TSB—January 2015

Page 1

The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 61 Years

January 2015

How to make sure your voice is heard

84 session


In the Spotlight JoyLynn Occhiuzzi Round Rock ISD

TASB President Andra Self Lufkin ISD


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TSB contents news and features

Cover Story 84th Legislature How to make sure your voice is heard by Trish Conradt

12 photo feature Texas ASCD hosts annual conference in Houston

In the Spotlight


Strong work ethic is way of life for 35 Under 35 recipient by Leila Kalmbach


departments Who’s News Ad Index

8 30

columns From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Katie Ford

Redefining Teaching Why ‘one size fits all’ is not effective

by Jim Walsh


by Vanessa Rodriguez

by Terry Morawski

Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan


TASB President Profile Andra Self leads as an advocate for children across Texas by Elizabeth Millard

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. January 2015 • Texas School Business


January 25–28, 2015 • Austin Convention Center


Midwinter win nter er C Conf Con Conference onference fe 15

Inspiring Creative, Student-Centered Leadership his year’s Midwinter Conference offers critical sessions addressing the administrative issues that face school leaders every day. A host of General, Thought Leader, and Concurrent Session speakers will challenge all of us to think in ways we never have and provide direction as we steer our districts down new and innovative paths. To that end, our conference program touches on every aspect of school leadership, including topics like finance, human resource management, instructional leadership, facility planning, and operations, as well as the work of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium.

First General Session Doug Christensen Practicing Professor in Educational Leadership, Doane College, and Emeritus Commissioner of Education, State of Nebraska The Professional and Political Dimensions of Transformational Leadership Christensen will share his perspectives on TASA’s school transformation initiatives, some reflections on the political “vortex” where transformational school leaders must live, and other contextual and collaborative issues that leaders must consider if the current transformational journey is to be sustained.

Third General Session Brandon Busteed Executive Director, Gallup Education Hope, Engagement, and Well-Being: Texas Students Speak Up Busteed will share the results of a special Texas edition of the 2014 Gallup Student Poll survey results, and how this tool provides teachers, principals, and administrators with actionable data to accelerate student success.

Register online at www.tasanet.org

Texas Association of School Administrators 406 East 11th Street n Austin, TX 78701-2617 n 512.477.6361 n (toll-free): 800.725.TASA (8272) 4

Texas School Business • January 2015

From the Editor With the fall semester behind us and spring on the horizon, I feel myself being even more intentional about my day-to-day routine. This requires looking up from the minutiae of the grind to examine the bigger picture. What should I stop doing? What should I start doing? What should I continue to do? I see some of the educators featured in our January issue exemplifying this same level of focus. Two cases in point: Texas Association of School Boards President Andra Self and our “In the Spotlight” subject, JoyLynn Occhiuzzi. Self has forged a career path that focuses on helping others, whether she’s working in health care or serving on the Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees. She has made it a practice to identify needs in her community and intentionally seek out opportunities to help meet those needs. Then there’s Occhiuzzi, executive director of community and governmental relations in Round Rock ISD. This young woman found her passion early in life, landing her first internship at age 13! Over two decades, she has built an impressive career, and this past year, her ambition and vision were acknowledged when she made the National School Public Relations Association’s 35 Under 35 list. These people are aiming for the big picture and the greater good, and that seems to be the norm for many individuals who gravitate toward careers in public education. It’s about making a difference in the young lives of the people who will grow up to be tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers. Whether it’s one of your employees or a student needing an extra push, every day you have an opportunity to empower others to fully engage in their careers or education and, therefore, in life. Hats off to you as we enter the second semester. Keep on keepin’ on!

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) January 2015 Volume LXI, Issue 4 406 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 Florence Black Elementary School Mesquite 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 2015 Texas Association of School Administrators January 2015 • Texas School Business


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THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

Keep the public trough public


o after all these years, I am serving on a school board! I was having breakfast with the new priest in my parish, just getting to know him. I told him about my professional life, working with public school districts. He said, “It just so happens that we have a vacancy on our parish school board.” Voilà! Now I am a member of the advisory board for St. Theresa’s Catholic School, a pre-K to eighth grade school that serves about 400 kids in northwest Austin. We are strictly advisory. We have no power but are there to support and advise the school administration and our pastor. I’m delighted to be able to do this. It gives me a chance to give back to an institution that gave much to me. I divide people who attended Catholic schools into two groups: the Grateful and the Bitter. Count me among the Grateful. It was a very good experience for me, from start (first grade) to finish (first year of college). It was very much “old school.” I learned to read phonetically, to diagram sentences, to do arithmetic before math. I took four years of Latin. Discipline was strict. Sister Mary Holywater never ratified the Constitution. In fact, I think she viewed the Magna Carta as a subversive document. Thus, she did not have to adhere to principles of due process or to tolerate anything as disruptive as free speech from students. What I got out of my years in Catholic schools was a great education, a solid set of values, and several fine role models among the teachers and administrators I came to know. Among my brother, my sister and me, we logged 43 years in Catholic schools. Add to that the many years my mom taught in schools named after saints and you can see that this was a very important part of our family culture. So, I believe in private schooling.

I support the idea that parents should be able to choose an education that incorporates their religious values, traditions and teaching. But I also think they should pay for it. Private school parents should not be allowed to tap into the tax dollars that are needed to serve our students in the public schools. In this legislative session, we will hear a lot of rhetoric about this. Politicians will cite the importance of parental choice, the benefits of competition and the need for some sort of parental voucher to pay for private schooling. Many Catholic bishops are on record as supporting such schemes. In doing so, I think they are looking only at the welfare of their own institutions, rather than the common good. The history of this issue is interesting. Catholic schools in America grew strong precisely because they were denied public funding. It was only after they were rebuffed in efforts to obtain tax funding, way back in the 19th century, that the Catholic bishops decided to go their own way. They set up a private school system to the benefit of generations of Catholic children and their parents. Now, Catholic schools are struggling financially, and tapping into the public trough seems tempting. But I hope that the leadership of the church will reject this idea. No matter how you slice it, there is no way to adopt a voucher or tax credit plan without harming public education. Vouchers benefit the few at the expense of the many. The Catholic Church should be on the side of The People on this issue. I hope to be one small voice at one Catholic school sending that message. 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.

Voilà! Now I am a member of the advisory board for St. Theresa’s Catholic School.

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Who’s News Abilene ISD Cary Owens, chief technology officer, recently earned the designation of certified education technology leader from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), signifying that Owens has mastered the knowledge Cary Owens and skills necessary to bring 21st century technology to K-12 school systems. She is one of only 125 professionals in the United States to hold the certification and only the 22nd in Texas to be so designated. Owens has held her current position since 2013 and is in her 20th year with Abilene ISD. Arlington ISD The new athletic director is Kevin Ozee, who held the same position in Carroll ISD since 2009. Prior to that, he was director of athletics, assistant athletic director and athletic services director for Duncanville ISD. In addition, Ozee has served as a teacher, assistant principal and coach in DeSoto ISD, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Texas A&M University, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He was named 2013 National High School Athletic Director by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education and serves on the board of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association. Brazosport ISD Brian Cole, former assistant principal of the Marcum Ninth Grade Center, is now principal of Rasco Middle School. He previously was a chemistry teacher at Clear Lake High in Clear Lake ISD and served in leadership Brian Cole roles on several campuses and on district committees. He studied at Texas A&M University before earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. The district’s new director of career and technology education is Jennifer Edenfield, who comes to Brazosport from Clear Creek ISD, where she was the agriculture science manager. She began her career in Galena Park ISD as an agriculture 8

Texas School Business • January 2015

science teacher, assistant principal and instructional specialist. In addition, she has worked in the private sector in the oil and gas industry. Edenfield received her bachelor’s degree from Jennifer Edenfield Texas Tech University and her master’s degrees in curriculum and instruction and educational administration from Houston Baptist University. New Technology Director David Mendoza joins Brazosport ISD from a career in the health care industry as a senior technical analyst, network engineer and operations manager. A graduate of Brazoswood High School, David Mendoza Mendoza earned two degrees in A.A.S. network specialty and information systems from Brazosport College. He completed his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. He expects to complete his master’s degree this spring. Now serving as principal of Freeport Intermediate School is Brooke Merritt. She was most recently assistant principal of Brazosport High. An educator for 16 years, she has been a teacher of PE, adaptive PE, English, Brooke Merritt behavior adjustment, leadership and PALS. She also has worked as an administrator of secondary activities, an administrative intern, and a seventh and eighth grade campus intervention specialist. She has coached volleyball, basketball, softball and track. Merritt is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, where she majored in kinesiology and special education. She earned her master’s degree in educational leadership from that institution as well. John Murtell has been appointed director of general education support. He began his career as a teacher at Washington High School in Guam, going on to serve as a high school assistant principal. Upon relocatJohn Murtell ing to Texas, he joined

Texas City ISD as a middle school assistant principal. He next worked in Krum ISD and then moved to Colorado to work as a principal in the Mesa Valley County School District. Murtell, who has a bachelor’s degree in English and mass communications, earned his master’s degree in school leadership. Robin Pelton, now serving as director of student services, has begun her 27th year with the district. She taught first, second and fourth grades at Roberts and Long elementary schools and was an assistant principal at Ney, Robin Pelton Beutel, Brannen and Polk elementaries. She has spent the past 11 years as principal of Rasco Middle School, during which time the district twice named her Secondary Principal of the Year. Pelton holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. Her master’s degree in educational management was awarded from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Stephen West has filled the position of director of operations. A native of the Brazosport-Freeport area, he returns to Texas from the U.S. Marine Corps, which he served in since 1996. West studied at Central Texas Stephen West College and completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland. Ney Elementary School now has Randy Wuensche as principal. He previously served for 11 years as an assistant principal at Long Elementary, Lake Jackson Intermediate School and Rasco Middle School. He also Randy Wuensche taught English and history in Aldine and Angleton ISDs and elementary classes at Trinity Lutheran and Bethany Lutheran schools in Houston. A graduate of Houston Baptist University, he earned his master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas.

See WHO’S NEWS on page 10

TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

Is it time to shelve the term ‘digital native’?


n 2001, Marc Prensky introduced the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant.” The author of the influential book “Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning” explained that school-age children (digital natives) had a technological edge on their teachers and parents (digital immigrants) due to the younger generation’s exposure to technology since birth. However, a 2014 study of teachers and students in New York and Utah challenges Prensky’s commonly accepted theory. The researchers explored the following three questions: • How do middle school students’ experiences inside and outside of school technology differ? • How do middle school science teachers’ experiences inside and outside of school technology differ? • Is there a gap between science teachers’ and students’ technology experiences inside and outside of school? The survey results might surprise you. Teachers and students reported using technology inside and outside of school at similar rates. In several cases (text messaging, for example), teachers used technology more than students while outside of school. Also, teachers used technology more frequently in school than students. How does this study apply to you? Pay attention, because this is golden: Perhaps it isn’t teachers’ lack of comfort with technology that limits them. Perhaps they are limited by their lack of relevant training on how to integrate technology into the classroom. Maybe we have spent too much time lamenting the generation gap and not enough time focusing on how technology can transform the learning experience. The other danger in embracing Prensky’s concept too fully is that you give your district or school an easy out for explaining why you are just not that good with technology. I have written extensively in previous columns about 1-to-1 initiatives. How are these impacted by these questions? Tablets

and laptops can level the playing field for students who have reliable Internet access outside of school. I believe we still have a long way to go before 1-to-1 initiatives are to be considered an overwhelming success in every classroom they touch. On the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition), many classroom activities fall in the lower spectrum, but let’s keep striving toward redefinition. Also, I personally have experienced changes in classroom technology during my undergrad and post-grad college work. Seemingly small technological advances in the past 10 to 15 years have elicited big changes. For example, teachers can email and post assignments online, and the Internet offers endless research and collaboration opportunities. Recently, I used the online Khan Academy to help with my graduate-level statistics class, and, in the same night, I logged my sixth grade son into the site so we could sharpen his math skills. In the study I mentioned, teachers were greater users than students of almost every technology tool. Teachers can continue to learn from students about why they prefer certain tools. Students can continue to learn how to use business tools, like email and Microsoft Word, from their teachers. So, back to our original question: Is it time to shelve the terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant”? Since the book was published in 2001, a few things have happened: iTunes opened for business, DVRs became ubiquitous, mobile phones became smartphones, and the Amazon Kindle rocked the publishing world. Instead of shelving the term, let’s work to refresh it — and give our teachers a little more credit in the process. You can read the full study here: http:// bit.ly/techstudy. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of strategic initiatives in Mansfield ISD. He is also a doctoral student at Dallas Baptist University. You can reach him at terrymorawski@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @terrymorawski.

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 8

Castleberry ISD Longtime Texas educator Gary Jones will retire this spring from his position as Castleberry ISD superintendent. During his 42-year career, he has worked his way through the ranks, serving as a custodian, maintenance Gary Jones worker, bus driver, teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Jones taught math in Klein ISD, where he spent the next 23 years. He then worked as an assistant superintendent of Athens ISD before joining Castleberry ISD 15 years ago. In addition, he has been a college instructor and supervisor. Copperas Cove ISD James Ireck has returned to the district as principal of Crossroads High School. He also spent 11 years with Killeen ISD, seven of those as assistant principal of Iduma Elementary School. Earl Parcell, who has served as principal of Copperas Cove High School for the past two years, has been promoted to director of instructional technology. Miguel Timarky, former principal of Crossroads High School and the Avenue E Alternative Learning Center-Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, has moved to Copperas Cove High School to serve as principal. He held his most recent position for a year and, prior to that, spent six years as assistant principal of Copperas Cove High. Corpus Christi ISD Maria Luisa Guerra, former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Edinburg ISD, has been named deputy superintendent. She was with Edinburg ISD since 1990, serving as a principal at the elemenMaria Luisa tary and high school Guerra levels before taking her most recent job with that district. Prior to that, she was a teacher and middle school assistant principal in McAllen ISD. Guerra, who completed her doctorate in education at The University of Texas-Pan American last year, also received her bachelor’s de10

Texas School Business • January 2015

gree from that institution. Her master’s degree is from The University of Texas. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Trustee Bob Covey has been re-elected to a term on the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Board of Directors, representing TASB Region 4F. He has served on the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD board for nine years, Bob Covey holding the positions of secretary, vice president and president. Covey, who worked for 35 years as vice president of sales for American Alloy Steel Inc., is a Leadership TASB graduate and master trustee. Deer Park ISD Superintendent Arnold Adair has announced his upcoming retirement, effective at the end of the 20142015 school year. Adair is a product of Deer Park ISD schools and began his career there in 1975, working initially Arnold Adair as a teacher and coach at Deepwater Junior High. He next was assistant principal and then principal of Deer Park Junior High, taking his first central office position as supervisor of instructional programs for the district’s secondary schools. In 1999, he was named assistant superintendent for instruction and was appointed deputy superintendent before taking the top leadership position in 2004. Denton ISD Now serving as second vice president of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) is Charles Stafford, who has been a member of Denton ISD’s board for 16 years. He has held the positions of vice president, secretary and president. He was in The University of Texas Plan II program, going on to study accounting at the University of North Texas. A real estate broker, he is president of the advisory council of the Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County and of the Denton Central Appraisal District. Dripping Springs ISD Diane Flaim, who worked for Dripping Springs ISD from 2009 to 2011, has returned to the district as assistant super-

intendent for learning and innovation. Greg Jung, who was the district’s assistant superintendent for learning and innovation, retired at the end of December. He was a Dripping Springs ISD employee for 16 years. El Paso ISD Mary Ann Clark, a member of the El Paso ISD team since 1985, has been named assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and accountability. She was most recently executive director of core content. Coronado High School Principal Marielo Morales is now a master principal for El Paso ISD’s area 1. In this position, he will be charged with supporting administrators in developing structures and routines and in setting up the framework for coaching and supervision of all campus staff. Morales will continue in his position at Coronado until a replacement is named. ESC Region 9 A new executive director has been announced. He is Wes Pierce, who has been with ESC Region 9 since 2005, serving as an education specialist, director of student support services, director of curriculum and instruction, and deputy executive director. Prior to that, he was a teacher and principal in Region 9 schools. Pierce received his bachelor’s degree from McMurry University and his master’s degree from Midwestern State University. Fayetteville ISD Jeff Harvey comes to his new position of superintendent from Tom Bean ISD, where he served as district principal. Fort Elliott CISD The new president-elect of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) is Bret Begert. He began his school board service in 1998 with Allison ISD and has held the positions of secretary and president. In 2003, that district consolidated with Fort Elliott CISD, where he serves as board president. A graduate of West Texas A&M University, Begert is a partner in his family’s cattle ranch. He is past president of the Panhandle Area Association of School Boards. Goose Creek CISD New Director of Curriculum and Instruction Candy Ochoa began her career See WHO’S NEWS on page 21

GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Breaking through stereotypes


’m not sure what I thought I’d found when I met Ronald, an African-American kid in a football letter jacket who attended an after-school newspaper session I conducted as a favor for an old friend. My friend’s staff is almost entirely female, which is typical. Girls read and like to write, while boys don’t read and hate to write — so they spend huge chunks of their young lives blowing up zombies on computers. I was surprised to find Ronald there. He didn’t participate in the discussions, but he wasn’t disruptive. I paid scant attention to him until his teacher shared with me a rough draft of his article about two brothers who play tennis. “Rough” is an understatement, and my lizard brain tempted me to embrace the convenient stereotypes regarding race, gender and teen culture, which I’m apt to do if I’m not on my guard — and might have, anyway, had I not watched the rioting in Ferguson the day after I interviewed Ronald. I interviewed him because, with thoughts of Michael Brown in the back of my mind, I felt like I needed to learn more about Ronald than the fact that he is black, wears a football jacket and once wrote “tense” when he should have written “tennis.” So, I asked my friend to ask Ronald if he would agree to a short interview. Ronald was happy to, but then, he would be, because — as I now know — Ronald is happy about most everything. During our brief interview, he used the word “love” at least a dozen times. He loves school, his classes, the other members of the newspaper staff. Mostly, he loves sports, especially football. He’s a junior varsity tailback and defensive end and, though it was an upand-down season, he loved every moment of it — even when he conked his head on the corner of a table while horsing around in the locker room. The accident landed

him in the emergency room with a gash that likely will leave a scar. Somehow, Ronald is happy about this. Leaders don’t horse around in the locker room, he told me. And that’s important to know because he sees himself as a leader. “A leader,” he said, “has to be strong. He can’t get down and want to quit and just say, ‘Aw, I quit. I can’t do it.’ If you’re going to be a leader, you have to be ready to go when times are tough. Sometimes, I just have to say, ‘Hey, be the leader you can be and try a little harder.’” Like in chemistry, which he thought would be his hardest class, but it’s not. In fact, he loves it. “I got a knack for chemistry that makes me want to figure out all this scientific stuff. It makes me wonder, ‘How did this happen?’ and ‘Where did this come from?’” Actually, Ronald has a knack for life. His sophomore classmates voted him onto the homecoming court, but he missed the pep rally because it was the day he was horsing around and bonked his head. Bandaged and released, he still made it to the game. His classmates were ecstatic to see him on the sidelines. “I saw one kid with a poster of me,” he said. “You could see the tears and joy in my eyes. I was so happy and so excited, but I could still feel the pain. But I was thinking: ‘It’s just a great moment.’ I was extremely happy to be there.” Make of this what you like, but here’s my takeaway: Almost everything I first thought about Ronald was wrong. If I hadn’t met and talked with him, my first impression would have calcified and confirmed a lie. Imagine that. 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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texasschoolbusiness.com January 2015 • Texas School Business


84th Legislature How to make sure your voice is heard

th 84 session

by Trish Conradt


he robo calls have stopped. The TV spots are off the air. The campaign signs have been taken down. The block walkers have gone home. Finally, the 2014 elections are over. So, does this mean the rest of us can go back to our day jobs and forget what’s going on at the Capitol? Absolutely not! Public school officials should be involved with their elected decision makers before, during and after each legislative session. What’s different about this session? This election cycle was the biggest game of musical chairs in Texas politics in more than a decade. Texas will have a new governor for the first time since December 2000, as well as all new statewide office holders for the first time since 2002. If you think there will be a lot of inexperience at governing among these office holders, think again. Five of the six new statewide office holders have previously held elective office, including members of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate and the state’s incumbent attorney general. Four of the 15 senators on the


Texas School Business • January 2015

general election ballot in 2014 previously served in the Texas House of Representatives. Also, there were two special elections held in 2014 to replace senators who resigned in the middle of their unexpired terms, and both of those newly elected replacements were sitting members of the House. Needless to say, these individuals have been around the lawmaking track a time or two. They won’t need much time getting up to speed. At press time, only weeks after the November general election, there were additional resignations of incoming lawmakers for a variety of reasons. One senator resigned because he was elected as the new comptroller of public accounts. Two legislators resigned to run for mayor of San Antonio, and one resigned to become general counsel at the Texas Department of Agriculture. Special elections were being scheduled to fill these unexpected vacancies, which will probably create additional vacancies in the House of Representatives as members try to move eastward across the Capitol rotunda to occupy newly vacant Senate chairs. When all the special elections are completed and both chambers are at full strength, there will be an unprecedented

nine new state senators. That’s almost 30 percent. In comparison, in the 10 legislative sessions since 1995, the Texas Senate saw an average of fewer than 4 new members each session. Conversely, this election cycle resulted in an average turnover rate in the House. At press time, there were 27 freshman House members, which equates to 18 percent of the House. How about the committees? Due to retirements, resignations and defeats last year, three high-profile committees that oversee public education issues — Senate Education, Senate Finance and the House Committee on Appropriations — will need new chairs and additional members this session. Two of the seven members of the House Committee on Appropriations’ subcommittee on Article III (relating to education) were defeated in the primary. The departure of those members, plus the three chairs, reflects a significant loss of institutional knowledge about education issues, the legislative process and 56 years of combined service. Sen. Dan Patrick, the newly elected lieutenant governor, will appoint the new committee members this year. Legislators

who are appointed to these committees will spend many long hours in public hearings, listening to agency representatives and other experts delve into school funding formulas and explaining the complexities of how a change in a number here or there can affect hundreds of schools and millions of students. The appointment of committee chairs and members is watched closely because these decisions reflect the leaders’ priorities on what they want accomplished during the session. Typically, committee assignments come several weeks after the start of each session. Public school officials should play to their position of strength and remember that they are the experts on education issues when interacting with legislators. The fact that there are so many new office holders and committee members gives school people an excellent window of opportunity to share their education knowledge, expertise and experience. What are the education issues on the table? As educators well know, last year an Austin state district judge declared the state’s school financing system unconstitutional, and the state has appealed that decision to the Texas Supreme Court. The district judge’s ruling also set July 1, 2015, as the deadline for the Legislature to change the system to meet constitutional standards; however, the appeal to the higher court calls into question if the Legislature has to do anything this session to the school finance system. Previously, when there has been a pending appeal of a lower court’s school finance decision while the Legislature is in session, legislators have been reluctant to act until the Texas Supreme Court hands down a final ruling. There are no indications that legislators this session will break from this tradition. There are plenty of other educationrelated issues on the table, however, including the adoption of the state budget; tweaks to House Bill 5 (83rd regular session); changes in the accountability system; further changes to or limitations on education service centers (ESCs); and the decision whether or not to expand choice options for parents and students. During the election campaigns, many candidates talked about the need to expand charter schools and virtual school offerings, as well as adopt vouchers or tax credits, so that students aren’t “held captive” in low-

performing schools because of their ZIP codes. Public school supporters will need to pay close attention to all of these proposals and participate in these discussions. Be prepared to voice your opinions to your legislators so the resulting changes won’t damage or unfairly hamstring the public school system’s ability to provide the best programs and services. How a Capitol office works and how you can benefit Few legislators have enough resources to have a staff person solely dedicated to covering public education issues. In fact, many offices use session-only employees or unpaid/low-paid interns, such as graduate or law students, to help cover the myriad issues that must be handled each session. Although these are often dedicated and hard-working staff members who are interested in government and the legislative process, many have not had the opportunity to develop a wealth of knowledge about particular policy areas, such as education. These suggestions are your window of opportunity to affect policy on a meaningful level: • Be more than an interested observer; take the time to visit with your legislators, both in their districts and at their Capitol offices before, during and after the session.

• Get to know their staff members. Invite them to your district so you can showcase your educational programs and opportunities. • Provide your legislators’ offices with pertinent information about your school district and give them contact information for key district officials who can be a resource when Capitol staffers are evaluating proposed legislation. • Work hard to stay on top of filed legislation, and let those staffers know how it affects your school district. • Be specific and factual in your advice. If you don’t communicate this information to your legislators, they won’t have a frame of reference on how the proposed legislation will affect your district. If you take the time to foster relationships with your elected officials and their staff members, the chances are favorable that they will turn to you as a trusted resource on education issues. Even if you and your legislators differ on issues, be sure to keep the lines of communication open and thank them for their efforts. Who knows what will happen in two years when the 85th Legislature convenes on Jan. 10, 2017? TRISH CONRADT is a legislative consultant in Austin.

RESOURCES ON THE WEB Here is a list of online resources to help you stay informed: Texas Legislature Online www.capitol.state.tx.us Texas Legislative Council www.tlc.state.tx.us Senate Research Center www.senate.state.tx.us/SRC/Index.htm House Research Organization www.hro.house.state.tx.us

January 2015 • Texas School Business


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. 14

Texas School Business • January 2015

Texas ASCD hosts annual conference in Houston Members of the Texas Association of Supervisors and Curriculum Development met in Houston this past October for the organization’s 2014 annual conference, which focused on the theme of “Connect. Lead. Influence.”

Bill Bechtol, Betty Brace, Heather Petruzzini, Tim Yenca, Christie Isom and Laura Sites, all of Eanes ISD.

Kimberly Crow, Diana Trim and Teresa Toliver of Alief ISD. Samantha Poullard, Pamela Latiolais and Stephanie Griffin of Channelview ISD. Nancy Varljen and Mya Mercer of Round Rock ISD.

Jamie Brotemarkle and Jennifer Klaus of Cypress-Fairbanks ISD.

Jim Brewster and Rodrigo Peña of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD.

David Yaffie and Keith Fickel of Fort Bend ISD.

Michael Houston and Andrea Winters of Clear Creek ISD.

Maggie Morales, Amy Hemmer and Sheryl Schuldt of Alief ISD. January 2015 • Texas School Business




Strong work ethic is way of life for 35 Under 35 recipient by Leila Kalmbach


fter reading about her accomplishments, sometimes people are surprised at JoyLynn Occhiuzzi’s relatively young age. At 34, she already has logged 21 years in the communications industry, serving in a variety of professional roles. This past September, Round Rock ISD’s current executive director of community and government relations was included in the National

School Public Relations Association’s 35 Under 35. Wait. A 21-year career at age 34? Yes, that math adds up because Occhiuzzi’s career began in middle school. A product of San Antonio ISD and Northside ISD schools, Occhiuzzi recalls a day when a middle school counselor asked her what she was going to do that summer.

“At 13 years old, I said I would love to do an internship at a TV station,” Occhiuzzi says. “I don’t know where that came from, but that’s what came out of my mouth.” Little did she know how much her life was about to change. The school counselor called every TV station in San Antonio and asked if they would give her an interview for an internship. Most responded

At age 13, JoyLynn Occhiuzzi interned with a San Antonio TV station for two years, learning to write for the news and do interviews. She covered the crime beat and legislative issues before getting her first paid job at age 15 with KLRN, the local PBS station in San Antonio.


Texas School Business • January 2015

that they only took college students as interns, but one assignments editor agreed to give the preteen an interview. Occhiuzzi’s English teacher worked with her on a résumé and taught her interviewing skills. The campus secretary and counselor made sure Occhiuzzi had a nice suit to wear to the interview, and the counselor drove her to the appointment. All the support and preparation must have paid off, because after the interview, the assignments editor asked Occhiuzzi if she could start that very weekend. “And that was really the beginning of me falling in love with communications,” she says. Occhiuzzi has been with Round Rock ISD for eight years now. She’s also in her second term as vice president at large for the Texas School Public Relations Association’s executive committee. The NSPRA 35 Under 35 list recognizes leadership and excellence in young professionals’ school public relations careers. Occhiuzzi says she was “extremely honored and very humbled” to have received the recognition — especially because her peers in nominated and selected her. Occhiuzzi cites one public school employee as the catalyst behind her successful career path. “That counselor changed my life,” she admits. “I think sometimes our educators forget how it can be one educator who can make a difference for one kid that can change that kid’s life forever, and I was that kid.” Occhiuzzi grew up in what she describes as an at-risk environment. Her parents struggled to stay in the middle class. She says it took somebody believing in her to help her believe she could go to college and make something of her life. Occhiuzzi interned with the TV station for two years, learning to write for the news and do interviews. She covered the crime beat and legislative issues before getting her first paid job at age 15 with KLRN, the local PBS station in San Antonio. She was going to school in the magnet program during the day and working after school and on weekends. It was at this point that Occhiuzzi realized she wanted to graduate high school early. She finished in three years, at age 16. Three weeks after graduation, she enrolled at San Antonio Community College.

Soon after, Occhiuzzi took a job as a radio news reporter and weekend news anchor. At 17, she found a job with Northside ISD’s Communications Department as a media specialist — the same district from which she had graduated. “But during that whole time, one of the things I never stopped doing was going to school,” Occhiuzzi points out. “I worked full time and I went to school.” She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in ethics and leadership. Outside of work, Occhiuzzi’s interests range from cooking for her extended family to taking risks — in the form of skydiving, ziplining, rappelling and other adventures. She also loves driving fast cars

Fun Facts about

— probably a little too fast, she admits. As part of Round Rock ISD’s executive team, Occhiuzzi oversees a myriad of community and governmental relations issues — many of which arise in real time — which keeps her on her toes. She regularly works 12- to 14-hour days, but she admits that coming to work doesn’t feel like work because she loves what she does. Occhiuzzi and her team have won both state and national awards for their work, but her biggest accomplishments don’t come in the form of recognition. “What I am most proud of is the growth that I have seen in the individuals I have hired to join the team,” she says. “Going into an event, I can show up five minutes before it starts and know that one of my staff members has taken charge and is running it because it belongs to them.” At the end of the day, Occhiuzzi knows she’s where she’s meant to be. “I feel valued here,” she says. “People ask for my opinion. They want my input. And, for me, that just affirms that I’m in the right place. I’ve chosen the right career path.”

JoyLynn Occhiuzzi My music playlist typically includes: Frank Sinatra, country music and Pink.

My favorite food indulgence is: Mexican food. I’m from San Antonio, so that’s my guilty pleasure.

LEILA KALMBACH is a freelance writer in Austin.

Something I always keep in my purse is: my concealed handgun license. One of the things on my office wall is the target from when I first got my CHL, framed, because it reminds me to keep my eye on the target. If I could switch places with someone for a day, it would be: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

January 2015 • Texas School Business


GUEST VIEWPOINT by Vanessa Rodriguez

Redefining Teaching: Why ‘one size fits all’ is not effective


ith 50 states contributing to reforming our education system, it often feels like we are in the midst of a chaotic storm. The hope is always the same: Provide a quality education for all learners. To do so, educators, researchers and policy makers continuously search for the best learning tools. Time and time again, teachers prove to be the most significant classroom factor contributing to student success and, therefore, the best learning tool for students. However, teachers are inherently variable in their talents and strengths, so it makes little sense to assume that all would follow the same teaching models. Instead, we should prepare teachers to embrace their differences and learn how to use those differences effectively. To do this, teachers need to develop their awareness in five domains. These five domains of awareness make up what I call “the teaching brain.”

1. Awareness of Learner In my experience as a teacher and researcher, I have witnessed the intense pressure on teachers to use standardized curriculums that are considered “best practices” to ensure that they are using the same tools on every student. Yet, the reality is that to meet the needs of each learner, teachers need an accurate theory of how each learner’s brain works. For example, I had a student with whom all the teachers struggled. He seemed disinterested and reclusive. I spent the better part of a year trying to understand him — what made him tick and why he was so disengaged. Even though most teachers had given up on him, I kept challenging him to think and participate. I thought I finally reached him when I 18

Texas School Business • January 2015

had him engage with a character in a book who reminded me of him. In the end, he pulled away, but my efforts weren’t completely in vain. Years later, I received a letter from him, thanking me for being the only teacher who was willing to challenge him and to adapt their approach to how he learned. This story highlights how important it is for teachers to revise their theories of each learner placed in their care. No scripted curriculum, computer program or standardized training can give a teacher the tools required to do this on a daily basis.

2. Awareness of Teaching Practice Helping teachers improve their classroom discipline, content knowledge, curriculum development and individualized instruction are the standard pieces of teacher education. These concepts are familiar and often considered universal. Many feel they are best delivered through standardized approaches — scripted programs and training seminars that seek to fill a teacher’s brain with modular curriculum. However, this is not equivalent to helping teachers become aware of the practice tools they have and how to use them. For example, I used to spend the first two weeks of every school year reviewing classroom procedures with my kids — i.e., where things belong and how the class was structured — all in great detail. I would even run a scavenger hunt with them to test their knowledge of their new “home.” This was not in my taught “script,” so to speak. I had taken the time to design it, leveraging my knowledge of the developmental needs of children in

middle school. These exercises taught my students to be self-sufficient in the classroom and to trust their new environment. It empowered them and ultimately gave me much greater freedom and flexibility to do creative things with them throughout the rest of the year. Giving a teacher a strong foundation in teaching practice and theory is important. Keeping up to date on these tools is also important. Yet, perhaps even more important is helping teachers become aware of the skills they have at their disposal — to use the ones they have mastered and to work toward mastery on the ones they need to develop.

3. Awareness of Context A teacher’s context is also highly influential in their teaching practice. Their context is composed of federal and state mandates, as well as the culture of their district and their school, and their relationships with administrators and peers. For example, I worked in schools where standardized test scores were prized and high student achievement was the expectation. In acknowledgement of this reality, I would dedicate a block of time to serious test preparation to ensure my students’ success. This success gave me freedom then to experiment with creative and unorthodox project-based work that would definitely not have been tolerated if my students’ test scores were an issue. A teacher is a complicated entity within a complicated system of their classroom, school, town, city and country. To presume they aren’t affected by these factors is misguided. Our focus should not be pushing teachers to rise above these factors and pretend they have no impact. Rather, we should help teachers become

more aware of these factors. With such awareness, a teacher can embrace their environment in creative ways that enhance their effectiveness.

4. Awareness of Interaction Teacher training and practices that strive to create more reliable, predictable and measurable teaching results ignore another fundamental aspect: interaction. Even if you could “standardize” teachers and their practices, you can’t standardize students nor teacher-student interaction. As any teacher will tell you, every student is different and every student brings out a slightly different version of the teacher. This highly dynamic, interactive nature of teaching is intimidating to policy makers and statisticians, but it’s exactly what draws teachers into the profession. In a one-size-fits-all teaching world, trained teachers would use their standardized skills to make all of their student in-

teractions the same. This homogenous approach can undermine the effectiveness of the teacher-student relationship. This reality became clear to me when I was going through the recommended approach for teaching students how to choose a “just right” book — an annual post-summer activity for the middle school classroom. One year, when I was walking the class through this activity, a student shared that he preferred to “date” his books. At first, I tried to merge his suggestion into the recommended format, but when I realized he meant that he really tried to “date” his books — i.e., take them out, woo them, etc., — I realized there was a much greater learning opportunity here. In a spirit of collaborative, interactive learning, the class created a “Speed Date a Book” project, in which each student worked to convince their peers in speed-dating fashion that their favorite books were worth taking home. This project was spontaneous, fun and born out of

embracing the unpredictable interactions of teaching — instead of trying to crush them. Rather than encouraging teachers to treat all students the same, we should encourage teachers to be aware of the infinitely unique interactions they will face in the classroom every day. We should be equipping them with tools to make them acutely aware and attuned to this highly dynamic interaction — and to use it to their advantage. This approach is more cognitively demanding, but it produces richer interactions and promotes deeper thinking of both teacher and learner.

5. Awareness of Self as a Teacher A teacher who is not self-aware will be blind to the theories they have formed about their learners. We all bring ourselves to our teaching — our personality See REDEFINING on page 20 January 2015 • Texas School Business


REDEFINING continued from page 19

and our attitudes toward family, friends and the world. These traits influence our perception of our students and the theories we form about them. Typical teaching doctrines tell us to be learner-centered, ignoring ourselves when teaching. This is counterproductive, because it prevents us from acknowledging how our “self” influences our view of our students. For example, a teacher might think a student is disinterested when, in reality, they are shy and intimidated by the teacher’s caustic wit. Another teacher might draw upon his personal history as an “A” student and inappropriately think that a star student is cruising — when, in reality, the student is feeling crushed under the pressure and expectations to maintain those grades. Without an awareness of how our “self” frames our perceptions of our students, we are far more likely to cre-

ate inaccurate theories of our students and handicap our ability to help them. Being aware of our Teacher Self is often the most challenging but rewarding aspect of professional development. We are rarely taught how to do this, given few

Without an awareness of how our “self” frames our perceptions of our students, we are far more likely to create inaccurate theories of our students and handicap our ability to help them. tools for developing our self-awareness. Yet, in my research and experience, it’s this developed sense of awareness a teach-

er that separates expert teachers from others. It’s this awareness, along with the other four, that need constant nurturing. We should reexamine our teacher training, practice — and the definitions of teaching itself — to see how we can help our teachers grow these characteristics and unleash their full potential. VANESSA RODRIGUEZ, author of “The Teaching Brain,” began her research career as a fellow at the Teachers Network Policy Institute. Her work has been recognized by the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching. She has a bachelor’s degree in literature and English education from New York University, a master’s degree in education from City College of New York, and a master’s degree in education, policy and management from Harvard University. Prior to attending Harvard, she taught middle school in New York City for more than 10 years.

TASA and Texas School Business wish you and yours a Happy New Year!


Texas School Business • January 2015

Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 10

in the district 27 years ago as a science teacher at Gentry Junior School, holding that position for 16 years. She next was Sterling High School’s science content specialist for a year, before Candy Ochoa becoming the district’s secondary science instructional specialist. She has spent the past nine years as Goose Creek CISD’s science coordinator. Ochoa, a graduate of the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology, holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. Harris County Department of Education A new county school superintendent has been named for the Harris County Department of Education. James Colbert Jr. was superintendent of West Orange-Cove CISD since 2011. Prior to that, he was assistant superintendent of the Hamilton

Hays CISD R.C. Herrin, executive director of maintenance and operations, has announced his retirement, bringing to a close a 34year career in education. He joined Hays CISD in 2002 from Bridge City ISD. He is a retired R.C. Herrin Texas Army National Guard chief warrant officer, serving in that capacity for 26 years. He holds an associate’s degree from Lamar State College and a bachelor’s degree from Lamar University. Executive Director for Secondary Schools Elsa Hinojosa retired at the end of December. She was an educator for 33 years, coming to Hays CISD in 2001 as principal of Dahlstrom Middle School. She became Elsa Hinojosa principal of Lehman High in 2003, leading the team that opened the school. She served

County Department of Education in Tennessee. Colbert, who is a graduate of The University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in administraJames Colbert Jr. tion, began his career in Pflugerville ISD as a special education teacher and assistant high school principal. He then was a principal in Dallas ISD. Brenda Mullins has been named director of curriculum and compliance services for the Department’s special schools division. An educator for 32 years, she has served as a campus principal and most recently was Brenda Mullins the director of special education and coordinator of federal and state programs for La Marque ISD. Mullins earned her master’s degree as an education diagnostician from the University of Houston at Clear Lake.

See WHO’S NEWS on page 24


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January 2015 • Texas School Business


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TASB PRESIDENT PROFILE Andra Self leads as an advocate for children across Texas By Elizabeth Millard


hen Andra Self was going to school in the 1960s, the country was on the cusp of integration and she was aware of the turbulent issues of the time — issues that still linger today.

Her passion for equal rights and fair opportunities and love for education have driven her throughout her life, from a career in health care to numerous board positions.

“I believe there’s always a child, somewhere, who needs you to advocate for them,” she says. “Public education provides an opportunity for all, and I believe we need to be nurturing and supporting that education, in whatever way we can.”

“I believe there’s always a child, somewhere, who needs you to advocate for them. Public education provides an opportunity for all, and I believe we need to be nurturing and supporting that education, in whatever way we can,” says TASB President Andra Self of Lufkin ISD. 22

Texas School Business • January 2015

Fun Facts about When she was growing up, Self watched her parents routinely perform random and intentional acts of kindness — a practice that shaped her view of the world. “They were the kindest people I ever knew,” she says. “If someone was hungry, they took them in and fed them. If they needed help, they got help.” Self’s mother worked in the hospital as a scrub nurse and, later, as a hospital secretary, so Self gravitated toward health care initially to follow in her footsteps. She earned a bachelor of science degree with a focus on medical technology from the University of Houston, but her passion for education lingered. She went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1984. And, a decade later, she completed her MBA. Starting her career as a medical technologist in 1982 at Memorial Health System of East Texas, Self moved into several health care roles, with increasingly complex responsibilities, in the organization. After acting as a director of quality improvement, she eventually became director of rehabilitation services, managing comprehensive rehabilitation services and coordinating a multidisciplinary team. Currently, she’s a clinical services director at the Lufkin State Supported Living Center, where she manages primary care practitioners, psychiatry, dental and other medical services. While pursuing a career in health care, Self — like her parents — became deeply involved with community service. She has served on the boards for Angelina County Health District, Hospice in the Pines, and the Boys and Girls Club of East Texas. She’s also been involved in Junior League of East Texas, the Mayor’s Task Force on Rehabilitation and the Lufkin ISD Better Schools Task Force. A product of Lufkin ISD schools and the mother of two kids who attend school in Lufkin, she also ran for the Lufkin ISD Board of Trustees. “When I looked across our community, I was concerned that we needed to do more to make sure all kids got an opportunity for a well-rounded education, no

Andra Self Type of movies I like the best: It would surprise many people, but I love horror movies. Something board service has taught me: patience and collaboration A skill I’d like to learn is: karate What has helped me most in board service is: having one goal with members from various districts. Also, my husband, parents and children have all been very supportive.

matter where they came from,” she says. Always looking to make a difference, Self decided to run for the Texas Association of School Board’s ESC Region 7 director post. After claiming that spot, she took on other leadership roles within TASB, including serving on the executive committee and committees for legislation, member services, budget, bylaws and vision. In 2014, she became TASB president. “What I bring is a sense of advocacy, I think,” she says. “We have to set up education in a way that benefits all students, that creates a system for them to be successful. They have to be able to reach their highest levels of ability, and we’re here to make sure they can do that.” Her board membership and current presidency are also important, she says, because it’s vital for children of color to see people who look like them in a role that helps shape what a district achieves. “They need to see that education is for everybody, and that leadership is a path that they can pursue,” Self says. “They need to see adults participating in general, so they feel valued. But, for chil-

dren of color, they also need to feel like they’re being represented too.” As president of TASB, Self draws on a childhood habit. She explains with a laugh: “My mother was always saying that I liked to ask ‘why’ about everything. I think I’m probably still doing that, just in a different form.” As TASB president, Self also sees herself as a connector. She says she looks forward to collecting the best practices of school boards across Texas and sharing them throughout the state. “TASB is one of the finest organizations I know,” she says. “They bring in people who are dedicated to providing the best support possible. They provide educational resources for districts, and they advocate for important changes to legislation. I feel that I have a responsibility to continue that quest, to stand up and make a difference.” ELIZABETH MILLARD also writes for American City Business Journals.

January 2015 • Texas School Business


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 21

in that role until 2010, when she took her most recent position. In addition to her time with Hays CISD, Hinojosa worked in Pflugerville ISD as an assistant principal and in Eanes and Del Valle ISDs, where she taught U.S. government and coached tennis. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, both from The University of Texas. Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier was honored as the 2014 Urban Educator of the Year by the Council of Great City Schools. He received the recognition in October during the association’s annual fall conference in Milwaukee. Grier was lauded for “his ability to accelerate academic gains that produce a higher graduation rate, especially among African-American and Hispanic students, and for substantially decreasing the student dropout rate.” The award is presented to a school leader who demonstrates success in the areas of leadership and governance. In addition to the recognition, Grier received a $10,000 college scholarship to present to a student of his choice. Helen Spencer, former chief of staff for superintendent Terry Grier, is now Houston ISD’s chief communications officer. Irving ISD A new director of digital media and learning resources has been named for the district. Patricia Alvarado was most recently coordinator of library media services for Dallas ISD, a job she held since 2013. A graduate of TexPatricia Alvarado as A&M University at Corpus Christi with a master’s degree in library and information services from Texas Woman’s University, she was previously a middle school media specialist, elementary school librarian and bilingual teacher. She is a member of the Texas Association of School Libraries and the Texas Computer Education Association. Marie Mendoza, director of world languages for the district, has been elected to a two-year term as regional director of the Association for Compensatory Educators of Texas. She represents ESC 24

Texas School Business • January 2015

Region 10. An educator for 25 years, Mendoza joined Irving ISD in 2013. Fernando Natividad, former director of instructional services and at-risk programs in Marie Mendoza Lake Dallas ISD, has been named division director of state and federal programs. He has been an educator for 14 years, working as an elementary school principal, high school assistant principal and Fernando central office adminisNatividad trator. Prior to his most recent position in Lake Dallas ISD, he was associate principal of Lake Dallas High School and a high school teacher and assistant principal in Denton ISD. He was also principal of the Vista Academy of Dallas, a charter school in Pleasant Grove. Natividad earned his bachelor’s degree from Coahuila State University in Mexico and two master’s degrees, one in economics and one in public administration, from the University of North Texas. Katy ISD The newly elected secretary-treasurer of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) is Joe Adams, who has served on Katy ISD’s board since 1989. He spent nearly 30 years in the oil and gas industry and currently chairs the board of directors of the Southern Federal Credit Union. A graduate of Leadership TASB, he has volunteered for the past six years at Taylor High School, where he was named 2013 Mentor of the Year. Adams earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M University. La Feria ISD Gloria Casas, a member of La Feria ISD’s board since 1994, is now first vice president of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). Currently secretary of her board, she also has served as its president and vice president. She is a graduate of Howard Payne University, the Dale Carnegie Leadership Program and the National Healthy Start Leadership Training Institute. She is a regional housing value chain facilitator with the Community Development Corporation in Brownsville.

Lamar CISD Michele Leach is now the district’s purchasing/materials manager. A graduate of Lamar CISD’s Terry High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria. She began her career as a Michele Leach buyer for Lamar CISD, spending the past four years as director of purchasing for Fort Bend ISD. A new director of special education is in place for the district. Tiffany Mathis comes to her new job from Spring Branch ISD, where she was a special education coordinator. In addition, she has been a special eduTiffany Mathis cation teacher and educational diagnostician. She also has been a special education consultant to Aldine, Galveston and North Forest ISDs. She is a graduate of Texas Southern University with a master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University. Lewisville ISD Lewisville ISD Superintendent Stephen Waddell has announced his retirement, bringing to a close a 36-year career. Initially a classroom teacher, he went on to work as a principal and high school counselor. He Stephen Waddell has been superintendent of Tuloso-Midway and Sunray ISDs and held the top job in Birdville ISD from 2002 to 2011. Waddell earned his bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University, his master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and his doctorate from the University of North Texas. Lufkin ISD Andra Self is the newly elected president of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). She has served on the Lufkin ISD board since 1996, currently as secretary. She also has held the positions of president and Andra Self vice president. A gradu-

Who’s News ate of Lufkin High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and two master’s degrees, in education and in business administration, from Stephen F. Austin State University. She is a registered medical technologist and is the clinical services director for the Lufkin State Supported Living Center. She received master trustee designation through Leadership TASB in 2005. McKinney ISD McKinney ISD announces that Amber Epperson has been appointed principal of Cockrill Middle School. She joined the district in 2003 as a fourth grade teacher at Webb Elementary, going on to serve as an assistant principal at that campus. She was named principal in 2007 and, three years later, took the same position at Valley Creek Elementary. In 2010, she moved to Malvern Elementary, where she was principal until accepting her new job. Before coming to McKinney ISD, Epperson taught sixth grade in Mesquite ISD and was a consultant for ESC Region 10. Former Glen Oaks Elementary School Principal Rhonda Gilliam is now lead-

ing Malvern Elementary as principal. She began her career 17 years ago as a fifth grade teacher in Wylie ISD. A year later, she came to McKinney ISD to teach at Slaughter Elementary, serving there for two years as a pre-K and fourth grade teacher. She then was a teacher at McNeil Elementary and an instructional specialist at Webb Elementary, before taking on the job of assistant principal of Glen Oaks in 2004. Three years later, she was named campus principal. Gilliam, who holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M University at Commerce, earned her master’s degree in education from the University of North Texas. Plano ISD Richard Matkin, superintendent of Plano ISD since 2012, has announced his retirement. This concludes a career in public education that has spanned almost four decades. Prior to his time in Plano, he served Richard Matkin in Duncanville, White

Settlement, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, DeSoto and Red Oak ISDs. He spent eight years as a classroom teacher before taking his first administrative position. He joined Plano ISD in 2001 as associate superintendent for business services. Round Rock ISD Lynette Thomas now leads Cedar Ridge High School as principal. She had served as interim principal since July and had spent the previous four years as the campus associate and assistant principal. In addition, she worked for three years as an associate principal at the middle school level. Before becoming an administrator, Thomas was a curriculum specialist with the district, a science instructional specialist and a classroom teacher. Southwest ISD (San Antonio) The district has a new director of career and technology education. Adrian Collett, who has been an educator for 18 years, began his career in Eagle Pass ISD as a media technology teacher. In San AnSee WHO’S NEWS on page 26

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

www.texasschoolbusiness.com January 2015 • Texas School Business


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

tonio’s Judson ISD, he served as a Career and Technology Department chair. Most recently, he was with ESC Region 20 as a career and technology specialist. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville and his master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University. Now serving as director of operations is Brandon Crisp, who was the district’s purchasing coordinator since 2013. Initially a junior high history teacher and coach in Somerset ISD, he came to Southwest ISD in 2009 as a high school social studies teacher and coach. A graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio, he holds a master’s degree in education from Lamar University. Mark Figueroa has been promoted to director of purchasing from his most recent position as principal of McAuliffe Middle School. He began his career as a science teacher and coach at McAuliffe in 1999. He went on to serve as assistant principal of Southwest High School and Scobee Middle School. He is a graduate of Texas State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. His master’s degree in exercise science is from Arizona State University. Now serving as executive director of secondary education for curriculum and instruction is Dalilia Garcia. An educator for 11 years, she comes to Southwest ISD from San Antonio’s Edgewood ISD, where she was a high school principal. Initially an elementary school teacher in Edinburg ISD, she worked as a middle school and high school principal in Pharr-San JuanAlamo ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from The University of Texas-Pan American. The new principal of Medio Creek Elementary School is Janie Gomez, an educator with 28 years of experience. Beginning as an elementary teacher in PharrSan Juan-Alamo ISD, she also served as an elementary principal. Her most recent position was with Sharyland ISD. Gomez earned both her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and her master’s degree in educational administration from The University of Texas-Pan American. The new principal of McNair Middle School is Israel Gonzalez, who has 19 years of experience as an educator, 14 of those with Southwest ISD. He joined the 26

Texas School Business • January 2015

district in 2000 as a Spanish teacher at McNair. For the past seven years, he has been the school’s assistant principal. Gonzalez, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Our Lady of the Lake University, holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Thomas Krueger, who holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from Texas A&M University, has been appointed to serve as director of facilities and maintenance. He joined the district in 2007 as a construction supervisor. Sara McAndrew has been named assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She has been an educator for 40 years, beginning as an English teacher in Gatesville ISD and going on to teach that subject at Sara McAndrew the middle school, high school and junior college levels. In San Antonio’s Southside ISD, she was a teacher, academic dean and executive director of secondary instruction and was instrumental in creating that district’s Communication Arts High School. In addition, McAndrew served as an adjunct faculty member at The University of Texas at San Antonio and Trinity University. She also was a consultant for Alamo Colleges and the San Antonio Education Partnership’s Diploma Project. Now serving as principal of Southwest Academy is Juan J. Perez Jr. An educator for 22 years, he began his career as a high school math, science and technology teacher in United ISD. He joined Southwest ISD in 2009 as a high school assistant principal for academics. Perez earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville and his master’s degree from Texas A&M International University. Southwest ISD has named Adrian Ramirez principal of McAuliffe Middle School. With 23 years in education, he began as a middle school English teacher in Corpus Christi ISD. In San Antonio, he was an assistant principal and principal in Edgewood ISD. Ramirez earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. The district’s new executive director of elementary education is Angelica Romero, who was most recently principal of Medio Creek Elementary. After begin-

ning her career as a teacher in Weslaco ISD, she joined Southwest ISD to work as an elementary bilingual teacher and assistant principal before taking her first principalship. Romero received her bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Altagracia Valles, an educator for 25 years, has been appointed the district’s director of bilingual/ESL/migrant education. She began her career as a high school English teacher in Eagle Pass ISD, coming to Southwest ISD in 2003 as a high school Spanish teacher. In addition, she has been a high school assistant principal and a high school assistant principal for academics. She received her bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University. Manuel Valles has accepted the position of assistant superintendent for business and finance. He has been an educator for 24 years, 12 of those with Southwest ISD. He began his career as a high school math teacher and Manuel Valles football coach in La Vega ISD. In 2001, he joined Southwest ISD, where he has been athletic director, director of purchasing and budget, and executive director of operations, planning and policy. Valles earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Angelo State University and his master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussman has announced his upcoming retirement, effective at the end of the school year. Klussman has been an educator for 26 years, 18 of those with Spring Branch ISD. Spring Hill ISD Steven Snell took the position of superintendent in December, coming to his new job from Hutto ISD, where he was assistant superintendent of administrative services and strategic planning. He also served as that district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. Prior to that, he was a high school and junior high principal. Snell received his bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in education and school leadership from Texas Tech University.

Who’s News Texarkana ISD Superintendent Paul Norton has been appointed to serve on the Texas Policy Committee on Public Education Information by Education Commissioner Michael Williams. Comprised of 35 superintendents, direcPaul Norton tors of education service centers and legislators, the organization was formed in 1991 as an advisory group to review Texas Education Agency information requirements and to address policy issues that support students’ educational requirements. Norton, a native of Texarkana and a graduate of Pleasant Grove High School in Texarkana’s Pleasant Grove ISD, began his career as a teacher and coach at Pleasant Grove Middle School, going on to serve in the same capacity at his alma mater, which he eventually led as principal. He joined Texarkana ISD in 2001 as associate principal of Texas High School and was named principal in 2003. He remained in that position until 2011, when he was appointed district superintendent. Norton holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Texarkana. Tomball ISD Tomball Junior High School now has Chad Allman as principal. He has been an educator for 24 years, coming to Tomball ISD in 2012 as an assistant principal at Tomball Junior High. Prior to that, he was a high school Chad Allman assistant principal and high school world geography and history teacher in Klein ISD. He also taught history at the intermediate level and coached football, soccer and basketball. Allman earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Texas A&M University and his master’s degree in education from Prairie View A&M University. Sherry Baker is the new assistant principal of Tomball Memorial High School. She comes to her new position from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, where she was director of instruction at two middle schools. Baker was also a middle school assistant principal and an eighth grade math teacher. An educator for 17 years, she holds

a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. Sherry Baker Now serving as principal of Tomball Elementary School is Pamella Chatham. An educator for 23

years, she came to Tomball ISD in 2013 as an assistant principal at Tomball Elementary School. Prior to that assignment, she spent three years in Amarillo ISD as an assistant principal and six Pamella Chatham in that position in Clear Creek ISD. Chatham began her career as a See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

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

special education paraprofessional, going on to teach kindergarten, second and fourth grades. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and her master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Carol Gibson has been appointed assistant principal of Tomball High School. She was with CypressFairbanks ISD for the past 14 years, serving as principal of a ninth grade academy, an academic achievement specialist, Carol Gibson a campus director of instruction, a high school English teacher, a college prep teacher and a coach. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University. Sonya Lerma has been named assistant principal of Tomball Elementary School. She has been with the district since 2012, serving as the ESL instructional specialist at Creekside Forest and Timber Creek elemenSonya Lerma tary schools. In Houston ISD, she taught third, fourth and fifth grades and was also an academic specialist and literacy coach. Lerma, who holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), received her master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. The new assistant principal of Tomball Junior High School is Sara Rush, who came to the district in 2013 as a math content teacher. She spent 11 years in CypressFairbanks ISD as a high school math teacher and Sara Rush director of instruction helping teacher. She also was a high school math teacher in Louisiana. She received her bachelor’s degree in secondary math education from Louisiana State University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Sam Houston State University. Tyler ISD Alexis Summers has been named assistant athletic director. A graduate of Angelo State University with a bachelor’s de28

Texas School Business • January 2015

gree in business administration, she earned her master’s degree in sports management from Baylor University. She has held internships at the National Sports Center and the San Angelo Colts Baseball Club. Uvalde CISD Alicia Charles is now Uvalde CISD’s bilingual/migrant director. She was a longtime employee of Eagle Pass ISD, where she was a teacher, assistant principal, principal and executive director. Her bachelor’s and master’s Alicia Charles degrees were earned at Texas A&M University at Kingsville. The new principal of Flores Middle School is Laura Cooper. She comes to her new job from Southwest ISD in San Antonio, where she was a district curriculum coordinator. In addition, she has been a technology specialist, Laura Cooper content specialist and history teacher in San Antonio’s North East ISD and a secondary history teacher in Austin and New Braunfels ISDs. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from Texas State University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from The University of Texas-Permian Basin. Uvalde High School’s new principal is Jose Hernandez. He began his career as a teacher in Devine ISD, transferring three years later to Irving Middle School in San Antonio ISD. He then joined the staff of Eagle Pass ISD, Jose Hernandez where he spent three years as a teacher and four as a campus administrator. He was most recently that district’s director of instructional services. Hernandez holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and a master’s degree in education from Sul Ross State University. Ross McGlothlin is now the district’s director of school improvement. He comes to Uvalde CISD from Marfa ISD, where he was pre-K-12 principal. Prior to that, he was an elementary principal in Comal ISD and taught at both the primary and second-

Ross McGlothlin

ary levels. McGlothlin earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and his master’s degree in school administration from the University of North Carolina. His doctorate was conferred by Texas

A&M University. The district’s new transportation director is Juan Ramirez, who most recently held the same position in Southwest ISD in San Antonio. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois and a Juan Ramirez master’s degree in government from New Mexico State University. A new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction has been named. She is Arlene Williams, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Trinity University in San Antonio. Arlene Williams

Wharton ISD Wharton High School began the 2014-2015 school year with Mark Anglin as principal. An educator for 20 years, he received his bachelor’s degree from Troy University and his master’s degree from West Texas A&M University. He is beginning his third year as an administrator, serving previously as assistant principal of Wharton Junior High School. Now serving as principal of Wharton Elementary School is Keith Brooks. He has been an educator for 15 years, working in Lufkin, Fort Bend, Sealy and Houston ISDs as a math teacher, assistant principal and principal. He is at work on his doctorate in education. Marcie Brown is the new principal of Wharton Junior High School. She was a secondary English language arts teacher for 13 years before being named assistant principal of Lee Freshman High School, where she remained for two years. Brown has a bachelor’s degree, with a double major in biology and English, from The University of Texas-Permian Basin. Her master’s degree is from Lamar University. Patricia Brown has been appointed the district’s director of school improvement.

Who’s News She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas Woman’s University and her master’s degree in education from the University of Houston. After working for 10 years in the private sector, she Patricia Brown became an elementary school teacher and math curriculum specialist. She took her first administrative position as an assistant principal, going to work as a principal in Alief ISD. In addition, she was an educational consultant and worked as district magnet director for Galveston ISD. King Davis is the new superintendent. He is an educator with 22 years of experience, including working as a teacher, coach, associate principal, elementary and high school principal, and assistant superintendent. Davis holds bachKing Davis elor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University and is completing a doctorate at Texas A&M University at Commerce. Jacqueline Fields has been appointed the district’s math instructional coordinator. She previously worked in Fort Bend ISD as a secondary math instructor and team leader and most recently was an instructor at Wharton Jacqueline Fields County Junior College. The new English language arts/reading instructional coordinator is Dana Green. She spent 17 years as a classroom teacher before serving as an assistant principal. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and her master’s degree in administrative leadership from Texas Tech University. Tina Herrington, most recently superintendent of Meyersville ISD, is the new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. She also has served in that position in Sealy and Goliad ISDs. Herrington has been an eduTina Herrington cator for 24 years. Now serving as assistant superintendent of finance is Randy Hill. A native of


Wharton and a graduate of Wharton ISD schools, he has been an educator for 30 years, teaching at Wharton High School before joining the district’s business office 23 years ago. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from The University of Texas. Steve Wernecke returns to Wharton ISD as director of operations. He was initially with the district as a teacher and coach, teaching special education at Terry High School. From that position, he moved to El Campo ISD as El Campo High School’s assistant principal and CTE director. Wernecke received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Ouachita Baptist University and his master’s degree in education from Prairie View A&M University. Jeanne Young, now serving as principal of Sivells Elementary School, earned her bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University and her master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria. She has been an educator for 25 years. Now serving as deputy superintendent is Sharon Young, who comes to Wharton from Hempstead ISD, where she

Jeanne Young

Sharon Young

was a high school principal, deputy superintendent and interim superintendent. She began her career as a math and science teacher and then was a high school algebra teacher in Lufkin ISD. She then accepted her first principal position at Kennard Elementary. Young, an educator for 20 years, received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University.

CORRECTION In the November/December 2014 cover story on Superintendent of the Year A. Marcus Nelson of Laredo ISD, we incorrectly listed the district where Arnold Oates previously served as superintendent. Oates was superintendent of North East ISD when Nelson attended school there. Texas School Business regrets the error. TSB

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THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

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recently met a young man who made an impression on me. His name is Hayden. Oh, it wasn’t just that this guy had a great smile and personality. He made all of those around him feel better. When Hayden was young, school presented problems for him. He seemed to need more help than most of the other students. He even got to a point where he recorded his teachers’ lectures. It just worked better for him to listen to the lessons over and over. Like so many kids who are a bit different from this indefinable term we call “normal,” Hayden attracted the occasional bully. They seemed to get an unexplainable joy out of persecuting kids like Hayden. But Hayden always stood his ground and avoided the inevitable skirmishes. Although his dad was a coach and his two other brothers were active in athletics, Hayden mostly stayed away from organized sports. He did, however, participate in track and field. Hayden says some of his proudest and fondest memories occurred on the track. He still can recall “hearing the sounds of the fans as I ran toward the finish line.” As a young boy, he loved to climb. He recalls a neighbor calling his mother to report that Hayden was perched on the peak of their roof. His mother and the neighbor were in a panic, but Hayden had his reasons. He told them: “I just wanted to get a good view of the world.” As he became a teen, Hayden’s adventurous side became even more apparent. Once he was observed riding his bicycle toward a small lake in his neighborhood. Instead of stopping as he approached the dock, Hayden kept going and plunged — bike and all — into the refreshing water. Several individuals rushed to retrieve him and his bicycle, but they soon realized that this was no accident. Because, once on land, Hayden immediately boarded his bike and did it again! Oh, yes, Hayden loved adventure. Things like kickball, waterskiing, skating and bowling filled his spare time. Hayden still remembers the teachers


Texas School Business • January 2015

who were patient, compassionate and understanding with him — the ones who didn’t give up on him. “I know some things were difficult for me, but I really appreciated those teachers who worked so hard to help me,” Hayden says. “Some were more than teachers. They were mentors, helpers and friends.” Because of his learning difficulties, you can imagine his excitement when he graduated from high school. Many of those attending the graduation recognized his accomplishment too, as he received a standing ovation when he accepted his diploma. In spite of his struggle, one thing kept occupying his thoughts, and that was music. He had always loved it. He had been drawn to the piano and the violin at an early age. As he grew older, music became an obsession. Upon meeting and marrying the girl of his dreams, he further pursued his musical gift with her encouragement. Today, Hayden Braun is one of the most incredible piano maestros you will ever hear. His repertoire includes hundreds of songs, and the list grows almost daily. This young man, who had such difficulty in school and in his young life, is able to hear a song once and instantly play it as if he had been practicing it for years. He and his wife, Pat, live in Conroe, where he regularly performs for churches, weddings and other special events. It’s interesting how we sometimes assume students can’t learn, achieve or develop a hidden gift. Yet, with encouragement, love and caring, they can offer the world so very much. Hayden is only one example of the difference that we can help make in a child. Oh, by the way, I failed to mention one other interesting thing about this young man: Hayden has been blind since birth. RINEY JORDAN’s “The Second Book” is now available at www.rineyjordan.com, along with his other publications. You can contact him at (254) 386-4769, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter: @ RineyRiney.

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