July 2022

Page 1

OF THE 2021–22 TEXAS SCHOOL YEAR

A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 40, Number 6 | July 2022
Texas Public Ed HIGHLIGHTING
Celebrating Excellence
Texas Lone Star
ACHIEVEMENTS

Featured Event

TASB Officers 2021-22

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, President

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, President-Elect

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Second Vice-President

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Jim Rice, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2021-22

Moises Alfaro, Mathis ISD, Region 2

Jesus Amaya, Los Fresnos CISD, Region 1A

Rose Avalos, Aldine ISD, Region 4H

Carlos Bentancourt, Slaton ISD, Region 17

Kamlesh Bhikha, ESC 2, ESC Representative

Darlene Breaux, Alief ISD, Region 4B

Steve Brown, Ector County ISD, Region 18

Kevin A. Carbo, Mesquite ISD, Region 10D

Justin Chapa, Arlington ISD, Region 11C

Thomas Darden, Cooper ISD, Region 8

Karen Freeman, Northside ISD, Region 20B

Sylvia Sanchez Garza, South Texas ISD, Region 1B

Myrna Guidry, Houston ISD, Region 4D

Linda Gooch, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10B

Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13B

Julie Hinaman, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Region 4F

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD, Region 4C

Tricia Ikard, Maypearl ISD, Region 10A

Tami Keeling, Victoria ISD, Region 3

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

Kathy Major, Liberty Hill ISD, Region 13C

Raymond P. Meza, San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Region 15

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Scott Moore, Conroe ISD, Region 6B

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

Tony Raymond, Sabine ISD, Region 7

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Greg Schulte, Katy ISD, Region 4E

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

Becky St. John, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Region 11A

Yasmin Wagner, Austin ISD, Region 13A

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

Robert Westbrook, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Region 20D

Terri Williams, North East ISD, Region 20E

Call for submissions to

We want to hear more about what is going on in local school districts around Texas and invite you to send us submissions for our new, occasional feature, District Voices. Do you have an interesting program to discuss? Lessons learned as a school board member? For submissions or questions, contact managing editor Laura Tolley at laura.tolley@tasb.org We look forward to hearing from you and your district!

For more information about these events or deadlines, visit the TASB website at tasb.org or call TASB at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free.

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JULY 1 • Leadership TASB Application Deadline 12 • TASB Facility Services: Asbestos Designated Person Training — Austin 13 • TASB Facility Services: Integrated Pest Management — Austin 14 • TASB Facility Services: Indoor Air Quality Mysteries & Solutions — Austin 19 • New Board Member Office Hour: Get Your Questions Answered — Virtual Event 26-27 • TASB HR Services: HR for Campus Leaders — Virtual Event 28 • Courageous Accountability: How School Boards Can See Improvement in Student Success — Virtual Event AUGUST 10 • Preparing to Serve: A Webinar for School Board Candidates — Virtual Event SEPTEMBER 23-25 • txEDCON22 TASA | TASB Convention — San Antonio OCTOBER 6-8 • Mexican American School Boards Association Conference — San Antonio 20-21 • TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals — Austin
ANTONIO SEPTEMBER 23-25
txEDCON22 TASA | TASB CONVENTION SAN
District Voices!
CALENDAR

5 From the Top 7 Editor’s Note

Texas Lone Star • Volume 40, Number 6

Texas Association of School Boards

P.O. Box 400 • Austin, Texas • 78767-0400 512.467.0222 • 800.580.8272

Laura Tolley • Managing Editor Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer Virginia Hernandez • Photographer 360 Press Solutions • Printer

Contributors: Sylvia Wood, Stephanie Butler, Leslie Trahan, Joan Randall, Melissa Locke Roberts

Texas Lone Star (ISSN 0749-9310) is published 10 times a year by the Texas Association of School Boards. Copyright© 2022 by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). All rights reserved. Reproduction, adaptation, distribution, and exhibition in whole or in part are prohibited under penalty of law without the written license or permission of TASB. Copies of Texas Lone Star are mailed to trustees of TASB member school boards and their superintendents as part of their membership. Subscriptions are available to nonmembers for $36 (1 year), $69 (2 years), and $99 (3 years). Single copies are $5.

Address changes should be sent to Michael Pennant, TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Articles in Texas Lone Star are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not represent the views or policies of TASB. Permission to reprint should be emailed to communications@tasb.org or addressed to the Managing Editor, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400. Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

Postmaster: Send address changes to TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 3 Follow us: Features
Columns CONTENTS | July 2022 8 Standout Scholars 9 Academic Record 10 Welders of Tomorrow 12 Civic Duty 14 Outstanding Service 16 Drowning Out the Noise 18 Grammy Winner 20 Twice a Medalist 22 New Scholarship Program at Canyon ISD 23 Comal ISD Student Leads State Orchestra 24 Coppell ISD Student Helps Community 25 Student Earns Girl Scouts’ Top Award 26 Honors for Literacy Efforts at Socorro ISD 28 U.S. Presidential Scholars List Includes Six Texas Public High School Students 29 Parkway Students Help Community 30 Math Educator Wins “Oscar” of Teaching 31 Pick Up Your Diploma — and Register to Vote! 32 Twinning at Two San Angelo High Schools 33 Getting the Good Word Out Bestof Texas Public Ed

WE STAND with UVALDE

As Uvalde CISD continues to walk the difficult path of recovery, we stand with the district and community in solidarity, heartache, and support. Your loss is tremendous, but you are not alone on this painful journey. We are here to help you in whatever ways we can. To the families and friends of the innocent children and the brave educators who were killed, we offer our deepest condolences to you all.

TASB

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Reflecting on Our Purpose

This issue is dedicated to the memory of the lives lost in Uvalde

Each July in Texas Lone Star, we celebrate the accomplishments of students and educators across the state as a way to shine a light on the power of public education. But in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, we must pause to remember the 19 children and two teachers whose lives and dreams were cut short in a senseless act of violence.

In the weeks since the May 24 shooting, I’ve been trying to learn more about the students and educators through news articles, obituaries, and tributes. Each new piece of information has given me a fuller picture of these precious souls, each with unique gifts, personalities, and characters. Having lost my 21-year-old grandson Brantravious “Trey” Williams last year to gun violence, I know firsthand that no one wants loved ones remembered merely as crime victims. Rather, we hope they will be remembered for everything they brought to the world, not the act of barbarity that stole them from us.

That’s why I’m committed to reading all I can about each of the students and educators who perished at Robb Elementary School, including Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10, who wanted to study at Texas A&M University and become a marine biologist. And Amerie Jo Garza, 10, who dreamed of becoming an art teacher. And Layla Salazar, 11, who liked to swim and dance and won six races during her school’s field day. And Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10, who hoped to become an attorney and recently earned a good citizenship award.

Working together to protect our children

Every detail affirms an essential fact: Each life lost leaves a void of unfilled potential and sorrow for what might have been.

Since the shooting death of my grandson, I’ve struggled with anger, grief, and the unanswerable question, Why? I have no grand conclusions, no satisfying sense of resolution or closure. Only a rededicated sense that we must protect the children of Texas. One way to do that is to continue supporting our schools and the integrity of public education in the state.

We have much work to do, especially to ensure that every student and teacher is able to learn and work in a safe environment. This must be our priority as we prepare for the new school year and the 88th Texas legislative session.

There’s nothing more important to honoring the memory of those who died in Uvalde than taking the steps needed to prevent another senseless tragedy. History shows us that change can be difficult, but we must persevere.

Let’s stay focused and united in our commitment to serve our students and families as we navigate the difficult weeks and months ahead. Even if we disagree on the specific strategies to make our schools safer, let’s stay committed to finding solutions. There’s just too much at stake.

As we remember the students and teachers killed in Uvalde, we cannot help but wonder what they might have accomplished, and how they surely would have changed our world for the better.

I’d like to think that as education leaders in Texas, we can come together to make our schools better places for our students and teachers, so another atrocity like Uvalde never happens again.H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 5
Ted Beard
FROM THE TOP
Let’s stay focused and united in our commitment to serve our students and families as we navigate the difficult weeks and months ahead.

MAKING AN EVERYDAY IMPACT

Through specialized schools; Head Start early childhood education; afterschool programs; school-based therapy services; and a scholastic art and writing awards program, HCDE makes a BIG impact on Harris County communities.

See the Impact at HCDE-TEXAS.ORG/IMPACT

Celebrating Students

July issue filled with success stories about Texas public education

Working on the annual “Good News about Texas Public Schools” issue of Texas Lone Star has been inspiring, rewarding, and comforting at a time when we all really needed something positive to focus on.

We continue to grieve over the horrific shooting deaths of innocent children and brave teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, and we hold the devastated families close in our collective hearts. We can’t help but wonder about the potential, the aspirations, and the smiles that were lost that terrible day.

These souls will never be forgotten. Please take a few moments to read Ted Beard’s column on page five as he reflects on the tragedy and why it deeply affects all of us involved in Texas public education.

Texas schoolchildren are a precious gift to us all, and we are proud to honor a few of them in the pages of this special issue, which is devoted to demonstrating how public education in Texas shines on so many fronts for the benefit of our students. Because that’s what it’s always about — student success.

So many achievements despite a pandemic

Let’s not forget that once again, all of these accomplishments were achieved during another tough pandemic year. Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II, in praising the record 13 valedictorians this year at Bellaire High School, noted that half of those students’ high school experience occurred during a pandemic. It has been the same for so many other students.

“Yet, despite all the challenges, they still earned a perfect GPA,” he said in the story on page nine.

The students and educators profiled in this issue — as well

as students in schools across Texas — demonstrated grit, resolve, and purpose time after time this year.

Taylor High School celebrated having its first female to earn an American Welding Society certification. More are following in her footsteps. Twenty Canyon ISD students received generous scholarships as part of an inaugural pre-engineering program at West Texas A&M University.

And, as always, there were so many acts of kindness and caring toward others.

Melanie Duron, a standout athlete at Martin High School in Laredo ISD, volunteers with the Laredo Boys and Girls Club. Even when the club was closed during the pandemic, she produced videos for the kids on how to improve their athletic skills. Students at Parkway Elementary, a campus in Pine Tree ISD in Longview, planted flowers for the elderly and read to shelter dogs.

I want to emphasize again that we were only able to document a few of the many success stories in Texas public education. Countless achievements were racked up this year in classrooms across the state. We honor and congratulate you all for your hard work and your positive attitude during this challenging time.

I also want to thank Linsae Snider, who retired last month as executive director of the Texas School Public Relations Association, as well as the Texas public school district communicators who contributed stories to this issue. Snider helped solicit story contributions from TSPRA members, and districts large and small generously shared their stories, photos, and time to help create this issue.

I hope you enjoy our “Good News” issue!H

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Laura Tolley is managing editor of Texas Lone Star Laura Tolley
EDITOR’S NOTE
The students and educators profiled in this issue — as well as students in schools across Texas — demonstrated grit, resolve, and purpose time after time this year.

San Antonio ISD honors record number of Dell Scholars Standout Scholars

San Antonio ISD continues to grow its number of Dell Scholars. The board of trustees honored the 22 seniors who earned the distinction in 2022 at the May 16 board meeting.

“Every year, we continue to add more Dell Scholars, which means more graduates have increased access to their post-secondary goals with financial and academic support from the Dell Foundation,” said Cynthia Martinez, district coordinator for the Advancement Via Individual Determination program.

The 22 SAISD seniors, up from 20 last year, are part of a group of 500 Dell Scholars nationwide who will receive a $20,000 scholarship, a Dell laptop, textbook credits, and personalized, multifaceted support.

“Before receiving the Dell scholarship, I was unsure if I would be able to attend my dream college due to cost,” said Briana Zaragoza, a Dell Scholar at Jefferson High School. “Now, I am certain that I will be able to attend my dream college without having to be burdened by the cost. As a first-generation student, I am grateful to be opening doors for my family and future generations to come.”

San Antonio

The Dell Scholars program targets low-income, highly motivated students who demonstrate the drive to succeed despite personal obstacles. More than grades, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation looks for a unique “GPA” of grit, potential, and ambition in a student’s quest for a college education.

Students must demonstrate financial need through federal Pell Grant eligibility and participate at least two years in a program-approved college readiness program such as AVID or Upward Bound. Of the 500 Dell Scholar recipients across the nation, 210 participate in the AVID elective, including SAISD’s 22 recipients.

“These successes are the result of a collective effort of College Bound Advisors, counselors, and AVID teachers who support our scholars through the application process,” Martinez said.

Semifinalists were announced before the winter break, and they filled out their materials in January. Notifications came on March 16.

“When someone screamed that [the] Dell Finalist announcements came out, I felt very overwhelmed,” said Arianna Salazar, a Dell Scholar at Travis Early College High School. “I struggled to log into my account because of how scared I was. But when logging into the account, the word ‘Congratulations’ appeared, and [it] made me become teary-eyed. I was so excited that I would be closer to being financially stable in the future and it made me extremely happy.”

Salazar is one of 14 Dell Scholars at Travis this year, up from 12 last year.

This year’s SAISD Dell Scholars came from three different campuses, and include the following:

• Jefferson High School: Briana Zaragoza

• Travis Early College High School: Vivian Aguilar, Jose Avila, Sarah Gomez, Jason Gonzalez, Julianna Guajardo, Amanda Mendez, Jessie Ochoa-Vasquez, Erin Rodriguez, Lizet Rodriguez, Ariana Salazar, Allura Salazar, Christina Tibbs, Matthew Velez, and Orlando Ventura

• Young Women’s Leadership Academy: Jerica Castillo, Christiana Garcia, Jaclyn Mendel, Ana Moreno, Julissa Pacheco, Isabella Rodriguez, and Jordan StraitH

This story is by San Antonio ISD and is reprinted with permission.

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Dell Scholars from Travis Early College High School. Front row: Sarah Gomez, Amanda Mendez, Erin Rodriguez, Jessie OchoaVasquez, Lizet Rodriguez. Middle row: Christina Tibbs, Matthew Velez, Jose Avila, Jason Gonzalez. Back row: Arianna Salazar, Julianna Guajardo, Allura Salazar, Orlando Ventura. Photo courtesy of San Antonio ISD

Academic Record

Bellaire Class of 2022 boasts 13 valedictorians

Bellaire High School had 13 valedictorians in the Class of 2022, surpassing last year’s record-breaking nine students who graduated with a perfect grade point average.

Among the valedictorians were a homecoming king and the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.

Margaret Schwierking, Jason Yao, Owen Zhang, Katherine Chen, Sophia Hernandez, Collin Crockett, Justice Cordova, Annie Lin, Crystal Tang, Albert Zhu, Donne Su, Nina Zhang, and Richard Lin all earned a 5.0 GPA.

“We must not forget that half of their high school experience happened during a pandemic. Yet, despite all the challenges, they still earned a perfect GPA,” said Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II. “I congratulate the valedictorians and salutatorians from all our high school campuses. Their persistence and dedication will allow them to achieve amazing success in the years ahead.”

Hernandez said her most challenging time over the past four years was when classes were virtual.

“The pandemic made it especially hard to keep our grades up,” she said. “It’s a challenge when you are working alone. But it is always easier when you are around your peers.”

Bellaire

Hernandez was editor-in-chief of Bellaire High School’s Three Penny Press, a member of the student council, and student president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Bellaire High School Chapter.

Owen Zhang said the virtual phase took a great deal of focus. “We all adjusted and learned to communicate during the virtual period,” he said. “It was tough in the beginning, but we adapted.”

Zhang served on the student council, is a member of the Business Professionals of America Club, volunteers with the American Red Cross, and was elected the 2021 Homecoming King.

The top 13 Bellaire High School students joined dozens of other HISD valedictorians and salutatorians at the annual Scholars Recognition Ceremony on April 12 at Delmar Fieldhouse.H

This story is by Houston ISD and is reprinted with permission.

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Eight of Bellaire High School’s 13 valedictorians at Houston ISD’s Scholars Recognition ceremony on April 12. From left: Annie Lin, Sophia Hernandez, Maggie Schwierking, Owen Zhang, Donne Su, Collin Crockett, Richard Lin, Katherine Chen. Photo by Sandra McCoy

of Tomorrow

Taylor High School welding courses drawing more girls to program

With the number of manufacturing jobs in the Taylor area set to increase sharply in the next few years, Taylor High School is preparing welding students with the skills and certifications they will need to join the workforce after graduation.

“Twenty-three seniors who graduated in May earned a combined 89 American Welding Society structural welding certifications in three different welding processes, Stick, MIG and Flux Core,” said welding instructor Scott Bishop.

Located about 40 miles northeast of Austin, small-town Taylor has become a popular destination for Austinites in search of more affordable homes and less congestion. With Samsung Electronics announcing last fall that it plans to build a $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in Taylor, growth is expected to escalate. The massive Tesla factory is nearby and there are other tech and manufacturing businesses in the area.

When Bishop began his career as the agriculture science teacher at Taylor High School 24 years ago, one of the courses he taught was ag mechanics, which included a basic introduction to welding. Now, 14 welding classes are dedicated to a three-year program with two full-time teachers, Bishop and Jacqueline Erhlich, and 125 students enrolled. Next year’s plans call for adding a fourth-year practicum.

Currently running at 97% capacity, students are eager to pursue futures in welding, an area of great need offering excellent pay for skilled workers right out of high school.

Welding classes diversifying

What was once seen as a male-driven career choice is now drawing young women into the field. Twelve female students were enrolled in the Taylor High School welding classes this past school year, up from just three last year.

“Being a female in the shop is really great,” said Montgomery “Monti” Birchard, the first female welding student at Taylor High School to earn AWS certifications. “When I certified last year, there were several female teachers that said they had no idea, and [offered their] congratulations.”

Birchard said Bishop didn’t tell her she was the first female student at the school to earn welding certifications until the process had been completed — and then he was quick to share the news with others.

“Bishop didn’t tell me at all that I was the first female until I had certified,” Birchard said. “He totally ditched me after I certified and ran to the office to tell them. I was like, ‘Where

did he go? I was just certified, why aren’t you here celebrating with me?’ And they [classmates] said, ‘You’re the first female to certify, so he had to go brag about you.’”

Choosing welding as a career

Birchard has been part of the recruiting team that visited Taylor Middle School to inform eighth-grade students about the welding program as they begin to make decisions about the career path they will take in high school. Students say the reason the welding pathway is so popular is the learn-by-doing, hands-on approach, and the opportunity to earn so many certifications that will give them a significant advantage in the job market after graduation.

“I like that we do certifications here,” said senior Chance Garza. “And we’re welding pretty much full time every day. I’m really excited we’re going to certify this year in MIG and Flux Core. I passed my Flat certification last year, so this time I’ll be doing Vertical and Overhead. By the time I graduate, I will have five certifications.”

Garza plans to attend Texas State Technical College in Waco to pursue advanced training in additional skill areas. His future goal is to secure employment in a welding shop, on a pipeline, or in a fabrication shop.

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Taylor An increasing number of young women are pursuing welding as a future career at Taylor High School, including 12 enrolled in the program this past year. From left: Tessa Hunsaker, Jayleigh Cottle, Kalee Sandoval, Emma Pierce, and Montgomery “Monti” Birchard. Photos by Tim Crow

“Ultimately, I want to have my own welding business where I can build buildings or fences or gates or anything else anybody needs for welding,” Garza said.

Terrence Belcher, Ashton Vega, and Justin Ramirez plan to continue their training at The Ocean Corporation and are already looking for a place to live while attending the commercial diving school in Houston.

“We’re already checking into arrangements to make it happen,” said Vega. “Terrence is going for underwater welding, and me and Justin are doing nondestructive testing inspection. That’s where you go around the state wherever they send you, and you check on bridges, wind turbines, and welds, and test them to see if they are good enough and durable.”

Erhlich is especially pleased to see an increasing number of girls choosing the welding pathway and is happy to serve as a role model for more females entering the field.

“Now that they’re seeing someone the same sex as them teaching the class, they see that welding could be a choice for them,” said Erhlich. “I really think that a lot of jobs out there want to get more women in the workforce. There are a lot of grants for businesses to have women in those male-driven roles. In five years, I can see them in the industry, whether it’s building the TESLA factory, or building a pipeline to run oil from down at the coast to up here.”

In addition to entering the workforce, or furthering their training at a technical school, some welding students, like Birchard and classmate Tessa Hunsaker, want to become teachers and inspire the next generation of welders.

“I’m hoping to further my career in teaching welding,” said Birchard. “I look up to Bishop a lot.”

“I’m hoping to go and be an ag teacher or be a welding teacher and do the same thing that Bishop and Erhlich do,” Hunsaker said.

Using skills in the community

Occasionally, the young welders take on projects in the community. They made the sign for ReMax on Main Street, the sign inside Taylor Middle School, and green Taylor High School Duck benches as well as metal wall art that decorates the high school campus. They also built a barbecue pit that provided opportunities to partner with the culinary classes to host Barbecue Day. One of their popular Duck benches brought in a record $5,500 at an auction for a foundation.

Through all the training and certification tests, and the common interest that brought them to this career pathway, the young welders said there is a special bond that provides encouragement and support.

“Working with these guys every day really turns you into a huge family,” said Birchard. “We pick on each other like brothers and sisters, and it’s a class you look forward to. It’s just a great opportunity for everybody all around.”H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 11
Several seniors who earned certifications this school year were honored recently at a Taylor ISD board meeting. Senior Montgomery Birchard, the first female to receive a certification at Taylor High School, works on a welding project. Tim Crow is the communications and community liaison for Taylor ISD. This story first appeared in The Taylor Press in its 76574 magazine.

Civic Duty

Students get out the vote for district’s bond proposals

Less than two weeks before the May 7 election, Kyler Smith had more than a dozen yard signs promoting the Montgomery ISD $326.9 million bond proposal. Her message on the neighborhood Facebook group had been taken down because of rules prohibiting politics, so Smith, a junior at Lake Creek High School, announced on her personal Facebook page that she had signs to share.

“All the yard signs are now spoken for,” she wrote. “People definitely want them.”

The Montgomery ISD bond passed by a clear majority, in part because of the efforts of students like Smith, who spent months helping to craft the three bond propositions that voters ultimately approved.

“Student voices are powerful,” said Leslie Weaver, director of communications for Huckabee, an educational design firm. “More and more districts are engaging students in the facility-planning process, and it’s proving effective.”

Leveraging the student voice

It’s not unusual for districts to include students when discussing building design after a bond program has already passed. After all, students are key stakeholders and often know better than the planners and architects how their school spaces could be improved — whether it’s dealing with crowded hallways or outdated classrooms for Career and Technical Education.

“Students bring a perspective that is distinctive,” said Jeff Clemmons, director of TASB’s Facility Services. “They understand the nuances of how buildings are used, especially within the context of programming and scheduling. Encouraging student voices in a bond program can be a powerful tool for school districts.”

What’s unique about Montgomery ISD is that the district invited four high school students to be part of the bond planning process from the beginning, leveraging the expertise of young leaders already active in their schools’ student councils and well known and respected by peers and adults. Their involvement in the 54-member task force helped get the bond proposals on the ballot when the Board of Trustees approved them in January. The students then decided they wanted to help promote the bond within the larger community as members of the Montgomery ISD Bond Political Action Committee in the weeks leading up to the election. That volunteer work was unaffiliated with the district and done outside of school hours, in the evenings and weekends.

The students represented each of the two high schools in

the district: Kyler Smith and Cline Piotrowski, juniors at Lake Creek High School; and Tessa Peterson and Mia Zahn, juniors at Montgomery High School.

Shannan Reid, director of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and the lead on the bond Political Action Committee, believes the high school students were a big reason the bond proposals prevailed at the polls. By law, school district employees can only inform, not advocate, on a bond proposal while on work time and using district resources. However, the students were able to serve as champions for the initiative, both in the community and on social media.

“They were instrumental in being our social media experts,” Reid said. “They’ve done Tik Tok, Instagram and all of it. I’ve been blown away by their professionalism. We would not have done as good a job without them.”

For Piotrowski, the decision to volunteer for the PAC after the bond planning task force was something he decided to do on his own, and “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

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Montgomery Montgomery ISD students support the bond proposal on Election Day. Photos courtesy of Montgomery ISD

“Voluntarily joining the PAC felt like the next natural step to leading a project I cared about deeply to completion,” he said. “Being a part of the bond proposal task force made me excited about the future of MISD, and I couldn’t just sit idly by as the election date was nearing.”

Bringing students into the bond proposal taskforce was the idea of the district’s relatively new leadership team — Superintendent Heath Morrison, who was hired in July 2020, and the board of trustees, all of whom were elected in 2019 or later.

“Our school district has been doing the hard work over the past 18 months to build trust and transparency,” Reid said. “It was clear from the get-go that this administration and school board wanted students to participate.”

Morrison said the students helped articulate what was needed in the bond program at the high school level with firsthand experiences. But he noted that their impact went beyond just talking to task force members about the issues.

“They also spoke to other students and encouraged those eligible to register to vote,” he said. That peer-to-peer advocating around the importance of voting and getting involved will “set up a habit for the future,” Morrison said.

Lifelong voters

Huckabee’s Weaver also emphasized that student participation in the facility and bond planning process can offer unique insights and benefits for both the adults and the students.

“Students add relevant, timely and important dialogue — and who better to ask about the learning environment than the ones who spend eight or more hours a day in our schools?” she said. “For districts that decide to call bond elections, the students can take the information they learned through the planning process and make an informed decision at the polls when they turn 18. Hopefully, they will see the value in voting and become not only lifelong learners but lifelong voters as well.”

For Smith, the experience of having served on the bond task force was both enlightening and enriching. The Lake Creek junior said she didn’t know anything about bonds and school district construction prior to joining the committee, which began meeting last fall.

“It was definitely intimidating during the first couple of meetings, trying to get the hang of things, but it was good because I’m pretty connected in the community and I knew a lot of the people who were there, so it was easier to speak up,” she said.

She noted that the adults in the room were often seeking out the student perspective. “A lot of times, we were asked directly for our input,” she said. It also helped that the meetings had “smaller breakout groups, giving more people the opportunity to debate and discuss.”

Smith believes being a part of the task force helped advance several projects that ultimately were approved to go on the ballot in January by the Montgomery ISD board of trustees, namely the Centralized Technology Center and the expansion of Lake Creek High School.

“As a student, I can see how crowded our hallways are,” she said. “We’re over capacity, and being able to walk around the hallways, you can tell it’s super crowded. I was able to share this experience with the group.”

For Piotrowski, also a junior at Lake Creek, the opportunity to serve on the bond task force from its inception was an opportunity he didn’t want to miss. “I love my school district very much,” he said, “and when they told me about the opportunity, I remembered the bond they had in 2015. That’s when they built the high school that I go to now, so I knew it was a big deal.”

Just as important for Piotrowski, who hopes to study political science in college, was consideration for his brother and sister, now in elementary school and soon to benefit from the $27.8 million high school.

“It leaves something behind for them,” he said. “I know it sounds cheesy, but that was actually what was running through my head when they asked me.”

Getting across the finish line

After the board approved placing the bond propositions on the ballot, Piotrowski said, he and his classmates turned their focus to encouraging early voting, managing social media channels and correcting any misinformation about the bond proposals.

“I learned a whole lot about taxes,” said Zahn, a junior at Montgomery High School who served with classmate Peterson. The experience gave her a deeper understanding of how school district funding works and helped build her confidence.

“It grew me as a person, improved my speaking skills, and got me out of my comfort zone,” she said.

MISD Board President Matt Fuller credited the students for helping get the bond propositions across the finish line. He noted that the board is now looking at other ways to include student voices in other district committees.

“What’s made it real easy is we have some tremendous students who are critical thinkers and hardworking,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

For their part, the students kept advocating for the bond propositions until the end, spending election day at Montgomery City Hall encouraging people to vote. “It was so worth it,” Piotrowski said. “It has been a long process and has taken a lot of work, but I am so proud of the effort.”H

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Sylvia Wood is a staff writer for Texas Lone Star From left: Cline Piotrowski, Tessa Peterson, and Kyler Smith show support for the MISD bond proposal.

Outstanding Service

Spring

ISD’s namesake high school celebrates banner year in NJROTC program

As the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Spring High School wrapped up a banner year for its program, graduating seniors were honored and a new class of leadership was inducted at a recent Change of Command ceremony.

The event was open to parents and other supporters of NJROTC members and doubled as a scholarship presentation for a pair of seniors who received scholarships from the U.S. Navy.

Seniors Kayla McKay and Kenzlea Smith received $200,000 each in funds from the Navy, which will provide full tuition, stipends, summer training cruises, and more. The program is designed for future Naval Officers to enjoy a traditional college experience — fully paid — while also preparing for a future career in the Navy.

McKay and Smith were the only seniors in Spring ISD to receive the scholarships.

“It’s a distinguished honor with a powerfully simple purpose: to train exceptional students for future military service, provide financing and opportunity for an outstanding college experience and to help you achieve your true potential,” said retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Mark Clarke, Naval Science Instructor at Spring High School.

Spring

McKay is headed to Arizona State University for mechanical engineering, while Smith will be going to Texas A&M University for electrical engineering.

“It’s an honor to be able to go to college and be able to focus,” McKay said. “I have always wanted to be a part of something bigger and this is going to help me make that happen. Not only is this about me, but it’s about all the people who have supported me throughout it all — my mother, my unit, my family — they’ve always been here since the beginning.”

For Smith, earning the scholarship was a unique opportunity for her to attend college while also following her career goals.

“If it weren’t for this opportunity, college would not have been in the picture for me,” Smith said. “It took a lot of hard work, but with that hard work I have been able to accomplish my dreams. I’ve been wanting to go into the military since the

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Photos courtesy of Spring ISD Spring High School Cadet Capt. Kayla McKay, outgoing Commanding Officer, and Cadet Commander Kenzlea Smith, outgoing Executive Officer, each received $200,000 in scholarship funds from the Navy.

seventh grade. So, to be able to attend college and go into the military, it’s really a dream.”

Stellar year for the program

The scholarship and Change of Command ceremony caps off a winning year, one that was full of accomplishments for the program.

The program was named a Distinguished Unit with Academic Honors for back-to-back school years, as well as ranked eighth out of nearly 60 NJROTC units in the area. In addition, a student from the program has won the Joseph C. Gilliam Awarded Academic National Academic Award, which had more than 1,500 applicants, for two years in a row. The program also placed first and second in an area marksmanship competition, third in the Admiral Nimitz Classic physical fitness competition, third in the Female Color Guard competition at the Andy Dekaney Drill, and third in the Prairie View A&M Orienteering and Skills Meet.

For program instructor Clarke, those accomplishments are a reflection of the value and the meaning of the NJROTC program in student lives.

“These kids represent the best of the best,” Clarke said. “Being one of the largest units in the country takes hard work. These cadets meet that challenge, year after year. The NJROTC program is here to encourage initiative and individuality in students, to develop those natural gifts, to teach self-control, develop personal character and responsibility, and foster qualities of integrity, loyalty, and dedication.”H

story is by Spring ISD and is reprinted with permission.

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From left, Retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Mark Clarke, Naval Science Instructor at Spring High School; Spring High School Cadet Capt. Carolina Viney, the unit’s 2022-23 Commanding Officer; Cadet Capt. Kayla McKay (outgoing CO), and Cadet Commander Kenzlea Smith (outgoing Executive Officer). Retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Mark Clarke, Naval Science Instructor at Spring High School, and Cadet Lt. Commander Aidan Jordan, Operations Officer. Cadet Capt. Carolina Viney gets a congratulatory hug from a fellow cadet. This

Drowning Out the Noise

How Allen ISD board’s shared vision helped it find excellence

Allen ISD, just north of Dallas, has a lot to be proud of these days. With a new strategic plan in place and a renewed focus on student growth, the district has developed innovative ways to engage the community and deepen instructional practices. And in May, the board of trustees was named School Board of the Year as part of the H-E-B Excellence in Education program.

The award, presented annually, honors school boards that have demonstrated leadership in their communities. The AISD Board of Trustees was selected for its focus on academic excellence and community engagement.

AISD Superintendent Robin Bullock said the board’s unwavering commitment to its vision has contributed substantially to its success over the past couple of years.

“Having good communications and dialogue and making sure the focus remains clear” is essential to board success, says Bullock. “Some board meetings have become very heated and controversial, but we try to keep the focus on what the focus should be, which is supporting teachers in the classroom. Our board does an exceptional job of that.”

Reaching the community

With just over 21,000 students, AISD is unique in that the district is home to 18 elementary schools and three middle schools — but just one high school.

“Everybody gets to be an Allen Eagle,” said Bullock. “There’s a community of pride around that.”

But after a divisive couple of years, the “team of eight” is focusing on new, intentional ways to build relationships with the community. The district has increased outreach efforts to engage parents, community members, and families who are new to the city of Allen.

“That sense of pride is something that we need to maintain as we keep connected to our community that’s aging out, as well as connecting with newcomers to Allen who may not understand the history and culture and the decisions that were made so long ago,” said Bullock.

Critical to these outreach efforts is AISD’s new Silver Eagles program, which focuses on members of the community who are over 60.

“We’re trying to reach the empty nesters, those people who no longer have children in the district but are still having to pay taxes,” explained AISD Board President Amy Gnadt. “We’re bringing them back in, giving them tours, and letting them see where their dollars are, how they add that value.”

The next phase of the district’s engagement plan will involve a partnership with a group that welcomes and distributes information to individuals who are new to the Allen community, said Bullock.

“We’re really trying to target [with] this next go around people who are new to Allen — some new to the area, some from out of state,” she explained. “Letting them know about Texas school finance and bonds, and saying, ‘Here’s a tour of our facility, and here’s what goes on in the course of a school day.’”

Bullock hopes that these efforts at community building will help keep parents and community members informed while also developing a sense of shared vision.

“We want to continue to focus on doing what’s best for students and staff, and caring for our community is a huge component of that,” she said. “We’re trying to be that glue as a place for the community to rally around. Everyone isn’t always going to agree, and that’s where we’re going to continue to work.”

Setting a vision

Student achievement is at the forefront for AISD. Over the past year, the district has focused its efforts on tracking

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AISD board members accept the 2022 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award on April 30, 2022. Photos courtesy of Allen ISD Allen

student progress to help identify patterns and needs throughout the year.

“We really wanted to not only have our students experience growth. We want our kids to be academically prepared,” said Gnadt. “We want to be able to have our students leave Allen and then credit Allen ISD for their success.”

In 2019, AISD started the work of creating a strategic plan, known as SOAR 2030, with the goal of clarifying its vision and ensuring alignment with student and community needs. The district invited roughly 200 staff members, parents, students, and members of the broader community to participate in working committees that met from September 2019 to February 2020. From those committees, three district goals were developed:

1. Culture of excellence

2. Future-ready skills

3. Empowered learning

The district’s focus has been on preparing students to succeed in a competitive workforce. This means growing the career and technical education program, providing equitable access to technology, and improving access to instructional tools.

An important part of developing this clarity of vision, according to Bullock, was the work the AISD board put into TASB’s eXceptional Governance (XG) Board Development program.

“Through our XG work, we were able to specify and get clarity around what is important to monitor,” said Bullock. “We focused on early literacy, early math, and CCMR [College, Career, and Military Readiness] indicators, and developed a data dashboard in house that is able to track progress as we go throughout the year.”

Developing a clear sense of purpose is critical to any board’s ability to influence student outcomes, said David Koempel, senior consultant for TASB’s Board Development Services.

“The team in Allen has a strong sense of direction that has helped them focus on improving student achievement,” said Koempel. “They have a long history of being an excellent board, and one of the things that takes is being mindful. Excellence is not a luck thing. It takes practice.”

Keeping the focus

Though developing a strategic plan has been instrumental in helping the district focus its efforts, Gnadt acknowledged that the board has had its share of struggles over the past year.

“There are external pressures on public education that are adversely impacting our ability to be able to focus on student growth,” she noted.

AISD isn’t the only board experiencing this kind of pressure, according to Koempel.

“Boards are facing a lot of challenges right now,” he said. “There is a high level of divisiveness, and it can be hard for boards to juggle these significant differences of opinion, while at the same time managing to make decisions in the best interest of all students.”

“To have a good working relationship, you have to be an open, honest, active listener. You have to talk it through and make sure everybody is on the same page,” said Bullock. “All the noise and distraction around all these potentially political issues, you just try to keep them from infiltrating what you’re trying to do.”

For Gnadt, that focus has come from developing strong board policies and procedures that help guide the group through rocky times.

“You can separate yourself from the emotional part of it if you have appropriate board operating procedures and you understand policy,” explained Gnadt. “We are a solid body corporate. We have board discipline that is well outlined in our board operating procedures.”

Moving forward

With all its recent success, the AISD board isn’t content to sit back and enjoy its win. Gnadt said the board hopes to focus its efforts on becoming advocates for public education.

“We want to be more involved in helping our local legislators write and carry actual legislation that might benefit us and that might impact school finance because there are some things that could be fixed,” she noted.

In addition to supporting education at the state level, the AISD board is committed to encouraging innovation and growth in its own district. The board is donating its $25,000 award to the local education foundation, where it will be earmarked for teacher grants.

“We want to support our teachers who want to try new things,” said Gnadt. “We want to be at the forefront of innovation when it comes to student growth and bring value to our students in a way that differentiates us from other districts.”H

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From left: AISD trustees Kevin Cameron, Sarah Mitchell, Amy Gnadt, Kelly Rowley, Susan Olinger, Polly Montgomery, and Superintendent Robin Bullock at the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards ceremony. Leslie Trahan is a staff writer for Texas Lone Star
But after a divisive couple of years, the “team of eight” is focusing on new, intentional ways to build relationships with the community.

Grammy Winner

Band director who inspires students at rural school wins coveted award

When you think of the Grammy Awards, you likely picture big-name celebrities vying to win the Album of the Year. What may not come to mind is a band director from a 3A school in Eastland ISD accepting a coveted Grammy. But that’s what happened this year when the Recording Academy® and GRAMMY Museum® presented Stephen T. Cox with the 2022 Music Educator Award.

Cox was selected from more than 1,135 nomination submissions representing 49 states. The honor recognizes music educators for their remarkable impact on students’ lives and their significant contribution to the music education field.

Ask just about anyone in Eastland, and they will confirm that this year’s award was spot-on.

Big impact in a small town

A community of about 4,000, Eastland lies an hour east of Abilene and an hour west of Weatherford. Eastland High School, with about 330 students, typically has between 70 and 90 in band.

Cox has served as high school band director for eight years. During that time, band participation in both the high school and middle school has more than doubled. “While this was happening, we didn’t have enough instruments. So, we actually found ourselves driving around to pawn shops until we could acquire enough funding to take care of all those students,” Cox said in a video submitted for his nomination.

The band’s success could be the reason students have wanted in. Under his direction, the high school band has been a consistent UIL sweepstakes band, advanced to state marching contest, and won multiple state concert band titles. But more likely, word got around about how supportive and fun he is.

“He’s as real as it gets,” said Adam Bramlett, principal at Eastland High. “The kids love him. He’s 100%. He’ll push them to the breaking point and love them all the way back and push them again.”

The videos that were submitted for his nomination capture the connection he has with his students, as well as his passion for what he does. One student in the video said, “We have so much fun in Mr. Cox’s class. He just makes everything fun somehow. I don’t know how he does it.” Included are several testimonies from students about how he has counseled and guided them over the years, even after graduation.

At a school celebration honoring Cox, Eastland ISD

School Board President David Hullum said, “The thing that impresses me the most is that you inspire those students to believe that if they work hard enough, if they put the effort in, and if they want it bad enough, they can accomplish it.”

With small-town roots (he is a graduate of Early High School and Howard Payne University in Brownwood), Cox is a big believer in community. One of his focuses is to make sure that his students are really involved with the Eastland community.

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Eastland High School band director Stephen T. Cox and his wife, Stephanie, at the Grammy Awards show in Las Vegas. Photos courtesy of Stephen T. Cox Eastland

For example, he organizes a jazz festival every spring, inviting area high school jazz bands, and his band performs at spring concerts in the park. Cox loves researching local history and recently wove that into a concert. Afterward, the kids learned how to swing dance on the rooftop of the Connellee Hotel.

“I think the thing that stood out to the GRAMMY Museum and the Recording Academy was likely our emphasis on community engagement and involvement,” Cox said.

A time to shine

Cox was nominated for the award by a student, Heath Slavens, a former drum major. “He told me that he saw an advertisement for the Grammy Music Educator Award and thought about me,” said Cox.

Cox received a phone call from the Recording Academy letting him know he was selected as this year’s winner.

Bramlett, who was aware of the nomination, said, “When he put in an absence request for time off, I realized that coincided with the Grammy dates, and I began to speculate at that moment.”

The winner of the Music Educator Award was officially announced on CBS Morning News. Bramlett said the band was called to the auditorium and watched the announcement live. “They were confused about whether it was the real Grammys or just a teacher portion of it. So, it was fun.”

Cox’s students immediately sent him a list of celebrities they wanted him to meet and get pictures with. “I’m like, listen, kids, we’re going to be sitting in the same room but we’re not going to be hanging out together!” he said in an interview recorded at the Grammys. “But they see these artists every single day, and to see someone from their town up there with them, it makes what we do feel really important to them.”

On April 3, Cox and his wife, Stephanie (an art teacher at Eastland High), dressed to the nines and joined the who’s who of the music industry in Las Vegas for the awards ceremony.

“The GRAMMY Museum and Recording Academy really made the experience special,” said Cox. “Absolutely everyone there understood how important music education was, and many people — celebrities, CEOs, recording engineers — told me how their educators had impacted their lives and led them to the path they are on today.”

He humbly added, “It was very surreal because I’m very aware of how many people deserve this type of recognition.” Cox pointed out that they have a three-director system, which includes middle school director Jett Lowrance and percussion director Juan Hernandez.

“There are amazing teachers everywhere,” he said in the Grammy interview. “I’m really happy that the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum counted me among that, but man, you can walk into any school anywhere and see amazing work happening right now.”

Extending the recognition

Back at home, Cox, along with his wife and their three children, was honored at a celebration in the high school gym. Since then, there have been numerous interviews and appearances for Cox. He is grateful for the $10,000 honorarium and

matching grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund for the school’s music program. But he hopes that the attention given to the Eastland ISD music program has an even greater value in expanding appreciation for music teachers everywhere.

“Fine arts education is powerful and fundamental to our society,” Cox said. “The arts influence every part of our daily lives. Studying this helps the students learn responsibility, creativity, collaboration, perseverance, and leadership in addition to becoming more emotionally sensitive and mature human beings.

“Local communities need to be encouraging and celebrating their fine arts programs/students and showing up to their events,” he added. “They need to be advocating for programs to be granted resources and to make arts education accessible to every group of students, not just the privileged. Hopefully, recognitions like this help illustrate the importance of fine arts in a student’s life.”

His principal agrees. “I think it’s big for rural schools,” Bramlett said. “A lot of the time, our kids are not sure how they fit in the big picture. And to see their band director get this, it’s big for the kids. It puts an emphasis on our community, and it puts a spotlight on our band program. People from all over the world are talking about it.”

To discover more about Stephen T. Cox and the Eastland ISD music program, search for these videos on YouTube: Grammy Music Educator Award, Stephen Cox, Eastland High/ Middle School, Videos 1, 2, 3.H

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From left: Stephen Cox, David Sears (vice president for education, Grammy in the Schools), and Jeffrey Murdock (last year’s Music Educator Award winner). Melissa Locke Roberts is a staff writer for Texas Lone Star

Laredo ISD athlete strives to help others Twice a Medalist

Melanie Duron has done it all in high school sports — often more than once.

The friendly, exceptionally talented athlete won UIL State Championship titles in the shot put for two consecutive years.

She is the only student athlete to graduate from a Laredo high school with two UIL championship medals, which she proudly wore on her red graduation gown at Martin High School’s commencement exercise.

Her titles include the District 30-5A Most Valuable Player and City MVP for two years in a row in volleyball, leading the Martin High team to win the district co-championship. As a result of her achievements, the Laredo Morning Times named her Female Athlete of the Year of 2021, and the Rotary Foundation Rotary International awarded her its Paul Harris Fellow.

Even though she was one of the busiest students at Martin High, Duron volunteered twice a week after school and on weekends at the Laredo Boys and Girls Club, where she and her brothers spent many hours as youngsters. She coached elementary-age children in volleyball and conducted sports camps during the summer months. When the club was closed during the pandemic, Duron produced videos on how to be a better athlete and improve skills. While the kids were at home

during the pandemic, her videos kept them in shape and helped them develop into better team players. She also officiates at the club’s volleyball tournaments.

“The boys and girls are so excited when they see me at their BGC games. I cheer them on and provide them with advice. But I also tell them to focus on their classwork because they are

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Melanie Duron, back row, center in white T-shirt, with members of the Laredo Boys and Girls Club. Laredo Melanie Duron’s T-shirt boasts her athletic honors. Photos courtesy of Laredo ISD

students before they are athletes,” said Duron, who is also a National Honor Society member. “They need to keep up their grades. Good grades should be their priority even when they are young.

“I encourage them to eat well and get all of their nutrients. I encourage them to drink lots of water because we live in Laredo, where it’s very hot. Staying active is also very important,” Duron added.

Hector J. Noyola, a member of the Laredo ISD board of trustees and retired executive director of the club in Laredo, praises Melanie’s positive influence on the younger members.

“Melanie is an excellent role model and mentor,” Noyola said. “I watched her sharpen her athletic skills at the BGC and mature into a leader for Martin High’s volleyball, track and field, softball, and basketball teams. The kids look up to her and say they want to grow up and be like Melanie. She is a champion because she is self-motivated, disciplined, and focused. We are very grateful that Melanie gives back to her community by serving as a volunteer at the BGC and being a friend to the youth of Laredo.”

Because of her academic and athletic abilities, Texas State University offered Duron a full scholarship to study kinesiology. She has signed a letter of intent to join the university’s track team.H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 21 TASB SHARS All-inclusive Ser vice ▶ Designated account executive to coordinate your SHARS program ▶ Full access to SMART Solutions™ documentation platform ▶ Free online and in-person training opportunities, and annual SHARS Conference We do it all for you! 888.630.6606 tasb.org/services/special-education-solutions
Melanie Duron, right, provides Memorial Middle School student Ruby Botello with some volleyball tips at the Boys and Girls Club in Laredo.
This story is by Laredo ISD and is reprinted with permission.

New Scholarship Program at Canyon ISD

Twenty Canyon ISD students were awarded substantial scholarships earlier this year from West Texas A&M University as part of an inaugural pre-engineering program.

The CISD/West Texas A&M pre-engineering program offers four courses to qualified high school students, giving them early access to the engineering field.

In total, the students were offered $550,000 in scholarships to West Texas A&M. Each student received two offers — one from the College of Engineering and one from the university — in case a student wants to pursue a different major.

CISD students take courses on the West Texas A&M campus alongside university students, giving them hands-on experience in campus labs and instruction by university engineering professors. Juniors and seniors at both Canyon and Randall high schools began taking courses in fall 2021.

“This collaborative pre-engineering program between WT and CISD is the fruit of our commitment to being responsive to the needs of our region,” said Emily Hunt, dean of the College of Engineering. “These students are the best of the Panhandle and we want them at WT.”

By the end of the program, the students will have 12 hours of transferable college credit.

“We are thrilled with this partnership and know that our students are extremely grateful for these generous scholarship

offers and for the opportunity to take university-level courses to set themselves on a path to their future,” said Marc Hamil, CISD director of secondary educations.

The pre-engineering program is one of five pre-university programs offered by the university.

Brad Johnson, vice president for community college relations, stressed the importance to the regional economy.

“Our region needs engineers who intend to build a life in the Panhandle,” Johnson said. “Students who earn their degrees at WT are far more likely to stay in the region and provide the quality workforce needed for future prosperity — not just for themselves, but also for the rest of us.”

To be part of the pre-engineering program, students must be approved by CISD, meet math prerequisites, and participate in dual-credit course sequencing with Amarillo College.H

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This story is by West Texas A&M University and is reprinted with permission. From left: Canyon ISD students Alexis Wilson and Rhett Patterson, Emily Hunt, dean of the West Texas A&M University College of Engineering, and Canyon ISD student Elijah Hunt work on a project. Photo courtesy of West Texas A&M University
Canyon

Comal ISD Student Leads State Orchestra

This year’s concertmaster for the Texas All-State Symphony Orchestra is a 10th-grade student from Comal ISD’s Smithson Valley High School who has been playing the violin since the age of five.

In her first year to audition for Texas All-State, Ellie Kennedy, 15, was selected for the highly competitive orchestra. She was shocked when she was chosen as the first chair Violin I, who is the orchestra’s leader.

“When I got the results, I was very surprised,” said Kennedy, who moved to Texas two years ago. “I mean, it’s Texas. I still can’t believe it, and I had an amazing time at All-State. I wish I could go back.”

Kennedy led this year’s All-State Symphony Orchestra in February during the Texas Music Educators Association Clinic/Convention in San Antonio. The TMEA sponsors the Texas All-State audition process, which begins each fall with more than 70,000 high school students across the state auditioning in their region. The best musicians in each region move on to compete at the TMEA area competitions, and they eventually audition for spots in one of the All-State divisions — band, orchestra, or vocal ensembles.

The poised musician explains that music has been a part of her life since birth, with both of her parents professional violists. In fact, her father was her first violin instructor, and she has always had music in her schools.

“I love that music is part of my school life, because it is part of me,” she said. “I think being a musician is very special, and it is enjoyable to be in a musical community with people with similar musical interests. I think introducing music at a young age trains the mind to be open to new possibilities and opportunities in the future. I believe that music should be encouraged for everyone.”

Kennedy didn’t always enjoy performing, however. Like many, she was afraid to perform when she was younger, but she has found peace with it now.

“I think I just understand music better, and that is the thing about music, you just never stop learning. I continue to learn every time I play,” she said. “I like performing on stage because I make it a goal to always leave a positive effect on the audience through music. I want to change the color in the room. Performing is an experience all on its own.”

Kennedy isn’t sure what her future holds as far as her career, but she knows that music will always be a part of her life.

“Music is a part of me,” she said. “It is a necessary tool to channel my emotions. Music is a universal language, and I think music is the one thing that we all have a similar interest [in] too. It is the one thing we have in common.”

County

This summer, Kennedy will continue to hone her musical skills after being accepted to Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute’s program, where she will work with professional musicians, take master classes, and perform weekly concerts.

“Never let music out of your life,” she said. “Just don’t.”H

This story is by Comal ISD and is reprinted with permission.

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Smithson Valley High School student Ellie Kennedy, this year’s concertmaster for the Texas All-State Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Comal ISD Comal

Coppell ISD Student Helps Community

If there is an art to giving back to one’s community, Coppell ISD High School junior Shraavya Pydisetti has found it through her organization, Project Querencia.

Project Querencia, which in Spanish means a place where one is at home, was organized in the summer of 2020 as a way to share personalized gifts, artworks, and thank-you notes to employees at Coppell High School, the Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus, Coppell Middle School West, the CISD Administration Building, as well as local first responders and healthcare workers.

This past year, group members expanded their efforts to include CISD bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers. Sometimes, Pydisetti’s artworks are included in the packages.

“We realized that throughout the last few years, they have taken a huge hit with COVID, having to work overtime to keep our schools safe for the students and teachers,” Pydisetti said. “The public overlooked these individuals who were crucial to our safety, care, and education, so we took it upon ourselves to create 300 packages for all these unseen heroes in our district.”

Project Querencia has completed more than 90 projects, with members volunteering more than 4,000 hours. The projects include providing more than 4,200 appreciation packages for essential workers, including doctors, policemen, firefighters, teachers, education administrators, janitors, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers.

Project Querencia became a nonprofit organization on July 19, 2021. Learn more about the group at projectquerencia.org.H

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This story is by Coppell ISD and is reprinted with permission. Coppell Some of the gifts created by members of Project Querencia. Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt and student Shraavya Pydisetti. Photos courtesy of Coppell ISD

Student Earns Girl Scouts’ Top Award

The Gold Award is the highest possible achievement with the Girl Scouts of America, and it is now part of the growing tally of accomplishments for Wimberley High School senior Makenzie Haston.

Gold Award recipients must provide a lasting solution to an issue in their community, so when it came time for Haston to choose a project to pursue for her Gold Award, she thought of the younger people at Wimberley ISD.

“I had been on Instagram and happened to scroll to a video that portrayed a little girl using a vinyl sticker pathway that had been installed at her school,” explained Haston. “I learned what the purpose of the pathway was and thought the idea of a sensory pathway would be a neat thing to create as my Gold Award.”

The benefits of sensory pathways are more pronounced for younger students, giving them a chance to spend time walking, jumping, bouncing, and counting their way through the maze of decals on the walls and floors. Ideally, the students are then ready to return to focused learning.

Blue Hole Primary School was in its early stages of construction when Haston received enthusiastic permission from WISD Superintendent Dwain York and Principal Dara Richardson to proceed with her plan to install a decal sensory pathway.

Using an app to create the decals, Haston printed them and painstakingly installed them each by hand last summer. A total of 80 hours of commitment to the project is required to achieve the Gold Award, and Haston one-upped that with 81 documented hours of work.

The vinyl stickers are installed along the floors and hallways at Blue Hole Primary. The decals are handprints, footprints, arrows, and many other shapes. Some are decorated with numbers and letters. Haston said teachers have told her the pathway has been a valuable resource.

“I was told by one teacher that the pathway has helped students reset and come back to class with a more positive attitude,” Haston said. “Another teacher has mentioned that students ask to go through the entire hallway before returning to the classroom. Additionally, one of the teachers has said she uses the ABC flowers for her deaf education student to do ABC-recall where they go and stand on the letter she signs.”

It’s a truly impactful project that touches the lives of many of WISD’s youngest students, and it will continue to have a multiplying effect at Blue Hole Primary’s campus and beyond. It’s no surprise the project led to Haston receiving the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award.

Haston, who competes with the Lady Texans in basketball, soccer, and cross country, will attend Texas A&M University, where she plans to join the Corps of Cadets and major in International Studies.H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 25
This
ISD and is reprinted with permission.
story is by Wimberley
Wimberley High School senior Makenzie Haston works on her sensory pathway project at Blue Hole Primary School. Wimberley High School senior Makenzie Haston places decals on a floor at Blue Hole Primary School. Photo courtesy of Wimberley ISD Wimberley

Honors for Literacy Efforts at Socorro ISD

A librarian and a fourth-grade teacher at Socorro ISD were selected as finalists for the School Library Journal’s Librarian/ Teacher Collaboration Award for their ongoing, collaborative work to improve literacy for students of all grade levels at their campus.

Desert Wind Elementary School librarian Emma Romero and fourth-grade teacher Andre von Twistern earned the prestigious recognition for bolstering the literacy culture at the school by creating book clubs, engaging with parents, and creating other fun, literacy-based activities and programs for their students.

“We’re really proud to have been selected as finalists for this award,” Romero said. “We’re super happy that we made it that far and we’re really proud of the work that we have done here.”

The duo was featured in SLJ’s January 2022 edition for their creative approaches to expanding the use of literacy in classrooms and across the campus in southeast El Paso.

Romero worked diligently to boost the school’s library budget and sought grants to purchase new books, technology

equipment, and wi-fi hot spots for students to take home for access to the internet.

She teamed up with von Twistern to start a literacy committee, and together with other teachers, they created book clubs, increased parental engagement, and provided research guides to help their fellow teachers inspire their students to read.

“Working with Ms. Romero has been great. It has been eye-opening because she has so many resources. She’ll bring it to my attention and then we’ll come up with an idea how to use it inside the classroom,” von Twistern said.

The award also recognized their three-year project with the National Park Service to give all fourth graders an “Every Kid in the Park” pass. They took students on several field trips to national parks or national memorials within the area. They also

26 Texas Lone Star | July 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org
Desert Wind School librarian Emma Romero and fourth-grade teacher Andre von Twistern at the school library. Photo courtesy of Socorro ISD
Socorro

invited a park ranger to talk to students and found books about nature topics.

“Our goal is to get students more involved, hands on, and getting the kids to learn how to create more,” von Twistern said. “Sometimes all they know is their little bubble, so it’s really exposing them to more outside things.”

Romero said they are passionate about literacy and have collaborated to promote many literacy activities at the campus. They have created events such as promoting a book of the month, and they have used blended learning approaches with Flipgrid to get students interested in and talking about books.

“I love to see the kids’ faces light up when they come to the library and when we talk about books, especially when we have teachers reading novels in class, just giving them that opportunity to experience adventure through reading,” Romero said. “We want to give them those experiences so that they can have that experiential learning that they otherwise wouldn’t get.”

During the pandemic, when instruction was changing from remote to in-person, Romero and von Twistern did not lose any ground on their efforts. They conducted an in-person summer program last year with a focus on tutoring and enrichment for students. They used LibGuide to find resources and included tools such as Google Earth, Flipgrid, and augmented reality goggles to let students experience virtual trips.

They also shared books using Flipgrid and created First Chapter Friday, where teachers would read aloud the first chapter to get students interested in different books. They also

did simple things like modeled enthusiasm for books with “now reading” notices at their classrooms and on email signatures.

The work has been arduous and continuous, Romero said. But the team continues to persevere, which has contributed to a positive energy for literacy at the school.

“I want to be able to give the kids any new experiences that we can give them through literature, field trips, virtual learning,” Romero said. “Just getting them to be interested and curious and learn how to use inquiry to think at a higher level and make references to stories.”H

This story is by Socorro ISD and is reprinted with permission.

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 27 tasb.org/student-solutions/membership studentsolutions@tasb.org 888.247.4829 We have a summer special offer for you! Sign up for a new TASB Student Solutions membership this summer and wait to pay until this fall. • Customizable special education and Section 504 model operating procedures • Resources for program best practices • Access to live and recorded webinars • Updated content to reflect changes in laws and regulations • And more! Contact our team of experts today for this special offer.
“Our goal is to get students more involved, hands on, and getting the kids to learn how to create more. Sometimes all they know is their little bubble, so it’s really exposing them to more outside things.”

U.S. Presidential Scholars List Includes Six Texas Public High School Students

Six Texas public school students are among this year’s 161 high school seniors named as 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for graduating students.

“Our 2022 Presidential Scholars represent the best of America, and remind us that when empowered by education, there are no limits to what our young people can achieve,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a May press release announcing the winners. “Today, I join President Biden to celebrate a class of scholars whose pursuit of knowledge, generosity of spirit, and exceptional talents bring our nation tremendous pride. Throughout one of the most trying periods in our nation’s history, and amid our recovery from the pandemic, our students have once again demonstrated their strength and that they have so much to contribute to our country. Thanks to them, I know America’s future is bright.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.

Of the 3.7 million students who were expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2022 awards that are determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams, or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations, and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.

As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2022 list of scholars is composed of one male and one female from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts, and 20 scholars in career and technical education.

Texas was one of three states with the most scholars besides New York and Florida.

Created in 1964, the program has honored more than 7,900 of the nation’s top-performing students. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

This year’s winners from Texas public schools are:

• Siddh Bamb, Austin — Liberal Arts and Science Academy — Austin ISD

• Isabella Grace Gueck*, Grand Prairie — Grand Prairie High School — Grand Prairie ISD

• Emma G. Hamilton, Spring — Oak Ridge High School — Conroe ISD

• Jorge Adrian Jasso**, Brownsville — Homer Hanna High School — Brownsville ISD

• Tristan Matthew Lee**, San Antonio — Theodore Roosevelt High School — North East ISD

• Ella Reaugh*, Lucas-Lovejoy High School — Lovejoy ISD

* Scholar for U.S. Presidential Scholar in Arts

** Scholar for U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education

28 Texas Lone Star | July 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org

Parkway Students Help Community

From planting flowers for the elderly to reading to shelter dogs, Parkway Elementary School students found ways to grow and learn this year while also giving back to their community.

Teachers and staff at the Pine Tree School District in Longview developed ways to get students excited again about learning, and they also provided opportunities for the children to connect with their East Texas community in meaningful ways and be part of the “Parkway Pack” family.

Pack students helped build community relations through service projects such as “Rescued Readers,” in which students read to animals at the Longview Animal Shelter, to “Roses for Residents,” which involved planting flowers for nursing home residents who were unable to be with family due to the pandemic. Students began to feel empowered through these efforts.

“Campus leaders and staff had to be very creative to keep students engaged and excited about learning,” said Principal Melanie Keoun. “To increase student involvement outside of the classrooms, some novelty ideas were added to our campus repertoire.”

Other activities included a book vending machine, piano lessons, virtual field trips, student leadership groups, and “Genius Hour” opportunities for students to discover new interests and hobbies.

“Teachers also learned how to integrate different forms of technology and electronic resources to reach at-home learners as well as our students who were able to attend in person,” Keoun said.

To address the academic impacts of the pandemic, Parkway teachers and staff focused on individual student growth by using data to design targeted lessons on skills needed to fill any gaps and push students to the next level, Keoun said. Additional staff members were hired to help students who needed more targeted instruction, and teachers stayed after school to work with students to fill any holes in their learning. Curriculum also focused on opportunities for enrichment.

“By creating a common and shared purpose and leveraging critical, creative, and novel strategies and solutions, the Pack pressed on. Parkway Elementary firmly and passionately believes there were no excuses for our students to have learning loss,” she said. “We didn’t view it as a ‘loss,’ but as disrupted learning instead. We knew that we had to gain ground and face this challenge head on.”H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 29
Story courtesy of Pine Tree ISD. Parkway Elementary student Celia Ramos reads to a shelter dog. Parkway Elementary students deliver flowering plants to nursing home residents at Pine Tree Lodge. Longview Photos courtesy of Pine Tree ISD

Math Educator Wins “Oscar” of Teaching

At Grand Prairie High School, Emily Truss’ ninth-grade students know that math is a lifetime skill. That’s because her creative lessons encourage students to explore how math fits into the world around them, incorporating current events in new ways to engage and challenge young minds.

This spring, after an all-school pep rally, Truss was surprised with a national Milken Educator Award for her indelible impact on students and colleagues alike. The recognition includes a $25,000 cash prize that she can use however she chooses.

Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken was joined by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to present Truss with the prestigious honor in March before cheering students, appreciative colleagues, and state and local dignitaries. Truss joins a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients dedicated to strengthening K-12 education.

Truss is among more than 60 educators across the country to receive the award during the 2021-22 season. She is the first recipient from Grand Prairie Independent School District.

“Emily Truss instills a passion for learning in her students that will influence their pursuit of excellence long after graduation,” said Lowell Milken. “Her effectiveness in the classroom, combined with her instructional leadership at large, make her a

force in the community and a model for the state and nation.”

Extending beyond the classroom, Truss’s spirit of mentorship led her to serve as a TAP System for Teacher and Student Achievement mentor teacher through Grand Prairie’s partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching. Her work helps support student success schoolwide through her role as math department chair and involvement with initiatives like Advancement Via Individual Determination that build college readiness and increase inclusive opportunities for all students.

“Emily Truss reflects the very best of the teaching profession in Texas,” said Morath. “By holding her algebra students to the highest of standards, her diligent work and dedication benefits the Grand Prairie High community today while strengthening the Texas of tomorrow.”

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues, and communities.

30 Texas Lone Star | July 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath presents a special state proclamation to teacher Emily Truss from Gov. Greg Abbott. Grand Prairie

The awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while they are in the early- to mid-career stage for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

Truss fosters curiosity, critical thinking skills, and a growth mindset through real-world applications of math. Her algebra students explore exponential functions by studying transmission patterns of COVID-19.

When she taught geometry, her students learned to find the midpoint between two points on a coordinate plane by looking at a map of Grand Prairie and calculating the center between the two closest grocery stores. The lesson continued beyond math as the class discussed the concept of “food deserts” and how they might use their findings to advocate to city officials for construction of a community garden or a grocery store.

Her classroom mantra is “Be the change,” and she encourages students to make choices each day that will have a positive impact on not only their own futures, but the lives of those around them.

Truss creates an inclusive and respectful environment where student data informs every instructional decision. She is never afraid to try new approaches, adjusting as she discerns student needs. Hoping to improve student performance, Truss instituted small group instruction in Algebra I several years ago. By the end of the 2019-20 school year, students were showing tremendous growth, and Truss introduced the strategy to the rest of her team.

Equity is an important focus of Truss’ practice. She is part of the committee that advocates for culturally relevant teaching, tackling issues on how to deliver instruction to the school’s diverse student body. She partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity to learn about equitable access to STEM opportunities.H

Pick Up Your Diploma — and Register to Vote!

The League of Women Voters of Amarillo is trying to get more young people engaged with democracy by encouraging graduating seniors to register to vote as they pick up their caps and gowns.

The idea is spreading to other parts of the state, including the Houston region, where the League of Women Voters of Houston has been piloting a similar effort at several high schools.

“Young people have a lot to say, and they have a lot of good ideas,” said Sonya Letson, president of the Amarillo league. “Voting is a way to say it and express those ideas to benefit the whole country.”

Statistics show that young people vote at lower rates than other age

groups, though the number of Texans ages 18 to 29 who went to the polls improved in 2020 from 2016 by 13 percentage points, according to one study.

Letson said studies show that the earlier people begin voting, the more likely they will become lifelong voters. “It also develops a sense of belonging to your community,” she said.

The league’s efforts to register more young people in Amarillo and Houston is an extension of the work already being done in high schools across Texas. High school principals are required by the state to offer students the chance to register to vote twice a year, at the end of each semester, if the students are 18 or will turn 18 during that semester.

The cap-and-gown voter registration drive is also part of the Amarillo league’s campaign to reach out to young people throughout the year. During the fall and spring, volunteers speak to seniors in nine participating high schools about the importance of voting. This year, they added the registration cards and flyers at cap-and-gown distributions at those schools.

On a recent visit to Palo Duro, Letson said the students she spoke to were positive and open to the idea of registering, with some doing it on the spot. She hopes Amarillo will see more young people at the polls.

“It will be hard to measure,” she said. “But at least you got them the information and the card in hand.”H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 31
Photos courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation With Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken looking on, Emily Truss addresses the crowd gathered at her surprise notification. Story courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation.

Twinning at Two San Angelo High Schools

In a unique final ranking outcome, both San Angelo ISD high schools had fraternal twin sisters taking the first and second top spots in their respective graduating classes this year.

Gracie Barker is the valedictorian this year at Central High School, and twin Ellie Barker, the salutatorian. And over at Lake View High School, Landy Williams is the valedictorian, and her twin, Lexie Williams, is salutatorian.

Meet the Barker twins

“We’ve been competing against each other for a long time — healthy competition, not like sabotage-each-other competition,” said Gracie. “We've always pushed each other to do better.”

Gracie recently won the state title in UIL Ready Writing for 6A, and she was active in speech and debate. Ellie, a varsity soccer player who is interested in health and fitness, describes herself as a very organized, type A personality. The girls share a commitment to hard work in their studies, but they note differences in how they approach studies and what they’re passionate about.

The girls are heading to rival Texas colleges. Gracie will attend the University of Texas at Austin and major in political communication. Ellie will head to College Station to attend Texas A&M University, where she will major in biomedical engineering.

At their graduation, the twins co-delivered a speech.

“I think it’s super special to be sharing this with Gracie,” Ellie said before the graduation ceremony. “It’s super special for our parents, especially, because they’re so proud of all our accomplishments and that we get to do this together.”

Meet the Williams twins

“Being one and two together is really cool,” Landy said of the valedictorian and salutatorian honors. “Having a big accomplishment like this to share is unbelievable.”

Landy was a leader in the high school band and also participated in sports, including basketball, which she attributes to developing skills such as leadership, collaboration and teamwork, and time management. Lexie was also a leader in band, and she played basketball and softball.

Landy will attend Texas A&M, where she will major in nutrition and play in the Aggie band as an alto saxophonist. Lexie will attend Abilene Christian University and major in education and math. She plans to be a high school math teacher.

“Ever since I was little, I loved helping others. It’s just been a dream of mine to become a teacher. I’ve loved all my teachers, and they’ve helped me so much. I want to do that for others,” said Lexie.

Being a twin can have its positives and negatives. Lexie said one aspect she loves is the close relationship.

“You have an automatic best friend when you have a twin. They’re always there for you,” she said.

And like a true best friend, she already has plans to join her parents on a trip to visit College Station for an Aggie home football game to watch sister Landy on her first step off with the Aggie Band.H

32 Texas Lone Star | July 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org
This story is by San Angelo ISD and is reprinted with permission. San Angelo From left: Landy Williams is the valedictorian at Lake View High School, and her twin, Lexie Williams, is salutatorian. From left: Gracie Barker is the valedictorian this year at Central High School, and twin Ellie Barker, the salutatorian. Photos courtesy of San Angelo ISD

Getting the Good Word Out

Four steps to telling your school district’s story

When you hear rumors or discouraging talk about your district, your first instinct is probably to set the record straight with facts — the above-average graduation rate, the ever-improving test scores, and other successes.

While these facts are important, they’re not usually effective in changing someone’s mind. That’s where storytelling comes in. Telling a story as opposed to sharing facts is more effective in getting your point across. When you tell someone a story, you are giving that person an experience. Experiences are memorable and evoke emotion more than reading or hearing a statistic.

So, instead of giving the facts about your STEM program, show photos of young students participating in STEM activities. Talk about the high school student who landed that stellar technology internship. Use quotes from students.

Take the following actions to create a plan for using storytelling to promote your district:

Identify your audience. Who do you want to reach? There are many stakeholders in public schools, including:

• Parents

• Staff

• Students

• Taxpayers

• Community leaders

• School board

• State lawmakers

Know your audience. The groups above have different wants and needs related to your district. Ask yourself:

• What is each group’s perception of your schools?

• What is each group’s primary concern?

• Solicit feedback from individuals and organizations that are part of these audiences.

Develop your message. Work closely with principals, teachers, and students to get stories from the classroom. Ask yourself:

• What distinguishes your district?

• How can you tell a story rather than just give basic facts?

• Having a standard and simple way of submitting good news and stories to the central district is crucial.

Get the word out. Promote your message everywhere available to you: social media, the district’s website, newsletters, advertisements, signage, alerts, and through the media. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. Students get their news and information from different places than lawmakers, so be sure to customize messages and plan the distribution accordingly.

In addition, share messages and stories that promote public education. Look to organizations like Go Public, TASB, TASA, Raise Your Hand Texas, and other education organizations for existing resources you can share or emulate.

Don’t be afraid to tell the stories of the students who are being educated daily in your school district, or the teachers who go above and beyond for those students. Their stories can only help your public schools become stronger.H

texaslonestaronline.org | July 2022 | Texas Lone Star 33
Stephanie Butler is a staff writer for Texas Lone Star.
Don’t be afraid to tell the stories of the students who are being educated daily in your school district, or the teachers who go above and beyond for those students. Their stories can only help your public schools become stronger.

$100 discount per registrant for districts registering all board members (or trustees) and superintendent.

Ideas. Insights. Inspiration. Shaping Public Education Together

September 23 –25

San Antonio

Henry B. González Convention Center

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

JON GORDON , New York Times

bestselling author of The Power of Positive Leadership and The Energy Bus.

MERLYNA VALENTINE , a well-respected educator for over 30 years with numerous awards as a teacher, principal, and executive director in a highly successful school district.

DERRICK JOHNSON , former Texas

Longhorn and Kansas City Chief. Founder and president of Defend the Dream Foundation, which caters to inner-city kids through education.

34 Texas Lone Star | July 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org
Visit tasa.tasb.org for a list of pre-conference sessions that require pre-registration. Registration and Housing open Tuesday, July 19
CST.
9 a.m.
We will never forget. Uvalde CISD May 24, 2022
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