TSB—September 2014

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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 60 Years

September 2014






So long, textbooks! More districts enter the digital frontier

In the Spotlight Terry Grier Houston ISD

TEPSA President Belinda Neal Lindale ISD

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TSB contents news and features

B’bye, traditional textbook! Texas districts march ahead into the digital frontier by Shelley Seale

photo feature


TASSP hosts annual Summer Workshop 24 Texas ASCD hosts technology conference




In the Spotlight Houston ISD’s Terry Grier shares four tenets for every district by Elizabeth Millard

Who’s News


Ad index


columns From the Editor


The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed


Tech Toolbox


by Katie Ford by Jim Walsh

by Terry Morawski

TEPSA President Profile Belinda Neal has made a career of cheering for children by Leila Kalmbach


Game On!


The Back Page


by Bobby Hawthorne 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. September 2014 • Texas School Business


TASA/TASB Convention

Dallas 2014

Texas Association of School Administrators ■ Texas Association of School Boards

Educate—Engage Experience Convention’s New Learning Spaces Ask an Architect One-on-one conversations with award-winning architectural firm representatives

Four Corners Different perspectives at each corner stopping point throughout this unconventional classroom

Learning Lounge Bite-sized training in 20 minutes

Meet Up Lounge Common-issue discussions with peers—some preplanned, some off-the-cuff

Student Collaboration Center Hands-on demonstrations showcasing visual arts, culinary arts, and the latest in technology

Texas Art Education Association Hundreds of displays from schoolchildren across the state

Online registration open through September 12 tasa.tasb.org 4

Texas School Business • September 2014

September 26–28

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

From the Editor Texas might be known to many outsiders as the land of cowboys and pickup trucks, but our public school system is moving quickly into a new frontier — the digital frontier, that is. Our cover story this month explores how a handful of school districts are successfully changing the face of classroom learning with technology tools that offer more interactivity and creativity for both students and teachers. Complementing our cover story, Terry Morawski, in his column, “Technology Toolbox,” reminds educators that creating a 21st century classroom involves more than placing digital devices in the hands of every student. It’s about identifying ways in which technology can enrich the way teachers teach and students learn. At the end of the school day, it still boils down to relationships. Also in this issue, you’ll find profiles on new TEPSA President Belinda Neal and Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier, along with pages upon pages of Who’s News. We appreciate that so many of you out there stay in touch with us and let us know what’s going on in your districts. If you ever have a story idea or just general feedback about the magazine, please send me an email at katie@texasschoolbusiness.com.

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) September 2014 Volume LX, Issue 11 406 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 September 2014 • Texas School Business



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Texas School Business • September 2014





THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

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When I’m 64… When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now, Will you still be sending me a Valentine? Birthday greeting? Bottle of wine? If I’d been out till quarter to three, would you lock the door? Will you still need me? Will you still feed me? When I’m 64.


las, those “many years” have passed. This has happened to me. I’m 64. How did it happen? What

now? I remember singing along to this charming Paul McCartney ditty when the Beatles issued it. I was 17, which brings to mind another tune: Well, she was just 17, if you know what I mean… . Hmmm. What do they mean? I still don’t know. But back to our main subject: When I was 17 and I heard this song about being 64, of course I wondered if I would reach that age and, if so, what it would be like to get there. I could not imagine. According to Wikipedia, McCartney wrote this song when he was 16, perhaps because that was the year his father turned 64. Here’s the good news. I have not lost my hair! The color has changed. We were, for a time, described as “salt and pepper,” but the pepper fell out of the shaker some time ago. Nevertheless, I follow the advice of a wise, older man: “Never complain about color.” Indeed. Here’s the better news: She still needs me! She still feeds me! When the Beatles released this song, I had not yet met The Woman of My Dreams. But I met her at 19, married her at 23, and now, here we are, still together 41 years later. Now, the bad news: The knees have gone bad. I pick up my new hearing aids on Saturday. The eyes are weaker. Gravity becomes more apparent every year. And as far as staying out “till quarter to three” — are you kidding me? Actually,

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there have been times recently when I was awake at a quarter to three in the morning, but only because that’s when Nature’s call reached a point of urgency. Middleaged man’s disease. But the days of staying out that late are long gone, which is really perfectly OK. As someone once said, decisions made after midnight are rarely wise. We older people find pleasure in the simple things. A good night’s sleep. A quiet morning. A good book. And gratitude — lots and lots of gratitude. New York Times columnist David Brooks recently talked about gratitude in the context of leadership. He described leadership as “a passionate activity.” He said that “it begins with a warm gratitude toward that which you have inherited and a fervent wish to steward it well.” What an excellent summation of what I see in so many of the people I have been privileged to work with. When I ask principals, superintendents or board members about their backgrounds, I inevitably hear “a warm gratitude” for what they have inherited. They speak of mothers, fathers, teachers and coaches who cared for them and pointed them in the right direction. And they also display “a fervent wish to steward it well.” After all, that’s what public education is all about — good stewardship of the civilization, the culture, the values with which we have been so blessed. So, onward we go. Now that I know what it is like to be 64, I’m looking forward to 65. Here’s hoping that whatever age you find yourself at, you will be able to embrace that stage of life with a warm gratitude toward what you have inherited, along with a fervent desire to steward it well. JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa. com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg.

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TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

Is it time to rethink 1-to-1 and project-based learning?


recently was listening to Frenship ISD Superintendent Dave Vroonland speak about his technology initiative and something struck me about his approach. His initiative is not a standard 1-to-1 program. Without hesitation, he said his technology initiative is less focused on the technology itself and more on the learning outcomes. Wait a second, let’s revisit that: a technology initiative that is not focused on the technology. After hearing Vroonland speak, I attended TASA’s summer conference, where I heard Andrew Kim of Comal ISD talk of how he avoids the phrase “project-based learning.” His reasoning is that project-based learning has become a buzzword. What happens to buzzwords? They become stale and quickly replaced with other buzzwords. The danger, in his opinion (and I agree), is that the underpinnings of project-based learning are good, but essentially it just boils down to good teaching — which brings me back to 1-to-1, yet another buzzword. It may sound like I’m saying to call your 1-to-1 effort by a different name. That would be a start, but that’s not the entire picture. The entire picture is how a technology initiative fits into your district’s learning strategies. One of my favorite quotes from Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden is “don’t mistake activity for achievement.” In the same way, we need to be careful to hang our hat on the good intentions of a 1-to-1 program without the proof of success to back it up. How are we measuring these initiatives? How are we reporting the results

to staff, parents and school board? Moreover, simply reporting the number of deployed devices is not enough. It wasn’t long ago the discussion revolved around getting more desktop computers into classrooms. Before that, more computer labs. And, yes, I’m being a little facetious, but we’ve had a 1-to-1 textbook initiative for years — and where has that gotten us? To be clear, I believe technology access for every student and teacher holds tremendous value, but it is the preparation before and the action after the device is put in the student’s hands that is of the utmost importance. Research over the past 10 years has proven this hypothesis time and time again. Why do we often fall short in the 1-to-1 process? I believe the reason is the organizational capacity that is required to provide ongoing technology training and support. Also, the technology staff, curriculum staff, principals, district leadership and school board need to take full ownership of the initiative. Begin the discussions early and involve everyone. Continue the discussion and do not be afraid to discuss what might go wrong or to challenge the effort. What has been your district’s experience with 1-to-1 efforts? I would love to hear about it.

To be clear, I believe technology access for every student and teacher holds tremendous value, but it is the preparation before and the action after the device is put in the student’s hands that is of the utmost importance.

TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. He also is a student in the K-12 Educational Leadership doctoral program at Dallas Baptist University. Send him an email at terrymorawski@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @terrymorawski.

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A conversation with Van Thomas


or only the second time since 1961, Van Thomas didn’t make it to coaching school. He had planned to go to San Antonio, but he had just returned from Austin, where he was working on a story about the dismissal of a local boy from the UT football team. Van said he sympathizes with the young man, but, darn it, the kid seems as talented at finding trouble as he is the end zone. Van was also peeved at the NCAA for abruptly barring college coaches from speaking at high school coaching clinics. It’s all big business now, and Van realizes it, but he misses the old days, as old men are apt to do. Van turned 81 recently. He has covered East Texas high school athletics for more than 55 years. Red-headed, flat-topped and freckled, he moved to Texas in the spring of ’61 by way of northeast Arkansas and northern California, landing first in Henderson, then moving to Longview, then to Nacogdoches and finally to Livingston, where, for the past 36 years, he has written his twice-aweek “Once Over Lightly” column for the Polk County Enterprise. The column is full of sports flotsam, homespun humor and innocent gossip. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t mention this interview to his readers, not a one of whom know me. When Van is finished, they’ll feel as if they do. Van says he thinks about retiring and would if it weren’t for the kids. “I still love getting to know them,” he says. “Many of them will never have their names or pictures in the paper again. This is their one shot.” Of course, he has encountered hundreds of fabulous athletes over the years and has a story about almost every one. Among the best: Big Sandy’s Lovie Smith, White Oak’s Mike Barber, Palestine’s Bill Bradley and Henderson’s Joe Wylie. He says he needled Smith after Big Sandy ran up 100 points against some hapless opponent. He claims he had a hand in Wylie’s decision to attend Oklahoma over Arkansas — his alma mater. “Joe was one of the smartest kids I ever

met, and I told him I thought OU was a better fit,” Van says. Of course, Van spoke at length about Longview’s James Street, who might have attended Arkansas, had the Razorback coaches taken his advice and offered him a scholarship. Van says he asked Frank Broyles if he planned to pursue Street, and Broyles replied, “Who all is interested in Street?’” “Looks like it’s you and Texas,” Van said. “Well, I tell you what,” Broyles said. “I’m going to let ol’ Darrell have him.” Look at how that turned out. Van loves telling these stories about high school players and coaches, with whom he forged long and deep friendships. That made the deaths of Street and Robert Newhouse of Hallsville and Rodney Thomas of Groveton particularly painful. “James’ death broke my heart,” Van says. “I loved him like a brother.” The same is true of Thomas. “One of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet,” he says. Van says he intends to cover Livingston again this fall. His health is good enough, he says, even though he smoked a pack or two of Benson & Hedges a day until January 1983. But he’s not kidding himself. “Eighty-one, well, that’s getting up there,” he says. “You like to think you can continue doing what you’re doing year after year, but you can’t.” I wish I could have interviewed him in person. His staccato laugh seems an octave higher now than what I remember from my days as a young sportswriter in Longview. As we talked on the phone, I tried to picture him as he probably is: a flat-topped and freckled old man, hunched and jowly, but blue eyes still dancing behind his black, horn-rimmed glasses. I hope he has at least one more season in him before he hangs it up. 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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B’bye, traditional textbook! Texas districts march ahead into the digital frontier by Shelley Seale


igh school English teacher Lauren Hickey often struggled to engage her students at East Central High School – especially in her special ed classes. That is, until East Central ISD turbo-charged classroom learning by allowing students to bring personal mobile devices to school and incorporate their use in classroom activities. The district’s Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) plan was rolled out in 2012, after it revamped its responsible use agreement, enhanced its wireless infrastructure, crafted a Mobile Learning certification program for 70-plus teachers and administrators, and conducted town hall meetings with parents and students. More than 450 mobile devices were brought into the classroom environment shortly thereafter. “I have been amazed at how engaged my students have been,” Hickey says. “Even my lowest-performing students have been working hard and are engaged.” Increasing numbers of Texas districts are implementing similar programs — sometimes referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — at a fast pace. In one year from 2011 to 2012, Texas districts piloting this approach increased by 47 percent.

Compared nationally, Texas boasts a strong digital learning policy, ranking 11th out of all the states analyzed in a Digital Learning Now report. With the 82nd Legislature’s creation of the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) in 2011, digital textbooks are now recognized as a valid instructional tool for delivering content to students. IMA enables districts to purchase instructional materials, technological equipment and technology-related services with money received through the state’s instructional materials fund. As Hickey has found in her classroom, the Digital Learning Now report revealed that students in digital learning environments are more interested in what they are learning in school and more motivated to do well. They also feel a stronger connection

East Central High School teacher Jeff Johnson leads his students through an exercise. Like most classrooms in East Central ISD schools, students often glean their knowledge from content accessed through iPads versus traditional textbooks. 12

Texas School Business • September 2014

to their schools than students in traditional classrooms. Another report by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow® found that nearly 50 percent of virtual high school students said they are interested in what they are learning in school, while 32 percent of traditional high school students said the same. “Today’s students are finding the onesize-fits-all education model to be woefully inadequate,” says the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Advocacy Network. “Students now desire to map their own learning journey by directing their paths and choosing the modes of educational exploration that best fit their personal styles and interests.” So, how are schools such as East Central High successfully implementing a digital learning environment? It’s definitely more complicated than replacing paper books with e-readers. “Going from print to digital is so much more than figuring out what resources you’re going to use or the technical issues,” says Jennifer Bergland of TCEA, whose job as director of governmental relations Jennifer Bergland involves helping schools move into the Digital Age. “Those things are really good questions, but the biggest thing you have to work with is helping teachers transition.” In fact, more than 50 percent of the districts interviewed for the Blackboard/Project Tomorrow report indicated that the most difficult part of technology integration is getting teachers’ buy-in. “You’re totally changing the way they do their jobs,” Bergland admits. “They’re interacting with the content in a different medium. If you’re doing it correctly, you’re going to be using the power of technology. That power is wasted if you don’t help teachers figure out how they can use that to engage the learner. “How are you going to empower teachers to leverage the technology so they’re not just doing things the way they did it in a print world?” she continues. “You have to help them realize that they have the ability to do different things now and show them how

they can take advantage of that.” The Internet has changed the way people access facts and information, making activities like rote memorization and factfeeding no longer relevant. “Teachers have the ability now to do so much individualization that they haven’t been able to do before. For years, we’ve been telling them: ‘You need to differentiate.’ Now, we’re really on the horizon to do that through technology.” Going digital is more than transferring content to electronic form; successful digital learning presents an entirely different curriculum. Says Bergland: “It’s changing the way teachers teach. The technology simply allows teachers to make the changes that the reformers have been saying we need to make for a long time. Let the teacher be the facilitator of the learning, and let the kids do a lot of their own investigation and problemsolving.” East Central ISD Technology Operations Director Miguel Guhlin embraces digital learning as a way for both teachers and students to create educational content. For example, East Central High world history teacher Jeff Johnson

routinely asks his students to use Pic Collage software to create educational posters to illustrate concepts they’ve learned in class, such as plate tectonics and continental drift. Moreover, fifth Miguel Guhlin grade science students at East Central ISD’s Salado Intermediate have created e-books on science vocabulary. These educational posters and e-books are shared with other East Central ISD students and teachers through the district’s learning management system. Says Guhlin: “What kicked it off for us was this idea that kids could apply what they have learned by creating educational content that would help their peers learn too. We also like the idea of teachers collaborating to create lessons for their classes and then sharing it through iTunes or online.” In transitioning from traditional textbooks to digital content, the district has focused on the iPad as the device of choice, due to its attractiveness, flexible suite of apps and ease of use. Guhlin warns, however, that using digital devices without upgrading a school’s technology infrastructure or investing in

teacher training can shortcut the intended interactive nature of the digital learning environment. “When teachers first start using mobile devices, they tend to focus on the ‘drill and practice’ or tutorial apps,” Guhlin explains. “Once they become more familiar with the technology, they start using the mobile device as a creation tool. Instead of cataloging apps, they focus on five or six apps that empower student creativity. They learn to ‘app smash’ — that is, take the product of one app and then feed it into another app to get different results.” A digital learning environment also allows for parallel problem-solving. For instance, students will create a problem for their class and post it on a learning management system, such as Edmodo.com. Other students then can attempt to solve the problem using online interactivity. “It’s also great for getting students connected outside the classroom – provided that there’s connectivity and devices [for all students],” Guhlin says. “You’re not going to get there overnight; it takes a while. We’re trying to carefully find the right path ahead, so it’s not a See TEXTBOOK on page 14

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TEXTBOOK continued from page 13

waste of money for the district to invest in the right technology platform.” Clear Creek ISD Clear Creek ISD started its journey into the digital frontier a few years ago with the community passing a 2013 bond that promised to “lighten the backpack” for students. That year, the district began a staggered rollout, providing Dell Latitude tablets to students to implement a 1:1 mobile technology ratio for all students in grades 4-12 over a three-year period in four phases. With the district’s push to research and share digital versions of textbooks and instructional materials, Chief Technology Officer Kevin Schwartz recognized the need to create a half-time digital instructional materials position. For the past year, technology learning coach Bridget Robinson has worked part time on the digital instructional materials and part time with Bridget Robinson technology integration. “The problem was that each publisher had a different way for end users to get online, and there was no way [we] could keep up with all the variations,” Robinson recalls, explaining that some publishers offered a generic login to access content, while others required users to create accounts. “There was no one format and no consistency.” Robinson says that keeping the integrity of the copyrighted material was another challenge. “In an effort for teachers or schools to make access easier, a common practice for many districts is to post the information on the district website, which is a breach of copyright,” she says. “Only students in the course should have access to the materials and only the number of licenses purchased by that district. We don’t want the materials to be out there for everyone in the world.” Robinson and those on her team began matching courses with complementary online tools and providing these — along with relevant login instructions — to students. For the coming school year, Clear Creek ISD’s Curriculum Department has made a commitment that all curriculum adoptions going forward should include a digital component, to which students will have access at home. “We came up with questions for digital publishers, and each publisher had to fill out a commitment form if we were to do business with them,” Robinson says. 14

Texas School Business • September 2014

For instance, publishers must answer questions such as: • Can the materials be downloaded? • Which operating system(s) and browser(s) are optimal? • Do you offer training? • Is a subscription required and how long does it last? Robinson says the district has seen great success in its digital implementation. In terms of cost savings, it’s a no-brainer; the district saved more than $4 million last year alone. The biggest savings, according to instructional materials coordinator Jill Cook, was in not having to purchase bound textbooks for each student, but instead purchasing digital licenses for online resources. Birdville ISD The ability to customize the learning process to each student is the beauty of going digital, says Birdville ISD Technology Executive Director Randy Sumrall. “To do that, we have to break apart the tradiRandy Sumrall tional ways of teaching,” he says. “It’s a shift from instruction to learning, based on each individual student and small groups. How do our kids need to learn — to be more engaged, more collaborative and have problems that are real-world.” Because Birdville has a high percentage of Tier 2 and 3 students, e-learning has proven a successful tool for intervening with students who are falling behind. “We have a tremendous focus at the high school level on credit recovery and remediation for students who have not passed their end-of-course exams,” Sumrall says, adding that an “e-learning environment” enables students to automatically advance to the next concept once the current concept is mastered. The digital curriculum also provides instantaneous feedback when a student faces challenges, which then allows the teacher greater efficiency to serve more students at a greater depth and breadth, Sumrall says. Intervention via technology-based learning tools also happens at the middle school level in Birdville ISD. According to research by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, 63 percent of districts are using online courses to help students who are at risk of not graduating. “Our focus on middle school e-learning concentrates on high school readiness, similar to the way our high school e-learning focuses on college readiness,” Sumrall says.

Check it out! The Texas Computer Education Association created a helpful checklist for districts evaluating classroom technology tools. You can access it here: http://bit.ly/1nSatf0. For more resources like this, visit www.tcea.org. “The more ready a student is to be successful, the lower the chance of the student dropping out.” Making digital devices available to all students is a major challenge for many districts, Birdville ISD included. One option is to establish a system in which students can check out and take home devices, much like library books. But Internet connectivity at home is not a guarantee. “This is a really important arena that needs to be addressed,” Sumrall says. “If we don’t keep it equitable, we will immediately start to separate the haves from the havenots.” According to Sumrall, after Birdville ISD’s bond election in November, the district plans to launch a campaign to provide more affordable — or free, if possible — Internet access in the homes of Birdville ISD students as it rolls out new personal devices in the schools. “I hear of districts wanting 1:1 computers for students. I never hear districts say, ‘We want 100 percent Internet access for all students in their homes,” he says. “We hope to recruit business and communications companies to provide devices and discounted Internet services to those in need.” For districts just starting their journey into the digital learning environment, Sumrall advises to carefully select your learning platforms. “Don’t go to a conference and let a company or another school district sell you on a single solution for your whole district. You need to wrap the technology around the needs of the curriculum. Get your curriculum and technology people together and get them talking.” The shift to a new way of teaching — to better fit the students’ needs — is a change that has been a long time coming. Today’s modern technologies offer many tools to choose from in assisting with this, and customizing learning plans in a more interactive, intuitive and – dare we say it? – fun way for students. SHELLEY SEALE is an Austin freelance writer and the author of “The Weight of Silence” and “How to Travel for Free (or Pretty Damn Near It).”

Who’s News

Celeste ISD Brad Connelly, former high school principal in Leonard ISD, is Celeste ISD’s new superintendent.

fied Educational Office Professional (CEOP) certification training for paraprofessionals.” This year, Ollis is serving as a TESA Summer Work Advisory Board member.

Channelview ISD Superintendent Greg Ollis was honored as the Texas Educational Support Staff Association’s (TESA) Administrator of the Year at the organization’s annual conference in Austin. Ollis has served with Channelview ISD for 24 years, eight of those as superintendent. Greg Ollis He was assistant superintendent from 2002 to 2008. He was principal at Hamblen Elementary from 1996 to 2002 and came to Channelview ISD in 1991 as an assistant principal at De Zavala Elementary. Members of the Channelview Educational Support Staff Association (CESA) nominated Ollis for the top administrator award. The nomination stated: “Mr. Ollis encourages and promotes the professional development of CISD employees and has also supported the attendance of staff development training at CESA meetings, TESA conferences and area workshops. In addition, Ollis has strongly supported the district’s Certi-

Clear Creek ISD Paul House has been named principal of Clear Falls High School, coming to his new position from serving in the top job at Victory Lakes Intermediate School since 2012. He has been with the district since 1992, teaching English at Space Center IntermediPaul House ate School and Clear Lake High before being named assistant principal of Clear Lake Intermediate School in 2005. He was associate principal of Clear Creek High from 2008 until 2012.

Teresa Canon

Tami Eldridge

Cleburne ISD Chris Jackson, who had been serving as interim principal of Cleburne High School, is now principal. Tina Oliver

Conroe ISD Twelve administrative appointments have been made for the upcoming academic year:


• Teresa Canon, director of special education; • Shawn Creswell, principal, Tough Elementary School; • Jennifer Daw, principal, Wilkerson Intermediate School; • Tami Eldridge, principal, Oakridge Elementary School; • Julie English, director of assessment and evaluation; • James Kacur, principal, York Junior High School; • Shelli LeBlanc, principal, Collins Intermediate School; • Bethany Medford, principal, Bozman Intermediate School; • Tina Oliver, principal, Kaufman Elementary School; • Serena Pierson, principal, Austin Elementary School; See WHO’S NEWS on page 16



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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 15

Tara Vandermark

Sarah Wood

Shellie Winkler

• Tara Vandermark, principal, Vogel Intermediate School; • Shellie Winkler, director of elementary education; • Sarah Wood, director of communications.

Corsicana ISD The new principal of Corsicana High School, Eldon Franco, comes to his new position from Silsbee ISD, where he spent the past four years as principal of Silsbee High after serving as assistant principal. Prior to that, he held the top job at Kountze High in Kountze ISD and was assistant principal of Giddings High in Giddings ISD. In addition, he has taught in Spring, Huntsville and Deer Park ISDs. El Paso ISD Now serving as interim assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction is Maria Gutierrez. Eliza Simental is now executive director for connecting languages. She most recently supervised programs, policies and practices for English language learners at all levels. She has spent her career with El Paso ISD. James Steinhauser has been appointed as a policy advisor. Forney ISD Jason Johnston has been chosen to lead North Forney High School as principal. He comes from Rockwall ISD, where he was principal of Cain Middle School since 2009. He began his career in 2001 as a business teacher and coach at Rowlett High School in Jason Johnston Garland ISD and served as assistant principal of Webb Middle School before transferring to Rockwall. Johnston received his bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from the University of North Texas and both his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. 16

Texas School Business • September 2014

Who’s News

Justin Terry is now assistant superintendent of accountability and learning. An educator for more than 13 years, he began his career with Mildred ISD as a math teacher, baseball coach and assistant principal. He then was a teacher and coach in Little Elm ISD. Justin Terry He joined Wylie ISD in 2006 as assistant principal, then associate principal, at Wylie High School. Four years later, he was appointed principal of Burnett Junior High. His most recent assignment in that district was director of academic and career connections. Terry earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and kinesiology from East Texas Baptist University and his master’s degree in educational leadership and policy study from The University of Texas at Arlington. His doctorate in education was completed at Texas A&M University at Commerce. Suzanne McWilliams is the new superintendent of Forney ISD. Most recently the district’s deputy superintendent, she joined the district in 2010 as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. She has been an educator for 34 years, beginning as a first, third and fifth grade teacher and a physical education teacher at Canton Elementary in Canton ISD. She took her first administrative position in 1990 when she accepted the role of assistant principal of Rhodes Elementary School in Van ISD, remaining there until taking the job of principal of Van Intermediate School two years later. She then spent 12 years, beginning in 1998, in central administration with that district, working as executive director of human resources, technology director, supervisor of principals and special programs, and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. McWilliams holds a bachelor’s degree in education from The University of Texas at Tyler and a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Fort Bend ISD Hilda Arnold has been named the principal of Briargate Elementary School. She was most recently principal of East Ward Elementary in Killeen ISD, where she had been an assistant principal as well. She began her career as a kindergarten teacher in Laredo ISD and also was a multigrade-level bilingual teacher in San Antonio ISD. Arnold earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and post-baccalaureate educator preparation program degrees from Texas A&M International University. Her master’s degree in educational leadership is from The University of Texas at San Antonio and her doctorate in educational leadership was conferred by Tarleton State University.

Now serving as principal of Sugar Mill Elementary School is Lori Craig, who had served as principal of Armstrong Elementary since its opening in 2011. Before that, she was an assistant principal, summer school principal and summer school facilitator. Craig began her career 12 years ago after earning her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas State University. She holds a master’s degree in administration and supervision from the University of Houston. Chris Morgan is the new principal of Kempner High School. He led Bowie Middle School after serving as principal of Garcia Middle School and Walker Station Elementary. Morgan, who began his career 20 years ago and came to the district from Irving ISD, received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Stephen F. Austin State University and his master’s degree in administration from Texas Woman’s University. Frisco ISD The following assistant principal assignments have been made: • Brent Benningfield, Heritage High School; • Marcy Corley, Spears Elementary School; • Kim Frankson, Phillips Elementary School; • Jenna Gates, Frisco High School; • Jo-Bina Grace, Robertson Elementary School; • Wendy Hudson, Curtsinger Elementary School; • Courtney Jennings, Boals Elementary School; • Rachel Lamar, Newman Elementary School; • Katie Lane, Roach Middle School; • Jennifer Livingston, Vandeventer Middle School; • Jenny McGowan, Rogers Elementary School; • Erin Miller, Lone Star High School; • Cari Owens, Pink Elementary School; • Cami Patzkowski, Bright Elementary School; • Chakosha Powell, Independence High School; • Stephanie Sipes, Independence High School; • Loryn Tobey, Phillips Elementary School; and • Derek Wheeless, Purefoy Elementary School. Garland ISD Tanya Vargas, former principal of Taylor Elementary School in Frisco ISD, is the district’s new director of elementary human resources.

Georgetown ISD A new superintendent is in place for the district. He is Fred Brent. An educator since 1991, his doctorate was awarded from Texas A&M University. Granbury ISD A new director of support services has been named. Linda Williams worked in a similar capacity in Clyde ISD since 1990. Houston ISD Jennifer Barrientez now leads Stevens Elementary School as principal. She previously worked at Harmony Public Schools as the mathematics curriculum director. She was also principal of Meador Elementary School in Willis ISD and assistant principal of Houston ISD’s Rusk School. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University, she began teaching in ColdspringOakhurst CISD, where she was also the testing coordinator. Andrew Houlihan has moved into the role of chief human resources officer. He has been with the district since 2010, serving as chief major projects officer, school support officer and principal of Parker Elementary School. Prior to that, he was assistant director of the Leadership Development Center in Austin ISD and the director of the Education

Who’s News

Andrew Houlihan

Leadership Institute at the International Center for Leadership in Education in New York. Houlihan began his career in North Carolina as a second grade lead teacher at Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh.

Humble ISD Nolan Correa has been named principal of Summer Creek High School. He comes to his new position from Fort Sumner (N.M.) Public Schools, where he was superintendent. An educator for 27 years, he has also been a science and special education teacher, Nolan Correa assistant principal, district program coordinator, and middle school principal in districts that include Austin and Waco. Correa earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Santa Fe and his master’s degree from the University of New Mexico.

Huntsville ISD Steve Johnson, who was superintendent of Huntsville ISD since 2011, has retired after 42 years as an educator. He began his career in 1972 as a vocational agriculture teacher in Clear Creek ISD, taking a similar position four years later in Goose Creek CISD. He Steve Johnson became director of vocational education in Angleton ISD in 1985, then served in the same capacity in Brazosport ISD. Johnson returned to Goose Creek in 1992 as executive director for educational programs, then was named director of career technology and community education for College Station ISD, where he went on to serve as deputy superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel and then superintendent. He left that district in 2006 to join ESC Region 6 as lead instructor for the alternative principal and superintendent programs and as an assistant program director. In addition, he was an adjunct faculty member, teaching school finance, at Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University. Johnson, who is a graduate of Texas A&M University, received both his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational See WHO’S NEWS on page 20

September 2014 • Texas School Business




Houston ISD’s Terry Grier shares four tenets for every district by Elizabeth Millard


rowing up in North Carolina, Terry Grier always thought he would spend his life flying airplanes for a living, but when he was in the Air Force ROTC at East Carolina University, the wings of this dream were clipped: He suffers from an astigmatism in his right eye, which grounded him for good. So, he found a different type of flight plan — first as a teacher and then as an administrator. With each step in his career, his passion for education reform has increased. Five years into his role as superintendent of Houston ISD, Grier is more focused than ever. Grier touts the importance of having an entrepreneurial spirit when running a school district or campus. It’s a lesson he learned by watching his father, who — despite not having finished the sixth grade — went on in his adult years to start several small businesses and do very well financially.

“I think too many people in education are trying to maintain schools as they are, instead of figuring out how to improve them,” Grier says. “They think if something isn’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. Well, the Model-T Ford wasn’t broken. Does that mean they shouldn’t have figured out how to improve on it?” Grier runs Houston ISD with a business mindset, identifying areas for improved efficiency at every turn. Since joining the district, he has eliminated more than 700 central office jobs and redirected that money back to the schools. He also opened three health clinics for district employees and their families to reduce health care costs. Prior to having access to these clinics, a number of employees were going to the emergency room for basic care because they couldn’t schedule doctors’ appointments outside school hours. Grier notes that educators often spend a lot of time in the weeds.

Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier chats with students at Ortiz Middle School. 18

Texas School Business • September 2014

“Too many administrators are so busy doing day-to-day stuff that they never have time to think about what’s really important for their districts,” he says, adding that he considers himself lucky to have a strong and engaged board. “You have to think about the big things,” he says. “You need measurable goals and you need to be held accountable to them.” Reducing the dropout rate has been a goal for Houston ISD. To that end, Grier examined the district’s budget and found that less than one-tenth of funds were being spent on strategies to reduce dropout rates. Since the district has shifted funds toward initiatives that address dropouts, Houston ISD has seen a decline in the rate, from 22 percent to 11 percent. The district also has goals that address illiteracy and poverty; eighty-four percent of students in Houston ISD receive free or reduced lunches. Incentivizing teachers is another hot topic for Grier. He put a system in place that gives teachers $5,000 in incentive bonuses, followed by up to $12,000 in merit pay, if test scores are on an upward trajectory. While putting that system in place, he researched the colleges and universities that were supplying the district’s best teachers — and worst. The answer? They were the exact same schools. “The difference was in when [the teachers] were hired,” he says, explaining that more than 90 percent of the best teachers were hired before May 15. The theory is that, on average, the strongest candidates are recruited and hired right out of the gate. With that information, Grier issued a mandate to his schools: Fill your positions by mid-May or the central office will do the hiring for you. “That has been absolutely huge for us,” Grier notes. “We get the best teachers, and the results are phenomenal.”

As serious as he takes his job, Grier is big on celebrating the achievements in his district. When attendance goes up, there are ice cream parties. If the budget passes, his team will head out for a celebratory lunch. At every staff meeting, an employee can nominate someone to get a free Houston ISD baseball cap. The friendly competition for those hats is fierce, Grier admits. He usually gives away six or seven hats at every meeting. The gesture may seem minor, but it creates a sense of camaraderie among staff, which is essential to fostering a team that can tackle challenges together. “You need to keep people working together to keep them from burning out,” Grier says. “To do that, you have to celebrate your successes.” ELIZABETH MILLARD writes for a variety of business and technology publications. When not stringing words together, she fights potato beetles and grows delicious food at Bossy Acres, a USDAcertified organic vegetable farm in Minnesota.



Share a little-known fact about yourself: I love those old black-and-white Westerns. Best career or personal advice you’ve received: Never give up on people or things that you love. If you love education, never give up on it. If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why? The commissioner of Major League Baseball, just to know what that’s like. What do you find most stressful about your job, and how do you manage it? When I have to deal with people who are not willing to do what it takes to help all children. To manage my stress, my wife Nancy helps immensely. It’s so important to have someone in your life whom you really enjoy being with and around.

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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 17

administration from Sam Houston State University. Hutto ISD Chris Christian, former Farley Middle School principal, has been named principal of Hutto High School. He came to Hutto ISD in 2012 from San Antonio’s Southside ISD, where he was principal of Southside High School. Prior to that, he was principal of Southside Middle School for five years. In addition, he was the district’s alternative school principal and director of federal programs. Christian, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University), began his administrative career in Poteet ISD as special education director. Prior to becoming an administrator, he was a social studies and special education teacher. Irving ISD Lively Elementary School welcomed Sean Flynn as principal at the beginning of the school year. He joins the district from Denton ISD, where he was principal of McNair Elementary since 2006. He was with Coppell ISD from 2002 to 2006, working as an assistant principal for Austin and Wilson elementaries. He began his career in Lewisville ISD in 1995 as a physical education teacher at Bridlewood Elementary before becoming a resource teacher for special education at Old Settlers Elementary. Flynn’s bachelor’s degree in communications is from the University of Hawaii, and his master’s degree in education administration was awarded from the University of North Texas.

Who’s News

Curtis Mauricio, who has been principal of the Cardwell Career Preparatory Center since 2005, is now principal of Nimitz High School. He has been with the district for 16 years, beginning as a computer science teacher at Bowie Middle Curtis Mauricio School and taking his first administrative position, as assistant principal of de Zavala Middle School, three years later. Mauricio, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas, holds a master’s degree in educational administration from The University of Texas at Arlington. Jennifer McKee has been appointed principal of Kinkeade Early Childhood School, coming to her new job from Clifton Early Childhood School, where she held the top job since 2011. A member of the Irving ISD team since 1996, Jennifer McKee she began as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Good Elementary, going on to work as an instructional specialist. She moved to Davis Elementary in 2004 to serve as an administrative intern, then was the school’s assistant principal from 2005 to 2011. Before joining Irving ISD, she was a fifth grade teacher in Allen ISD. McKee has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy studies from The University of Texas at Arlington.



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Texas School Business • September 2014


Leigh Anne McNeese, who was assistant principal of Clifton Early Childhood School since 2009, is now principal. Prior to her most recent assignment, she was a teacher and instructional specialist at Britain Elementary School. A graduLeigh Anne ate of Irving ISD schools, McNeese she began her career in 1998 as a teacher at the district’s Regional Day School for the Deaf, remaining there until 2005. McNeese earned both her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and her master’s degree in deaf education from Texas Woman’s University. The new principal of Brandenburg Elementary School is Julie Miller. An Irving ISD administrator for 17 years, she was most recently principal of Austin Middle School. Prior to that, she held the top position at Farine Elementary, was assistant principal of Lively Julie Miller Elementary, and worked as a classroom teacher in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and in California, where she also served as dean of students at the Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. Miller received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education from the University of North Texas and went on to earn a master’s degree in administration from Pepperdine University. Rick Nolly has been named principal of Irving ISD’s Secondary Reassignment Center and the Wheeler Transitional and Development Center. He had been the school’s interim principal since January and also was interim principal of Bowie Middle School Rick Nolly for the first half of the 2013-2014 school year. He was a teacher and coach in Fort Worth, Garland and Ralls ISDs. In 1998, he came to Irving ISD as an assistant coach at MacArthur High School. He then spent two years as vice principal of Irving High and four years as principal of Sam Houston Middle School. From 2008 to 2012, he led Nimitz High. Nolly, who earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and English from McMurry University in Abilene, holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Now leading Elliott Elementary School as principal is Sheila Peragrine, who was assistant principal of Stockard Middle School in Dallas ISD since 2012. She began her career in that district in 2001 as a bilingual kinder-

garten teacher at Peabody Elementary. In 2010, she became assistant principal of Brashear Elementary. Peragrine has a bachelor’s degree in international business in Spanish from The University of Texas at Sheila Peragrine Arlington and a master’s degree in education leadership from Texas Woman’s University. Coming to her new role as principal of Austin Middle School after serving as principal of Haley Elementary since 2011 is Toscha Reeves. She began her career in Irving ISD in 1996 as an eighth grade reading teacher at Crockett Middle School, going on to work Toscha Reeves for six years as a librarian and media specialist for the district and as assistant principal of de Zavala Middle School. Reeves earned her bachelor’s degree from Dallas Baptist University and her master’s degree in information studies from Texas Woman’s University. John Haley Elementary School began the new academic year with NeTassha Rendon as principal. She has been with the district since 2011, working as an instructional specialist at Hanes Elementary, an elementary summer school principal and as assistant principal of Lively Elementary. Prior to joining Irving ISD, she was a bilingual second grade teacher in Lewisville ISD. In addition, she taught undergraduate courses at the University of North Texas from 2010 to 2013. Rendon earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington. She is at work on a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Texas. Bonnie Richardson has been named principal of Stipes Elementary School. She has been with Irving ISD since 1993, beginning as a fourth grade teacher at Townley Elementary and going on to teach physical education to all grades at Hanes Elementary. She Bonnie also worked as a sumRichardson mer school principal and instructional specialist and, most recently, as assistant principal of Davis Elementary. Richardson holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in education administration and leadership from Dallas Baptist University.

Who’s News

Michael Ryan is the new director of fine arts and enrichment. He has been an educator for 37 years, most recently leading the fine arts program in Fort Worth ISD from 2007 to 2013. Prior to that, he was director of secondary fine arts in Michael Ryan San Antonio ISD. In addition, he has been principal of Memorial High School in Victoria ISD, of Wichita Falls High School in Wichita Falls ISD, of Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi’s Flour Bluff ISD and of South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie ISD. He also served as assistant principal of Killeen High School in Killeen ISD. He was director of high school bands in DeSoto, Wylie and Chico ISDs and has been an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas and Midwestern State University. Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and his master’s degree in music education from Texas Christian University. He also has a master’s degree in education administration from East Texas State University and a doctorate from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Now leading Lady Bird Johnson Elementary School as principal is Isabel Salazar, who held that position at Kinkeade Early Childhood School since 2013. An educator for 18 years, Salazar began her career as a Spanish teacher at Skyline High School in Dallas ISD, going on to teach AP Spanish at Hillcrest High and to serve as a bilingual kindergarten teacher at Pleasant Grove Elementary. She then was assistant and acting principal of Hooe El

ementary, assistant and associate principal of Garcia Middle School and assistant principal of Spruce High before joining Irving ISD. A graduate of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Salazar holds a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Shirley Sturges, former assistant principal of Townsell Elementary School and a 24-year employee of Irving ISD, has been chosen to lead Townley Elementary as principal. She began her career as a high school teacher in Henrietta ISD, coming to Irving in 1990 Shirley Sturges as a special education teacher at Barton Elementary. For the next 12 years, she taught third and fourth grades and worked as an inclusion specialist, ESL teacher, instructional specialist and assistant principal. She took her most recent role at Townsell in 2012. Sturges has a bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University and a master’s degree from Dallas Baptist University. The new principal of Good Elementary School is Jill Tokumoto, who had been principal of Elliott Elementary since 2007. Before coming to Irving ISD, she was a teacher in Lynwood, Wash., and principal of Cedar Wood Elementary and assistant principal of Lowell and Jill Tokumoto See WHO’S NEWS on page 25

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September 2014 • Texas School Business


TEPSA PRESIDENT PROFILE Belinda Neal has made a career of cheering for children By Leila Kalmbach


hen she was a principal, Belinda Neal had a rule in her schools that many may find surprising: We do not talk about school breaks. No making paper chains to count down to winter break. No expressing excitement about the summer. No discussion of what students will do over the weekend. Neal, now an assistant superintendent with Lindale ISD and the incoming president of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), made the rule after a child taught her a valuable lesson. This child had started exhibiting behavioral problems, and the staff couldn’t figure out what was behind it. Neal knew he had a somewhat difficult home life, but she didn’t understand how

bad until Child Protective Services intervened. “We were trying to figure out what was causing his behavior, and then it dawned on us,” she says. “There were only two days left (until winter break).” While the rest of the children were excited about going home for the holidays, this kid was dreading all the time away from school. From that moment on, Neal changed the way she spoke on the morning announcements, and she talked to her teachers about the language they used with students and parents. “I never wanted anyone to have the impression that we were counting down to get out for a holiday or out for the summer,” she says. “There are so many stories

TEPSA President Belinda Neal stands with Jonathan Cary, a former student who went on to play football at Rice University and now runs a nonprofit called Texas Youth Advocates, which focuses on community outreach and youth development in rural communities. Cary attended the TEPSA annual conference this summer, where he helped Neal kick off her presidential term, which is themed “Cheering for Children.” 22

Texas School Business • September 2014

we don’t know, but what we do know is that every single day we can make it a happy day for kids.” That sentiment still pervades Neal’s approach to education, and she hopes to spread the message of sensitivity to all principals in her district — and throughout Texas. Neal came to education through an unusual route: cheerleading. She spent her undergraduate years at Stephen F. Austin State University working for a cheerleading company, traveling around the world and teaching cheers to junior high and high school squads. “I was this little, small-town girl who had never left her little, small-town roots, and I had this unique opportunity to travel all over the United States and parts of Europe,” Neal says. Over the course of this job, she fell in love with working with kids. She also fell in love with one of SFASU’s football players, with whom she recently celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary. After graduation, Neal stayed in Nacogdoches for her first teaching job and then began working on her master’s degree in the evenings. “My little girl is adopted, and I spent the first part of my career not knowing when and if the opportunity would come for me to be a mommy,” Neal says. “So, when I would go into classrooms, I just loved that interaction and the relationship with the kids.” Later, Neal went to Baylor University for her doctorate. It was during this time that she and her husband, who is now a high school principal in Lindale ISD, began the process of adopting a baby. Neal says of her adopted daughter: “On her second birthday, I walked across the stage and completed my doctorate.” Much like the child who dreaded going home opened Neal’s eyes, adopting a child has affected the way she approaches her job. “I think it has made me really take a

closer look at the influence that we have as educators,” she says. “It’s made me stop and think more about a child’s background and life outside of school.” Her thoughtfulness isn’t lost on the students whom Neal has taught, mentored and managed over the years. She says she sometimes receives calls or emails from former students who have gone on to become teachers and are using songs or lessons she once taught them. It’s moments like these of which she is most proud. She’s also proud of becoming president of TEPSA, an organization she has been a part of since her first administrative position. Because this is a legislative year, Neal knows that she has her work cut out for her. “I definitely feel that we have the responsibility to promote public education and work closely with our legislative and policy leaders,” she says. “My vision for this year is to be a strong voice on behalf of the children in Texas, promoting what we do as school leaders and what’s going on in our schools.” When it came time to choose who would do her induction in June, Neal decided against inviting former professors, mentors or superintendents and instead chose a former student she had taught when she



If you’re going to indulge in food, what do you eat? Chips and dip. Best piece of advice you’ve received? To follow your heart, and to be yourself. Name three people (living or deceased) whom you would invite to a fantasy dinner party. Elvis Presley, George Strait and Lucille Ball What’s your favorite part of the school day, and why? The morning, when kids are getting out of the cars and off the buses, and the morning announcements. Everything then sets the tone for the day.

was a fourth grade teacher. Despite many early barriers to success, he went on to graduate from Rice University and start a nonprofit for underprivileged kids. “He stood on that stage and said that all the way back, I’d cheered him on,” Neal recalls. “And I stood there thinking that it’s such a reciprocated profession be-

cause what kids don’t realize is how much they’re helping you.” LEILA KALMBACH is an Austin-based writer and the author of several books, including “Best Summer Ever,” a collection of summer art and learning activities for kids.

September 2014 • Texas School Business


TASSP hosts annual Summer Workshop The Texas Association of Secondary School Principals hosted its annual Summer Workshop in June, which featured three days of training and networking.

Darrell Boedeker and Bill Allen of Cleburne ISD.

Tammy Edwards and Lori Oliver of Missouri City ISD.

Felissa Anderson of Angleton ISD.

Zeb Cantley and John Williams of Tyler ISD.

Katie Keyes and Rusty Hill of the Texas Association of Student Councils.

Bonnie Stewart and Dean Eckert of Harper ISD.

Ron Gatlin, Branden Richardson and Josh Withers of Trophy Club ISD. 24

Texas School Business • September 2014

Todd Pawelek of Poth ISD with Vanessa Pawelek and Deanna Wiatrek of Karnes City ISD.

Who’s News

WHO’S NEWS continued from page 21

Madison elementary schools, both in Everett, Wash. In Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, she was an assistant principal at Adam Elementary. Shannon Trejo has been named a division director of K-8 schools. She worked in Irving ISD from 1995 to 2002 as a bilingual teacher and assistant principal at Good Elementary before transferring to Pasadena ISD as an elementary and middle school Shannon Trejo assistant principal and middle school principal. She returned to Irving in 2011 in her most recent position as division director of curriculum and instruction. Trejo holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and a master’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington. She also studied in Spain at the Universidad de Cadiz. The 2014-2015 academic year began with Alberto Zavala leading Thomas Haley Elementary School as principal. A product of Irving ISD schools, he has been an educator for 10 years, beginning in Dallas ISD as a bilingual teacher. He came to the district in 2011, initially working as a bilingual instructional interventionist before taking on the role


of assistant principal at Haley. Zavala, who received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in leadership and policy studies from The University of Texas at Arlington, is at work on his doctorate Alberto Zavala in educational leadership at Dallas Baptist University. Kerrville ISD Jeremy Hickman has been named head softball coach of Tivy High School, where he spent the past two years as assistant softball coach and defensive coordinator for varsity football. Prior to coming to Kerrville, he was a teacher and coach in Jeremy Hickman Cypress-Fairbanks, Fort Stockton and West ISDs. He is a graduate of Western New Mexico University. Christopher Russ is now serving as head baseball coach at Tivy High School. A Tivy graduate, he played baseball at Texas A&M University, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He was draft-

ed by the New York Yankees in 2001 and played seven seasons of minor league ball. La Vernia ISD New Superintendent Jose Moreno came Christopher Russ from San Antonio ISD, where he served as an assistant superintendent. Lake Travis ISD (Austin) Deanna McParland has been selected to serve as principal of Bee Cave Elementary School. She began her career as a third grade teacher, going on to work as a math facilitator and as a middle and elementary school assistant principal in Leander ISD and Austin ISD, where she Deanna was most recently principal McParland of Kocurek Elementary. McParland earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from The University of Texas. See WHO’S NEWS on page 26


When Principals Are Successful, Their Students Are Too! TEPSA and NAESP’s #1 priority is ensuring principals have all the support they need to focus on their #1 priority—students.

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Scan code or visit http://www. tepsa.org/?SampleTepsa to sample resources including the webinar “Rigor for Students with Special Needs” presented by Barbara Blackburn.

September 2014 • Texas School Business 25 6/17/14 8:03 AM

WHO’S NEWS continued from page 25

Lewisville ISD Tim Ford, the newly hired district athletic director, comes to his new job from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, where he was director of athletics for seven years. He has coached for 30 years, ten of those as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for Colleyville Heritage High School. Marlin ISD

Amy Brown, a counselor for the past two years with the district, is the recipient of ESC Region 12’s Counselor of the Year award.

Marshall ISD Tina Brown now leads Marshall High School as principal after spending the past two years as principal of South Marshall Elementary. She has been an educator for 31 years, the past three with Marshall ISD. Prior to joining the district, she spent 12 years with Fort Bend ISD. The new principal of South Marshall Elementary School is Vickie Burns, who was the school’s assistant principal. The new assistant principal of Marshall Junior High School is Richard Cardin, who most recently served as substitute assistant principal at Jackson Middle School in Grand Prairie ISD. Prior to that assignment, he was a computer maintenance teacher at Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie ISD and a technology trainer in Hudson ISD. Kevin Guerrero has been named associate principal of Marshall Junior High School, coming to his new job from Louisiana, where he was athletic director of the Magnolia School of Excellence, a charter school. The academic year began with Stephanie Henderson leading Travis Elementary School as principal. She was principal of Washington Early Childhood Center for the past two years. Lenny Jackson is now principal of Travis Elementary School. For the past year he held a dual role in the district, serving as assistant principal of Moore and Lee elementary schools. The new principal of Moore Elementary School is Melinda Jennings. She comes to MISD from Longview ISD, where she was assistant principal of Forest Park Magnet School since 2012. She was also assistant principal of Ware and Valley View elementary schools in that district. Lashunda Minix is now serving as principal of Young Middle School. She was most recently with Longview ISD, working as Amy Brown


Texas School Business • September 2014

Who’s News

a curriculum and instruction academic advisor at Longview High. The new assistant principal of Marshall High School is Francine Sparks. She previously served as the lead English language arts teacher at Longview High School, where she also was the advanced debate coach and TAKS and STAAR remediation teacher. Patricia Tiller is the assistant principal of Marshall Junior High. She comes from Center ISD, where she was that district’s middle school principal since 2012. She also has taught and held administrative positions in Irving, Longview, Beckville, Liberty City and Ore City ISDs. Larry Wade is the new associate principal of Marshall High School. He was a counselor and testing coordinator at Longview ISD’s LEAD Academy Alternative High School since 2010 and has also held teaching and administrative positions in Tyler ISD. Precious Wafer is the assistant principal of Marshall Junior High. Most recently a sixth grade teacher in Tatum ISD, she was previously a teacher in Cedar Hill and Houston ISDs and an instructor at Jarvis Christian College. Midland ISD The following principal appointments have been made for the 2014-2015 school year: • Sha Burdsal, Bunche Elementary School; • Carlin Grammer, Midland High School; • Melissa Horner, Bush Elementary School; • Tracy Phernetton, Emerson Elementary School; • Alex Salazar, Abell Junior High School; and • Aimee Stroope, Scharbauer Elementary School. Millsap ISD New Millsap Elementary Assistant Principal Roxie Bean has been with the school since 1998. She began her career there as a second, fourth and fifth grade teacher, going on to serve as a counselor since 2008. She was Millsap’s Teacher of the Year in 2005. Bean earned her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree in education from Tarleton State University. A new assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction has been named for the district. She is Deann Lee, a 25-year veteran of Texas public education. She began her career in Arlington ISD and spent the past 22 years in Paris ISD as a teacher, special education supervisor and director of federal programs. Denise Lee is the district’s new head volleyball coach. She has been an educator for seven years, coaching in Strawn ISD be-

fore joining Gorman ISD, where she was head coach for volleyball, girls’ basketball, track and tennis. She also served as girls’ athletic coordinator. Ed Padalecki has been chosen to serve as head baseball coach. He comes to his new position from Hutto High School in Hutto ISD, where he was varsity assistant and head junior varsity baseball coach and varsity assistant football coach for the past two years. He began his career as a teacher and coach in Bloomington ISD, then joined Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD as a teacher and middle and high school coach. In addition, he has been a summer baseball coach at Texas Christian University and Texas A&M University. Nacogdoches ISD A former Galveston ISD educator, Nancy Chapa is now principal of Fredonia Elementary School. She was assistant principal of Morgan Elementary in Galveston. Normangee ISD The district’s new superintendent, Luke Allison, was most recently a high school principal in Groesbeck ISD. Northwest ISD (Fort Worth) Jamie Farber has been appointed the district’s director of counseling. With 19 years of experience as an educator, she has been with the district since 2007, most recently serving as lead counselor at Northwest High School. Prior to that, Jamie Farber she was a teacher and counselor in Arlington ISD. Farber, who received her bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of Texas at Arlington, holds a master’s degree in counseling from the University of North Texas. Kyle Seipp is now the district’s director of career and college readiness. He was a high school math teacher and coach with Northwest ISD and most recently served at The University of Texas’ Institute of Public School Initiatives, where he worked in partnership Kyle Seipp with school districts to achieve college-readiness goals. Seipp earned his bachelor’s degree in math from Texas State University and his master’s degree in educational leadership from Lamar University. Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD The district’s new superintendent is Stetson Rhone, who comes to his job from Aransas Pass ISD, where he was assistant superintendent.

Pflugerville ISD Joanne Frantzen has been named executive director of special programs. She previously was the academic dean of Smithson Valley High School in Comal ISD. Frantzen, who began her career as a coach and teacher at Skyline High Joanne Frantzen School in Dallas ISD, also worked as that district’s career education and workforce partnerships director and as an instructional administrator at Del Valle Middle School in Del Valle ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. She is pursuing a doctorate in educational administration at The University of Texas. A new principal is in place for Park Crest Middle School. Paula Gamble has been with Pflugerville ISD for 10 years, most recently working as associate principal of Hendrickson High School. She was dean of students at Park Crest before transferring to Hendrickson as assistant principal in 2008. In addition, she was a teacher at Hyde Park Baptist School, at Hutto High School in Hutto ISD,

Who’s News

at Cedar Valley Middle School in Round Rock ISD and at College Station Junior High in College Station ISD. She was both a teacher and a coach in Hearne and Bryan ISDs. Gamble earned her bachePaula Gamble lor’s degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Capella University. Rockdale ISD Rockdale ISD began the 2014-2015 academic year with a new superintendent. Denise Monzingo, former executive director of accountability and special programs in Pflugerville ISD, has been an educator for 28 years, also filling the Denise Monzingo roles of principal, assistant principal and classroom teacher in that district. Monzingo has a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas and a master’s degree in education administration from Texas State University. She is completing her doctoral dissertation at Texas A&M University.

Rockwall ISD The new principal of Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary School is Jill Baird, who had been serving as assistant principal. Now serving as assistant principal of Rochell Elementary is Renee Demianovich, who was principal of Pullen Elementary. Megan Gist, who was principal of Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary, is now principal of Cain Middle School. Former Williams Middle School Principal Billy Pringle has been tapped to serve as the district’s executive director of secondary campus services. Ja-Neice Rainey is now principal of Pullen Elementary. She comes to her new job from Wylie ISD, where she was an assistant principal. Round Rock ISD Kelley Hirt, principal of Brady Elementary in Brady ISD for the past 13 years, has been hired to serve as principal of Chandler Oaks Elementary School. She also worked as an elementary principal in Sonora and Wilson ISDs and was Kelley Hirt a classroom teacher for five years. Hirt earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Angelo State University and her master’s degree in administration from Texas Tech University. Travis Mutscher, former assistant principal of Hernandez Middle School for three years, is the new principal of Ridgeview Middle School. He began his career in administration at Ridgeview, where he spent four years as an assistant principal. Travis Mutscher He also has five years of experience as a teacher. Mutscher has a bachelor’s degree in speech and communications from The University of Texas and master’s degrees in speech and communications and in educational administration from Texas State University. He is at work on a doctorate in school improvement. Anthony Watson is now leading Stony Point High School as principal. He spent eight years as principal and two as assistant principal of Hopewell Middle School after working in Austin ISD as an assistant principal at Reagan High Anthony Watson School. He has eight years of experience as a teacher See WHO’S NEWS on page 28 September 2014 • Texas School Business


WHO’S NEWS continued from page 27

and coach and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Langston University in Oklahoma and a master’s degree in educational administration from The University of Texas. San Angelo ISD Matt Kimball, former principal of Smith Elementary School in Frisco ISD, is the district’s new executive director of schools. San Marcos CISD Karen Griffith is assistant superintendent of business and support services. She has been with Kingsville ISD since 2001, serving as an accounting supervisor, director of finance and, most recently, in the same position as her new job. Karen Griffith Prior to that, she worked in the private sector as a financial analyst with Kleberg Bank in South Texas. Griffith holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Spring Hill ISD The district has named a new principal for Spring Hill Intermediate School. She is Amy Doron, who had been the school’s assistant principal. Stephenville ISD New Superintendent Matt Underwood comes to Stephenville ISD from Lago Vista ISD, where he also held the top position.

Who’s News

Chet Edwards and clerking for McGregor, McGregor & Carmichael P.C. and the Johnson Country District Attorney’s Office, Auvenshine worked as a lawyer in private practice. He joined the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office in 2005. Transportation Director Gary Coffey has retired after 34 years on the job. Wylie ISD Jennifer Wiseman has been appointed assistant principal of Cox Elementary School. She has been an educator for 13 years and most recently was the district’s education quality coordinator. She began her career as a teacher in Plano ISD and joined Wylie ISD in 2007. Wylie ISD’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011, Wiseman holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University at Commerce and a master’s degree in educational leadership. Ysleta ISD Louisa Aguirre-Baeza is the district’s new director of academic language programs. She comes to her new job from Socorro ISD in El Paso, where she was a bilingual teacher, campus technology coordinator, external evaluator, director of curriculum and instruction, and assistant principal of Hambric K-8 School. In addition, she has been a development consultant at ESC Region 19. She holds a bachelor’s degree

When resources are limited,

look to HCDE for help!

en resources h W


Texas School Business • September 2014

CORRECTION In the July/August issue, we accidentally reprinted old personnel announcements regarding Steven Alves, Lloyd Burton and Zorna Jackson from Del Valle ISD. Jackson’s title was incorrect as well. She is the assistant director of transportation. Texas School Business regrets the error. TSB

Strawn ISD A new PK-12 principal is in place for the district. Richard Mitchell comes to his new position from Cleburne ISD, where he spent 20 years. He was a special education teacher for seven years and then spent five years as assistant principal of Cleburne High School. He next was principal of Adams Elementary for five years and spent his last two years in that district as principal of the Phoenix School. Mitchell earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas Wesleyan University and his master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University. Waxahachie ISD The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees has named Lee Auvenshine as deputy superintendent of human resources and legal services. He comes to his new position from the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office, where he was first assistant district attorney. Auvenshine received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Baylor University, going on to gain his juris doctorate from Baylor Law School. After interning for U.S. Congressman

in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in education, both from The University of Texas at El Paso. The new academic year began with Dana DeRouen as principal of Louisa Aguirre- Hillcrest Middle School. Baeza He returns to Ysleta ISD from administrative assignments in Fort Bend and Socorro ISDs. Previously, he had spent 23 years in Ysleta ISD as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and employee relations director. DeRouen earned both his bachelor’s and master’s Dana DeRouen degrees from The University of Texas at El Paso. He is working on his doctorate.

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Texas ASCD hosts technology conference In June, the Texas Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development hosted ignite14, a three-day professional development event that focused on integrating technology into curriculum.

Standing, left to right: J. Blanca O. López, Ysleta ISD; Yolanda M. Rey, Texas ASCD executive director; David E. Young, Pampa ISD; Al Hambrick, Sherman ISD; Carl E. Key, New Diana ISD; Treva Franklin, Mesquite ISD; Tasha Barker, Lindale ISD; Juneria Berges, consultant; and Hilda Medrano, The University of Texas – Pan Am. Seated, left to right: Roy J. Garcia Jr., Cypress-Fairbanks ISD; Abigayle Barton, Corpus Christi ISD; Lisa Young, Southlake Carroll ISD; Gena Gardiner, Highland Park ISD; Virginia Cotten, consultant; and Bill Bechtol, Eanes ISD. Texas ASCD President Carl E. Key of New Diana ISD welcomes guests.

Randy Sumrall of Birdville ISD (left) talks to an audience member during “Wrapping the Technology around the Curriculum Chromebooks.”

Max Brook of Discovery Education and Texas ASCD board member Roy J. Garcia Jr., Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. Keynote Ewan McIntosh delivered his presentation from Christchurch, New Zealand, via Google+ Hangout, Twitter, Facebook and his Weblog.

Andrew Berning of The Renaissance Institute presents a session on “The Technical Infrastructure Needed for BYOD, Blended and Online Learning.”

Elizabeth Clark and Karen Lopez of Birdville ISD; Melanie Pritchett of Compass Learning; Texas ASCD Executive Director Yolanda M. Rey; and Bridget Campion of Compass Learning.

Participants of the Personalized Learning Framework panel discussion: Jerry Allen, Crowley ISD; Stephanie Cherney and Yanet Cardoza, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD; and Robert Bostic, Denton ISD. Not pictured: panel moderator Andrew Berning.

Baylor University sophomore Blake Copeland presents “The Power of Apps.” September 2014 • Texas School Business


THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

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It’s important to ‘like’ your students


recently received a note that simply said, “This sounds like something you would like.” And indeed, I did. Let me share it with you. Rita Pierson is a teacher with more than 40 years of experience. One day, one of her colleagues made the statement: “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Rita quickly responded with: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” Oh, I love that. And I believe it with all of my heart. It’s one of those things that, as I’ve heard, “I would go to the stake to defend.” First of all, my heart breaks for the students who have a teacher who doesn’t like them. What a sad thing — for both the students and the teacher. I cannot imagine going to work every day and disliking the very people I was hired to serve! The relationship between teacher and pupil is an interesting one. Some teachers go to such extremes to be “friends” to their students. These teachers sometimes act like students themselves to be “cool” or to fit in. To this, I want to scream: “Kids don’t want you to be just a friend! They already have friends! They need a role model. Whether they acknowledge it or not, it’s what they are looking for in you.” An age-old job interview question has been: Do you think it is more important to be liked or respected? Personally, I’ve always thought it was a little redundant. Both are critical for students to have the most success in the classroom. I remember a young man in middle school. He wasn’t doing well in school. He had somewhat of a chip on his shoulder. He angered easily, and his attitude was just terrible. Then he met Mr. Jewett, a likable, even-tempered teacher who cared about his students. He had standards for his students, and he was able to convey those expectations in such a manner that kids respected him — and liked him. 30

Texas School Business • September 2014

The young man’s grades improved, he took learning more seriously, and he excelled in Mr. Jewett’s class. Hundreds of students were exposed to this dear man for more than 30 years. I have no doubt he is among their favorite teachers. Why? There are many reasons, but I believe these are the ones that are most evident: 1. He had high expectations and the students knew what they were. 2. He showed a personal interest in each of his students. 3. He smiled a lot.

4. He made learning enjoyable. 5. He loved his job.

I don’t think you could get much more basic than this. While we all know that these things work, so often we don’t put them into practice. This particular student and Mr. Jewett remained in touch for years after the student left his class. When Mr. Jewett passed away a few years ago, hundreds attended his funeral to show their respect. Many of them were former students. When asked what it was about Mr. Jewett that caused so many to respect him, the responses were all similar to this one: “We liked him, and we knew he liked us.” What a beautiful testament to one’s legacy. Start today to make a difference. Greet your students as they come into the classroom. Speak to each one with a smile on your face. Show genuine concern when a student appears to be having a problem. Yes, let them know you like them. As Rita said: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” I hope you agree. RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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