TSB—November 2014

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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 60 Years

November/December 2014






Laredo ISD’s A. Marcus Nelson SUPERINTENDENT OF THE YEAR Also inside: Outstanding School Board TSPRA Key Communicator TASA/TASB Convention photos

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TSB contents news and features

Superintendent of the Year Laredo ISD Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson promotes teamwork to achieve success by Leila Kalmbach

12 photo feature Annual TASA/TASB Convention attracts 6,000 to Dallas

Outstanding School Board


Arlington ISD board’s success reflects its best-laid plans by John Egan


departments Who’s News


Ad Index


columns From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Katie Ford

TSPRA Key Communicator Northside ISD’s Pascual Gonzalez claims top honor

by Jim Walsh


by Terry Morawski

Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan


Guest Viewpoint Standing up for activity-permissive learning environments by Mark E. Benden

Photos on the cover and this page of Superintendent Nelson are courtesy of Bryan Hall at Texas A&M University at Commerce. 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. November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


January 25–28, 2015 • Austin Convention Center


Midwinter win nter er C Con Conf Conference onference fe 15

Register Now for TASA’s 2015 Midwinter Conference!


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

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

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

Early-Bird Registration through December 19 Register Early and SAVE! Texas Association of School Administrators 406 East 11th Street n Austin, TX 78701-2617 n 512.477.6361 n (toll-free): 800.725.TASA (8272)


Texas School Business • November/December 2014

From the Editor This is always a fun issue to put together because it celebrates those who stand out among their peers in Texas public education. It’s inspiring to hear their stories, to learn where they have come from and where they are headed next. On behalf of the magazine, I want to say congratulations to all the award winners featured in the November/ December issue. Thank you for sharing your stories — and your best practices — with us. Speaking of best practices, our Eighth Annual Bragging Rights issue will come out soon, and I’m super excited about the 12 winning districts this year. Talk about an impressive range of top-notch programs, practices and people! Keep an eye on your mailboxes. This special issue will come out around the first of December. You won’t want to miss it! Please continue to send me your story ideas at katie@texasschoolbusiness.com. Are there people in your district who deserve to be “In the Spotlight”? Is there a program in your school worth sharing with your peers in education? For more than 60 years, this magazine has served as a platform for keeping those who work in public education connected throughout Texas. Your stories of success (and of trial and error) have the potential to educate and inspire others to do great things in our public schools. Let us hear from you!

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) November/December 2014 Volume LX, Issue 14 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Bobby Hawthorne, Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Lance Lawhon Texas Association of School Administrators Executive Director Johnny L. Veselka Assistant Executive Director, Services and Systems Administration Ann M. Halstead Director of Communications and Media Relations Suzanne Marchman ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and the Bragging Rights issue published in December by Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701.

© Copyright 2014 Texas Association of School Administrators November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


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Texas School Business • November/December 2014

THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh


Finding friends of public ed


e are gearing up for a critical legislative session. Public schools have been battered and bruised in the past two sessions, and now they face the challenge of new leadership at the state level and in key committees. We need all the friends we can get, especially those who have influence. So, I’d like you to take a look at www.pastorsfortexaschildren.com. I heard about this group at a meeting of school superintendents at ESC Region 12. The guest speaker was the Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, a longtime Baptist preacher who heads up this new organization. The mission of Pastors for Texas Children is “to advocate for children by providing ‘wrap-around’ care for our local neighborhood schools; supporting our free public education system; promoting social justice concerns; and advancing legislation that enriches Texas children, families and communities.” Let those words sink in. Note that this is a group coming from a religious perspective that is not promoting any of the wedge issues (vouchers, prayer in schools, textbook content, Common Core, UIL membership) that drive much of our politics these days. They are promoting our “free public education system” and “promoting social justice concerns.” They want legislation that “enriches Texas children, families and communities.” This includes adequate and equitable funding. Johnson pointed out that legislators are widely off the mark when they claim that in 2013 they restored “almost all” of the budget cuts that were made in 2011. In fact, they only “restored” 60 percent of those cuts and failed to take student growth into account. “Since when,” he asked, “is 60 percent the same as ‘almost all?’” The man can preach! This Roman Catholic wanted to jump out of his seat and offer an “Amen, Brother! Preach on!” (I didn’t do that, but I wanted you to

know that the instinct was there.) Johnson speaks with intensity, passion and conviction. He has that quality of gravitas that conveys wisdom and compassion, learned from his many years leading churches. Johnson is also a practical fellow. He pointed out that when local preachers call their state legislators’ offices, the calls are taken, and taken seriously. Pastors are important community leaders. They have influence. Legislators listen, and Johnson wants those pastors, preachers and other leaders from the church community to use that influence to support the people who are bearing the heavy burden of supporting our children. That would be teachers. Principals. Superintendents. School board members. It was refreshing to hear someone speak of ALL of those groups as aligned in common cause. We have wasted much effort fighting among ourselves, when the real battle is with those who have no respect for public education and believe it should be dismantled in favor of a private system. So, take a look at the website. You will find that Pastors for Texas Children wants to support teachers, administrators and board members in three ways — all of which are much needed. Not surprisingly, they offer to support educators spiritually, through prayer. Secondly, they offer to provide practical, material support through donations of school supplies, winter coats for kids, etc. Third, they offer to speak truth to power by advocating for us with the people who will make the decisions about public education in the next legislative session. I’m on board with this group. Take a look. I think you will like what you see.

Supporting Leadership in Texas Public Schools

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JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa. com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg. November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


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Texas School Business • November/December 2014


TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

You can learn a lot from a wizard


y older son Jackson likes to play the mobile game Clash of Clans. Like many parents (even as a techie), I have had to ask him to put down his phone for dinner, during basic conversation and more. He often opines that he’s “about to be in a battle,” and I know the chicken and broccoli on his plate are no competition for a barbarian battle. I finally decided to sign up for a Clash of Clans account after learning some of our friends had signed up to monitor this game that their kids showed so much interest in. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the game is fun and pretty addictive, but I was surprised how much skill goes into playing the game and how it incorporates so many things we say are central tenets to the modern learning experience. Jane McGonigal (@avantgame), video game designer/expert and author of “Reality is Broken,” says the average young person plays video games for 10,000 hours before turning 21. This amount of time also happens to be the same average time a student (with perfect attendance) spends in school between the fifth and 12th grades. Anyone familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” knows that 10,000 hours of practice is the magic number when a person becomes a virtuoso at any activity. McGonigal encourages us to think about what expert skills young people are learning through gaming. Clash of Clans offers a good window into the possibilities. Clash of Clans: The Breakdown Collaboration: The ultimate goal of the game is to join a clan and be a productive member. The game experience is less rich when you are not in a clan. (Parent/ teacher note: Kids can join any clan and be invited to any clan. You can only join one clan at a time, and I am a member of my child’s clan.)

Complexity: At any given time, you could be building your resources, training troops for battle, planning for future growth of your village, communicating with your clan, researching your next battle and preparing to defend against invaders. Critical Thinking: There are many kinds of troops and defenses to consider. Each player gets to decide what type of configuration to use to meet their goals. It would be impossible to play without experiencing trial and error — as in, you have lost a battle, now you need to figure out why you lost to win next time. Patience: In your village, you start out with two builders. When you spend gold or elixir to build a structure or defense, it could take anywhere from four hours to days to finish. Life is full of choices that commit people to chunks of time. Work, family and fun all have elements of committing time in place of some other activity and then having to accept that choice. This is a good lesson to learn early, if possible. (Parent/teacher note: Currency in the game can be purchased with real money, but a valid credit card is required to make purchases. Buying progress in the game limits some of the positive learning aspects too, in my opinion.) Marc Prensky, author of “Don’t Bother Me Mom, I’m Learning,” encourages parents to play games with their children. If you’re not comfortable playing along, Prensky also suggests talking to kids about what they like about their games, and it wouldn’t hurt to watch them play in a fun, but not dismissive way. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing in Mansfield ISD. He is also a doctoral student at Dallas Baptist University. You can reach him at terrymorawski@ gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @ terrymorawski.



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November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


Who’s News Alvarado ISD Kenneth Harrington is a new assistant principal of Alvarado Intermediate School. He comes to the district from serving as an administrator in Crowley ISD. Superintendent Chester Juroska has announced his intention to retire at the end of December, bringing to a close a 44-year career in education, 28 of those as a superintendent. He began as a speech, journalism and special education Chester Juroska teacher, going on to serve as a junior high counselor, assistant principal and principal. Juroska, who has led Alvarado ISD since 2000, graduated from the University of Houston and received two master’s degrees, both from Stephen F. Austin State University. His doctorate was awarded from Texas A&M University at Commerce. A second assistant principal has been named for Alvarado Intermediate School. Kristi Payne had been serving in an interim poKristi Payne sition since January. Axtell ISD Now serving as superintendent is J.R. Proctor, former high school principal in Scurry-Rosser ISD. Bastrop ISD Sami Kinsey, principal of Bastrop Middle School, has been named Region 13’s Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). An educator for 24 years, 13 of those as an administraSami Kinsey tor, Kinsey has held her current position for the past four years. She was recognized during TASSP’s convention this past summer. Patricia Melgar-Cook is now the district’s director of bilingual and ESL programs. She previously served as assistant principal of the district’s Del Valle Opportunity Center. In addition, she spent seven years as the bilingual and ESL literacy consultant for TS Consulting. An educator for 19 years, Cook earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and holds two master’s degrees in education, from The University of Texas and Texas Wesleyan University. 10

Del Valle ISD Humberto Araiza has been appointed the district’s transportation director. He comes to Del Valle ISD from Eagle Pass ISD, where he held that position for 10 years. A graduate of Our Lady of the Lake University with a degree in busiHumberto Araiza ness administration, he is a member of the Texas Association of Pupil Transportation and is a transportation certification instructor and a state-certified transportation official. The new principal of Baty Elementary School is Jennifer Garcia. An employee of the district for eight years, she spent the past two years as assistant principal of Del Valle Middle School. Prior to that, she was a teacher at HornsJennifer Garcia by-Dunlap and Gilbert elementaries. Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and her master’s degree in elementary education from Texas State University, where she is working on a doctorate in school improvement. Marisol Rocha is now principal of Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary School. An educator for 14 years, she comes to her new job from Dailey Middle School, where she was assistant principal. Rocha, who received her Marisol Rocha bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree from Tarleton State University, is pursuing a doctorate in education through the cooperative superintendency program at The University of Texas. Denton ISD Former Denton High School Assistant Principal Paul Martinez is now principal of Calhoun Middle School. He has been an educator for 14 years, nine of those as an administrator. Prior to his role at Denton High, he was assistant principal of Navo Middle School for six years and of Gainesville High in Gainesville ISD for a year. Martinez received his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas.

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

El Paso ISD David Ortega is now head varsity boys’ basketball coach at Coronado High School. He was head coach at Irvin High for the past four years. Jefferson High School has named Arnold Reyes as head basketball coach. A graduate of El Paso High, he has been an assistant boys’ basketball coach at Austin High for the past six years. Richard Scott, former interim varsity baseball coach at Jefferson High School, is now head baseball coach at that school. Galena Park ISD Irene Benzor is the new principal of Normandy Crossing Elementary School, where she most recently served as assistant principal. She has been an educator for 12 years, serving as a campus specialist prior to becoming an adIrene Benzor ministrator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. The new principal of Cimarron Elementary School is Cindy Galaviz. An educator for 30 years, she had been principal of Burnett Elementary in Houston ISD. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from Our Lady of the Lake University in San AntoCindy Galaviz nio and a master’s degree in educational administration from St. Thomas University in Houston. Now serving as principal of North Shore Middle School is Brett Lalor, who had been working as deputy principal of North Shore High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Drake University and his masBrett Lalor ter’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University. Shaunte Morris, former associate principal of Galena Park High School, is now principal of Galena Park Middle School. She has spent her Shaunte Morris

See WHO’S NEWS on page 20

GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Real talk about real matters


talked to five or six high school football players before I came across Trent, a junior varsity cornerback who asked me not to use his real name. I promised him I would not. He’s a handsome, young man and articulate, one of the few males attending a writing workshop I taught last month. He took notes and paid attention enough to laugh at a couple of my more outlandish jokes. During one of the breaks, I pulled him aside and asked him if he reads the sports page of the daily newspaper, and he told me he doesn’t, but he watches ESPN. “So, you’re familiar with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson incidents?” I asked. I assume you are too. Of course, he answered. It’s on 24-7, which, he said, mostly confuses and frustrates him. He said he can’t figure out why Sports Center devotes so much time and effort to Rice, Peterson, Greg Hardy, and the half dozen or more other college athletes who have been accused of similar outrages, have been suspended and/or banished and now are under the supervision of the criminal justice system. This includes two University of Texas football players charged with sexually assaulting a coed and videotaping the incident with their cell phones, and it also includes, of course, Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophywinning quarterback for the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles. Trent said he’s sick of all this coverage — so nauseated that he has dialed way back watching ESPN. It depresses him and he loses his focus, which he can’t afford because he has a big game Friday night. I asked him if his teammates talk much about this — just guy to guy — and if so, what are they saying? “Our coaches have talked to us some about it. They’ve warned us not to end up like that,” he replied. In other words, don’t ruin an otherwise successful NFL career. That would be a real shame, he said. To throw away all that money. “But this subject resonates beyond the NFL,” I countered. “It trickles down to the

high school level, right?” “Oh, sure,” Trent said. “Like I said, coaches have told us not to be that guy.” “But do players talk about it among themselves?” “Some, but not a whole lot,” he said. “The thing we talk about the most when it comes to football is the next game — what we have to do to improve and get ready. For me, personally, that’s all I think about.” I asked Trent if either the Rice or Peterson stories might change anything in the long run — socially or culturally. He said he didn’t know, then added, in a “just sayin’” kind of way: “There’s probably more behind these stories that we don’t know about.” In other words, maybe Rice had a right to deck his fiancée. He didn’t say precisely that, but his body language strongly suggested it. An hour or so later, I asked a couple of female athletes whether they’re familiar with the Rice and Peterson incidents, and they replied almost simultaneously, “Absolutely.” “We talk about it a lot,” one girl, a softball player, said. “So, you ladies are pretty anti-Ray Rice, I suppose?” “Absolutely!” I told them I’d interviewed a couple of guys, who echoed what Trent had said: “The full story hasn’t come out.” Then, I asked the girls, “Do you agree with that?” “Not at all,” one of the girls, a volleyball player, blurted. “We saw the full story on the video,” and the other girls nodded in unison. So, it seemed to me that — as usual — the girls seem to get it. The boys? I’m not so sure about. Either way, let’s count our blessings. No one is talking about Johnny Manziel or Dez Bryant or Donald Sterling anymore. I suppose, this holiday season, we can be grateful for that much at least. BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

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November/December 2014 • Texas School Business




Laredo ISD Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson promotes teamwork to achieve success by Leila Kalmbach


f it’s evening time during the school year, you’re likely to find Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson cheering on the school sports teams in his district, comfortably speaking in Spanish to the many students and parents of limited English-language proficiency who sit in the bleachers. In Laredo ISD, a 99 percent Latino community, he’s also likely to be the only African-American around. Though that makes him different in Laredo, it doesn’t change his approach. According to Nelson, a great superintendent can communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. He didn’t speak any Spanish when he moved to Laredo six years ago, but he made learning the language a priority. “Estoy aprendiendo español en Laredo,” he says. “If you’re going to go to the bathroom or if you’re going to find where you need to go in the city, you need to learn to speak Spanish quickly.” It’s just one of the ways he has shown the community that he’s there for them and that he’s passionate about and proud of Laredo. “It happens to me all the time in this community, where people recognize that I’m not from here and that I really don’t have the same cultural background, yet I’m very much in love with the city,” he says. “I think people recognize when I go watch our kids compete — I go three or


Texas School Business • November/December 2014

four nights a week and on weekends — and people can tell that I’m passionate about the work that we’re doing.” In September, the Texas Association of School Boards showed its appreciation for passionate school administrators like Nelson when it bestowed the Laredo ISD superintendent with the title of 2014 Superintendent of the Year. The awards committee considered factors such as dedication to improving educational quality, relations with the school board, student achievement and commitment to public education. The final round of interviews focused on school safety, ethical leadership, successful teamwork, innovative practices and advocacy for public education, according to TASB. Ask Nelson about the award, though, and he’s quick to give credit to his team — the board, the cabinet, the staff and the community in Laredo that has welcomed him so. “I really am just the quarterback, but if you had a quarterback who didn’t have anybody to throw the ball to, didn’t have anybody to block him, didn’t have anybody running the ball, then the quarterback wouldn’t be the quarterback,” Nelson says. Nelson’s path to his superintendency started in the public school system in San Antonio, where he attended North East ISD schools and graduated in Jud-

son ISD. He grew up poor, and he says it was his teachers, coaches, principals and counselors who motivated him to pursue a college education. A class president in high school, he also served on the superintendent’s advisory committee, a group of students that met monthly with Judson ISD’s superintendent at the time, Arnold Oates. “I got to learn some of the decisions that (Oates) was leading,” Nelson says. “I figured out very quickly that the position in any school district that is most able to influence change — and the position that’s most accountable for student performance — is the superintendentship.” So when Nelson arrived at Abilene Christian University as an 18-year-old undergrad, he told his college adviser that he wanted to major in becoming a superintendent.

demic officer in Judson ISD, of the fact that Laredo ISD was able to pass its bond election last year with an unprecedented 76 percent, of being able to improve the district’s bond rating from A+ to AA- and of being able to create a one-to-one laptop initiative in Laredo’s high schools. Despite the accolades and political victories, Nelson says some of his proudest moments in Laredo ISD have been at the high school graduations. The district has four high schools, and he takes pride in shaking every graduate’s hand before they receive their diplomas.

“I’ve had people come up to me with tears in their eyes, so grateful to get their high school diplomas,” he says. “I talk a lot about how hard work pays off. A lot of people who pass a TAKS test or a STAAR test in April after taking it three times, well, they really buy into that idea, because they’ve worked for it.” Laredo ISD is a district of approximately 25,000 students. According to the superintendent, 90 percent of the students in the district are economically disadvanSee NELSON on page 14

“A great superintendent can put on both pressure and support. They really have that balance. They don’t just sing ‘Kumbaya’ all day, but they don’t walk around threatening people either.” “She laughed at that,” he recalls. “I wanted to graduate at 22 and go be a superintendent. Little did I know that that’s not the way the system works.” Now, however, Nelson is grateful for the experiences he has had as a teacher, principal and central office administrator in districts across Texas. He says all of those roles prepared him for being a superintendent in a way he never could have expected back in college. After getting his teaching degree, Nelson went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate at Texas A&M – Commerce to further his progress toward becoming a superintendent. Nelson’s career in public education is marked with noteworthy accomplishments. He’s proud of having been a recognized high school principal in Pflugerville ISD, of the work he did as chief acaPhoto: Bryan Hall of Texas A&M University at Commerce November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


NELSON continued from page 13

“I really believe in diagnostic and prescriptive instruction that focuses on providing rigor to each child in a way that he or she deserves.” taged. It has been one of his biggest goals to make sure that his students have access to the same opportunities that students in wealthier districts have. Nelson’s approach to improving student performance in the district focuses on individualized instruction. Laredo ISD has a system in place that mandates that teachers plan collaboratively to achieve



When I need to unwind, I: like to listen to praise and worship music on my headphones. The best decision I ever made was: to go to Abilene Christian University. My guilty pleasure is: chocolate. A quirky or unusual skill I possess is: I write and produce motivational R&B music.


Photo courtesy of Bryan Hall, Texas A&M University at Commerce.

this goal. In these meetings, teachers are expected to go over the material that the state requires them to teach, while also reviewing each student’s learning style and their classroom data. “I really believe in diagnostic and prescriptive instruction that focuses on providing rigor to each child in a way that he or she deserves,” Nelson says. “Our system, by design, really challenges teachers to form each lesson based on what kids know, what they don’t know — and to do something about what they don’t know.” Being a great superintendent is also about being the ultimate motivator, Nelson says, though he admits that sometimes he’s so focused on improving student performance that he can be a little intense. “A great superintendent can put on both pressure and support,” he explains. “They really have that balance — they don’t just sing ‘Kumbaya’ all day, but they don’t walk around threatening people either.” As for the future, Nelson says he still has a long way to go to become the superintendent he wants to be. “The work in Laredo is not done yet. I’m hoping to have many more years as superintendent and just continue to work on the programs and projects that we

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

have in place here,” he says. Eventually, he hopes to become the superintendent of an even larger Texas district and, at some point, he wants to work in a university setting, helping to develop the next generation of superintendents. He’s also keeping an eye on the demographic changes happening in Texas; it’s one of the reasons he was interested in working in Laredo in the first place. “Over the next 10 to 20 years, those who are committed to educating poor minority children are going to be those who are most successful, because that’s a large part of our state,” Nelson says. For now, though, the focus is squarely on the students in Laredo ISD, and Nelson knows his students are capable of great things. As an example of what’s possible, he shares a personal story. “For that little black boy who grew up in a single-parent home in poverty in inner-city San Antonio to then go and, 25 years later, become the Superintendent of the Year for the state of Texas — only in America. It is a perfect example for every kid in America that, whatever they want to do, if they will just work hard, they can do it,” he says. LEILA KALMBACH is a freelance writer in Austin.

2014 Superintendent of the Year finalists JON WUNDERLICH WEIMAR ISD

Jon Wunderlich, superintendent of Weimar ISD for four years, serves more than 600 students and has 15 years of administrative experience. The selection committee noted his collaboration with other school districts to work on House Bill 5 developments and his commitment to celebrate the positives about public schools and encourage the community to share concerns. Also cited were his emphasis on two-way communication and transparency and his belief that ethical behavior and integrity are vital for building trust. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University in College Station and his master’s degree at Prairie View A&M University.

DANNY TAYLOR BURKBURNETT ISD With 37 years of experience in education administration, Danny Taylor serves some 3,400 students. He has led Burkburnett ISD for three decades. Noted by the committee was his belief that the superintendent does not always need to be at the front and should cultivate others and use talents of all to maximize success. The district used a diagnostic measure for organizational health and distributed tablets to students in Pre-K-12, underscoring the district’s desire to meet the needs of children in an ever-changing world. Taylor earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Midwestern State University.

MICHAEL MCFARLAND LANCASTER ISD At the helm of Lancaster ISD for four years, Michael McFarland has a total of 16 years in education administration and serves more than 6,300 students. McFarland believes that students have changed, and we must be willing to change the education system for these different types of learners. His philosophy of listen, learn and lead was cited, and the committee also noted that McFarland interviewed every senior to ensure each student had a “flight plan” after graduation. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Baylor University, master’s degree at Stephen F. Austin State University and doctorate at Baylor University.

MARK EADS SAN MARCOS CISD Regional winners nominated by education service centers were Chad Kelly, Taft ISD, Region 2; HD Chambers, Alief ISD, Region 4; Mary Huckabay, HullDaisetta ISD, Region 5; Thomas Wallis, Bryan ISD, Region 6; Stan Surratt, Lindale ISD, Region 7; Judy Pollan, Pittsburg ISD, Region 8; Karen Rue, Northwest ISD, Region 11; James “Buck” Gilcrease, Hillsboro ISD, Region 12; Heath Burns, Abilene ISD, Region 14; Ron Cline, Paint Rock ISD, Region 15; Rod Schroder, Amarillo ISD, Region 16; Elbert Wuthrich, Whiteface CISD, Region 17; and Jeff Cottrill, Knippa ISD, Region 20.

Mark Eads has 22 years of administrative experience and has been superintendent of San Marcos CISD for three years. He serves approximately 7,000 students. The committee cited his collaboration with other municipal bodies to help transform the district and the community and the district’s strong alliance with church and community groups. Based on House Bill 5 requirements, the district went from five to more than 20 certificate programs, and the committee also noted his push for full-day pre-K with legislators. Eads earned his bachelor’s degree at Corpus Christi State University and his master’s degree at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi.

Novmeber/December 2014 • Texas School Business




Arlington ISD board’s success reflects its best-laid plans

by John Egan


hen the members of Arlington ISD’s Board of Trustees and their superintendent make decisions, they’re on the same page. Make that pages. More than anything else, the board and superintendent cite the district’s strategic plan as the main driver behind the board’s decision-making process concerning curriculum, facilities, staffing and a host of other issues. “Truly, our strategic plan is our guide for our vision of where we’re going and what we’re doing,” says board President Bowie Hogg. Many organizations adopt strategic plans, but, in reality, many of those plans gather dust as its creators get too caught up in everyday challenges to keep their

sights on the big picture. In the case of Arlington ISD, however, the board embraces the district’s strategic plan as a living, breathing document. In fact, the district regularly measures how well it’s carrying out the plan. In essence, it’s the glue that binds the board members with the district’s staff, students, parents and constituents. District officials credit the strategic plan as central to why Arlington ISD’s board works so well together, and its success has not gone unrecognized. At the TASA/TASB Convention in September, the Texas Association of School Administrators named the Arlington ISD trustees as the 2014 Outstanding School Board of Texas.

“Our board is passionate about ensuring that all Arlington ISD students are successful, and this recognition validates that focus and their work to achieve that belief,” Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos said in a district news release about the award. “The board truly exemplifies governance through transformation. They are committed to our mission to empower and engage all students to be contributing, responsible citizens, reaching their maximum potential through relevant, innovative and rigorous learning experiences.” Hogg, a product of Arlington ISD schools, says that before the plan was crafted, Arlington ISD was at a “tipping point.” The district had real potential to

Arlington ISD Board President Bowie Hogg steps forward from the ranks to claim the Outstanding School Board of Texas award, which was announced at the Annual TASA/TASB Convention in Dallas in September. 16

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

become either a high-performing or a lowperforming urban district. “We were still a good district, but we weren’t the cream-of-the-crop district,” he recalls. Hogg says that If the district hadn’t taken some “pretty drastic measures,” it would have tipped toward the lowperforming end of the scale. The district’s strategic plan crystallized those measures. Superintendent Cavazos describes the three-year plan, completed in 2012, as a “very bold” project designed to push the district toward high-performing status. Cavazos, an administrator in the district since 1999 and the superintendent since 2012, says Arlington ISD previously had a year-to-year improvement plan, but nothing as in-depth as the current longerterm strategy, which board members and staff created. Posted on Arlington ISD’s website, the plan lays out the district’s beliefs, vision, mission, objectives and goals. Initiatives spawned by the plan include a curriculum audit, an employee engagement survey, a parent satisfaction survey, a student survey, a study of district salaries and a facilities assessment. The facilities assessment paved the way for a recent bond election aimed at paying for the construction of new buildings, including two elementary schools, and upgrades to other buildings. In May, with a 70 percent margin of victory, voters approved the district’s $663 million bond package. It was the biggest bond package ever to appear on the ballot in Tarrant County. After the votes were counted, Hogg told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “It’s an overwhelming message by the community that we support public schools.” Hogg’s post-election comment aligns with the strategic plan’s vision “to be globally acknowledged as a premier school district.” The plan pinpoints five specific objectives: • 100 percent of students will graduate on time and excel at their school or career of choice. • 100 percent of students will reach their full academic potential. • 100 percent of students will be actively involved in extracurricular and co-curricular activities. • 100 percent of students will graduate as lifelong learners. • 100 percent of students will

graduate with a commitment to their community. The goals spelled out in the plan fall under three banners — Inspired Learners, Effective Leadership and Engaged Community. Some of those goals are: • prepare our graduates to excel in higher education or the career of their choice; • be the leader in the education marketplace by providing worldclass facilities while being fiscally responsible; • recruit and retain the most-effective people by rewarding excellence and providing opportunities for continual growth; • foster a caring culture of respect, integrity, wellness and citizenship throughout the district. • cultivate an environment that builds great leaders; • actively engage and partner with parents in the educational experience; and • enhance educational excellence and workforce development through collaboration with community partners. Cavazos says the strategic plan enables the board to govern the district with a collective vision and purpose. To help ensure this collective force is on track, Cavazos meets monthly one-on-one with each board member. He speaks with Hogg practically every day. “The relationship we cultivate together is very purposeful,” Cavazos says. Hogg says his superintendent always has Arlington ISD’s 64,000 students in mind when he is communicating with board members and troubleshooting the district’s toughest issues. “He’s doing things for the betterment of the students in Arlington ISD, and that’s the focus of where we need to go, and that’s how trust is truly built,” Hogg says. Hogg says the board members put their trust in Cavazos and in each other. Aside from Hogg, the elected board members are Jamie Sullins, vice president; Aaron Reich, secretary; John Hibbs, assistant secretary; Gloria Peña; Peter Baron; and Kecia Mays. Cavazos admits his board members may disagree now and again on how to reach their objectives, but the district’s

“Invest the time to work on a collective vision with the board. It takes time, but the investment is worth the result. The investment up front is critical, and then you stay true to it.” — Arlington ISD Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos ultimate improvement is “non-negotiable” and everyone’s end goal. Because the strategic plan is a living, breathing document, it requires continuous reassessment. The Arlington ISD board is setting its sights on a plan overhaul soon — a task that will require many concentrated hours of independent review and group meetings. “What’s crazy is we’re actually really looking forward to it. We know what an important document it is,” Hogg says. The board has had to boost its efficiency to stay in compliance with the plan’s objectives and timelines, according to Hogg. Much like a corporation, the district has formed committees to make progress on various fronts. In addition to an audit committee, the board formed committees for community engagement, finance and accountability, and governance. When it comes to collaborating with board members on developing a strategic plan, Cavazos offers this advice to his more than 1,000 fellow superintendents in Texas: “Invest the time to work on a collective vision with the board. It takes time, but the investment is worth the result. The investment up front is critical, and then you stay true to it. “[The board] has demonstrated that as a team, we are unified, and we’re unified because we have a purpose — and that is ultimately to serve our students and to serve them exceptionally well.” JOHN EGAN lives and works in Austin. He is a former editor of the Austin Business Journal.

November/December 2014 • Texas School Business




Clear Creek ISD Pictured left to right are Page Rander, Ken Baliker, Win Weber, Dr. Laura DuPont, Charles Pond, Ann Hammond, Superintendent Greg Smith and Dee Scott.

Culberson County Allamoore ISD Pictured left to right are Superintendent Marc Puig, Romelia Ramirez, Lisa Cottrell, Rocio Onate, Leticia Hernandez, Angie Gonzalez and Paul Uranga. Not pictured is Alexandria Urias.


Texas School Business • November/December 2014

Midway ISD Pictured left to right are Robbie Jones, Pete Rusek, Bobby Deaton, Susan Vick, Superintendent George Kazanas, Ivan Green and Tom Pagel.

Plano ISD Pictured standing, left to right, are Marilyn Hinton, Tammy Richards, Superintendent Richard Matkin, Carrolyn Moebius and Missy Bender. Seated left to right are Nancy Humphrey, David Stolle and Michael Friedman.

November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


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

14 years as an educator with Galena Park ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Williamson Elementary School has welcomed Paula Patterson as principal. She comes to her new school from Crosby Elementary in Crosby ISD, where she also held the top job. She received her bachelor’s degree in commuPaula Patterson nications from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and her master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. David Pierson has accepted the position of principal of Cunningham Middle School, where he began his career 26 years ago as a teacher and coach. He was most recently principal of Normandy Crossing Elementary. A graduate of Sam David Pierson Houston State University, he holds a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Granbury ISD Tammy Clark, head coach of the Granbury High School Lady Pirates volleyball team, has been named volleyball committee chair for the Texas Girls’ Coaches Association (TGCA). She has been with Granbury High for Tammy Clark 12 years, working as an assistant principal in addition to her coaching duties. Prior to becoming an administrator, she taught French, science, health and physical education. Clark received her bachelor’s degree in environmental chemistry from the University of Bordeaux in France and her master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Highland Park ISD (Dallas) Lydia Walden has been named the district’s director of academics and support services. She comes to her new position from Como-Pickton ISD, where she was assistant superintendent for state, federal and special 20

programs since 2007. Her career spans 30 years, during which time she was a teacher in Mt. Vernon, Sulphur Springs and Garland ISDs, and an elementary and junior high principal. Walden’s bachLydia Walden elor’s degree was awarded from East Texas State University and her master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Irving ISD Linda Torres-Rangel has been appointed the district’s director of language and parent services. She had been serving as state and federal programs compliance coordinator. She has been an educator for 18 years, 12 of those with Irving Linda TorresISD. In addition to her Rangel most recent position, she has been a bilingual teacher, counselor and assistant principal. Torres-Rangel is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in counseling from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Kingsville ISD Carol Perez, former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, is now the district’s superintendent.

Lamar CISD Tonya Garza began the new school year as principal of Travis Elementary School. A graduate of the district’s Terry High School, she previously served as director of Seguin Early Childhood Center, as an assistant principal Tonya Garza of Smith Elementary School and as the district’s elementary summer school principal. She was also a kindergarten, first and second grade teacher at Ray Elementary. Garza earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at Victoria. Now serving as principal of Seguin Early Childhood Center is Mary Ellen Rocha. She began her career as the district’s attendance clerk at Lamar Junior High, going on to work as an administrative assistant and tutor at Smith ElMary Ellen Rocha ementary and as a teacher at Beasley and Ray elementary schools. Her most recent position was assistant principal of Pink Elementary. Rocha, who received her bachelor’s degree from Houston Baptist University, has a master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria.

See WHO’S NEWS on page 24

SCHOOLS DESIGNED AS SUSTAINABLE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS We strive to create healthy environments that express the aspirations of our clients, improve the lives of their community, and honor the broader goals of society. The K-12 Texas Practice has designed 12 schools that have been designated a LEED Certification for sustainability. PROUDLY SERVING TEXAS SCHOOLS

Texas School Business • November/December 2014





Northside ISD’s Pascual Gonzalez claims top honor


he Texas School Public Relations Association has named Pascual Gonzalez, executive director of communications for Northside ISD, in San Antonio, as the recipient of the association’s 2014 Key Communicator Award. Gonzalez receives the award in recognition of his continuing contributions as a spokesperson, mentor, and leader for public education and school public relations in Texas.

“TSPRA is delighted to be able to honor one of our own as the 2014 Key Communicator,” says TSPRA President Denise Blanchard. “Pascual’s devotion to public education and school communications throughout his career at Northside ISD is without parallel.” Gonzalez has spent his entire career in Northside ISD, beginning work in 1976 See NORTHSIDE on page 22

TSPRA President Denise Blanchard visits Pascual Gonzalez in Northside ISD to present the award. Gonzalez was unable to attend the TASA/TASB Convention in September in Dallas, where the award was officially announced. Novmeber/December 2014 • Texas School Business


NORTHSIDE continued from page 21

as an English teacher. He then served as assistant director of public information for 10 years before becoming executive director of media and technology services. Since Gonzalez took over as executive director in 1998, Northside ISD has grown by more than 50,000 students — from 61,330 to approximately 103,500 in the 2014-2015 school year. During that time, the district has passed six consecutive bond issues that have totaled more that $2.5 billion and has opened more than 50 new schools. Gonzalez is known both throughout the San Antonio area and statewide as a go-to source for explaining complex educational issues in a voice that’s clear, knowledgeable and professional. “I can say absolutely unequivocally that Pascual Gonzalez is the most impressive communications professional and spokesperson I have ever worked with,” says Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, executive director of public affairs for The University of Texas System and a former education reporter and editor at San Antonio Express-News.


Gonzalez also uses his experience and insight in his role as a mentor to many of the school public relations professionals across the state. Whether new to the profession or a veteran communicator, colleagues throughout Texas know they

‘Everyone seems to have Pascual on speed dial.’ —Robert Blount Jr. Board President Northside ISD

can turn to Gonzalez for input and advice on the issues facing their districts. “Everyone seems to have Pascual on speed dial. From members of the media to his colleagues at other school districts to our principals and key staff, when an issue arises or advice is needed, Pascual is the one we call upon,” says Northside ISD Board of Trustees President Robert Blount

Jr. “We value his experience, rely on his superb judgment and admire him for his ability to share the messages of Northside ISD and public education to our audiences.” A longtime TSPRA member, Gonzalez has been a presenter at the TASA/ TASB Convention, TASA Midwinter Conference and TASB Summer Leadership Institute. He served as president of TSPRA from 2004-2005, has been honored as Public Relations Professional of the Year by the San Antonio chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and was awarded a National PTA Life Membership by the Northside Council of PTAs. “Pascual represents all that is good and right about school communications,” says Jon Dahlander, Dallas ISD executive director for communications services. “He is the leader of a tremendous team and a role model for our profession.” Brian Morris of Lubbock ISD chairs TSPRA’s 2014 Professional Awards Committee, which includes Tim Carroll, Allen ISD; Lynda Queen, ESC Region 16; Mark Kramer, Channelview ISD; Kristyn Hunt, Port Arthur ISD; and Adam Holland, Longview ISD. TSB

Successful Principals Are Connected to Their Profession Why encourage your principals to join the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP)? With so much to do as a school principal, it is easy to give in to stress and work in isolation. Dr. Grant Simpson reminds us in a recent TEPSA News column that, “Networking is an important tool. Without it, your sanity is at risk.” Combined membership gives principals access to a nationwide network of colleagues who share best practices, the latest education news and resources, and professional peers who lift each other up when things get tough. Inspired and engaged principals = inspired and engaged students and teachers!

Learn more at www.tepsa.org.


Texas School Business • November/December 2014

Scan code or visit http://www. tepsa.org/?SampleTepsa to sample resources including the webinar “Handling Parent Complaints: The Policies and Politics” presented by Kevin Lungwitz.


Standing up for activity-permissive learning environments


ecent press around sedentary work behavior has asked the question: “Is sitting the new smoking?” The reason this has come up is that many ailments, including diabetes and heart disease, have been connected to an inactive lifestyle. If our waistlines and even our longevity are also connected to how active we are each day, why wouldn’t we want to teach our children from an early age to move more? No one reading this would ever force a child to smoke. Is forcing them to sit down just as harmful? In an activity-permissive learning environment (APLE), teachers don’t tell children to sit down or to sit still during class. Instead, they encourage movement — like standing, rocking and walking. Why? An active mind requires an active body. All administrators and teachers want better classroom management, better student engagement and, ultimately, improved learning. What if we need to increase physical movement to maximize cognitive gains? There’s a whole body of evidence available to support this position. In simple terms: We think better on our feet than in our seats! As an associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center and co-director of the Ergonomics Center, I am frequently in K-12 classrooms, researching classroom management and academic performance. Our research first looked at classroom movement as a way to deal with the growing number of obese children. To combat this problem, we began installing and testing stand-biased desks for K-4 students in 2008 to allow upright movement during instruction and self-work. Stand-biased desks are taller than traditional desks and allow students to sit on a stool or stand at will. Obesity increases children’s risk for academic failure and participation in risky behavior, such as substance abuse, premature sexual behavior and unhealthy eating habits, which may compound weight problems. The Centers for Disease Control also predicts that kids in school today may become the first generation of

U.S. children with a shorter life expectancy than their parents, due to a lifetime of health effects from obesity. Our work in schools has included looking at standing desks, exercise balls, several types of wobble stools, and even swinging footrests and treadmills. Our research showed that students provided with a stand-biased desk burned 15 percent to 25 percent more calories than their peers in traditional seated desks. As a result of these numbers, we turned our attention to student comfort and posture. Again, we observed improvements on both measures over traditional seated furniture. Finally, we began exploring student engagement and academics. The activity-permissive students stayed on task and were able to complete those tasks more quickly and accurately. Perhaps most telling: We could not get the teachers to give up the standing desks after the studies were completed! In addition to increasing energy expenditure, we now see APLE aiding in reducing disruptive behavior and increasing student academic potential. Children become more restless and inattentive with prolonged sitting. Active workstations reduce disruptive behavior problems by providing students with a different method for completing academic tasks (e.g., standing), which breaks up the monotony of seated work. Recent research indicates that academic behavioral engagement is the most important contributor to student achievement. Active workstations may also improve students’ academic achievement by increasing behavioral engagement. In our most recent high school intervention with 300 students, we have seen considerable year-over-year increases in both state standardized test scores and PSATs.

If we want the school community to accept health-related interventions, those interventions must align with a school’s academic goals. New approaches for addressing physical inactivity also should be in harmony with children’s natural habits, tendencies and engagement. As the saying goes: There’s nothing new under the sun. Ben Franklin had a patent on a standing school desk more than 200 years ago. Thomas Jefferson worked at one that he designed. Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Napoleon Bonaparte and even Donald Rumsfeld all worked at standing desks to create some of their most memorable written work. Will your school take a stand? MARK E. BENDEN is an associate professor and director of the Texas A&M University Ergonomics Center. You can email him at mbenden@sph.tamhsc.edu.

November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 20

Lockhart ISD Mark Estrada began the new academic year as principal of Lockhart Junior High School. He was principal of Plum Creek Elementary since 2012. Prior to that, he served in the top position at HornsbyDunlap Elementary in Mark Estrada Del Valle ISD. He has also been an instructional administrator, assistant principal and middle school teacher in that district. Estrada earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas State University. Darryl Henson has been named principal of Plum Creek Elementary School. Before coming to Lockhart ISD, he was principal of the Ninth Grade Academy at Houston ISD’s Reagan High School. He began his career as a fourth Darryl Henson grade teacher at Rodriguez Elementary in Austin ISD, going on to serve as a math teacher at Park Crest Middle School in Pflugerville ISD and as a special education teacher at Lee High in Houston ISD. Henson earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from The University of Texas and a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies from The University of Texas at Arlington. Rita Sotelo is now principal of Bluebonnet Elementary School, coming to Lockhart from Houston ISD, where she was assistant principal and dean of students at Westbury High School. In addition, she was the college access Rita Sotelo coordinator and registrar at Eastwood Academy High School in that district. Sotelo, who began her career as a high school English language arts and reading teacher, received her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University and her master’s degree from Concordia University in Austin. Loraine ISD Steven Parker has been named principal over the elementary, junior high and high school in Loraine ISD. Previously an administrator in Farwell and Pampa ISDs, he was most recently a teacher and coach in Hart ISD. 24

McKinney ISD Melinda DeFelice is now the district’s senior director of college and career readiness. She brings 25 years of experience, 17 of those as an administrator, to her new job. She began her career in Richardson ISD as a reading teacher Melinda DeFelice at Richardson and Lake Highlands high schools. She then was assistant principal of Richardson Junior High, before joining McKinney ISD as an assistant principal of Dowell Middle School. She then transferred to McKinney High School to serve as associate principal. She became principal of Johnson Middle School a year later, working in that position for four years before taking her most recent job as principal of Cockrill Middle School. DeFelice is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a degree in secondary education. Her master’s degrees in secondary education and education administration were awarded from Texas A&M University at Commerce, where she also earned her doctorate in education administration. Superintendent J. D. Kennedy will retire at the end of December. An educator for 40 years and now in his 16th year as a superintendent, he spent 20 years in the Dallas area, including stints in Richardson and Allen ISDs. He has been J. D. Kennedy superintendent of McKinney ISD for five years. Kennedy began his career as a vocational adjustment coordinator in San Antonio’s Southwest ISD, next working as a teacher and vocational adjustment coordinator in the same city in North East ISD. He was also a teacher and elementary counselor in Richardson ISD before taking his first administrative position as an assistant principal in Allen ISD, where he went on to serve as an elementary principal. He was assistant superintendent of Waco’s Midway ISD, then superintendent of Decatur and Midlothian ISDs. Kennedy, who earned his bachelor’s degree in social science and secondary education from Baylor University and his master’s degree in counseling from The University of Texas at San Antonio, holds a doctorate in education administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. In addition to his work in Texas public schools, he has served as an educational consultant in Haiti and Kosovo and as an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas.

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

North Lamar ISD (Paris) The new superintendent, John McCullough, was most recently superintendent of Sulphur Bluff ISD. He began his career in 1992 as a science teacher and coach in Jacksonville ISD, moving to Sulphur Springs ISD seven years John McCullough later to serve in the same capacity. He took his first administrative position in 2005 when he became assistant principal of Sulphur Springs High School; he was promoted to principal in 2007. During his tenure, he was named the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals’ 2009 Principal of the Year for ESC Region 8. McCullough, who received his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and his master’s degree from The University of Texas at Tyler, took his most recent position in Sulphur Bluff ISD in 2011. Northside ISD Geraldina Benitez is now serving as principal of May Elementary, coming to her new job from Wanke Elementary, where she was vice principal. She has been a kindergarten, second and third grade teacher at Westwood Geraldina Benitez Terrace Elementary and was an administrative intern at Lewis and Esparza elementaries. She joined Wanke in 2010. Benitez received her bachelor’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Former May Elementary School Principal Sandra Bonnett has been appointed director of elementary administration. She is a product of Northside ISD schools and a graduate of Taft High. She began her career in 1996 as a third Sandra Bonnett grade teacher at Linton Elementary and then served as the Success for All reading facilitator there before becoming vice principal of Powell Elementary in 2002. She took her most recent position at May in 2009. Bonnett earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Norma Farrell, who previously was vice principal of Los Reyes Elementary, is now principal of Mireles Elementary. She began her career in San Antonio’s North East

Who’s News ISD as a fourth grade bilingual teacher at Walzem Elementary, joining Northside ISD in 2006 as a bilingual teacher at Wanke Elementary. She was an administrative intern at Beard and Ott elNorma Farrell ementary schools before being named vice principal of Henderson Elementary when it opened in 2010. Farrell, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Incarnate Word, holds a master’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. The new principal of Evers Elementary School is Kelly Mantle, who was vice principal of Evers Elementary. Prior to that, she spent 15 years as a second and fifth grade teacher at Howsman Elementary. She has bachelor’s and master’s Kelly Mantle degrees from The University of Texas at San Antonio. The district’s new director of guidance and counseling is Kimberly Ridgley, former coordinator of secondary guidance and counseling. She began her career in 2000 as a pre-K teacher at the Children’s Enrichment Center in San AntoKimberly Ridgley nio and joined Northside ISD in 2002 as a counselor at Zachry Middle School. She became the coordinator of secondary counseling and Safe Schools Initiatives in 2006. Ridgley earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Patricia Sanchez, most recently principal of Mireles Elementary School, is now director of elementary instruction. She joined the district in 1991 as a first grade teacher at Passmore Elementary, going on to work as a reading Patricia Sanchez specialist at Howsman Elementary and as vice principal of Oak Hills Terrace and Thornton elementary schools. She was also an educational specialist at ESC Region 20 and was principal of Passmore Elementary before opening Mireles in 2011. Sanchez, who has a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University, holds a master’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Now serving as principal of Carnahan Elementary School is Andi Sosa, who had been vice principal of Brauchle Elementary since 2009. She began her career as a fourth grade teacher at Burke Elementary School and also Andi Sosa taught second and third grades at that school. Both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees were awarded from The University of Texas at San Antonio. In addition, the follow administrative appointments have been made: • Paul Alvarez, vice principal, Evers Elementary School; • Griselda Espinoza, vice principal, Leon Springs Elementary School; • Michelle Fine, vice principal, Westwood Terrace Elementary School; • Daisy Garcia, vice principal, Kuentz Elementary School; • Elizabeth Gutierrez, vice principal, Los Reyes Elementary School; • Richard Halle, assistant principal, Stevens High School; • Aurelio Hernandez, assistant principal, Jordan Middle School; • Thomas Johnson, assistant principal, Zachary Middle School; • Karen Littlewood, vice principal, Braun Station Elementary School; • Regina Prewitt-Campbell, assistant principal, Brennan High School;

• Vaughan Rehfeld, assistant principal, Taft High School; • Mark Sandoval, vice principal, Scarborough Elementary School; • Veronica Segovia-Cadena, vice principal, Myers Elementary School; • Scott Sheldon, vice principal, Wanke Elementary School; • Priscilla Siano, vice principal, Behlau Elementary School; • Patrick Sizemore, vice principal, Jordan Elementary School; and • Tanya Stivers, assistant principal, Stevens High School. Northwest ISD (Fort Worth) A new director of instructional technology has been named for Northwest ISD. Rory Peacock, who has been the district’s coordinator of instructional technology for the past year, was previously an instructional technolRory Peacock ogy specialist and fifth grade math and science teacher. Before joining Northwest ISD, he was an applications project manager for a network company in Fort Worth and a communications specialist in Midway ISD. Peacock received his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies from McMurry University and his master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies from The University of Texas at Arlington. See WHO’S NEWS on page 26


FEB. 2–6, 2015 | AUSTIN CONVENTION CENTER Make Your Plans to Attend Today | www.tceaconvention.org


November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


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

Richardson ISD Lake Highlands High School now has Frank Miller as principal. He comes to the district from Garland ISD’s Sachse High School, where he served as vice principal since 2006. An educator for 14 years, he earned his bachelor’s deFrank Miller gree in interdisciplinary studies from The University of Texas at Dallas and his master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce, where he is completing his doctorate in education. Frank Troyka, Berkner High School director of bands, is the recipient of the 2014 Bandmaster Association’s Meritorious Achievement Award. He has held his current position since 2006, leading the Rams Band to finalist Frank Troyka status three times in state UIL marching contests. Robinson ISD Stacey Proctor, now director of finance, joins the district from Scurry-Rosser ISD, where she held the same position. A graduate of Baylor University with a master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Commerce, she began her Stacey Proctor career in Rockwall ISD. The new principal of Robinson Primary School is Missy Zacharias. The former elementary school teacher, who has been with the district for 13 years, began her career in Austin ISD. She has a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Missy Zacharias Texas State University (now Texas State University) and a master’s degree from Concordia College. Round Rock ISD Jenny Kasson has been appointed principal of Canyon Creek Elementary School, where she spent the past four years as assistant principal. JoyLynn Occhiuzzi, Round Rock ISD’s executive director of community and governmental relations, has been named to the 26

35 Under 35 list by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), recognizing her as one of the best young professionals in the field. A public relations employee for 16 years, JoyLynn Occhiuzzi has served on Occhiuzzi the Texas School Public Relations Association’s executive committee as a vice president at large since 2012. Daniel Presley has been named chief of schools and innovation after serving in that role in an interim position since July. He was previously principal of Cedar Ridge High School. He has been an educator for 30 years and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Centenary College in Louisiana. His doctorate Daniel Presley was awarded from Texas A&M University. A new executive director of education support has been named. He is John Yonker, who has served as principal of McNeil High School since 2011. Prior to that, he spent a year as principal of Cedar Valley Middle School and was an assistant superintendent in New Caney ISD. Yonker has been an educator for 25 years, taking his first administrative position in 2001. Shallowater ISD Phil Warren, who has been the district’s superintendent for 14 years, has announced his upcoming retirement, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Snook ISD The new superintendent is Brenda Krchnak, who most recently was assistant superintendent of administrative services in Coldspring-Oakhurst ISD. Prior to that, she was principal of Columbus High School and director of operations for Columbus ISD, principal of Hempstead Middle School in Hempstead Brenda Krchnak ISD, and assistant superintendent of business and operations for Sealy ISD, where she also was a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Krchnak, who received her bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University, holds a master’s degree in education from Prairie View A&M University.

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

Tomball ISD Mary Beth Barr has been chosen to serve as the district’s director of language arts/ reading/social studies. An educator for 27 years, she spent seven years working in charter schools in Hawaii as a principal and dean of Mary Beth Barr students. Prior to that, she was an elementary language arts coordinator and classroom teacher in Clear Creek ISD and served as a vice principal in Pearland ISD and as a teacher in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Barr received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama and her master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Karen Chlebo has been appointed director of administrative services. She has been an educator for 17 years, working as a teacher in Lamar CISD and Brownfield ISD before joining Tomball ISD as a high school English teacher. Karen Chlebo She has also been a senior intervention coordinator, representative to the curriculum writing committee, English team leader and assistant principal. Chlebo, who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas Tech University, holds a master’s degree in education from Lamar University. Nefertari Mundy is now the district’s director of professional development and academic services. She has been an educator for 14 years, coming to Tomball ISD from Round Rock ISD, where she was director of student support Nefertari Mundy services and college/career readiness. She also worked in Houston ISD as a counseling and guidance manager and as a counselor in Pearland and Angleton ISDs and in Galveston ISD, where she began her career as a third grade teacher. Mundy has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Oklahoma and two master’s degrees, in educational administration and in counseling, from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Martha Salazar-Zamora has joined Tomball ISD as the district’s chief academic officer. She comes to her new position from Round Rock ISD, where she was deputy su-

Who’s News perintendent of curriculum and administration since 2012. Prior to that, she was Houston ISD’s assistant superintendent of school support services. In addition, she has been an area superintenMartha Salazar- dent in Spring ISD, a suZamora perintendent in Kingsville ISD, and a principal and director of federal programs in Bishop CISD. Before becoming an administrator, she was a speech and language pathologist and educational diagnostician in Kingsville ISD after beginning her career in Alice ISD. Salazar-Zamora holds a doctorate in education from Texas A&M University. Amy Schindewolf has been named executive director of secondary schools. She has been an intermediate school language arts teacher and assistant principal and high school English teacher. She was a high school associate Amy Schindewolf and assistant principal in Klein ISD before coming to Tomball ISD in 2011 as principal of Tomball Junior High. Schindewolf earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University and received her doctorate in educational leadership from Sam Houston State University. Richard Vela, an educator for 19 years, is now the executive director of ancillary services. He was the district’s director of risk management for 10 years. Prior to that, he was an accountant for Livingston ISD. Vela has Richard Vela also worked in the ESC Region 6 Accounting Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in business management from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Ysleta ISD A new associate superintendent for operations has been named. He is Patrick O’Neill, who began his career in the district in 1975. He comes to his new job from El Paso’s Socorro ISD, where he has been a teacher, coach and, most recently, assistant superintendent for administrative services. O’Neill was a teacher in Ysleta ISD for 17 years before teaching in Socorro ISD and serving as athletic director for Clint ISD. He

holds a master’s degree from The University of Texas at El Paso. Zapata County ISD The district’s new superintendent is Raul Nuques. A native of Ecuador who was raised in Brooklyn, New York, he was most recently director of special education for Austin ISD. He began his career as a secondary math and science teacher, advancing to serve as a dean of instruction, 21st century district grant coordinator, high school assistant principal, assistant principal for curriculum and

instruction, and junior high principal. Nuques earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, his MBA in international trade and his master’s degree in school administration from Texas A&M Raul Nuques International University. He is nearing completion of his doctoral degree in public school administration at Texas A&M University. TSB

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November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


Annual TASA/TASB Convention attracts 6,000 to Dallas More than 6,000 trustees, superintendents and other education leaders gathered Sept. 26-28 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas for the joint convention of the Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards.

And so it begins!

Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis addresses the audience at the First General Session.

Brooks County ISD trustree Eric Ramos checks out the Exhibit Hall. Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott addresses the TASA/TASB audience.

Jim Nelson, Sylvester Vasquez and Jim Crow, representing TASB.

James Keeton and Dan Haskins of Liberty-Eylau ISD with Keith Norwood of Sheldon ISD. 28

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

Author, sociologist and educator Bertrice Berry addresses the Second General Session.

Students of Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD perform during the First General Session.

Amarillo ISD Superintendent Rod Schroder receives his plaque as a regional winner in TASB’s Superintendent of the Year award.

TASA President Alton Frailey of Katy ISD. TASB President Andra Self of Lufkin ISD and TASA President-elect Karen Rue of Northwest ISD (Region 11).

Author David Pogue (left) with TASA President-elect Karen Rue of Northwest ISD.

TASB’s 2014 Superintendent of the Year A. Marcus Nelson with his Laredo ISD family.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams leads a session. November/December 2014 • Texas School Business


THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

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The call no parent wants to receive


or years, my family has been fortunate in avoiding tragic events. But recently we encountered one of the worst kinds of tragedies: the death of a young great-nephew due to a drug overdose. Let me briefly tell you of this promising young man’s life. First, he was a bright kid. He was good-looking, with curly blond hair and blue eyes. He had a winning personality and seemed to always have a smile on his face. He made friends easily. So easily. Too, he was born into a family that provided him every opportunity to follow his dreams. He loved ice hockey, so he trained and played with the best. He and his parents traveled all over the United States and Canada playing ice hockey. The kid was good and everyone knew it. But during his teens, this kid who had everything going for him discovered drugs, and his life was forever changed. His college years were costly in so many ways, because drugs have a way of making you irresponsible and showing poor judgment. At age 25, this gifted young man received his diploma and requested a trip to Cambodia. He wanted to backpack and live among the people in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. So, this past summer, he flew away for what promised to be the trip of a lifetime! And indeed it was. Two weeks into the trip, his parents received a call from the authorities in Cambodia. His body had been found in a lodging hut on a small island off the coast. They reported he had apparently died of a drug overdose; a variety of pills had been found scattered about the room. The days that followed were a nightmare for all of us. The father, who is battling muscular sclerosis, was unable to make the trip. His mother and her sister made the 35-hour


journey to this foreign land to retrieve the son’s remains and possessions. The unthinkable, unimaginable had finally happened to our family. So now we join the legions of families who have lost loved ones to drug overdose. As parents and educators, let us be ever mindful of the signs that are before our eyes. Look for mood swings, depression, unexplained absences, a change in appearance and new peers in their lives. Make note of extreme anxiety and a difference in their behavior. The latest figures available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one person dies every 14 minutes in the United States due to drug misuse. It also is reported that some 5,000 people under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides and alcohol poisoning. As educators, it’s critical that we become overseers of children as if we were their parents. Why? Because caring is a trait of a good teacher and, just like a good parent, we want to see them grow up and discover the good things that life has to offer. The reward for saving a young person from the horrors of a drug- or alcoholfilled life will indeed make your efforts worthwhile. But now, weeks after the sad news, we find ourselves hugging and calling our family members more often. An embrace lasts a bit longer than usual. And in those moments when the image of a good-looking, blond-headed young man pops into our memory, we simply and sadly say, “We love you and we miss you, sweet boy. May you rest in peace, Zach.” RINEY JORDAN’s “The Second Book” is now available at www.rineyjordan.com, along with his other publications. You can contact him at (254) 386-4769, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ RineyRiney.

Texas School Business • November/December 2014

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