrow from a coffeehouse layout to effect a more casual learning environment. Crawford says, of all things, he has been most impressed by the students’ resilience over the past year. “Adults are wired to worry and stress,” says Crawford. “The students showed up to school from the first day with smiles on their faces. I think they are going to be better men and women because of how they have handled this situation. They have really inspired us.” TERRY MORAWSKI writes the monthly Tech Toolbox column. He also serves as the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. You can follow him on Twitter @terrymorawski.

Who’s News Alvin ISD Dixie Jones is the new assistant principal of Marek Elementary School. She came to Alvin ISD in 1989 as a science teacher. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, and her master’s degree in educational management is from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Theresa Lair, who has been with the district since 2005, is now assistant principal of York Elementary. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She has a master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University. Pat Miller is the new chief operating officer. He has been Alvin ISD’s executive director of support services since 2007 and has worked for the district since 2003. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from Texas A&M University. Susan Wilson has been named Alvin ISD’s chief financial officer after serving as director of business services since 2011. She joined the district in 1992 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Belhaven University and a master’s degree in accounting and finance management from DeVry University. Austin ISD Leal Anderson, who was head basketball coach at Anderson High School for the past four years, has been named the Austin ISD’s athletic director. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma and a master’s degree in sports management from The University of Texas. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen has been elected chair of the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents (TUCS), a network of the largest school districts in the state. TUCS, which represents 777,000 students and 50,000 teachers, was created to allow urban district leaders an opportunity to share strategies aimed at providing students with learning environments to help them achieve their academic goals. Leading Austin ISD since 2009, Carstarphen was previously superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota. She has served in districts in Washington D.C.; Kingsport, Tenn.; and Columbus, Ohio. She began her career as a classroom teacher in her native Selma, Ala., earning her bachelor’s degree in political science and in Spanish from Tulane University and her master’s degrees in education from Auburn University and Harvard University.

Her doctorate in administration, planning and social policy, with a concentration in urban superintendency, was also received at Harvard. The new principal of McBee Elementary School is Margarita De La Rosa, an educator for 15 years. She most recently was assistant principal and curriculum facilitator at De Zavala Middle School in La Joya ISD. Shannon Sellstrom, who has been with Austin ISD for 24 years, is the new principal of Covington Middle School. She was principal of Dawson Elementary since 2001. Brazos ISD A new superintendent has been named for the district. He is Earl Jarrett, who most recently held the top position in Spur ISD. Brownwood ISD Brownwood High School Principal Bill Faircloth will retire at the end of May after leading the school for 10 years. Faircloth came to Brownwood to attend Howard Payne University and, after graduation, began teaching at Northwest Elementary. He then worked in the private sector for 20 years and taught math at the Texas Youth Commission for five years before becoming a principal in Richland Springs ISD. He then returned to Brownwood ISD to take his current position. Additionally, he was on the Brownwood ISD Board of Trustees for nine years, including serving as president. Faircloth holds a master’s degree in education from Tarleton State University. Former Brownwood High Assistant Principal Mitch Moore will now serve as the school’s principal. Moore, a graduate of Brownwood High, has been with the district for 19 years, serving in his most recent position since 2009. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree in administration from Tarleton State University. He worked in the private sector as an accountant for five years before joining Brownwood ISD in 1995 as a math teacher and coach. Bryan ISD

Will Compton

Rudder High School’s new head football coach and athletic coordinator is Will Compton, who comes to the district from Conroe ISD’s Oak Ridge High, where he was offensive

coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has coached in Texas public schools for 11 years, including stints in Tyler, Mabank, La Marque and Refugio ISDs. Compton holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Angelo State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University. Carroll ISD Carroll Middle School now has Joey Calvillo as assistant principal. An educator for 12 years, he joins the district from Keller ISD, where he taught at Timber Creek High School. The new assistant princiJoey Calvillo pal of Dawson Middle School is Christina Benhoff. She most recently held that position at Walnut Grove Elementary. She has been an educator for five years and Christina Benhoff was a teacher and coach at Carroll Middle School. Cleveland ISD Jake Sherman has accepted the position of interim superintendent. After retiring in 1996 from Corrigan-Camden ISD, he worked as interim superintendent of Diboll ISD. College Station ISD Superintendent Eddie Coulson will bring a 29-year career to a close when he retires in June. He has been with the district since 1997, when he accepted the position of human resources director. He then served as deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction before being named superintendent in 2006. In 2010, he was named ESC Region 6’s Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards. Prior to coming to College Station, he was a teacher and administrator in Spring ISD for 12 years. Coulson, who received his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, also holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Sam Houston State University. Conroe ISD Carrie Fitzpatrick, former principal of Rice Elementary School, has been appointed See WHO’S NEWS on page 17 April 2014 • Texas School Business


Rider 70 for Senate Bill 1 aims to streamline TEA regulatory systems by Theresa Parsons


s a district or campus leader, are you dazed and confused by the myriad special education reporting measures? Do they leave you unsure how to prioritize and lead improvement in your district? Are the parents in your community just as puzzled? Do you feel like the emphasis is on the compliance minutia rather than student results? For many years, superintendents, campus administrators and school board members have heard from special education leaders about excessive compliance, accountability and monitoring reports. If you and members of your community are mystified about what the scores mean and what they refer to, you are not alone. Special education directors expressed their pain to the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) before the 83rd Texas legislative session, and TCASE worked with lawmakers to pass Rider 70 to Senate Bill 1. The rider requires the Texas Education Agency to ensure that all accountability, monitoring and compliance systems related to special education are non-duplicative, unified and focused on positive results for students to ease the administrative and fiscal burden on districts. With this charge, TEA has been asked to solicit stakeholder input and report back to the lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, the Legislative Budget Board and the presiding officers of the standing committees of the Legislature with primary jurisdiction over public education no later than Jan. 12, 2015, about the agency’s efforts to implement the provisions of this rider. The report is required to include recommendations from stakeholders, whether these recommendations were adopted and the reason any recommendations were rejected. To support TEA’s work on this charge, TCASE commissioned the Texas school finance and accountability experts at Moak, Casey & Associates to conduct a researchbased review of state and federal monitoring, compliance and accountability processes. TCASE respects the need for monitoring to ensure compliance with state and federal


Texas School Business • April 2014

law. The purpose of this report is not to escape oversight, but to streamline systems within the authority of the state education agency so that limited resources are focused on activities aimed at improving positive student outcomes. The research A review of the state and federal monitoring systems was conducted, along with a review of research publications from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center on Educational Outcomes, the National Title 1 Association and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. In addition to Texas, 21 state special education monitoring and accountability programs and policies were studied. Stakeholder interviews included special education practitioners and representatives from The Arc of Texas, Disability Rights Texas, The Advocacy Institute, and the Texas Education Agency’s Office of State and Federal Education Policy. A survey of TCASE members also was conducted to solicit detailed and specific input from special education practitioners. System issues identified Six issues that present challenges for district staff charged with complying with separate monitoring systems were identified: • indicator overlap; • formula for staging districts; • State Performance Plan (SPP) determinations process; • lack of a single unifying document to connect all monitoring systems; • TEA’s communications of monitoring outcomes and progress to stakeholders; and • lack of a federal requirement for a separate residential facilities (RF) monitoring system. The research indicated that there are a number of alternatives to the current system that could be considered, including: • Combining the three special education monitoring systems — SPP, Performance-Based Monitoring Analysis System (PBMAS) and the RF Monitoring and Tracker System — into a single, non-duplicative monitoring system;

• •

Aligning the special education monitoring system with the overall system of state accountability; Designing monitoring processes in which individual districts first selfassess their special education program in relation to state standards; Utilizing a system requiring districts that do not meet the state standard on any SPP indicators to conduct either a root cause analysis or self-assessment to serve as the basis of a continuous improvement plan for those indicators requiring improvement; Creating documents by the state education agency to support district understanding of and compliance with monitoring targets, with ways to share information about the status of districts’ special education programs with stakeholders; and Consulting with stakeholders in a structured, consistent and responsive manner.

The report also includes a chart comparing all accountability indicators for special education in Texas highlighting overlap and duplication. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has a statement on its Website stating, “OSEP is currently rethinking its accountability system in order to shift the balance from a system focused primarily on compliance to one that puts more emphasis on results.” Rider 70’s charge to focus on positive results for Texas students is strongly aligned with OSEP’s stated intent. If you would like to read the report, you can request an electronic copy by sending an email to info@tcase.org. Please put “report request” in the subject line. THERESA PARSONS is the executive director of the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (www. tcase.org). She can be reached at theresa@ tcase.org.

Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 15

principal of Stewart Elementary, which will open for the 2014-2015 academic year. The new principal of Anderson Elementary School is Viviana Carrie Fitzpatrick Harris, who has spent her 12-year career with the district. She was most recently assistant principal of Ford Elementary. Prior to that assignment, she was an elementary teacher for nine years. A graduate of Conroe ISD schools, Harris earned her bachelor’s Viviana Harris degree from Sam Houston State University and her master’s degree from Lamar University. A second new campus, Patterson Elementary School, will have Gilbert Lozano as principal when it opens this August. He was most recently principal of Anderson Elementary. Malinda Stewart is now principal of Rice Gilbert Lozano Elementary, moving up from her position as assistant principal of the campus. She has been an educator for 12 years, 10 of those with Conroe ISD, where she has been a language arts teacher, an instructional literacy coach Malinda Stewart and the assistant principal of Deretchin Elementary. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Jim Draudt, who has been head basketball coach at Cypress Falls High School since the campus opened in 1992, coached his last game in February. He will retire at the end of the school year, wrapping up a 44-year career. He was Jim Draudt with Cypress-Fairbanks ISD for 30 years, amassing 592 victories with the Golden Eagles.

Sherma Duck, who leads Cook Middle School, has been named principal of the new Anthony Middle School, scheduled to open in August for the 2014-2015 school year. She has been an educator for 35 years, the past 13 as an adminSherma Duck istrator in the district. She came to Cypress-Fairbanks ISD as a teacher at Holmsley and Fiest elementary schools, then worked as an elementary-science helping teacher. She next joined Arnold Middle School as director of instruction, also serving as summer school principal there for two years. In 2004, she became Langham Creek High School’s director of instruction, then was that school’s assistant principal before being named principal of Cook in 2007. A graduate of the University of Houston Clear Lake, Duck received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Sam Houston State University. Cypress Ranch High School head baseball coach John Pope is the recipient of the 2014 Ray Knoblauch Coaching Award, named after a former coach of Houston ISD’s Bellaire High School. Pope has been the Mustangs’ head John Pope coach since the program’s

beginnings in 2008, leading his team to the Class 5A championship in 2012. Four Cypress-Fairbanks ISD principals have been selected to participate in the Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Program Business Fellowship for School Leaders, also known as the REEP Fellowship. Their participation is sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas, a nonprofit advocacy organization for public education. Ana Diaz, Holmsley Elementary School; Sherma Duck, Cook Middle School; Becky Koop, Pope Elementary School; and Sandy Trujillo, Cypress Creek High School are participating in the year-long program. Administered through the Jones Graduate School of Business, the fellowship intends to give principals leadership, innovation, organizational, marketing and financial management skills to be successful campus CEOs. Denton ISD The Denton ISD Board of Trustees has appointed Joey Florence as athletic director. He has been a head football coach for 20 years, the last 14 at Ryan High School. Prior to that, he was head coach at Cooper High in Cooper ISD. He Joey Florence has served on the board of See WHO’S NEWS on page 20

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Houston ISD’s new police chief gives back to community by Leila Kalmbach


ntil the moment he applied for the job, Robert Mock wasn’t expecting to become a police officer. Almost 30 years ago, the now chief of police of Houston ISD was working in construction north of Houston after he graduated high school. On the side, he served as a volunteer firefighter. The firefighting inspired a new thought: He’d really like to be an arson investigator. These were the days before the Internet and finding the right phone number wasn’t easy either. So Mock drove the 50 miles into Houston, parked for an outrageous fee, found the building, and rode the elevator up to the sixth floor. The elevator opened to face a folding table with a sign on it: “Houston Fire Department. Not taking applications at this time.” Disheartened and unsure what to do, Mock got back on the elevator and started heading down. The elevator stopped on the fourth floor. The door opened to face an identical folding table, also with a sign on it. This sign read: “Houston Police Department. Now taking applications.” So he applied. “Subconsciously, I was thinking: ‘Well, eventually I’ll get around to being an arson investigator,’” he says. “But that never came to be. I found out my true calling, through some kind of divine intervention or dumb luck, I’m not sure. And it’s been a great run ever since.” Mock started out on the night shift patrol as a police officer with the Houston Police Department (HPD). In the years following, he moved around, managing or participating in every aspect of the department. Then, six years ago, he took a job as assistant police chief in Houston ISD. In January, he was promoted to chief when the former chief retired. For Mock, the decision to move to the school district was an easy one. Many municipal police departments strive for community-oriented policing, he says, which 18

Texas School Business • April 2014

Houston ISD Police Chief Robert Mock takes an oath during his swearing-in ceremony.

is all about enhancing the quality of life of their citizens. “When this opportunity came up to go to school district policing, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the definition of communityoriented policing,’” he says. “Because not only are our schools individual communities, but we’re part of the (larger) community. We interact with the kids; we interact with the parents and the teachers. That whole environment is just an incubator for our next leaders.” Charged with enforcing local, state and federal laws, Houston ISD’s police force is a full-service, fully functioning police agency with powers of arrest. It has 207 authorized sworn police positions

and 45 full-time civilian support positions — plus, it manages the crossing guard division, which constitutes around another 600 part-time employees. The police department provides services to a district that covers more than 325 square miles, around 300 facilities, and more than 25,000 employees and 208,000 students. These are huge numbers, but it’s the personal connections that Mock says are the best part of his job. He doesn’t do a lot of “boots-on-the-ground” policing these days, but once a month he reads to fifth graders and tries to pass on his love of reading. He also has lunch once a month with 10 kids that the schools identify as “kids with character.”

“The best part is seeing their faces, seeing the joy that they get out of it,” he says. “They have a million questions; they’re so excited to see me. If I could do that all day long, that would be the best thing ever.” Mock’s goal as the district’s police chief is to stay current in addressing crime and quality-of-life issues that are

“We interact with the kids; we interact with the parents and the teachers. That whole environment is just an incubator for our next leaders.”



If I could go anywhere in the world, it would be: Rome, to see the Colosseum. My favorite book is: for leisure reading, “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” series, and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins for professional reading. The one piece of advice I always give is: Particularly when swearing in new officers or promoting supervisors, I always give a quote from Peter Drucker: “Right does not confer privilege or give power; it imposes responsibility.” My idea of the perfect weekend is: spending time with my family, whether it be going to the movies, watching a football or baseball game, watching one of my son’s baseball games, going to debate competitions with my daughter or school concerts — anything, really.

— Robert Mock

continually plaguing children. It’s also important to him to stay on top of trends and give everyone in the department the tools and training they need to create a safe environment. For one, perpetrators are using the Internet — particularly social media — to find new ways to victimize or exploit kids, he says. “Hardly a week goes by that we don’t have something that’s connected to social media or is Internet-based that our kids fall victim to,” Mock says. “It takes a lot of effort and diligence, and I have some good people who help me monitor these kind of things. We’re always looking for new tools and new resources.” Outside of work, Mock says he enjoys reading, riding his bike — he participates in the MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin every year — and spending time with his family. He and his wife, Charlene, have two children: daughter Sydney, 13, and son Sawyer, 12, both of whom attend Houston ISD middle schools. For Mock, self-development and continuing education are crucial. He once took American Sign Language classes after an unsettling experience as a patrol officer trying to communicate with a terrified deaf woman. Although he didn’t go to college until his late 30s, he completed his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and went straight through to earn his master’s degree in criminology, all while still working. He also later attended the FBI National Academy, where he met many colleagues around the country with

whom he still keeps in touch. “I try to learn at least one new thing every day. Hopefully I’ll be real smart when I kick it,” Mock jokes. “Who knows ... but it’s been good for me.”

LEILA KALMBACH is an Austin-based freelance writer and editor, focusing on health and wellness and life-changing true stories.

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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 17

directors of the Texas High School Coaches Association and is a past recipient of the University Interscholastic League’s Excellence Award. Dave Henigan has been named head football coach for Ryan High School. He comes to the district from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where he was Grapevine High’s head football coach and boys’ athletic coordinator. He was assistant athletic director and head football coach at Corsicana High School in Corsicana ISD from 2004 to 2009 and was an assistant football coach at Highland Park High School in Highland Park ISD and at Allen High in Allen ISD. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political economy from the University of the Pacific in California and a master’s degree in liberal arts from Southern Methodist University. As a graduate assistant, he was offensive line coach at the University of Pittsburgh, wide receiver coach at SMU, and tight ends coach at the University of Mississippi. Kim Villarreal-Thaggard, Denton High School’s middle years program (MYP) coordinator, has been chosen to attend the International Baccalaureate Academy, which aims to help attendees develop in-depth understanding of the IB-MYP program and provide training toward becoming an official IB consultant and authorized IB evaluator for candidate schools. VillarrealThaggard received her bachelor’s degree in political science and American literature from the University of Southern Mississippi and her master’s degree in history from the University of North Texas. She has been with Denton High for 10 years as a teacher and IB coordinator. Dripping Springs ISD Dripping Springs High School has a new head football coach. Joe McBride, a coach with 22 years of experience, will also serve as the district’s athletic coordinator. He comes to his new job from Coppell ISD, where he was Joe McBride head football coach and boy’s athletic coordinator since 2009. Prior to that, he began the football program at Liberty High in Frisco ISD and was the defensive coordinator at Hebron High in Lewisville ISD. He also coached in Austin, Magnolia and San Angelo ISDs and at Angelo State University. 20

Texas School Business • April 2014

Who’s News

McBride is a graduate of Texas Tech University, where he played for the Red Raiders. Ennis ISD The district’s new superintendent is John Chapman. An educator for 16 years, he began his career as a teacher and coach in Lubbock ISD. He next was a vice principal, assistant principal, principal and coach in Crowell ISD beJohn Chapman fore taking his first superintendent position, in Chillicothe ISD. Two years later, he was named superintendent of Comfort ISD, where he remained for more than six years, until taking his new job in Ennis. Chapman, who holds a master’s degree in mid-management from Wayland Baptist University, earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Tech University. Fort Bend ISD Four principals have been awarded sponsorships to the year-long Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Program Business Fellowship for School Leaders, also known as the REEP Fellowship. They are Mary Brewster of Schiff Elementary School, Thomas Henily from Quail Valley Middle School, Deidre Holloway of Blue Ridge Elementary and Chris Morgan, who leads Bowie Middle School. Granbury ISD Legendary

coach Leta Andrews, coach of the Lady Pirates basketball team at Granbury High, has announced her upcoming retirement, effective at the end of this school year. With a career encompassing 51 years, Leta Andrews 14 teams participating in state championships and 1,416 wins, she became the “winningest high school basketball coach ever” in December 2010, when the Lady Pirates defeated Midlothian on the court named in Andrews’ honor. The team she led at Calallen High in Corpus Christi ISD took the Class 4A state championship during her 12-year tenure at that school. She began her career in 1962 in Tolar ISD, going on to coach in Gustine, Comanche and Calallen ISDs, as well as Granbury. Andrews is an honoree in six halls of fame: the Coastal Bend Hall of Honor, the National High School Hall

of Fame, the Texas Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Highland Park ISD (Amarillo) Superintendent Mike Brown has announced his retirement after four years with the district. Highland Park ISD (Dallas) The new chief technology officer is Charlie Jackson. With 17 years of experience in school technology services, he was executive director of technology at Forney ISD since 2008. He was with Duncanville Charlie Jackson ISD from 1999 to 2008, serving as technology services coordinator, information technology manager and director of technology operations. Jackson, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University, holds a master’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Mark Rowden is the district’s first director of safety and security services. He has 27 years of law enforcement experience and was chief of police of Ector County ISD in Odessa from 2007 until making the move to Highland Mark Rowden Park ISD. Prior to that, he was with the Odessa Police Department, including serving as lieutenant/commander of the special operations division, support services bureau deputy commander and patrol division watch commander. In addition, he is a part-time instructor in the Criminal Justice Department of Odessa College. Rowden earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds master peace officer certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education. Houston ISD Wheatley High School will now be led by Principal Shirley Rose-Gilliam, who spent the past 25 years with Fort Bend ISD. After 10 years as a high school teacher, she served as an assistant and associate princi-

pal for six years and then was named principal of Bush High. She next led Marshall High and most recently was principal of McAuliffe Middle School. Rose-Gilliam earned her bachelor’s deShirley Rosegree from the University Gilliam of Houston and her master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria. Her doctorate in education was awarded from Texas A&M University. Humble ISD Three Humble ISD principals will attend the year-long Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Program Business Fellowship for School Leaders, or REEP Fellowship. Those selected for the 2014 class are Sharon Lee-River from River Pines Elementary, Kathryn Palmer of Bear Branch Elementary and Robert Atteberry, who leads Kingwood Middle School. Kelton ISD New Superintendent Douglas Rice comes to Kelton ISD from Mineral Wells ISD, where he was a principal. Kerrville ISD The district has announced Heather Engstrom as the new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. She came to Kerrville in 2005 as principal of Nimitz Elementary, then was named dean of curriculum and Heather Engstrom instruction at Tivy High School in 2008, remaining there until taking her most recent position as principal of Starkey Elementary in 2013. Prior to that, she spent 10 years as a teacher in Woodville and Fredericksburg ISDs. Engstrom received her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and a master’s degree in education from Schreiner University. Lamar CISD Joel Garrett is now the director of career and technical education. A graduate of Texas A&M University with a master’s degree from Lamar University, he most recently was an assistant principal of Terry High School and previously served as a teacher and administrator in Arlington and Mansfield ISDs. Katie Marchena-Roldan has been

Who’s News

named a math curriculum and instructional specialist. A graduate of Luther College in Iowa with a master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria, she was previously a technology specialist for the district’s elementary and secondary schools. She also taught junior high summer school math, summer pre-K, and first and second grades at Frost Elementary School. Leander ISD Sarah Grissom, former principal of Faubion Elementary School, is now the district’s senior executive director of school improvement. She has spent her career in Leander ISD, beginning in 1998 as a teacher at Cedar Park Middle School. She went on to serve as the district’s secondary mathematics facilitator, interim principal of Winkley Elementary and as assistant principal of Faubion Elementary. Grissom received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The University of Texas and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State University. Barbara Steiner has been appointed principal of Faubion Elementary School. With the district since 2004, she was a special education team leader and, most recently, an assistant principal. Previously, she was a resource teacher in Barbara Steiner Round Rock ISD, a resource inclusion teacher in El Paso ISD and a resource teacher in St. Charles, Mo. From 1986 to 1990, she was a police officer with the Fort Worth Police Department. Steiner has a bachelor’s degree from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., and a master’s degree in education from Texas State University. Tol Wilhite is principal of Deer Creek Elementary. He has been with the district since 2004, working as an instructional resource assistant and teaching third grade at Knowles Elementary School and third and fourth grades at Cox Tol Wilhite Elementary. He has been assistant principal of Grandview Hills Elementary since 2010. Wilhite, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Le Tourneau University.

Lufkin ISD The newly formed Lufkin ISD Education Association has Rebecca Chance as president. A graduate of Lufkin High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Baylor University and her master’s degree in Rebecca Chance arts organizational communication from the University of Houston. She began her career with Chase Bank in New York City, returning to Texas to work with Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting in Houston. She then moved to Lufkin as a marketing and business development associate with Memorial Health Systems of East Texas. In addition, she has been an adjunct professor of interpersonal communication at Angelina College. She has served in numerous volunteer capacities, including working with the American Cancer Society, the board of directors of the Museum of East Texas and the Junior League. McKinney ISD The McKinney Board of Trustees has named former Boyd High School Principal Rick McDaniel as the district’s assistant superintendent for student services. A 27-year veteran of Texas public education, he began his career in Tyler Rick McDaniel ISD as a coach and physics teacher at Moore Middle School. He next was Science Department chair at Lee High School before being named that school’s assistant principal in 1997. Four years later, he was appointed principal of Hogg Middle School, returning to Lee High as principal in 2003. He came to McKinney ISD in 2006 as principal of the newly opened Boyd High. McDaniel, who received his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, has a master’s degree in education from The University of Texas at Tyler. He will complete his doctorate from the University of North Texas this year. David Spann is now the chief information officer. He has been an educator for 32 years, working in Allen and Wylie ISDs. He began as a teacher and coach at Allen ISD’s Ford Middle School and then worked in the same capacity at Allen High School, before taking his first administrative assignment at See WHO’S NEWS on page 24 April 2014 • Texas School Business


TCASE PRESIDENT PROFILE Hutto ISD’s Mary Sellers brings innovation to special needs programs by Ford Gunter


aised in a family of teachers, Mary Sellers was convinced she was going to be anything but. “I was going to be a pilot,” Sellers says. She even started classes in aeronautical engineering at the Buffalo campus at State University of New York, near her hometown of Williamsville, N.Y. But it didn’t last. As a sophomore, Sellers changed her major to special education, and now, about

two decades later, she’s been the director of special education for Hutto ISD for almost seven years. This month begins her one-year term as president of the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE). Sellers’ change of course occurred at a summer school program for kids with disabilities, where she had volunteered since high school. “Every teacher I worked with, they tried to get me to teach, kept trying to train

me,” she says. “It didn’t take me very long to get hooked. I’m pretty empathetic. I root for the underdog.” More than that, Sellers says the class was like a family, and the students’ love for their teachers was unmistakable. She threw herself in headfirst, volunteering at group homes or with families and finding extra work as a substitute teacher or an aide when she wasn’t student-teaching or in class.

Hutto ISD Special Education Director Mary Sellers leads the closing cheer for the Hippo Heroes, a special needs cheering team that makes regular appearances at pep rallies and football games. 22

Texas School Business • April 2014




MARY SELLERS An artist you’ll often find in my music playlist: Beyoncé A place in the world I hope to visit someday: Paris Advice I’d give to someone entering special education: Keep the kids at the forefront of all your decision making. A bad habit I’d love to break: biting my nails

“I became very attached to my students,” she says. “I’m very much the type of person who wants to go in and make a difference in people’s lives who can’t make a difference for themselves.” It’s precisely this approach that Sellers plans on bringing to TCASE, albeit on a more macro level. She wants to help districts that are struggling with their special education programs make a difference for themselves and better navigate the complicated waters of special education. “It’s very complex,” Sellers says. “There are a lot of funding requirements and federal and state laws we are bound to follow. [Special education directors] don’t have other people in the district who understand the intricacies of our position. So it’s very important to have an organization where we can all come together and support each other.” As director of special education at Hutto ISD, Sellers says she often faces challenging parents, rigid mindsets and dizzying legal requirements. “We need to have a voice and TCASE helps provide it,” Sellers says. “If one of us needs something, most likely everyone else needs it as well.” For Sellers, communication is the key to just about anything. “That’s where things go wrong, when people stop talking to each other,” she says. “When we come together we can be a louder voice.” If Sellers has any say, it will also be

a slightly different voice. She’d like to knock down the wall that splits education into “general” and “special” and focus on adjectives like “rich,” “meaningful,” “personalized” and “accessible.” At Hutto ISD, Sellers has made great strides in integrating special education students with the general population and vice versa. She has spearheaded innovative programs like Hippos Hand-in-Hand, a preschool program that puts disabled and non-disabled students in the same class, allowing the former to progress faster and the latter to develop compassion for kids who are different. Sellers also started Hippo Hoopla, a special needs track meet, as well as a district-wide special needs cheerleading team that is led by a professional coach and mentored by non-disabled cheerleaders. The Hippo Heroes have cheered at pep rallies and football games, and, at the end of April, the team will cheer in competition at Six Flags Over Texas. “In their classrooms, these students may have behavioral problems, but they come to the cheer team and they’re just a different kid,” Sellers says. Breaking new ground is something Sellers has been doing her entire career. While enrolled in a masters program in educational leadership at Regent University in Virginia, Sellers convinced the nearby Norfolk Naval Base to donate old computers, which she took apart and reassembled into about 10 working machines and connected them to the Internet. This



was the late 1990s, when most people didn’t know what the Internet was, let alone how to connect to it. She started a class at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach called creative computing, where special education classes would write material for the school every year, including a stage play, which they performed each year. Sellers met her future husband while he was in the Navy. After she graduated from Regent, the couple moved to his home state of Texas, first to Ingleside and then to Corpus Christi, where she was an assistant principal at a middle school for two years. In 2006, she arrived at Hutto ISD. There, she spent one year as a middle school assistant principal before being charged with pulling Hutto out of a special education co-op with several other districts and creating an independent department to meet Hutto ISD demand. “Early on, I decided on an administrative track,” Sellers says. “I really wanted to make programs that were impactful and innovative. I wanted to do things differently in special education.” For Sellers, that starts and ends with communication. “I expect people to ask questions,” she says. “If you don’t ask questions, you may not be doing the right thing. And then you aren’t learning.” FORD GUNTER is a freelance writer and filmmaker in Houston.




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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 21

Allen High as an assistant principal. He also was assistant principal at Curtis and Carpenter middle schools. He transferred to Wylie ISD in 1999 as director of technology services and returned to David Spann Allen 10 years later to serve as executive director of technology services, remaining there until accepting his new job with McKinney ISD. Spann’s bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and master’s degree in education administration were awarded from East Texas State University. Mount Pleasant ISD Corey Homer has been appointed athletic director and head football coach. A graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, he attended Texas A&M University at Commerce on a football scholarship, earning both his bachelor’s and masCorey Homer ter’s degrees there while playing football and serving as a graduate assistant. He has previously worked in McKinney, Tyler and Plano ISDs. Brice Elementary School now has Tracie Johnson as principal. After graduating from Mount Pleasant High School, she joined the district in 1996 as a social studies teacher at that school. She next was a counselor Tracie Johnson there, then the campus assistant principal. The district has a new superintendent. He is Judd Marshall, who had been serving as assistant superintendent of operations. He has been with the district for 16 years as a teacher, coach, and assistant principal and principal of Mount PleasJudd Marshall ant High School. Prior to that, he was a teacher in Dodd City and Mount Vernon ISDs. Marshall received his bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University and his master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Commerce. 24

Texas School Business • April 2014

Who’s News

New Braunfels ISD Jim Streety now fills the newly created position of athletic director. In doing so, he is returning to the district, where he previously worked for 21 years, from 1970 to 1991, beginning as an assistant coach in football, basketball and Jim Streety track at New Braunfels High School. He went on to serve as head coach. After leaving New Braunfels High, he spent the next 23 years as head football coach and athletic coordinator at Madison High School in North East ISD in San Antonio. A graduate of Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), he began his career coaching at San Marcos Junior High in San Marcos CISD. Streety has served on the board of directors of the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA), including a stint as president, and was inducted into the THSCA Hall of Honor in 1999. New Caney ISD Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Delinda Neal, the district’s executive director of instruction, to a three-member School District Mentoring Program Advisory Committee. The group will work to develop recommended guidelines for teacher training and mentoring activities with expectations for new teachers based on instructional practice standards. Neal, who has worked on mentoring programs for New Caney schools, began her career as a teacher in Ore City and Marshall ISDs, going on to serve as a middle school assistant principal and elementary principal in Nacogdoches ISD. She joined New Caney ISD in 2007 as principal of Bens Branch Elementary School and was named executive director of elementary instruction in 2010. She has been in her current position since 2012. Neal holds a bachelor’s degree in education from East Texas Baptist University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from The University of Texas at Tyler and a doctorate in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. Northside ISD (San Antonio) Carin Aderman will lead Ellison Elementary School as principal when the new campus opens for the 2014-2015 school year. She is principal of Blattman Elementary. She began her career in 1990 in Okinawa, Japan, teaching at Kadena Elementary, a Department of Defense school. She joined Northside ISD

in 1993 as a teacher at Brauchle Elementary, then was named vice principal of Ward Elementary when that school opened in 2003. She moved to Blattman in 2006 as vice principal, remaining in Carin Aderman that position until her appointment as the school’s principal in 2008. Aderman earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Chuck Baldridge, former academic dean of Jefferson Middle School, is now principal of Stevenson Middle School. Beginning as a second grade teacher at Pearce Primary School in San Antonio’s Southside ISD, he went on to Chuck Baldridge coach football and track at Southside Middle School and to work as a math teacher and head basketball coach at Southside High. He moved to San Marcos CISD in 1996, where he was a math teacher, coach, counselor and administrative intern at San Marcos High School. He also was vice principal of Pleasanton Junior High and Pleasanton High in Pleasanton ISD. In Northside ISD, Baldridge has been a math teacher and counseling intern at Holmes High School, an assistant principal at Connally Middle School and vice principal of Jefferson Middle School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Greenville College in Greenville, Ill., and a master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Melissa Oshman is the district’s new executive director of technology services. She comes to her new position from ESC Region 10 in Richardson, where she worked as chief information officer. She has 10 years of experience in inMelissa Oshman formation technology operations, including network and desktop services, instructional technology, and planning and leading technology projects. She began as a digital graphics teacher and technology specialist with Van Vleck ISD in 2002 and then became that district’s director of technology. She joined San Antonio’s Southside ISD in 2008 in the same capacity, remaining there until making the change to ESC Region 10. Oshman received her bachelor’s degree in in-

formation systems technology from the University of Houston and her master’s degree in information technology/infrastructure assurance from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Additional administrative appointments are: Linda Caldwell, dean, Luna Middle School; Brad Hebert, assistant principal, Health Careers High School; and Jennifer Thompson, vice principal, Galm Elementary School. Pewitt CISD The district now has Andy Reddock as superintendent. Initially a classroom teacher at Story Elementary School in Palestine ISD, he moved three years later to Marble Falls ISD to accept the position of assistant principal of Marble Andy Reddock Falls Elementary and, subsequently, Marble Falls Middle School. He next was principal of Vogel Elementary in Seguin ISD before returning to Marble Falls as principal of Marble Falls Elementary. He comes to his new position from Coahoma ISD, where he was assistant superintendent since 2012. Reddock received his associate of arts degree from Trinity Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from The University of Texas at Tyler and a master’s degree in educational administration from Stephen F. Austin State University. He is at work on his doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Tech University. Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Linda Carrillo, principal of PharrSan Juan-Alamo North High School, was honored with the 2014 Women in School Leadership Award from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) at the organization’s National Conference on Education in Nashville, Tenn., in February. Recipients were recognized for their personal and organizational communication, leadership for learning and professionalism. Port Aransas ISD Former Superintendent Sharon Doughty was recognized as Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Computer Education Association at TCEA’s annual convention in Austin in February. After earning her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M Uni-

Who’s News

versity, Doughty taught linguistics for a year at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria. She returned to Texas for two years, teaching at the ELS Language Center School Sharon Doughty in Houston, then again travelled — this time to Osaka, Japan — to teach English at the Sundai Preparatory School. She joined San Antonio’s Edgewood ISD in 1985 as an administrative intern and remained there until 2002, working as an assistant principal at Williams Elementary School and principal of Cenizo Park and Perales elementary schools. She transferred to Southside ISD, also in San Antonio, as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for four years before being named superintendent of Poteet ISD in 2006. She took her current position in 2009. Doughty, who earned her master’s degree in education from The University of Texas, holds a doctorate in education from Texas A&M University. Salado ISD The district has a new director of curriculum, Burt Smith, who had been serving as principal of Salado High School. Previously, he was an administrator in Plano and Jasper ISDs and a teacher in Wichita Falls ISD and Del City Public Schools in Oklahoma. Splendora ISD Brad Milam, athletic director for the past three years, is now principal of Splendora Junior High School. A new athletic director has been named for the district. Marcus Schulz comes to his new job from Hillsboro ISD. Prior to that, he spent six years as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for Sanger ISD. Spring Branch ISD Four principals have been chosen to participate in the year-long Rice University Educational Entrepreneurship Program Business Fellowship for School Leaders. They are Lynn Austin, Thornwood Elementary; Jennifer Parker, Spring Woods High School; Stephanie Spencer, Sherwood Elementary; and Bryan Williams, Spring Branch Middle School. Texarkana ISD Shannon Kirkland, Texarkana ISD’s elementary instructional technology specialist, has been named the Texas Instructional Technology Specialist of the Year by the Texas Computer Education Asso-

ciation (TCEA). She was honored during TCEA’s convention in Austin in February. The award recognizes exemplary personnel who work with multiple campuses in Shannon Kirkland technology planning and curriculum integration. Kirkland, who earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M University, has been with the district for 11 years, working as a kindergarten teacher, media specialist, gifted and talented teacher and special education teacher. She has taught at the district’s summer robotics camp since 2008. In 2009, she was named the lead teacher and sponsor for Texas Middle School’s extracurricular robotics program. Kirkland is a TCEA-certified robotics facilitator and technology specialist. Texas City ISD The district has hired Karen Mintsioulis as director of special education. She began her career with Fort Bend ISD, where she has spent the past 16 years as a special education teacher and coordinator and, since Karen Mintsioulis 2010, assistant director of special education. Mintsioulis holds two bachelor’s degrees — one from the University of Western Ontario and the other from Medaille College in Buffalo, N.Y. Her master’s degree in education administration and supervision was awarded from the University of Houston at Victoria. Tyler ISD The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a national professional association for school district technology leaders, named Tyler ISD Executive Director of Technology John Orbaugh as January’s Chief Technology Officer of the Month. He was recognized for his implementation of the Tyler Virtual Desktop Solution, which ensures that students have the same tools on their computers in the classroom and at home. CORRECTION In the February 2014 edition of Who’s News, we failed to mention that Jesus Chavez is retired from his post as superintendent of Round Rock ISD. The current Round Rock ISD superintendent is Steve Flores. We regret the error. TSB April 2014 • Texas School Business


THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

Advertiser Index Cambridge Strategic Services ................ 28 www.cambridgestrategicservices.org

Improving our public schools, Part 2: Being professional


hen I mention the word “professional educator,” what image comes to mind? Well, I suspect that for most of us, it involves several things, and indeed, it does. Let’s start with dressing professionally. Many schools feel that student attire is important and, thus, have started a school uniform program. Results vary, but I feel that dressing professionally shouldn’t start with the students. It should start with the staff! Oh, yes, we all know about Casual Friday. But let’s be honest: Casual Friday has turned into Casual School Year, and it has not helped our public school image. I recall a teacher who came to school looking as if she had just stepped out of bed. She even wore fuzzy house shoes! Her hair wasn’t combed. No makeup. Dress wasn’t ironed. She looked terrible! As you might have guessed, her selfesteem was gone. And it significantly affected her teaching. Parents would privately tell me, “Please don’t put my child in her room.” I knew something had to be done, but I had put off discussing it with her. I was embarrassed for her, and I didn’t want to add to her low self-image. As the kids say, “My bad!” During her evaluation, I mustered up the courage to discuss it. I wanted to be kind about this delicate subject, so I chose my words carefully. When I told her that it was affecting her teaching, she began to weep. It was then that I learned that she was having serious marital problems, and that her husband was abusive. You can imagine the pain I felt for her, but I encouraged her to at least make an effort. “Feeling good about yourself will help in other areas as well,” I told her.


Texas School Business • April 2014

By morning of the next day, things had changed. When she walked into the school, everyone was telling her how nice she looked. Her smile said it all! Her teaching improved as well. A year later, she was one of the nominees in our building for Teacher of the Year. When I retired, she came up to me at the reception. What a transformation from that timid, down-trodden teacher from a few years earlier! “Thank you,” she said. “I’ll never forget our talk. I know it wasn’t easy for you, but I thank you for having the courage to tell me what I needed to hear.” As I travel around the country, speaking to teachers, I am amazed at the number of them who are dressed as if it were Field Day. Sweatshirts and workout pants. Even T-shirts emblazoned with inappropriate sayings and images are commonplace! We must change the image of our school staff if we are ever going to be perceived as professional. We all know how important it is to look our best when we go for a job interview. I’ve often wondered how many of our staff members would be hired if they came to the interview looking like they do to work on a daily basis. If we would all just make the effort to look as good every day as we did on the day of our job interview. Being professional not only involves looking the part but acting the part. We are in the business of changing lives through knowledge, encouragement, understanding, compassion and kindness. When we treat people as inferior, we cannot (and should not) expect to make a positive difference in those we serve. I remember having a quote by Samuel Butler printed and posted in every classroom, in every workspace, in the cafeteria and in custodial closets. It read: “Every man’s work, whether it be literature or

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music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.” Isn’t it the truth? If we are going to improve the image of our public schools, we must improve the portrait we are presenting. Dress professionally, have a servant spirit, care about people, and be the best that you can be — every day. Then, and only then, will the public’s perception of their schools begin to change. RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

The sense of brotherhood and culture of ambassadorship in our “district has never been stronger. Ambassador training has helped unite our team around our schools and our profession.”

-- Scott Niven, Superintendent, Red Oak ISD


hen my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.”

-- Thomas P a i n e


Thomas Paine’s political declaration in Common Sense helped direct the energies of the rebels and point the way to American independence from England. The Ambassador Training Academy staff development program is inspired by Thomas Paine’s work. There are many parallels between educators today, condemned by blinded reformists, and early Americans, condemned by a blinded Crown. Just as Paine “enunciates... the specific right of the people to challenge unjust laws and an unjust government”, we are mobilizing an army of educators to challenge unjust criticism and false accusations of widespread failure.

Class of 2011 Red Oak ISD Ambassadors Academy

Friends of Texas Public Schools is educating Texans about Texas public schools and their many strengths and achievements through Ambassador Training and other initiatives in order to: 4 4 4 4 4 4

Underscore the significance of them; Unite Texans around them; Restore pride in them; Strengthen confidence in them; Lift spirits among them; and Inject resources into them…

…all of which will lead to even greater performance.

Stir your team into champions for your students, district, and profession by enrolling your school district in our Ambassador Training Academy.

It’s time for every educator to stir Visit www.fotps.org to learn more, or email us at lmilder@fotps.org.

VISION What is the future of your Educational Community? How can you create a Strategic Plan to move forward?

The Result‌ Unified Team Engaged Community Identified Priorities Maximized Resources Facilitated Success Recognized as the leading provider of strategic planning for K-12 education.


Dallas, TX Washington, D.C. Detroit, MI Rebecca Kraus, Executive Director rkraus@cambridgestrategicservices.org 1-800-343-4590