The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas
Texas School Business
NOV / DEC
Plainview ISD’s H.T. Sanchez named Texas’ 2021 Superintendent of the Year
Also in this issue:
2021 Outstanding School Board Aledo ISD 2021 TSPRA Key Communicator Joe Straus
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Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
12 Cover Story
16 2021 Outstanding School Board Board of trustees for Aledo ISD receives highest honor
19 2021 Key Communicator Texas School Public Relations Association names Joe Straus Key Communicator
2021 Superintendent of the Year
Plainview ISD’s H.T. Sanchez overcame significant obstacles on his path to success by Dacia Rivers
14 2021 Texas Superintendent of the Year Finalists 18 2021 Honor Boards Departments 7 Who’s News 20 Calendar 34 Ad Index
5 From the Editor by Dacia Rivers 9 The Law Dawg— Unleashed by Jim Walsh 24 Student Voices by Briana Huerta-Banda 26 The Arts by Theresa Yasger 34 The Back Page by Riney Jordan
The views expressed by columnists and contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or Texas School Business advertisers. The publisher also makes no endorsement of the advertisers or advertisements in this publication.
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From the editor
s the calendar year winds down and the holidays approach, now is a busy time for many of us. It’s also a good time to reflect and practice gratitude. Personally, I’m grateful my children are back in in-person school, and not just because I am writing this letter in a quiet house. There truly is no substitute for a day spent at school, learning face-to-face, spending recess with your peers and connecting with friends over a lunch table. I think many of us appreciate that fact now more than ever. The credit for keeping schools open and safe goes to you, our school administrators. And in this issue of Texas School Business, we shine a spotlight on one outstanding administrator: Dr. H.T. Sanchez, head of Plainview ISD and Texas’ 2021 Superintendent of the Year. We also highlight the other award finalists, plus the members of Texas’ Outstanding School Board and TSPRA’s Key Communicator. I’m also pleased to tell you we have a return of the “Student Voices” column in this issue, which you’ll find on page 24. We love sharing students’ stories about the schools they love, so please let your English and journalism teachers know that we are always looking for new, young writers. Keep your eyes peeled for our 15th annual Bragging Rights issue, which will show up in your in boxes in early December. Pandemic or no, Texas’ schools are keeping students and staff engaged through innovative programs, and we are thrilled to highlight 12 of the most exciting offerings we found this year. Thank you for all you’ve done to keep Texas’ schoolchildren learning this year. I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Texas School Business
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021 Volume LXVIII, Issue 6 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Dacia Rivers DESIGN
Phaedra Strecher COLUMNISTS
Riney Jordan Jim Walsh
Dacia Rivers Editorial Director
TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA RELATIONS
Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978) is published online bimonthly with a special edition, Bragging Rights, in December, by the Texas Association of School Administrators. © Copyright 2021 Texas Association of School Administrators
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
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Who’s News Arp ISD Arp Elementary School has welcomed Beth Hines as assistant principal. Previously an employee of Chapel Hill and Henderson ISDs, she has been with Arp ISD since 2011. Longtime Arp ISD teacher and counselor Donna Lowery is now the district’s secondary principal. She has been with Arp ISD for 26 years, most recently as college, career and military readiness director. Mike Miller, who for the past two years
served as Arp Junior High principal, now leads Arp High School. Prior to coming to Arp, he spent four years as Center ISD’s career technology education director and principal of Center High School. He was Rusk ISD’s band director for 15 years.
The new principal of Pillow Elementary School is Dinorah De La Torre, an employee of the district for 11 years and previously assistant principal of Travis Heights Elementary. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas. Audrey Guerrero is now principal of Andrews Elementary School. She returns to Austin, where she previously worked at Pickle Elementary, from serving as a principal in Lakewood, Colorado. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas.
Brown Elementary School’s new principal, Bobbie Ortiz-Rodriguez, was previously Campbell Elementary’s assistant principal and principal of the English language learners summer school. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and a master’s degree from Concordia University.
The new secondary assistant principal is Jason Shieldes, an employee of the district for 12 years. He has been a high school teacher and college instructor for 20 years.
The new director of social and emotional learning and cultural proficiency and inclusiveness is Statia Paschel. She is completing her doctorate from Texas A&M University at Commerce.
Five additions have been made to Arp ISD’s athletics administration. They are: • Dakota Alexander, head baseball coach; football secondary and running backs coach; • Henry Brown, assistant football and boys’ basketball coach; • Matt Langley, football offensive coordinator; head boys’ and girls’ track coach; • Wes Schminkey, football defensive coordinator; head strength and conditioning coach; • Barry Woodruff, assistant volleyball and track coach.
Austin ISD Austin High School began the new school year with Melvin Bedford as principal. Stuart Bowen has accepted the position of general counsel for Austin ISD. He previously served as inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, as special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction under presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and as an assistant attorney general for the state of Texas. Taylor Cowan, newly appointed principal of
Bryker Woods Elementary School, was most recently assistant principal of Highland Park Elementary. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Texas State University.
Christine Snowden has accepted the position of principal of Patton Elementary School, coming to her new job from Cowan Elementary, where she spent four years as an assistant principal. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas.
The new director of Pathways in Technology Early College High School is Valerie Menchaca, who was most recently South San Antonio ISD’s career and technical education coordinator. Prior to that, she spent 16 years with San Antonio’s Edgewood ISD as a teacher, instructional coach and summer enrichment site coordinator. Beth Miller, now principal of Herff Elementary, was the school’s assistant principal since it opened two years ago. Prior to coming to Boerne, she was an educator in Florida. Jamie Robinson, an employee
of the district for six years, now serves as principal of Boerne Middle School South. An educator for more than 20 years, he was assistant principal and then principal of Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary and previously worked in San Antonio’s Northeast ISD and San Angelo ISD.
Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary School began the 202122 academic year with Jessica Shults as principal. The 15-year educator began her time in the district as Fair Oaks Ranch assistant principal. She was named acting principal in January 2021. Additionally, the following assistant principal assignments are announced: • Dayna Comley, Curington Elementary School;
Boerne ISD Now serving as the district’s director of purchasing is Eddie Ashley, former principal of BoerneChampion High School. Initially a teacher in San Antonio’s Northside ISD, he came to Boerne in 2010 as assistant principal of Boerne-Champion. Boerne-Champion High School now has Bill Daniels as principal. He comes to Boerne from Humble ISD, where he led Atascocita High School. Prior to that, he was a teacher and administrator in Beaumont ISD. Summer Gault is the new
principal of Van Raub Elementary School. She has been with Boerne ISD for seven years, the past four as assistant principal of Boerne Middle School South.
• Triana Fontecha, Boerne Middle School South; • Michael Joannou, Van Raub Elementary School; • Katie Miller, Herff Elementary School.
Bryan ISD An interim superintendent has been named for Bryan ISD. Ginger Carrabine was the district’s deputy superintendent.
Caldwell ISD Superintendent Andrew Peters, who has led the district for five years, has announced his upcoming retirement, effective the end of December. Prior to serving in Caldwell ISD, he was > See Who’s News, page 8 Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Who’s News > Continued from page 7
superintendent of Marfa ISD. He was 2020’s ESC Region 6 Superintendent of the Year.
Carroll ISD The district’s new director of transportation, Jason Gillis, most recently held the same position in Everman ISD. He previously worked in the same field in Mansfield and Alvarado ISDs. Stephen Langford has been
approved as principal of Dawson Middle School after serving as assistant principal for the past seven years. He has been with the district for 15 years as a teacher and coach as well. Ryan Wilson has been named principal of Carroll Senior High School. He comes to his new position from Dawson Middle School, where he spent 13 years as principal. He began his career in Lewisville ISD and joined CISD 19 years ago.
The following assistant principal assignments have been announced: • Christina Benhoff, Carroll Senior High; • Jason Deardorff, Dawson Middle School; • Charlie Liles, Carroll Middle School; • Brian Micocci, Durham Intermediate School; • Steven Silva, Carroll High; • Mary Smith, Carroll High School.
Duncanville ISD Newly appointed executive director of student services Pamela Brown returns to Duncanville ISD, where she previously was principal of Hardin Intermediate School, from serving as Lancaster ISD’s deputy superintendent of human resources and administration. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. Maelene Grant, director of
nursing, brings 21 years of experience to her new position. She was a school nurse in DISD since 2016 and prior to that was a nurse
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
educator and lead nurse in the private sector. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing were earned from Georgia’s South University. Kenya Landers has returned to her hometown as Duncanville ISD’s assistant athletic director. She most recently held the same position in Corsicana ISD and worked as an assistant principal, teacher, head basketball coach and Navarro College adjunct professor. Her bachelor’s degree was conferred from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix.
New director of counseling Shayla Pratt was most recently an assistant principal of Duncanville High School. She has a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in school counseling from Lamar University. Now serving as director of strategic initiatives is Crystal Rentz, coming to her new job from four years as the district’s director of innovation. In addition to her 20 years as an educator in Texas, she has taught English as a second language in China, Rwanda, the Philippines and West Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University and a master’s degree from Texas Tech University. Her doctorate in education administration was awarded from the University of Texas. Hastings Elementary School has welcomed Delonda Robinson as its new principal. The 26-year educator has been with DISD for 17 years, beginning as a teacher at Bilharz Elementary. She was most recently assistant principal of Reed Middle School. She holds master’s degrees from the University of Phoenix and Texas A&M University. Duncanville High School Collegiate Academy has a new principal. LaKendra Simon comes from DeSoto ISD, where she was an assistant principal at DeSoto High School. She previously served as a collegiate academy coordinator in Dallas ISD. Her bachelor’s degree was awarded from the University of North Dallas and her master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Arlington. Pamela Thomas has moved
into her first central office administrative position with her appointment to serve as director of innovation and advanced academics. She
is the former principal of the Duncanville High School Collegiate Academy and an employee of the district since 2018. She graduated from the University of Michigan and holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. Jim Vaszauskas has come out of retirement to take on the position of interim chief academic officer. He was superintendent of Mansfield ISD, where he also served as associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction. He has been an educator for 39 years.
The position of chief of special initiatives and collaborative communities has been filled by Connie Wallace, a two-decade educator who was most recently director of curriculum and instruction in Arlington ISD. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. In addition, the following assistant principal assignments are announced: • Chaval Amalbert, Duncanville High School; • Roneisha Below, Hastings Elementary School; • Tiara Brown, STEAM Academy at Kennemer; • Danny Colbert, Duncanville High School; • Alex Horton, Daniel Intermediate School; • Renieda Johnson, Byrd Middle School; • Jeremy Taulton, Brandenburg Intermediate School; • Amber Washington, Duncanville High School.
El Paso ISD Former Franklin High School principal Shawn Mena is now the district’s assistant superintendent of high schools. She previously worked in Austin ISD. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, where she also earned her master’s degrees. Three interim principals have been appointed. They and their schools are: • Sylvia Haynes, Guerrero Elementary School;
> See Who’s News, page 11
THE LAW DAWG – UNLEASHED
Vist TSB online!
Teaching vs. inculcation: what’s the difference?
by Jim Walsh
he passage of SB 3 in the second special session should ease the minds of history teachers and principals. The earlier version of this bill, HB 3979, was so ambiguous and vague that it left teachers fearful that they would get in trouble for even mentioning some of the darker moments in American history. SB 3 goes a long way toward correcting that.
lab. “Inculcation” was much more about what I should believe. It was about values. My teachers inculcated in me the idea that America was the world’s Good Guy. They inculcated the idea that democracy was the best form of government, that the Communists were the world’s Bad Guys, that America was exceptional, particularly and uniquely blessed by God.
I say this largely because of a word I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a statute: “inculcation.” SB 3 identifies eight “concepts” that teachers are not to “inculcate” in their students. Here is the exact language of Texas Education Code 28.0022(a)(4):
As I became older and more mature, my teachers introduced me to ideas and beliefs that were different from what was inculcated. To inform students that there are different ways of seeing things, that historians disagree about the significance of past events, to let students come to their own conclusions about these things … I would call that teaching. I would call that helping students develop critical thinking skills.
A teacher, administrator, or other employee of a state agency, school district, or open-enrollment charter school may not: (A) require or make part of a course inculcation in the concept that: It then lists the Eight Forbidden Concepts. For example, we don’t want teachers to “inculcate” in their students the idea that a person’s moral character is determined by their race or sex. Or the idea that today’s students should feel responsible or guilty over things that their ancestors did. “Inculcate” is defined as “to teach and impress by frequent repetition or admonitions.” So teachers are not to do that with any of these concepts. But they can talk about things. They can say, “some historians believe …” They can cite sources that do promote those ideas, so long as they avoid “frequent repetition or admonitions” designed to make sure that their students agree with any of these “concepts.” In short, they can teach, as long as they don’t seek to inculcate. As I reflect on my own education, I can see the difference between “teaching” and “inculcation.” They taught me to read. They taught me to multiply fractions, diagram a sentence, compose a poem, shoot a free throw, conduct an experiment in the science
Principals are likely to get complaints from parents about things that teachers say or do in the classroom. All such complaints need to be addressed. But, unless there is evidence of a teacher really pushing the notion that students should believe certain things, there is no “inculcation.” One more example: The new law says that teachers may not “require an understanding of the 1619 Project.” That doesn’t say the teachers can’t talk about this New York Times project, or outline its basic assertions. Nor does it prohibit a teacher from giving students credit for reading the material and making a report on it. The teacher should probably refrain from making this a required assignment, or testing students on the content, because that would mean that the students were required to understand it, which is what SB 3 prohibits. The 1619 Project presents an interesting and provocative view of the history of slavery and the role of racism in America’s development. To let students know about this project and the point of view it presents is teaching. It’s not inculcation. Let’s support our teachers as they teach.
Check us out online at texasschoolbusiness.com for: ► recent issues ► how to submit articles ► Bragging Rights nomination info ► advertising information ► and more! Texas School Business THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS
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JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle PC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg. Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
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Who’s News > Continued from page 8
• Kathryn McMillan, Burges High School; • Karla Onick, Guillen Middle School.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD Former Lake Pointe Elementary principal Audrey Arnold has been named director of elementary services. She was a special education and language arts teacher in South Carolina before arriving in Texas to work as an administrator, including stints as an associate and deputy superintendent and superintendent. She is a graduate of Charleston Southern University with a master’s degree from the Citadel and a doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Christian University. Thomas Hare, student support
coordinator, comes to the district from Burleson ISD, where he was an assistant principal. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University and his master’s degree from Lamar University.
Bryson Elementary School began the new academic year with Vaughn Flagler as principal. The nineyear educator was most recently principal of Dillow Elementary in Fort Worth ISD. A graduate of Gardner-Webb University, he received his master’s degree in education leadership from West Texas A&M University. Former Copper Creek Elementary School assistant principal Kimberly Harmon now leads the campus as principal. She has spent the past 15 years with the district as a classroom teacher and literacy specialist. She holds a master’s degree from Texas Christian University, where she is at work on her doctorate. Dusty Langley, newly
appointed communications coordinator for marketing and engagement, is in her sixth year with the district. Prior to that, she spent 15 years in private sector corporate marketing and advertising. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington.
Now serving as special programs coordinator is Cindy Peavy, a 25-year educator. She received her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and her master’s degree from the University of North Texas. The district has named
Philo Waters director of
records and information management. Previously director of secondary staffing, he has 30 years of experience in public education. His bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded from the University of North Texas. Kathleen Weilby has been
promoted from assistant principal of Elkins Elementary to principal of High Country Elementary School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas. Also, five assistant principal assignments have been made. They are: • Lisa Castro, Greenfield Elementary School; • Zack Reeder, Northbrook Elementary School; • Dan Russell, Chisholm Trail High School; • Dawn Self-Turpin, Saginaw High School; • Dwight Williams, Elkins Elementary School.
Ector County ISD The new principal of Burleson Elementary School is Rosa Cruz, who was a curriculum instructor at the college level. Nora Gonzalez, newly appointed West
Elementary School principal, spent the past two years as assistant principal of Goliad Elementary. She has been with the district since 2008. Cavazos Elementary School’s new principal,
Beatrice Martinez, was most recently
principal of Anthon Elementary in Uvalde CISD. Keeley Simpson has accepted the position of
executive director of leadership. She returns to Texas from Oregon, where she was a regional superintendent for the Portland Public Schools. She previously was Houston ISD’s school support officer.
Eustace ISD Longtime superintendent Coy Holcombe has announced his upcoming retirement, effective in June. He has led the district for 21 years.
Forsan ISD Randy Johnson,
superintendent for the past 18 years, will retire at the end of the school year. He previously worked as a teacher, coach, counselor, assistant principal and principal in Dalhart and Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISDs during his 36-year career.
Fort Bend ISD New superintendent Christie Whitbeck, who most recently led Bryan ISD, has returned to Fort Bend ISD, where she previously served as deputy superintendent. She was also Alvin ISD’s assistant superintendent of academics, an assistant principal and principal in Katy ISD, and a teacher and language arts specialist in Alief ISD.
Galena Park ISD Galena Park ISD announces the appointment of Brian Allen as senior director for security and emergency management. He is a 24-year employee of the district. Now leading Green Valley Elementary School is Manuel Escalante, who comes to his new job from serving as principal of Woodland Acres Middle School. The district has named Codi Freeman senior director for elementary curriculum and instruction. Previously program director for curriculum and instructionEnglish language arts and social studies, she has been an educator for 18 years. Viviana Killion is the new senior director for school-community and governmental relations. She most recently was director for governmental relations and elections. Marley Morris has accepted the position of senior director for secondary curriculum and instruction. He was previously director of career and technical education.
New Woodland Acres Middle School principal Juan Ramirez is a 19-year educator who was previously associate principal of Galena Park High School. > See Who’s News, page 28 Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
2021 Superintendent of the Year
Plainview ISD’s H.T. Sanchez overcame significant obstacles on his path to success by Dacia Rivers
Photo credit: TASB Texas School Business
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
2021 Superintendent of the Year
Sanchez, superintendent of Plainview ISD, was recently named Texas’ 2021 Superintendent of the Year and will go on to represent the state in the National Superintendent of the Year program. Those who have known Sanchez during his 20-plus-year tenure working in public education might not be surprised to see him receive this distinction. What might raise a few eyebrows, however, is the path he took to get there. A child of immigrants, Sanchez was too young to understand when his father would drive by Angelo State University and tell his children, “Someday, you’re going to go there.” But, when Sanchez entered Texas public schools himself, he did so as an English-language learner. Back then, his school didn’t have a bilingual education program, and so in third grade, Sanchez found himself in a special education classroom. And there he stayed, even as he worked hard to improve his English skills. Even as he started helping some of his classmates with their work. When Sanchez reached seventh grade, he got a new special education teacher — Pat Moore. When she saw him reaching out to help other students, she started to wonder if Sanchez was in the right classroom. After he wrote a paper discussing Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”, Moore could see the complex thought and understanding behind the poor grammar and spelling. She went to the administration and had Sanchez moved to a regular classroom. By his sophomore year in high school, Sanchez was enrolled in advanced coursework. During his senior year, his English teacher was going to be away for an extended period of time, and she suggested that Sanchez serve as substitute teacher during her absence. Within five years, Sanchez had gone from a special education classroom to a regular classroom, excelled in AP classes, risen to the top 10% of his senior class, and served as a long-term English class substitute. In the end, his dad was right on the money. Sanchez attended San Angelo University with an academic scholarship and set his sights on becoming an English teacher. “It all began because someone saw something in me that multiple people had missed,” he says. “It all came down to one amazing teacher.” During his time teaching English, Sanchez was first in line to help out when a teacher
had a student who presented unique challenges. He wound up with a classroom full of students who simply needed more: more preparation, more attention, more time. “I spent my time in the classroom advocating for kids who had given up on education,” he recalls. “It breaks my heart that they thought they couldn’t do it. I mean, they were me.” When Sanchez realized the difference he could make in his students’ lives, he set his aims wider. As an administrator, he could help even more students, and so, he moved into a principalship, serving at elementary, middle and high school campuses, before going on to central office administration and, finally, the superintendency. He has held the office in Plainview since 2018. As a superintendent, Sanchez brings with him a unique outlook. Not many (if any) administrators have themselves been students in both special education and AP classrooms. Sanchez has lived every learner’s life. He knows how it feels to have the stigma of a label hanging over his head. He understands the stress AP and dualcredit students can place on themselves. He understands what it’s like to struggle with a language. “I think having been all of those students in one educational career has given me the perspective, when it comes to school leadership, to understand the kinds of programs and support that we have to leverage for all students,” he says. It’s Sanchez’s focus on supporting all students that keeps him going when the job gets tough. Even on the most difficult days, Sanchez says he knows that someone has to do what’s right for the students of Plainview. Someone has to show up and be constant and consistent. “What motivates me and moves me is that, from the very beginning, it’s my job to stand up for kids,” he says. “There has to be someone who’s going to sit there and look and listen and think it all through and make decisions that are the same decisions they would make for their own children.” Sanchez has two children in the district, but says that he looks at all of the students in Plainview as if they were his own. For him, this connection pays off each spring when the graduating seniors walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. “The most rewarding part is having the time to get to learn the students and their stories,” he says. “To know about them and
‘My hope for public education is that we begin matching what we do every day with every learner, so they’ll have a better quality of life and each generation will continue to do better than the previous one.’
know who played basketball and who was in band and who was in theatre and who was on the debate team. That’s what’s rewarding. It’s not just handing them the diploma, but knowing what they’re going to do next.” Looking ahead, Sanchez hopes that in the future, public education can move beyond standardized testing. He’d rather see a system that measures success based on the kind of real-life preparation graduates have received, such as certifications and dual credit hours. “I really feel that the measure of success isn’t a test,” he says. “My hope for public education is that we begin matching what we do every day with every learner, so they’ll have a better quality of life and each generation will continue to do better than the previous one.” Sanchez says he was surprised and humbled to find out he’d been chosen as Superintendent of the Year. He feels as though he’s been able to take the dream his father had for him and make it a reality. He gives a heap of credit to everyone in Plainview ISD, and says it was an outstanding district before he even got there. “I’m very blessed to work with the people in Plainview ISD,” he says. “There’s a lot of amazing people who do good work there every day. I just have the opportunity to tell their story. I’m proud of that, and humbled that I’m the guy who gets to do that.” DACIA RIVERS is editorial director of Texas School Business. Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021 13
2021 Superintendent of the Year Finalists
Jeanette Ball, superintendent of Judson ISD, serves nearly 24,000 students and has held the top office for the past three years. The state selection committee was impressed by Ball’s open leadership style and the way she effectively spreads the good news about what’s going on in her district. Ball has been an administrator for 23 years and works to unite her team through a shared dedication to children and their success. Through these efforts, Judson ISD has created wraparound services designed to provide comprehensive support to students and their families.
In Lockhart ISD, Mark Estrada has served as superintendent of the district’s more than 6,000 students for three years. The committee acknowledged the leadership pipeline Estrada has implemented for his staff, creating a homegrown approach to district administration. Lockhart ISD has met and exceeded many goals with Estrada at the helm, including increasing reading and math growth for all students and building network towers to provide reliable internet access to students and the community.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
2021 Superintendent of the Year Finalists
For six years, Courtney Hudgins has worked as superintendent of East Bernard ISD, serving the district’s nearly 950 students. Of note to the selection committee was Hudgins’ focus on relationship building. Hudgins checks in with staff and students daily to keep apprised of ongoing situations and does weekly radio interviews to keep the community informed and engaged with what’s going on in the district. A former CTE director, she is committed to preparing students in East Bernard for college and careers.
In 300-student Rankin ISD, Samuel Wyatt has held the superintendency for four years, with 19 years of administration experience under his belt. The committee noted his enthusiasm for the job, expressed through a genuine concern for students’ individual needs and outcomes. Wyatt’s dedication often takes him out from behind his desk and into Rankin’s hallways and classrooms, where he leads by example and is known for his outside-of-the-box thinking.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
David Lear, trustee; Jennifer Loftin, trustee; Jessica Brown; vice president; Dr. Susan Bohn, superintendent; Forrest Collins; secretary; Julie Turner, trustee; Jennifer Taylor, trustee; Hoyt Harris; president.
2021 Outstanding Board
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Aledo ISD board of trustees
2021 Outstanding Board
uring this year’s TASA|TASB Convention, the Aledo ISD board of trustees was named the 2021 Outstanding Board, the state’s top school board. Hoyt Harris, Aledo board president, has served on the board for 11 years, after a friend suggested he step up to fill an unexpected vacancy. “I thought, this is a good way that I could be involved and help, and I felt comfortable about it,” he says. “Until I was approached about it, I had never really thought about being a school board member at all.” Now a seasoned trustee, Harris says serving on the board has been more rewarding than he’d imagined. He has seen firsthand how an effective board can make a difference in a school system. At first, Harris thought the work would mostly revolve around setting budgets and making policy decisions. Now he sees how the work the board does can contribute directly to student outcomes. Harris credits the success of Aledo’s board with its consistency. For the last three and a half years, the board members have been consistent, which he feels helps, especially when all members are on the same page about the district’s goals. He also credits hiring a “very, very good” superintendent. The district hired Dr. Susan K. Bohn in 2018. “Our vision is the same, our team of eight,” Harris says. “We’re very efficient, and that’s one of the big ways we’re effective.” After Dr. Bohn joined the district, the Aledo board attended the TASB XG board development program, and Harris says that experience helped unify the trustees under a common goal of “growing greatness.” “This board has been on the same page with the number-one goal being that everything we do is related to improving student outcomes. We’re all on the same page, and that makes a big difference.” Knowing that all of the trustees are aligned toward a common goal helps keep things moving forward if members have a disagreement. Harris says that if someone votes no on an item that passes, that board member will accept the outcome and from that moment on be in favor of whatever the majority decided. “Just because you have a different mindset on how you might want to get
there, that’s OK,” Harris says. “I’m glad we have different ideas and we’re not all programmed the same. Sometimes your idea might not be the road that we think we need, but we’re all going in the same direction.” Board members in Aledo learned to adapt and rethink their strategies after a 2017 bond election in the district failed 70% to 30%. Trustees reviewed what had gone wrong and determined that the community just didn’t feel comfortable voting for the bond. They had not received enough information or communication from the board. There had been some misinformation regarding the placement of a new elementary school that caused some folks to become confused and even distrustful. But, the district needed the bond to pass. In a fast-growing area, they were out of space for all the new students coming to Aledo. So, once Dr. Bohn joined the district, the board set out to rebuild trust within the community. They formed different parent committees to offer their input and improve the communications process. Those parents were then able to share information on their social media channels. The entire community was getting one unified, clear message from the school and from their peers.
‘But at a big picture level for your community, I would definitely encourage people to be active and volunteer where they can.’ — Aledo ISD Board President Hoyt Harris
Once the board felt they had the support, they called for a bond election that passed 60% to 40%, proving that the efforts had paid off. Currently in the district, the board is rolling out a new community-based accountability system, which allows schools to measure their students on more than just the STAAR test. “We believe there’s a lot more to a student than a one-day test,” Harris says. “We want to share with parents the different ways we’re trying to grow our students and not just measuring them on one test.” While Harris notes that serving on a school board comes with its own set of struggles, he says that overall the experience has been far more rewarding than challenging. “The positives that you get to see firsthand and experience far outweigh the tough times. You could spend as much time or more coaching a youth sport, and I’ve done that, too. But at a big picture level for your
community, I would definitely encourage people to be active and volunteer where they can.” Harris says he was surprised and honored to learn the board had received the top school board designation. He recommends that any school board go through the eligibility process for the award, as it serves as a sort of self-audit and allows teams to reflect on where they are and how they’re doing. “You don’t win board of the year unless your superintendent’s in line with you,” he says. “You don't win board of the year unless your community’s in line with you as well, supporting you. It’s a whole community award.” Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
2021 Honor Boards Duncanville ISD Left to right: Carla Fahey, trustee; Janet Veracruz, vice president; Janice Savage-Martin, president; Dr. Marc Smith, superintendent; Cassandra Phillips, trustee; Phil McNeely, trustee; Dr. LaSonja Ivory, trustee; Jacqueline Culton, secretary.
Hays CISD Left to right: Dr. Michael Sanchez, trustee; Will McManus, vice president; Esperanza Orosco, president; Dr. Eric Wright, superintendent; Vanessa Petrea, secretary; Raul Vela, trustee; Willie Tenorio, Jr., trustee.
Mission CISD Left to right: Juan M. Gonzalez, trustee; coach Iris Iglesias, trustee; Veronica “Betty” R. Mendoza, secretary; Dr. Carol G. Perez, superintendent; Jerry Zamora, vice president; Roy Vela, trustee; Petra B. Ramirez, trustee; Minnie R. Rodgers, president.
Left to right: Justin Unser, trustee; Matt Schiel, president; Michael Pratt, trustee; Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora, superintendent; Kathy Handler, vice president; Mark Lewandowski, trustee; John E. McStravick, assistant secretary; Lee McLeod, secretary.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
2021 KEY COMMUNICATOR
Texas School Public Relations Association
Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus receives Key Communicator Award from Texas School Public Relations Association
ach year, the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) honors someone who has contributed significantly to the field of public school communications with the association’s Key Communicator Award. This year’s award recipient is fifth-generation Texan Joe Straus, former Texas House speaker from 2009 to 2019, making him the longest-serving Republican Speaker in state history. During that time, he was a vocal advocate for providing robust funding for public education, and he identified public education as the state’s best economic development tool.
Some of Straus’ key accomplishments that benefit public education include:
This year’s award is sponsored by Forecast5 Analytics and was awarded to Staus by TSPRA President Veronica Sopher, Fort Bend ISD, and Josh Waddle, senior account executive with Forecast5 Analytics, during the txEDCON convention held in Dallas Sept. 24-26, 2021, by the Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards. “As a public school graduate himself, Mr. Straus worked tirelessly throughout that time to ensure that supportive public school legislation was at the heart of each legislative session that he chaired. He made himself readily available to his local constituents who included public school educators, administrators and superintendents as they voiced their needs and concerns, and he dedicated his leadership to responsive legislation as a result. His leadership and support for pro-public-school legislation is resolute,” said Dr. Dana Bashara, superintendent of Alamo Heights ISD, in her letter of support.
Calling on the Legislature to make school finance system more efficient;
Standing firm against privatization of Texas public education and vouchers;
Leading the passage of HB 5 in 2013, which established the Foundation High School Program;
Calling on the Texas Education Agency to make significant changes in the monitoring system it was using to determine qualifications for special education services;
Leading the charge in 2017 to defeat SB 6, the “bathroom bill,” which would have required transgender bathroom use.
Superintendent Brian T. Woods, Ed.D, Northside ISD, said in his letter of support, “Though Speaker Straus retired from the Legislature in 2019, he has consistently stayed active in education policy by working with and supporting lawmakers who are propublic education.” Today, Straus is the chairman of the Texas Forever Forward political action committee and continues his public service endeavors through his dedication to various boards, community and state organizations.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Calendar Professional development & events DEC EM BE R December 1 TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Austin/San Antonio Area Cohort (session 3 of 6) Northside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASB Course: Integrated Pest Management Edinburg CISD, Edinburg For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TASB Legal Lunch: A Special Education Legal Update, Part 1 Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TASBO Workshop: Financial Coding for Texas Schools ESC Region 10, Richardson For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $185; nonmembers, $235. TCASE Ignite Academy (session 5 of 10) Virtual event For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org Cost: Administrator and associate members, $995; nonmembers, $1,195. December 1-2 TASA Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network (session 2 of 3) Location TBA, DFW area For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. December 1-3 TAGT giftED21 Conference Hilton Anatole, Dallas or online For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org Cost: Regular registration, inperson or online, (by Nov. 8): Members, $375; nonmembers, $495. Late registration, in-person or online, (after Nov. 8): Members, $450; nonmembers, $550.
TAHPERD Annual Convention Esports Stadium, Arlington For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Professional, associate and out-of-state members, $190; student members, $45; retired members, $55.
ED311/TASPA Personnel Law Conference for School Administrators Kalahari Resort, Round Rock, or online For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.ed311.com Cost: $210; with printed workbook, $235.
TSPRA Regional Meeting (Central Texas area) Hutto ISD, Hutto For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
December 2 TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Dallas Area Cohort (session 3 of 6) McKinney ISD, McKinney For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASB Best Practices Course: Maintenance and Operations Edinburg CISD, Edinburg For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TSPRA Regional Meeting (Houston/Beaumont area) Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Houston For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org December 5-6
TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Houston Area Cohort (session 3 of 6) Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Houston For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Virtual Cohort (session 3 of 6) Virtual session For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders Webinar For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed.
TASSP Fundamental 5 National Summit Hilton Palacio del Rio, San Antonio For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org
TASB Course: Integrated Pest Management ESC Region 15, San Angelo For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
Learning Forward Texas Workshop: Cultivating Leadership Grand Prairie ISD, Grand Prairie For more info, (512) 266-3086. www.learningforwardtexas.org
TASPA Winter Conference Kalahari Resort, Round Rock For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org
TASB Course: Asbestos Designated Person Training ESC Region 15, San Angelo For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org December 7-8 TASBO Emerging Leaders Program (session 2 of 4) TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: $1,595 for all four sessions.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
December 9 TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Victoria/Corpus Christi Area Cohort (session 3 of 6) Corpus Christi ISD, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASBO Workshop: Verifying PEIMS Mid-Year Submission Webinar For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $75; nonmembers, $125.
December 10-11 TARS Legislative Conference Virtual conference For more info, (325) 372-5821. www.tarsed.org Cost: No charge for TARS and TAMS members. December 14 Learning Forward Texas Workshop: Tips and Tools 3 Northside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 266-3086. www.learningforwardtexas.org TCASE/TEA Talk Webinar For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org Cost: $75. December 15 Learning Forward Texas Workshop: Tips and Tools 1 Northside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 266-3086. www.learningforwardtexas.org TASB Course: Specialized Transportation Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org December 16 Learning Forward Texas Workshop: Tips and Tools 2 Northside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 266-3086. www.learningforwardtexas.org
JANUARY January 11 TASA Breakaway Leadership Program, Opening Session, Part A Virtual event For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed.
TASB Course: Asbestos Designated Person Training TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TCASE/TEA Talk Webinar For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org Cost: $75. January 12 TASB Course: Integrated Pest Management TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TSPRA Regional Meeting (San Antonio area) Judson ISD, Live Oak For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org January 12-13 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy 34 (session 3 of 3) Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Bedford For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org January 13 TASA Breakaway Leadership Program, Opening Session, Part B Virtual event For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASB Course: Eligibility Determination, Best Practices and Resources Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TASBO Workshop: State Aid Template ESC Region 5, Beaumont For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $225; nonmembers, $275. TSPRA Regional Meeting (East Texas area) Location TBA, virtual if necessary For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
TSPRA Regional Meeting (Central Texas area) Hays CISD, Kyle For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
TSPRA Regional Meeting (Houston/Beaumont area) Aldine ISD, Aldine For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
TSPRA Regional Meeting (Gulf Coast area) City and location TBA For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
January 19 TASB Course: Individualized Education Program Ratio Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TCASE Ignite Academy (session 6 of 10) Virtual event For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org Cost: Administrator and associate members, $995; nonmembers, $1,195. January 19-20 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy 35 (session 1 of 3) Robinson ISD, Robinson For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org January 24-25 Texas ASCD Institute: Teaching for Deeper Learning Virtual event For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org January 25 TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals ESC Region 20, San Antonio For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $135. TEPSA Region 19 Winter Meeting Location and city TBA For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org
TCWSE Annual Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tcwse.org Cost: Members, $175; nonmembers, educational entity, $195; nonmembers, noneducational entity, $295. January 30
F EBRUARY February 1 TASB Course: Asbestos Designated Person Training Victoria ISD, Victoria For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org February 2 TASB Course: Integrated Pest Management Victoria ISD, Victoria For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
TASA Budget Boot Camp Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: $150.
TASB Legal Lunch: Special Education Update, Part 2 Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
January 30-February 2
TASA Midwinter Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: Through Dec. 3: TASA members, educational entity, $395; nonmembers, educational entity, $445; TASA members, non-educational entity, $495; nonmembers, non-educational entity, $745; student members, $175. TASA Aspiring Superintendents Academy Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: Preregistration (through Jan. 14), $195; on-site registration, $245. TASA Midwinter Conference registration is required. TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders Exact time and location (during TASA Midwinter Conference) TBA For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. January 31 TASA Breakaway Leadership Program Break-out session during TASA Midwinter Conference; exact location TBA For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed.
TASA/N2 Learning Executive Leadership Institute (session 3 of 4) Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASA/N2 Learning Principals’ Institute (session 4 of 6) Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. February 6-8 TASSP Assistant/Aspiring Principal Workshop Hilton Airport, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org February 7-9 TCASE Great Ideas Convention Location and city TBA For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org February 8 TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Austin/San Antonio Area Cohort (session 4 of 6) Northside ISD, San Antonio For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Dallas Area Cohort (session 4 of 6) McKinney ISD, McKinney For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TEPSA Region 7 Winter Meeting ESC Region 7, Kilgore For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org February 9 TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Houston Area Cohort (session 4 of 6) Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Houston For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders Location or webinar details TBA For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TSPRA Regional Meeting (San Antonio area) Judson ISD, Live Oak For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org February 9-10 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy 35 (session 2 of 3) Robinson ISD, Robinson For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org Texas ASCD Transformative Principal Leadership Academy (session 3 of 3) Crowley ISD, Crowley For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org February 9-13 TABSE Annual Conference Hyatt Regency, Dallas For more info, (937) 617-1706. www.tabse.net Cost: Members, $350; retired members, $300; retired nonmembers, $350; student members, $200; student nonmembers, $250; nonmembers, $425.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
TASB Course: Discipline of Students with Disabilities, Part II Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
TSPRA Annual Conference Kalahari Resort, Round Rock For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org Cost: Three-day conference: Members, $520; nonmembers, $745. Pre-conference: $100.
TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $135.
TASB Course: Special Education Legal Update, Part 3 Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org
TSPRA Regional Meeting (Central Texas area) Round Rock ISD, Round Rock For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
TASA Breakaway Leadership Program Virtual event For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed.
TCASE Ignite Academy (session 7 of 10) Virtual event For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (888) 433-4492. www.tcase.org
February 16 TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Victoria/Corpus Christi Cohort (session 4 of 6) Corpus Christi ISD, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASA/N2 Learning Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Virtual Cohort (session 4 of 6) Virtual session For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASB Course: SHARS Updates Virtual event For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals ESC Region 15, San Angelo For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $135. February 16-17 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy (session 4 of 4) Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $845 for all four sessions; nonmembers, $945 for all four sessions. Any one session, $295.
February 27-March 1 TASSP Symposium: Making Middle School Matter Hilton Airport, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org February 28 Texas Coaches Leadership Summit Esports Stadium, Arlington For more info, (512) 392-3741. www.thsca.com Cost: In advance, $89; at the door, $99. February 28-March 1 TASBO Emerging Leaders Program (session 3 of 4) Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: $1,595 for all four sessions. February 28-March 4 TASBO Engage Annual Conference Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Full conference: Members, $425; nonmembers, $550; association members, $625; association nonmembers, $750. One-day conference: Members, $375; nonmembers, $500. Guest fee: $100. Certification courses: Members, $185; nonmembers, $235. Computer certification courses: Members, $215; nonmembers, $265. CSRM course: Members and nonmembers, $250.
March 1 TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. March 2
TEPSA Region 6 Spring Meeting Top Golf, Spring For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org March 2-3 TASA Future-Ready Superintendents Leadership Network (session 3 of 3) Location TBA, Houston area For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. March 2-5 TASB Governance Camp Galveston Island Convention Center, Galveston For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org March 3 TEPSA Region 17 Spring Meeting Location and city TBA For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org March 9 TASPA Workshop: Certification Fundamentals ESC Region 8, Pittsburg For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org Cost: $135.
March 22-23 TASA/N2 Learning Executive Leadership Institute (session 4 of 4) Hilton Park Cities, Dallas For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. TASA/N2 Learning Principals’ Institute (session 5 of 6) Hilton Park Cities, Dallas For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed. March 24 TASA Breakaway Leadership Program Virtual event For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org Registration is closed.
TSPRA Regional Meeting (Houston/Beaumont area) ESC Region 4, Houston For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org March 30 TEPSA Region 9 Spring Meeting ESC Region 9, Wichita Falls For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www.tepsa.org TSPRA Regional Meeting (East Texas area) Virtual meeting For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org
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I found it in Texas School Business! Discover upcoming conferences and continuing education opportunities in the calendar section of each issue of Texas School Business and on our website. TexasSchoolBusiness.com
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tasanet.org Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Banda, a Corpus Christi ISD student, sews a skirt during a fashion design class.
first entered the world of fashion during my sophomore year. I was taking a sociology class, but I wanted out. Fashion Design 1 was one of the only classes I could register for, so I joined. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was hoping the skirt I chose to make would help me out of the pit of despair I found myself in because of the pandemic. During that time, I relied on
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
How my sewing class pulled me out of the “pit of despair” By Briana Huerta-Banda
sewing in an unhealthy way. I expected it to fix my life. Instead, it has taught me so much more. I spent the first nine weeks of class learning fashion terminology and understanding the basics of a sewing machine. Afterward, we were finally able to pick our sewing patterns. For me, this is where the fun began. The design I chose was difficult. In
the beginning, I was nervous about using the foot pedal. I was scared that if I went too fast, I would lose control of my fabric and spend the rest of class ripping out the seams I had just sewn. I had no confidence in what I was doing. I started to get the hang of it by February 2020. Before I knew it, the weeks flew by like nothing. Then, just when I was excited
to go on spring break, we were told we couldn’t go back to school. That’s when I realized how serious this pandemic was. I spent the rest of sophomore year not doing anything sewing-related. When junior year finally came, I chose to attend virtual classes. By then, my teacher had enough sewing machines for us to take home to use during the school year. It had been five months since I last touched a sewing machine. At first, I was excited. I knew this was my chance to finish my sophomore project, start something new and gain more knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. I spent most of my junior year experiencing endless ups and downs that left me in the worst state of my life. Academically, I was doing just fine, but I had no energy or motivation to sew. Then, during one of my lowest moments, I felt the motivation I needed. I started sewing a purse. I didn’t know how to make a purse. I had never tried before, but I ended up finishing it that same night. That was the sewing inspiration I needed to kick me back into high gear. I made changes to my environment, my mental health and my physical well-being. I even started to sew my original skirt design, and while I worked on it, I kept telling myself that it would be exactly like the picture. I kept telling myself that I would feel like I did before the pandemic when I tried it on. I spent a month working on it. When I finally finished, I was excited to wear it, but it was hideous. I took it off, folded it up, and put it in the back of my closet so I could forget the atrocity I had created. I had hoped this skirt would help me get back to living my life the way it was before. I was wrong. I fell back into the pit of despair and stayed there for a few months. This time I didn’t think a miraculous piece of sewing motivation would save me like it had last time. But one day during class, my teacher, Valerie Elizondo, brought up a movie we had watched sophomore year, “The Devil Wears Prada.” I remembered how much I loved that movie, so I rewatched it later that night. It helped me remember just how much I love fashion. At the time, I didn’t have fabric or money to purchase more, and my mom wouldn’t let me use our sheets. So, I went back to
▲ Huerta-Banda credits sewing with pulling her out of a slump. my closet and pulled out the horrible skirt I had made. I ripped out the seams, started cutting the fabric and piecing it back together to make a dress. I completed the redesigned dress at the end of my junior year. It made me feel good, and like I could finish off the year on a high note. Looking back, I expected sewing to fix my life. I believed I would be a natural the second I started sewing. I thought that if I could succeed at sewing, my entire life would be a breeze. I was wrong, but now my expectations are a lot more realistic. Joining the fashion design class at Richard King High School has meant a lot to me. It allowed me to try something new in an environment where all the students were at the same learning level. I realized that nobody knew more than anyone else, and
nobody could make a fantastic garment on their first try. I learned that if I were to succeed, it would be based purely on my ability to learn, ask for help and listen to constructive criticism. I’m in my senior year now, and I’ll be graduating soon. Thanks to what I learned over the past couple of years, I will finish my senior year with the skills needed to create what I want when the inspiration hits. With these skills, I am looking forward to applying to fashion design colleges in France, so I can continue to explore the world of creative liberty sewing has opened up to me. BRIANA HUERTA-BANDA is a senior at Richard King High School in Corpus Christi ISD, where she now takes a practicum for fashion design taught by Valerie Elizondo.
“Student Voices” is a regularly featured column in Texas School Business. It’s an opportunity for students of all ages from across Texas to share their experiences in K-12 public schools. Contact Editorial Director Dacia Rivers at email@example.com for publishing guidelines. Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
News in fine arts education
Northside reunited by Theresa Yasger
◄ "Protection," a digital media art piece created by Heather Swinney, a 2021 graduate of Taft High School in Northside ISD.
eunited and it feels so good ….”
Peaches & Herb could never have imagined that 40 years after their 1979 hit, Northside ISD would adopt their song as its mantra, following 18 months of COVID-19. Our schools have gone through suspension of in-person learning, synchronous and asynchronous learning, virtual and in-person, and back to “normal.” Through it all, teachers forged ahead into uncertainty and created the pathways for our school systems to become Northside “Reunited.”
students who didn’t have paper, pencils, crayons, or any of the basics that would allow children to continue creating art in a traditional sense.
When teachers and students left for spring break in March 2020, few foresaw the impending closure of in-person learning. As we learned more and more about what the future might have held, what began in confusion began to gain clarity.
It was without hesitation, then, that so many of our art teachers used their extraordinary problem-solving skills and pivoted in amazing ways. Cereal boxes became the new substrate on which to create, and dirty laundry served for color theory and analysis. Additionally, “Driveway Drops,” and “Pizza Supply,” aka art material deliveries, became the norm. Where there was a need, our art teachers jumped to fill it. In the long run, the efforts made early in the pandemic created the “We’re ALL in this together” attitude, which has made “reuniting” easier.
Many children were unable to “go” to school because Wi-Fi and devices were lacking. In art, we soon realized technology was not the only barrier; there was also a general lack of materials. There were
It became clear that the 2020-21 school year wasn’t going to begin with students in schools, synchronous and asynchronous learning was the norm, and what were once extraordinary measures were
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
▲ Northside ISD received the District of Distinction designation from the Texas Art Educators Association (TAEA). going to become necessary measures. Since Northside ISD is a district of more than 103,000 students with 174 art teachers, we have a commitment to art that has grown into a fully pre-K - 12th grade comprehensive Visual Arts program, where all our learners can creatively expand their artistic visions. Northside art teachers, with their varied backgrounds and highly accomplished areas of expertise, are capable of doing it all. Though we are a large district, these art teachers are a tight-knit community committed to elevating the art experience for every student. As the art PLC (professional learning community) evolved, it became a rich ground to think outside the box, coach each other, and even buoy each other’s spirits when necessary. Our teachers learned that failing forward was the only way to ensure that our best efforts would become new best practices. This deliberate and innovative approach fuels growth in our Visual Arts program, and helps students learn, grow and thrive in transformational ways that ensure success within and beyond the classroom. Even though education looked different, NISD’s art teachers were still active and able to offer our students amazing opportunities during the 2020-21 school year. A summer art camp brought students back into
schools, and NISD students competed in all levels of the Visual Art Scholastic Event. Gold Seals, Platinum Awards, and Top of TEAM recognitions might be even sweeter during a pandemic. As competitions took on new digital formats, our art teachers and students united to have hundreds of pieces entered and adjudicated at local, state and national levels. Our teachers knew that those opportunities gave their students and themselves something to aspire to rather than be consumed by the daily challenges besetting our families. As we look forward to a resumption of all of our district, city and state art opportunities, we hope to continue to celebrate some of the virtual experiences that enriched our students’ art experiences so deeply. In reflection, some of those new experiences may become some of our future favorite, long-standing traditions. Yet, the most exciting displays of art and “reuniting” don’t always happen outside our buildings. After months and months of hallways barely populated by students staring at bare walls, art has begun once again to appear in all kinds of spaces. Art is allowing students to “reunite” with each other as they walk the halls looking for pieces that they or their friends have created. Students are stopping and noticing these artistic pursuits and engaging in
the artist/viewer interaction. Through the simple act of hanging drawings and photos in halls and placing sculptures in display cases, students have begun to see that maybe “school” is really happening, and that after the social isolation we’ve all experienced, we are “reunited” and will get through this together. As it has time and time before, art has shown it has the power to bring out the best in all of us. Even when things were at their most uncertain, our art teachers’ commitment was recognized when the Texas Art Educators Association (TAEA) District of Distinction was again presented to Northside. This distinction represents not only a commitment to student success, but also a commitment to our art community. We have, again, shown that art and art education have the power to bring us together. They have the power to reunite and are essential to our human experience. In Northside ISD, art education is not only returning to where we were before the pandemic took its toll, we are continuing to evolve. This evolution may at times seem slow, but you can feel the transformational effects. Northside’s art teachers and students have Northside “Reuniting,” and yes, it does feel so …. THERESA YASGER is the K-12 visual arts supervisor for Northside ISD. She is currently in her 35th year in fine arts education. Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Who’s News > Continued from page 11
Now serving as executive director for business support services is Amicha Williams, who was senior director for payroll services.
Goodrich ISD The district has appointed William Daniel Barton superintendent. He was previously
at Irving High School in Irving ISD. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a master’s degree in music from Southern Methodist University. Highland Park High School’s new Lady Scots head soccer coach, Aaron McGough, comes to HPISD from Austin ISD, where she taught chemistry and biology and coached the girls’ soccer team at Anderson High School. She holds a degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas. Mercedes Trent now leads
Shepherd ISD’s high school principal.
the Lady Scots golf program, transferring to her new job from Hebron High School in Lewisville ISD, where she taught PE and coached golf. She is a graduate of Dallas Baptist University.
Greenville ISD Greenville ISD has named Sharon Boothe superintendent. She has served as the district’s deputy superintendent of teaching and learning since 2017 and was appointed interim superintendent in June. The University of Texas at Arlington graduate holds a master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University and previously was an administrator in Grand Prairie ISD.
Harmony ISD Michael Alphin has been promoted from principal of Harmony High School to district superintendent. The 12-year administrator began his career in Yantis ISD. He is a graduate of College of the Ozarks with a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce.
Hays CISD Laura Briones, who was assistant principal of Simon Middle School, is now principal. Currently in her 10th year as an educator, she began her career in Round Rock ISD, going on to work as a curriculum coordinator and instructional coach before joining Hays CISD in 2016. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University, she earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from New York University.
Highland Park ISD (Dallas) Highland Park High School welcomed a new orchestra director at the beginning of the academic year. Matthew Epperson held the same position since 2013
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Jacksboro ISD Superintendent Dwain Milam, who has led the district for six years, has announced his upcoming retirement. He previously held the top position in Collinsville ISD.
Killeen ISD A new principal is in place for Hay Branch Elementary School. Steve Bibiano, former assistant principal of Brookhaven Elementary, has been with the district for 15 years. He has worked as a classroom teacher, teacher leader, campus instructional specialist and summer school director.
Lake Worth ISD Students at Howry STEAM Academy have greeted Christi Allen as their new principal. She spent the past six years as an assistant principal in Mansfield ISD and previously worked in Killeen and Duncanville ISDs. Kelly Giddens began the new
academic year as principal of Marine Creek Leadership Academy. Before coming to Lake Worth ISD, she worked as a teacher and administrator in Irving, Coppell and Keller ISDs. She was ESC Region 10’s Principal of the Year in 2019.
The new assistant principal of Marine Creek Leadership Academy is Jessica Jager, a former teacher, reading interventionist and dyslexia and academics specialist.
The district’s director of curriculum and instruction, Tosh McGaughy, comes to her new position from McKinney ISD, where she was coordinator of secondary English language arts and student assessment. The University of Texas graduate also worked as a literacy instructional coach with ESC Region 11. She holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of North Texas.
Lamar CISD Sonya Cole-Hamilton has filled the position
of chief communications officer, bringing more than 20 years of experience to her new job. She was most recently chief of staff of DeSoto ISD. The Southern Methodist University graduate holds two master’s degrees, in journalism from the University of North Texas and in education administration from Lamar University.
Erin Forbes is the new principal of George
Junior High. Most recently an associate principal at Fulshear High School, she taught in Katy ISD for eight years. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a master’s degree from Lamar University and a doctorate from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Wessendorff Middle School’s new principal,
Norman Jones, is a 13-year educator who has
spent the past seven as an administrator. He comes to his new position from Community ISD, where he was a middle school principal. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and his master’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Leander ISD The district announces the appointment of Laurelyn Arterbury as its chief of staff. Formerly an area superintendent, she joined LISD in 2016 as executive director of college and career pathways. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State University and a doctorate in the same field from Texas A&M University. Kimberly Grubb, new
principal of Bush Elementary School, spent the past seven years as assistant principal of Cactus Ranch Elementary. The 15-year educator received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in education leadership from Texas State University.
Lewisville ISD Lewisville ISD has named Cristie Liles its next athletic director. A member of the LISD athletics department since 2012, she most recently served as associate athletic director.
Lockhart ISD The district’s new director of bilingual/ESL programs is Cynthia Vasquez. She comes to Lockhart from Hays CISD, where she was principal of Uhland Elementary. In her 23-year career, she has been a teacher, assistant principal, teacher and principal mentor, and principal.
Lufkin ISD Yaneth Clifton is now
principal of Burley Primary School. An employee of the district for 23 years, she has been a classroom teacher, bilingual and science coach, and principal of Slack Elementary. Lufkin Middle School’s new associate principal, Mollie Havard, has been with the district for 13 years, most recently as an assistant principal at Lufkin High School. Coston Elementary School has welcomed Starla Hill as its new principal. She has spent her 16-year career in Lufkin ISD, the past seven as an instructional coach at Coston. Now serving as Lufkin High School’s associate principal is Harlan Neal. With 31 years of experience, he has been a classroom teacher and, most recently, a ninth grade assistant principal at Lufkin High. Danny Whisenant now leads
Slack Elementary School as principal. He has served the district as a teacher, assistant principal, instructional coach and principal.
McKinney ISD National nonprofit SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) has named McKinney ISD’s secondary advanced academics and gifted and talented coordinator its 2021 Educator
of the Year. Javetta Jones Roberson joined the district in 2020 and previously was an administrator in Fort Worth and Birdville ISDs. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas. McKinney North High School orchestra director Lamar Smith has been honored with the designation of Director of Distinction by the Texas Orchestra Directors Association (TODA). Now in his 20th year as an orchestra teacher and director, he previously worked in CarrolltonFarmers Branch and Wylie ISDs.
Manor ISD Manor ISD’s new police chief is Clarence Yarbrough, coming to his new position from Teague ISD, where he held the same title. Prior to that, he was an officer in Lexington and Bellmead. He holds an associate degree from Odessa Community College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas Permian Basin. He is at work on his master’s degree in educational administrative leadership from Angelo State University.
Matagorda ISD Former McDade ISD superintendent Barbara Marchbanks now serves in that position in Matagorda ISD.
Midlothian ISD Ron Bland has been approved
as Midlothian ISD’s director of engagement. He has spent his 14-year career with the district, most recently as its media specialist. The Baylor University graduate earned his master’s degree in computer education and cognitive systems and his doctorate in educational computing from the University of North Texas.
Neches ISD A new superintendent is in place for the district. Cory Hines is the former superintendent of Chester ISD.
Nixon-Smiley CISD Cathy Lauer will retire at the end of December, bringing to a close a 33-year career in education, 17 of those leading Nixon-Smiley CISD as its first female superintendent. She was ESC Region 13’s Superintendent of the Year in 2016.
Pampa ISD The district’s new superintendent is Hugh Piatt. The 33-year educator has been with the district for six years, most recently serving as principal of Pampa High School.
Paris ISD Paris Junior High School has welcomed Joseph Percevecz as its assistant principal. He brings six years of experience to his new job, most recently as a teacher at Johnson High School in San Antonio’s North East ISD. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ashford University and a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce.
Pearland ISD The new principal of Jamison Middle School is Amanda Gordon, who previously worked as a teacher and administrator in Crosby, Spring and Galena Park ISDs. She is a graduate of Southwestern University with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston. Erin Hamann has been promoted from associate principal of Dawson High School to principal. He has spent his 26-year career with the district. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of St. Thomas. Kelly Holt is Pearland ISD’s
new executive director of high schools. She has been with the district for 15 years, the past six as principal of Dawson High School. The 30year educator has a bachelor’s degree from Houston Baptist University and a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of Houston Clear Lake. The district’s new financial controller is Britt Madden, who previously worked in the private sector, as chief financial officer for Santa Fe (Texas) ISD and as an associate director of budget and analysis for the University of Texas Medical Branch. He is a CPA with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Houston Clear Lake.
> See Who’s News, page 31 Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
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Who’s News > Continued from page 29
Now serving as assistant superintendent of special programs is Lisa Nixon, who has spent 17 of her 29 years as an educator with Pearland ISD. She has worked as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of testing and program evaluation and executive director of special programs. She is a graduate of the University of Houston University Park and received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Former Shadycrest Elementary School assistant principal Stacie VanLoenen is now principal of Silverlake Elementary. She most recently served as an elementary principal in Alvin ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harding University and earned her master’s degree in education administration from Sam Houston State University. La’Kesha Henson-Vaughn is
the new executive director of intermediate schools. Most recently the district’s director of early childhood education, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University and her doctorate in educational leadership from Prairie View A&M University. Newly appointed director of testing, accountability and program evaluation Melissa Ward most recently served as an assistant principal and teacher at Dawson High School. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Stephen F. Austin State University. The new chief academic officer is Nyla Watson, who has spent her three-decade career in the district. She was a teacher at Pearland High, going on to serve as an assistant and associate principal, executive director of instructional programs and, for the past 14 years, assistant superintendent of instructional programs. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University, her master’s degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake, and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Houston.
Pflugerville ISD Pflugerville ISD has announced the appointment of Jennifer Land as chief financial officer. She brings 11 years of experience to her new role, having previously worked for Round Rock ISD and as chief financial officer of Manor and Belton ISDs. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and her master’s degree in business administration from Texas State University. Former Pflugerville Elementary School assistant principal Gerardo Ortiz now leads Barron Elementary as principal. He began his career in 1989 at the Texas School for the Deaf before joining Round Rock ISD. He is a graduate of the University of Houston with a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Texas.
Round Rock ISD Dennis Covington has
joined Round Rock ISD as chief financial officer. He comes to Texas from Kansas, where he served in the same position for Kansas City Public Schools. Prior to that, he was with North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and worked as a director of programs and budget for the United States Air Force. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from East Carolina University and is a graduate of the USAF’s budget officers’ and staff officers’ schools. The new principal of Cedar Valley Middle School is J.R. Hughes, who was an assistant principal in Paetow High School in Katy ISD since 2020. Currently pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership at Southern Methodist University, where he received his master’s degree, he holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. Tim Lowke is the district’s new director of fine arts/ visual arts. He has been assistant director of visual and performing arts since 2015 and was named 2018’s Texas Educator of the Year by the National Art Education Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State University.
Jager Loyde, now serving as
director of fine arts/music, has 12 years of experience as an educator, nine of those as a band instructor and director at the high school level. He served as the district’s director of instrumental music since 2018. His bachelor’s degree in music education was earned from the University of North Texas and his master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State University. The new area superintendent of the McNeil Learning Community is Mya Mercer, RRISD’s director of staffing since 2016. She received her master’s degree in educational administration from Texas Christian University and her doctorate in educational leadership and policy from the University of Texas. Now serving as area superintendent of the Stony Point Learning Community is Travis Mutscher, who since 2014 worked as principal of Ridgeview Middle School. A graduate of the University of Texas, he earned two master’s degrees, in educational administration and organizational communication, from Texas State University, where he also received his doctorate in school improvement. Zac Oldham has been named
area superintendent of the Westwood Learning Community. Before joining Round Rock ISD, he worked in Midlothian, Ennis, Leander, Burnet and Stockdale ISDs. He received a bachelor’s degree from McMurry University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University, from which his doctorate in educational leadership was also awarded.
Ryan Smith has accepted the position of chief of teaching and learning, having served as executive director of that area since 2017. An educator for 19 years, he was previously assistant principal of Walsh and Deerpark middle schools. He holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Texas. Heath Walz has been
promoted from associate principal of Ridgeview Middle School to principal. The 18-year educator is a graduate of Texas State University with a master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University. > See Who’s News, page 32 Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
Who’s News > Continued from page 31
San Angelo ISD Central High School principal Bill Waters has been honored as a 2021 Distinguished Administrator by the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), recognizing his part in preserving quality music education programs on his campus and in the district.
San Antonio ISD Robert Jaklich has been chosen to serve as the district’s interim superintendent. He has a decade of experience leading Texas school districts, most recently serving in Victoria ISD.
Sherman ISD The district’s new director of communications is Arena Blake, who comes to Sherman from Northwest ISD, where she was a communications specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas Tech University, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in strategic communication and innovation. Adam Patterson has been
tapped to serve as director of technology services. He has been with the district since 2008, working as a help desk technician and systems analyst and, most recently, as technology services coordinator. Heath Wester, a law
enforcement veteran with almost three decades of experience, has joined Sherman ISD as its first school resource officer and police chief. He comes to the district from the Grayson County Sheriff ’s office, where he oversaw the criminal investigations division. Prior to that assignment, he served for 21 years with the Grand Prairie Police Department.
Socorro ISD (El Paso) Americas High School band director Henry Vega was honored with the Meritorious Achievement Award by the Texas Bandmasters Association at their annual conference in July. He has served at the school since it opened in 1996, previously working as a band director in El Paso’s Ysleta ISD.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
An interim superintendent has been appointed for Stephenville ISD. Kelly Magin, a former assistant principal and principal, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tarleton State University.
Assistant superintendent for human resources Daniel Lopez brings more than 25 years of experience to his new job, coming to Waco from Denton ISD, where he was executive director of human resources. He previously served as an administrator in Spring and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISDs. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, earning his master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University and his doctorate in professional leadership from the University of Houston.
Sweet Home ISD Now serving as superintendent is Lisa Riggs. She was Gresham-Barlow ISD’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction since 2018 and previously served in administrative positions in San Antonio ISD and in Nevada’s Washoe County School District. She has a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and earned master’s degrees from the University of Victoria (B.C.) and Seattle City University. She is at work on her doctorate from San Diego State University.
Windthorst ISD Newly appointed superintendent William Paul comes to Windthorst from Breckenridge ISD, where he was principal of Breckenridge High School. He previously served in Lexington ISD as a junior high principal. He holds a doctorate in education from Texas Tech University.
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)
Ysleta ISD (El Paso)
The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has announced the appointment of Dan Troxell as its executive director. He brings 20 years of experience in Texas public education to his new position, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent in Round Rock, Allen, Cypress-Fairbanks, Kerrville and Leander ISDs. He was most recently TASB’s deputy executive director. His doctorate in education administration was conferred by the University of Texas.
serving as Ysleta High School’s interim principal, now holds the position on a permanent basis. An educator for 22 years, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Tyler ISD The Tyler ISD Foundation has a new executive director. Suzette Farr comes to her new position from the Mentoring Alliance, where she was vice-president of marketing and community engagement. She previously worked as a marketing director for the American Heart Association and as the Cooperative Teachers Credit Union’s business development director.
Valley Mills ISD Former Valley Mills Elementary School principal Chris Dowdy has been promoted to district superintendent.
Laura Calderon, who was
A new transportation director is in place for the district. Rosario Fernandez is the former chief operating officer for Project Amistad, a nonprofit agency serving elderly, special needs and at-risk adults. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix. Former Hulbert Elementary School assistant principal Sophia Fierro has been appointed the school’s interim principal. She began her career in 2009 in El Paso’s Socorro ISD. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso with a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University. James McIntyre, former principal of Hulbert
Elementary School, now serves in the lead position at Loma Terrace Elementary. He began his 17-year career in Ysleta ISD as a teacher, going on to work as an assistant principal and principal. He earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Vista Hills Elementary School’s new principal is
most recently an assistant principal at Glen Cove Elementary. She began her career in 2009 after earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she also received her master’s degree. Silvia Rendon has accepted the position of associate superintendent of high schools after serving on an interim basis since the summer. The former Ysleta High School principal earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and her master’s degree from Sul Ross State University.
Sageland Elementary School began the 2021-22 academic year with a new principal. Jacqueline Salas was most recently assistant principal of Carrasco Elementary. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M International University. ◄
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The joy of giving
by Riney Jordan
t’s the holiday season of the year … and I love it!
“Oh, yes,” he said. “And we’re almost to the first house now.”
Every year about this time, I am reminded of one of the most heart-warming, beautiful things that has ever happened to me and my family.
Within a few minutes, he pulled up to the little two bedroom house that we rented.
A few weeks before the Thanksgiving holidays, our school’s parent-teacher group announced a canned food drive for the less fortunate in our community. Each classroom was encouraged to bring items for the drive, and the classroom that brought in the most items would be given a pizza party.
“No, you are, Riney. Our committee met, and we determined that there are few families in this community that need any more help right now than you do. Come on. You get the first delivery!”
I’d never been on the receiving end of charity before, and I didn’t quite know how to react.
“Oh, we are really, really grateful,” I told him, “but if I’d had any idea that these were coming to my family, I wouldn’t have promoted it like I did.”
Well, don’t give me a challenge if you’re not serious about it. Every afternoon, the last thing that I would say to my students as they prepared to leave for the day was, “Don’t forget to bring a can of food for the drive. Let’s win that pizza party!” And, my marketing plan worked! We won the pizza party, and I could not have been prouder of my students. “What a wonderful thing you have done for a family who doesn’t have much,” I told them. “You have helped make some family’s Christmas much better!” A day or two before we were to leave for the Thanksgiving break, my principal came around that morning and asked if I might be able to help him deliver the canned goods that afternoon.
“Oh, is one of my neighbors getting some of these? Great!”
“It’s fine, Riney,” he added. “Accept it in the love and joy that it is given.” I was in my second year of teaching, and let’s just call it what it was: We were barely making it on my teacher salary. My wife was home with our two babies at the time, so my little check was all we had to keep us afloat. For the next six months or so, we enjoyed that beautiful variety of canned goods … from cranberry sauce to green beans, from fruit cocktail to hominy.
“Sure,” I responded, “but what about my class?”
And, for those cans without wrappers, we made a game of, “Guess what’s for supper.” I’ve never forgotten that humbling act of kindness. And I hope I never do.
“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll get a substitute to come in and take your class this afternoon.”
This holiday season, be mindful of those who are having a rough time right now.
I have to admit that I was so excited! What a joy it was going to be to surprise needy families with a box or two of food items!
And with so many issues plaguing our country, let’s show our students one of the greatest and most important lessons they’ll ever learn.
Once we had loaded the hundreds of cans into boxes and carted them to his pickup, we were off. “Do you have a list of everywhere we’re going?” I asked.
It comes from the Book of Acts in the Bible: “It is always more blessed to give than it is to receive.”
RINEY JORDAN is the author of two books and a frequent public speaker. To invite him to speak at your convocation, graduation or awards banquet, visit www.rineyjordan.com.
Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
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Texas School Business NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021