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TEPSA News Texas Elementary Principals & Supervisors Association

Serving Texas School Leaders Since 1917 August 2018 Vol. 75, No. 4

Texas Lawmakers Recognized with Tribute to Texas Children Award The recipients of this year’s Sandi Borden Tribute to Texas Children Award are two Texas lawmakers who have advocated on behalf of students and worked to enact legislation that champions public education. Representative Dan Huberty has served in four legislative sessions. During the 85th Session, Huberty was named Chairman of the Public Education Committee. In his role as Chairman, Huberty carried several important pieces of legislation relating to public education. These included a plan to begin to fix the public school finance system and legislation to adjust to the newlyimplemented public school accountability system.

National Distinguished Principal Jennifer Parker from Socorro ISD is the Texas 2018 National Distinguished Principal (NDP). Parker will represent Texas at the NDP program sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Jennifer Parker in Washington, D.C. in October. She was awarded a check for $10,000 thanks to a generous donation from long-time TEPSA business partner Mentoring Minds. An innovative visionary, Parker thrives on life-long learning and consistently seeks creative ways to serve the needs of Purple Heart Elementary students, staff and community. Purple Heart’s motto ► page 6

Senator Kel Seliger currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee and Representative Dan Huberty and Senator Kel Seliger is a member of the Senate Education Committee, Senate Finance Committee, and Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development. As part of his service ► page 4

School Culture: How Branding Your Campus Tells Your Story by Casey Neal, Waterboy Graphics Waterboy Graphics is proud to partner with TEPSA and Todd Nesloney on the “KINDNESS CAMPAIGN” to help brand your campus with messages of kindness and confidence for your school family. Proceeds from every packet will benefit foster children and help to restore the Tribute to Texas Children statutes on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol. When I was a campus principal, I had a good friend who worked for Lifetouch Photography and every time he was on our campus he commented on how “good” the culture felt. Now that I work with Waterboy Graphics I have the opportunity to ► page 5

Inside Guest Column

Best Practices

Legal Ease

page 7

page 8

page 14

with Heather Loomis

with Tom W. Many

with Kevin Lungwitz

TNT: Dynamite Ideas for School Leaders

with Todd Nesloney and Travis Crowder

page 16


Build a critical thinking culture to help all students rise to higher expectations. Start by introducing 9 Traits of Critical Thinking.™

Discover how ThinkUp! Foundations and Team ThinkUp! can help you build a culture of student growth.

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Texas Elementary Principals & Supervisors Association

Executive Committee Yolanda Delaney President, Canyon ISD Annette Sanchez President-Elect, Beeville ISD Julie Gauthier First Vice President, Port Neches- Groves ISD Lorena Zertuche Second Vice President, Katy ISD Cindy Tierney Secretary, Lufkin ISD Victorius Eugenio NAESP Representative, Fort Worth ISD Manuel Gonzales Past President, Frisco ISD Harley Eckhart TEPSA Executive Director Standing Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs Brian Hill Advocacy Chair, Austin ISD Katiuska Herrador Advocacy Vice Chair, Arlington ISD Rachelle Ysquierdo Membership, Marketing & PR Chair, Sheldon ISD Amanda Schmitter Membership, Marketing & PR Vice Chair, Grand Prairie ISD Jana Kieschnick Programs & Services Chair, Odem-Edroy ISD Christy Watley Programs & Services Vice Chair, Midway ISD Amanda Schmitter Special Committee on Elections Chair, Grand Prairie ISD Nancy Tovar Nominating Committee Chair, El Paso ISD Yvette East Nominating Committee Vice Chair, Responsive Education Solutions

Region Presidents Anthony Limon Sharyland ISD (1) Rosalinda Treviño Bishop CISD (2) Bridgette Cerny Cuero ISD (3) Yvette East Responsive Education Solutions (4) Amanda Jenkins Orangefield ISD (5) Crystal Mayes New Caney ISD (6) Traci Jones Harleton ISD (7) Jennifer Driver Mount Vernon ISD (8) Travis Armstrong Wichita Falls ISD (9) Gema Hall Coppell ISD (10) Tami Vardy Mansfield ISD (11) Nickolas Smith Gatesville ISD (12) Danielle Taylor New Braunfels ISD (13) Lisa Salmon Wylie ISD (14) Angela Bierman Brady ISD (15) Vanette Barnett Highland Park ISD (16) Sylvia Suarez Seminole ISD (17) Juan Dominguez Midland ISD (18) Cain Castillo Clint ISD (19) Veronica Goldhorn Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD (20) TEPSA regions coincide with regional education service center boundaries. Staff Harley Eckhart Executive Director Joni Carlson Director of Meetings Cecilia Cortez Marketing & Communications Manager Ann Hopkins Membership/Standing Committees Coor. Kristina Jaimes Student Council & Exhibits Coordinator Anita Jiles Associate Executive Director for Marketing & Communications Ken Jones Controller Trae Kendrick Chief Information Officer Elizabeth Kernan Office Manager Belinda Neal Associate Executive Director for Instruction Lori Sanchez Membership & Communications Assistant Louis Silvas Webmaster Karen Terry Governance Coordinator Mark Terry Deputy Executive Director

TEPSA President/Yolanda Delaney Welcome back to school! My name is Yolanda Delaney and I am the Director of Elementary Education for Canyon ISD. I am honored to serve as your State President for the 2018-2019 school year. I hope your summer was filled with lots of learning that helped you create a vision for the new school year while enjoying some fun in the sun, and a little rest and relaxation along the way. The theme for my presidential year is Learning: Life’s Greatest Adventure. I am thankful for the opportunities I had to learn alongside colleagues from across the state at TEPSA’s Summer Conference in Austin. The learning I took away allowed me to reflect on the past and plan for the road ahead. As educators we will journey into a new understanding of state accountability with the A-F rating system, we will have opportunities to grow ourselves professionally in our leadership, and even tackle tough issues during the upcoming legislative session. My hope for you is that this year isn’t about the destination but the adventure along the way. A bit of advice shared with me by a mentor was to be on the field as part of the game every day. Great coaches don’t sit in the locker room while their players are on the field. As leaders of our schools, we must reflect on where we spend our time. Make a commitment this school year to be in classrooms, in the hallways, outside in the car rider and bus other words at the game! Don’t let your to-do list pull you away from what really matters. Our staff, students and community need us to be present and part of the learning that is happening in our schools each and every day. The favorite part of my job is getting into classrooms where the learning is taking place. I look forward to as many opportunities as I can create to surround myself with students. Take a moment to reflect on why you chose to be an educator, share your story with your staff, and allow them the opportunity to share their story with you. Challenge yourself to keep those stories at the forefront throughout this school year and be part of the action in the classrooms. Your adventure awaits!

TEPSA News Published six times a year by Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. Subscription is included in TEPSA membership dues. Postage paid at Austin, Texas. Articles may be reproduced by TEPSA members without written request, provided that duplication is for an educational purpose at a nonprofit institution; copies are available without charge; and each copy includes full citation of the source.

Copyright © 2018 by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.

Contact TEPSA 501 East 10th Street Austin, TX 78701 512-478-5268 800-252-3621 Fax: 512-478-1502

ftl TEPSA News


News Briefs A–F Accountability Ratings Release Dates

State Plan to Prevent School Shootings

The 85th Texas Legislature HB 22 established three domains for measuring the academic performance of districts and campuses: Student Achievement, School Progress, and Closing the Gaps. Beginning this August, districts will receive a rating of A, B, C, D, or F for overall performance, as well as for performance in each domain. Campuses will receive A–F ratings beginning in August 2019.

The strategies in Governor Abbott’s 40-point plan for preventing school shootings fall under three general categories: • Making schools safer • Preventing threats in advance • Enhancing firearms safety

A-F New Labels/Grades

A= Exemplary Performance B= Recognized Performance C= Acceptable Performance D= In Need of Improvement F= Unacceptable Performance Learn more Source: Texas Education Agency.

Proposed solutions include increasing law enforcement presence at schools, providing free training for school marshalls, free active shooter response training, and focusing on school safety improvements. One recommendation is expanding a mental health screening program run by Texas Tech that is currently used in 10 school districts. Other points include increased mental health programs and training, providing schools with behavioral threat assessment programs, using technology to identify potential threats, and removing students who threaten teachers. Gun-related proposals include adding 17-year-olds to Texas’ firearms storage law and encouraging the use of gun locks.

Mix It Up at Lunch Day: October 23

Acknowledging his plan requires funding, Gov. Abbott identified $70M that is currently available and another $30M he will ask lawmakers to approve when they convene in January. The Governor said he is open to calling a special session if there is consensus on some laws that can be passed. No decision has been made yet. View the Governor’s Plan at

Launched in 2002 by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mix It Up at Lunch Day is an international campaign that encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries. By creating a safe place in the cafeteria during lunch, students are able to take a risk and cross lines of division to meet new people and help take steps to build an inclusive and welcoming school community. While schools can register to host an event on any day of the year, this year’s official Mix It Up at Lunch Day is October 23, 2018. Learn more and register your school at Source: Teaching Tolerance.

► Tribute to Texas Children continued from page 1 on the Education Committee, Seliger authored Senate Bill 463, a bill that extends the option of Individual Graduation Committees for students who passed all courses, but failed to pass up to two state-mandated tests. A graduate of Texas public schools, maintaining an outstanding public education system has always been Senator Seliger’s top priority. He believes that students are different and a one-size-fits-all focus on testing benefits no one. The Sandi Borden Tribute to Texas Children Award recognizes an individual(s), company or institution for outstanding service to Texas education.


August 2018


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Current Research Majority of School Leaders Report Technology Enhances Student Learning Navigating technology’s rapidly changing landscape is a challenge for educators. In his Summer Conference keynote, Google Education Evangelist Jaime Casap said, “What we need more than anything in education is a culture of innovation and iteration in order to build new learning models supported and enabled by technology to foster student focused learning.” Results from an Education Week Research Center national survey of school leaders show the majority of leaders (57%) report digital technologies are an important supplemental resource used to personalize learning based on each student’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Regarding how confident leaders are that digital technologies can help schools realize some of the goals associated with personalized learning:

• 51% were quite confident technology helped customize instruction; 45% were quite confident it improves student engagement and 41% felt quite confident it improves student learning. Additionally: • Relatively few (16 percent) say such technologies are central to their mission or that they do not use them at all (3 percent). • Just 7 percent of leaders say that teaching computer science or data science is central to the mission of their operation. View the full report at Source: Education Week Research Center. (2018). “School Leaders and Technology: Results from a National Survey.”

► Texas NDP continued from page 1 “College Begins in Kindergarten” permeates throughout the campus with programs like TECH-E Stem and a partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso. Purple Heart hosts UTEP interns, and the university holds two classes per semester at the school with Purple Heart teachers hosting observations. “Jennifer has demonstrated the ability to bring about large-scale change in complex environments and has done it with grace, patience, empathy, and love for the vocation of education about which she is passionate,” wrote Socorro ISD Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Lucia Borrego in her recommendation letter. “But most of all, she loves and believes in her students and teachers.” Teachers at Purple Heart follow a Project Based Learning model that is wrapped around a strong academic framework. Student-centered, this philosophy is a dynamic classroom approach that gives students the opportunity to actively explore real-world challenges and problems. It is not uncommon to see firemen, dentists, architects, grocery store owners, professors and other professionals leading lessons.

dents as well as learning opportunities for the entire school community,” TEPSA Executive Director Harley Eckhart said. “She has a proven track record of motivating students to high levels of engagement and consistent academic gains.” Sponsored by NAESP, The National Distinguished Principals program honors outstanding elementary and middle-level administrators who ensure that America’s children acquire a sound foundation for lifelong learning and achievement. Special thanks for supporting the Texas NDP Program!

“Jennifer and her leadership team have put strong systems into place that provide safety nets for stu6

August 2018

Guest Column/Heather Loomis

How to Make Picture Day

Every child matters. We all care about creating a beautiful portrait of each child to help commemorate their school year. There are three things you can do to aid us achieving this goal and making your parents happy.

1on picture days if we have at least a minute to

A minute per child! We are more successful

photograph each student. Children get into all sorts of things in the time between being dropped off at school and having their photo taken, so we need time to comb their hair, fix their clothing, and wipe their faces if needed. Children with special needs typically require more time and patience to get comfortable in front of the camera. Younger children definitely need extra time to get their wiggles out and for us to coach them on how to smile naturally for their portraits. Some kids only have their photo taken once a year—on picture day—so they need more guidance on what to do. Having a minute of time per child with a little extra if they are younger or have special needs will help ensure everyone looks their best.

on your village! Having parent volunteers 2Lean at photo day is fabulous. They know the kids and their parents, so they care that much more about ensuring everyone looks great for their portraits.

portant teachers arrive on time for their class’ pictures. Assisting with readying the children for their picture is also a big help. It is essential for teachers to be right there in case a student is hit with a bout of shyness or we need guidance on a student’s name. Having a safe, comfortable location for 3Location! picture day makes for a great experience. The ideal location is one that has enough space for our camera rigs, allows for safe traffic flow in and out of the camera area, and has room for students to wait while their class is being photographed. We know space is limited at your schools, but if a gym can be used, that is typically the best spot for a fantastic photo day.

Thank you for helping us create beautiful school portraits for your students and their families that will be cherished for years to come. 

Heather Loomis is the Territory Photographic Operations Manager for Lifetouch Central Texas.

Teachers and staff are also invaluable in having a smooth photo day. To keep things moving, it is imTEPSA News


Best Practices/Tom Many, EdD

Discover the Next Generation of Best Practice The Importance of Continuous Improvement in Professional Learning Communities

“Collaborative cultures, ones that focus on building the capacity of schools and the people within them for continuous improvement, are meant to be new ways of working and learning.” - Michael Fullan, 2006 Perhaps you grew up watching a Zenith television. For years, Zenith (and other manufacturers) dominated the domestic market with the big, round tube televisions that were considered the industry’s standard of excellence. Eventually, Japanese manufacturers like Sony introduced solid state technology and the traditional vacuum-tube-based television—long considered to be ‘best practice’—was replaced with the next generation of televisions. Similar cycles have been observed in auto manufacturing, mobile telephones, and a host of other industries. Experts argue about why companies lose their edge; is it complacency, a lack of investment in research and development, or simply bad management. Whatever the reason, the domestic television manufacturers did not (or could not) respond to new ways of doing things and their version of ‘best practice’ quickly became outdated. The moral of the story is in a rapidly changing environment, organizations must commit to continuous improvement or risk becoming obsolete. Certainly, today’s educators work in a rapidly changing environment, and while teachers strive every day to engage in best practice, ours is a learning

profession and thus, the definition of “best practice” continues to evolve. Keeping up with everything may seem daunting at times but the continuous improvement process that is positioned at the very core of professional learning communities enables teachers to respond to new ideas or new ways of doing things. “A resilient, evolved PLC culture that includes the practice of continuous improvement is precisely the foundation upon which our Next Practice will rely and thrive.” - Kelly Ott, Blue Valley School District, 2016 We have all heard the old adage that goes something like, “We are doing the best we can with what we know right now, but when we know better, we have an obligation to do better.” This phrase is an apt description of the process of continuous improvement. In a PLC, collaborative teams embrace the notion of continuous improvement. As teachers work together to discover new ways of doing things, practices that were once considered “best practice” naturally evolve into “next practice” (the next generation of best practice). It’s helpful to view the different levels of professional practice along a continuum from malpractice to next practice.


August 2018

Malpractice: When teachers implement prac-

tices or support policies and procedures that have been disproven or replaced by more effective and efficient ways of doing things they are engaging in a form of educational malpractice. For example, in 2018 there are still schools where attitude, effort, and behavior are all mixed into the grade; grading criteria are unclear to students; and zeros are averaged into a series of summative assessments. All of these practices have been discredited over the last 20 years, yet some schools continue to hang onto their toxic grading traditions.

Safe practice: Teams engage in safe practice

when they support policies, practices, and procedures that protect the status quo. Safe practices are not controversial, often built around a sense of comfort or predictability, and justified as, “just the way things are done around here.” Examples of safe grading practice might include averaging scores from a series of different assessments; grading everything regardless of when or why it was completed; and while attitude, effort and behavior are all mixed into the grade, separate feedback structures are used during the reporting process.

Best practice: Best practices are those practices, policies and procedures that reflect current thinking, have been proven in literature, and are supported by evidence. Examples of best practice in grading would incorporate grading criteria that are clear to all, reflect a blend of learning goals and performance standards, combine evidence from a variety of formative and summative assessments, and emphasize the most recent level of student learning when calculating the grade.

Next practice: Next practice—or the next

generation of best practice—are those ideas we may not yet fully understand but recognize as opportunities to push the boundaries of teaching and learning. Next practice in grading would use evidence of learning—as opposed to the exclusive reliance on assessment results—aligned to standards and targets that are criterion referenced, proficiency based, and reflect a student’s current level of learning.


According to Todd White, “best practice allows the system to do what it does efficiently and effectively. Next practice increases an organization’s capability to do the things it has never done before.” (2016) The most effective schools understand that if they do not continue improving, their current levels of professional practice will eventually become out-of-date and ineffective and they may never reach the next level of best practice. “In highly successful schools, best practice is the norm; next practice is the goal.” - Todd White, Overland, Kansas, (2016) Continuous Improvement is defined as, “the ongoing cycle of planning, doing, checking, and acting designed to improve results—constantly.” (DuFour et. al. 2016) It is one of the most effective ways to maintain high levels of professional practice and is a hallmark of a highly effective collaborative teams. Teachers who embrace the process of continuous improvement reject the notion their professional practice is ever a finished product. Instead, they make a commitment to continuous improvement and routinely reflect on their practice. The most effective teachers are relentlessly restless about their practice and constantly seek out opportunities to learn and grow. It is this daily commitment to the pursuit of the next generation of best practice that is one of the characteristics of schools moving from PLC light to PLC right. Next practice schools value and celebrate the idea of continuous improvement and embrace the process which allows teacher teams to discover the next generation of best practice. 

Dr. Tom Many is an author and consultant. His career in education spans more than 30 years.

Reference DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., Many, T. & Mattos, M. (2016). Learning by doing: A handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (3rd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


AP Conference At-A-Glance

Sunday, October 14 2:30–3:30pm Conference Check-in 3:30–4:30pm Mitzi McAfee 4:45–5:45pm Jonathan Cary

Monday, October 15 8–8:30am Breakfast & Coffee 8:30–11:30am Dan St. Romain 11:45am–12:45pm Luncheon & Speaker: National AP of the Year for Texas, Jessica Melendez-Carrillo

Assistant Principals Conference October 14-16, 2018 Austin Explore Discipline, Legal and Leadership Strategies • Behavior and Discipline with Dan St. Romain (Back by popular demand!) • Remembering Your “WHY” and Relationship Building with Jonathan Cary • Legal Matters with Kevin Lungwitz • Making the Most of Each Day and Taking Your Career to the Next Level with Mitzi McAfee

Register by September 21 and save!

• Member - $282 (Register by September 21 - $232) • Nonmember - $342 (Register by September 21 - $292)

1–4pm Dan St. Romain

Registration includes Sunday snacks, Monday’s breakfast and lunch, and Tuesday’s breakfast.

Tuesday, October 16

Reserve directly with the Austin Omni Southpark Hotel:

8–8:30am Breakfast & Coffee 8:30–11:30am Kevin Lungwitz

4140 Governor’s Row  Austin, TX 78744  512-448-2222 TEPSA room rates: $119 single, $159 double, $179 triple, $199 quad TEPSA block cut-off date: September 13, 2018


August 2018

Association News

Statewide Student Leadership Workshops Kick-off September 25 in Coppell The ever popular and wildly interactive Student Leadership Workshops return this fall throughout the state. The workshops are designed to enhance all leadership team models including, but not limited to, Student Council, Leader in Me, Rachel’s Challenge, Character Council, Ambassadors, Kindness Club, House Leaders, etc. This year we have a record number of workshops—39 and counting! “The Student Council workshop was amazing! I was able to meet with kids from all over the area who held the

same position as me, and we shared ideas and learned from one another...We left the workshop knowing how we can work together to be better leaders. It was a wonderful experience for everyone!” Coppell ISD student leader Aayush Shah said. Registration is $51/person and includes lunch and materials. Register your team of 4th-8th grade students and their advisors at Below is a schedule of workshops for fall.

2018 Fall Workshop Schedule September Coppell Northwest, Beck Denton Flower Mound

Sept. 25 Sept. 26 Sept. 27 Sept. 27

October Del Rio Oct. 2 Irving Oct. 2 Lewisville, Peters Colony Oct. 2 Fort Worth, Peace Oct. 3 McKinney Oct. 3 Fort Worth, Lowery Road Oct. 4 Plano Oct. 4 Three Rivers Oct. 5 Humble Oct. 9 Katy Oct. 9 San Antonio, Steubing Oct. 9 San Antonio, Krueger Oct. 10 Lamar Oct. 10 Pasadena Oct. 10 Clear Creek Oct. 11 TEPSA News

Fort Bend Oct. 11 San Antonio, Forester Oct. 11 Canyon Oct. 16 Manor, Lagos Oct. 16 Dallas Oct. 17 Lubbock, Frenship Oct. 17 Pflugerville Oct. 17 Lake Travis, Lakeway Oct. 18 Midland Oct. 18 Midlothian Oct. 18 Abilene Oct. 19 Royse City Oct. 19 Buda Oct. 23 Socorro, Purple Heart Oct. 24 Victoria Oct. 24 Corpus Christi Oct. 25 Waco Oct. 25 El Paso Oct. 26 Killeen Oct. 26

November Harlingen

Nov. 2


Association News Canutillo ISD Educator Named Assistant Principal of the Year for Texas With a passion for showing students how to set and reach goals, 2018 National Assistant Principal for Texas Jessica MelendezCarrillo serves as a model for professional excellence in Canutillo ISD. Reaching out to stakeholders with the message that education matters, Melendez-Carrillo plays an active and vital role in molding her campus, Congressman Silvestre and Carolina Reyes School, into a 21st century educational model. “Jessica has helped instill a positive culture in our community that is driven by high expectations for student achievement and positive behavior strategies,” Principal Debbie Kerney, PhD, wrote in her recommendation letter. “She continues to model lifelong learning. Due to her strong belief in empowering students in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Jessica is currently pursuing a National STEM Certification.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Elizabeth Chandler, Victoria ISD, Region 3 Tessia Brixey, Alief ISD, Region 4 Lance Long, Lumberton ISD, Region 5 Vanikin Leggett, Navasota ISD, Region 6 Elizabeth Pendarvis, Harleton ISD, Region 7 Stephanie Duke, Pewitt CISD, Region 8 Lori Apple, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9 Kristin Ellis, McKinney ISD, Region 10 Natasha Harris, Arlington ISD, Region 11 Susan Penrod, Gatesville ISD, Region 12 SueAnna Thomas, Wimberley ISD, Region 13 Kim McMillan, Wylie ISD, Region 14 Chrissy Eubank, San Angelo ISD, Region 15 Alexis Beck, Spearman ISD, Region 16 Kelli Archer, Lubbock ISD, Region 17 Josefina Mata, Midland ISD, Region 18 Jessica Melendez-Carrillo, Canutillo ISD, Region 19 Rebecca Herrera, Fort Sam Houston ISD, Region 20

TEPSANs of the Year • Daniel Budimir, Weslaco ISD, Region 1 • Regina McKeever, Port Aransas ISD, Region 2 • Sherry Phillips, Calhoun County ISD, Region 3 • Lisa McLaughlin, Deer Park ISD, Region 4 • Amanda Jenkins, Orangefield ISD, Region 5 • Kent Broussard, Splendora ISD, Region 6 Horace Mann finds another way to partner with you • Christal Calhoun, Malakoff ISD, Region 7 No oneThe loves toNational form partnerships with educators more than Horace Mann. It’s why so manyaward school districts Assistant Principal of the Year is welcome our agents into their buildings and why so many teachers take advantage of our insurance and retirement planning expertise.• David Stevens, Paris ISD, Region 8 sponsored by TEPSA in coordination with the National A new partnership with helps donors find teachers who need financial assistance for classroom projects• Audrey Ash, Burkburnett ISD, Region 9 big andAssociation small. Teachers post their donors choose projects to support, and teachers and kids benefit with materials ofprojects, Elementary School Principals (NAESP). • Jorge Acosta, Irving ISD, Region 10 delivered right to their schools. Now that’s a partnership that can help everyone. • Stephanie Hughes, Fort Worth ISD, Region 11 Thanks for Supporting the National Contact your local agent today or visit • Sarah Holland, Midway ISD, Region 12 Assistant Principal of Texas • Maela Edmonson, Llano ISD, Region 13 • Lisa Salmon, Wylie ISD, Region 14 • Angela Bierman, Brady ISD, Region 15 • Vanette Barnett, Highland Park ISD, Region 16 • Kevin Booe, Lubbock ISD, Region 17 • Angela Aron, Midland ISD, Region 18 Congratulations to all Award Recipients! • Cynthia Sanchez, El Paso ISD, Region 19 • Gerrie Spellmann, Alamo Heights ISD, Region 20 National Distinguished Principal Finalists • Tona Blizzard, Cannon Elementary, Grapevine2018 National Schools of Character Colleyville ISD Designation remains for five years. • Rosie Cobarrubias, Milam Elementary, Harlingen *Recertified as National Schools of Character. CISD • Flower Mound Elementary, Lewisville ISD • Irma Davis, Dishman Elementary, Harlingen CISD Principal Gayle Nurre • Vanessa Stuart, Degan Elementary, Lewisville ISD • Lonnie B. Keller Middle School, Pasadena ISD Principal Diane Phelan H-E-B Excellence In Education Elementary Principal • McAuliffe Elementary, Lewisville ISD Zaida Gonzalez, Trauttmann Elementary, United ISD Principal Jennifer Mattingly Assistant Principals of the Year • Medlin Middle School, Northwest ISD • Javier Hernandez, La Joya ISD, Region 1 Principal Paige Cantrell • Laura Davila, Tuloso-Midway ISD, Region 2 • Granger Elementary, Northwest ISD 12

August 2018

Association News Principal Michelle McAdams* • North Pointe Elementary, Clear Creek ISD Principal Jennifer Buckels*

TEPSA Student Leadership Award 85 schools were recognized - view list https://www.tepsa. org/page/stuleadershipaward

2018 State School of Character • Goforth Elementary, Clear Creek ISD, Principal Mark Smith

NAESP Honor Council Excellence Schools 32 schools recognized view list

2018 State District of Character • Wylie ISD, Superintendent David Vinson, PhD

Special Thanks for Award Reception Photos

Thanks for Supporting the Texas Schools of Character



Legal Ease/Kevin Lungwitz

Educator-Parent Relationships: New Boundaries for New Frontiers


nce upon a time there was a one-teacher schoolhouse on the rolling plains of the Upper Midwest, where 20 students from agrarian families gathered each day for class. When a parent wanted to discuss matters with the teacher, the parent had to show up in person. There was no principal. Although you can catch it in reruns, the days of Little House on the Prairie are over, and now school employees are connected to students and parents 24/7. Technology and the ability to be connected 24/7 has created the biggest “doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t” scenario. We are all expected to be “on” all the time; but being “on” all the time, or at the wrong time, can lead to a variety of trouble. Having the ability to communicate with everyone all the time does not mean we should. Are there new ways of thinking about employee communications with parents that could benefit everyone?1

Texting vs. Email

I like texting, but I rarely allow texting in the professional relationships with my clients for two reasons: First, it erodes boundaries. Clients need to know that except for deadlines, emergencies or by appointment, I am not available late at night and on weekends. (I often work at night and on weekends, but clients don’t always need to know that.) 14

Second, I cannot easily keep a professional record of the text exchanges. I need a record of my client communications stored on my computer where they will be easy to access and read. Call me old-fashioned, but email does exactly all of that. Texting does not. There are always exceptions, but I avoid giving my clients my cell phone number, because that is the gateway to weakened boundaries. I now have the ability to receive calls to my office on my cell phone, and when I return the call, my office number appears on the client’s caller ID. This is some pretty cool technology that allows me to stay connected as I see fit, without sharing my personal cell phone number. For communication purposes, is your relationship with parents any different than my relationship with my clients or a doctor’s relationship with her patients? Educators need boundaries, now more than ever. Also, educators need to have an institutional record of the business communications with parents and students. Texting does not easily allow for this. What about the need to text legitimately important information (i.e., PTA meetings, band concerts, sporting event updates, etc.)? Consider using a texting application that allows an authorized user (i.e., the principal, the coach, the band director, even

August 2018

the math teacher) to send a one-way text blast to a specific population. As principal, you should be on the recipient list of all of those groups. Texting can be a great way to reach people with important information. Restricting that to authorized, oneway, group text blasts will eliminate the boundary problems created by normal texting.

By the Way, Texts about Work are Discoverable

One more word about texting: It seems school employees—especially management—got the memo 5-10 years ago that nosy lawyers and parents might ask for their emails under the Texas Public Information Act. So, school officials stopped emailing and started texting each other about professional matters. Those texts are arguably just as discoverable as emails and even more dangerous. Since school officials believe texts on their personal phone are not discoverable, they tend to be unvarnished and can cause more heartburn once they are disclosed.

Slaying the 24/7 Dragon

We just established being “on” 24/7 is the key to weakened boundaries. Add morale burnout to that list. No matter the medium, if you are expected to be on 24/7, your professional career will be shortened. Administrators can do more to help staff. You should inform staff at August inservice a law was passed last year that gives school employees (including you) the right to not share their personal phone number or personal email with students or parents, and you do not expect them to do so.2 Tell your staff to work with parents through school email and school phone to the best of their ability and that you will do the same. You can also inform staff that, except in extenuating circumstances, they are not expected to communicate with parents between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., or whatever reasonable time frame works for you and your staff. Teachers grade papers late at night. Administrators attend meetings and school functions most nights of the week. Most people know educators work long hours, and work will continue, but wouldn’t it be nice if you eliminated the expectation of late night communication with parents? Telling your staff is one side of the coin. Communicating this to parents is the other. This is where campus administration can be heroes to staff. At the start of the school year, inform your parents of the new law discussed above and that staff is not expected to share TEPSA News

You should inform staff at August inservice a law was passed last year that gives school employees (including you) the right to not share their personal phone number or personal email with students or parents, and you do not expect them to do so.2 Tell your staff to work with parents through school email and school phone to the best of their ability and that you will do the same.

their cell phone or personal emails. Further, staff will not communicate with parents between certain hours. My daughter’s school implemented this rule last year, and parents mostly reacted with a “Well, that makes sense, and it’s about time,” attitude. If a parent is able to communicate with an educator late at night, the parent will assume it is OK to do so, and then it will become an expectation, through no fault of the parent. Once ground rules are established, parental conduct and attitude will change. Deciding to give your cell phone number to the PTA president—or if the volleyball coach decides to give her cell phone number to the volleyball booster president—is a choice that could legally be made. On the other hand, educating your parent-leaders about new rules may actually be the best place to start spreading the news.

Social Media and Private Communications

So far, this article deals with the implied expectation staff must professionally communicate with parents 24/7. You have some managerial control over your staff ’s professional communications. You have less control over their private communications. Employees have a First Amendment right to speak privately about matters of public concern as long as they do so on their own time and equipment, and in a manner that is not harmful or substantially disruptive to the school environment.3 ► page 19


TNT: Dynamite Ideas for School Leaders/Todd Nesloney and Travis Crowder

The Power of Book Talks Be the leader reader who sets the example! There is nothing quite like the feeling of community that develops among people who love books. Community isn’t just where you live, it’s also the people you surround yourself with. Coming together to talk about favorite titles with friends, family, and even coworkers moves us to find more books that will inspire us, ultimately engaging us in conversations that will live in our hearts forever. We never forget the characters we mourned, the plots that kept us riveted, and the endings that were endearing, frustrating or hauntingly gorgeous. Simply put, books and conversations around them have a beautiful resonance. That is why we believe in the power of book talks. And, what makes book talks even more alluring is the simple fact they cost nothing and only take a few minutes. So what is a book talk? Book talks are the act of sharing a book and making it so enticing the person listening has to pick it up immediately because they were so drawn in. It’s giving just enough information so you have the listener on the edge of their seat without giving away the ending. We like to think of them as mini-advertisements for books. When we give a book talk to others, we start with a brief summary, but also tell about how we connected to it emotionally. This emotional connection to a book engages others, making the book irresistible.

cussions, or so much more! Be the leader reader who sets the example. Check out the #30SecondBookTalk Challenge Brad Gustafson (@GustafsonBrad ) and Jennifer LaGarde (@jenniferlagarde) do every year at Here are a few of our favorite books you can start reading if you’re not sure what book to even pick up first: • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus - Dusti Bowling • Far from the Tree - Robin Benway • The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas • Dear Martin - Nic Stone • The Serpent King - Jeff Zentner • Hello Universe - Erin Entrada Kelly • Forget Me Not - Ellie Terry • Rebound - Kwame Alexander • Stanley Will Probably Be Fine - Sally Pla

We have never been a believer in the phrase “I’m not a reader.” We are of the firm belief you might just not have found the right book that stirs your soul and speaks to your heart. Once you find that book that changes you, you’ll feel the need to share it (or book talk it) with everyone you meet. As a leader, YOU can help show your team (and students) how easy it is to share the power of books through book talking. Whether it’s at the beginning of faculty meetings, recorded videos, classroom dis-


Todd Nesloney is the principal of Webb Elementary in Navasota ISD. Todd co-authored Kids Deserve It! and Sparks in The Dark, and is the author of Stories from Webb. t @TechNinjaTodd Travis Crowder, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches middle school students in North Carolina. He co-hosts the popular podcast series “Sparks in the Dark” and is coauthor of Sparks in the Dark. t @TeacherManTrav

August 2018

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August 2018

► Educator-Parent Relationships continued from page 15 Counter-punching on social media will drag you into a fight that is not fair. You will be held professionally responsible for what you say by your employer and maybe even TEA. Staff may even have a First Amendment right to peacefully associate with whom they please. Parents have even greater First Amendment rights, since they operate as free wheeling civilians, unencumbered by governmental employment limitations. When parents go rogue on social media and are openly critical of you, your staff and your school, it is usually best to let that flame die a natural death. Counter-punching on social media will drag you into a fight that is not fair. You will be held professionally responsible for what you say by your employer and maybe even TEA. The parent has no such restrictions. You have a right not to be defamed and you can take legal action if you are defamed, but that is a tough row to hoe and a legal lecture best left to another day.4

20 years

of Texas School Recognition Proudly made in Texas!

Kevin Lungwitz is TEPSA’s Outside General Counsel.

Endnotes 1 This article will not directly address inappropriate studenteducator communications, a topic worthy of its own title. Suffice it to say that good communication boundaries are key to good relational boundaries in all respects. 2 Tex. Educ. Code Sec. 38.027. View your school district’s policy DH. 3 Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138, 103 S.Ct. 1684 (1983); Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968) 4 See, Kevin Lungwitz, I’ve Been Slammed on Social Media, TEPSA News, September/October 2015. Note: Information from Legal Ease is believed to be correct upon publication, but is not warranted and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact TEPSA or your school district attorney before taking any legal action, as specific facts or circumstances may cause a different legal outcome. Archives of past columns are available to members in Legal Resources at

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Association News 2022 TEPSA Summer Conference Moving to Kalahari Resort in Round Rock We’ve heard you! For several years TEPSA has searched for a bigger Summer Conference site that doesn’t substantially increase conference fees. We are excited to announce that beginning 2022, Summer Conference will move to the new Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Round Rock. The move to the Kalahari will enable greater attendance, programming and partnership options. Meeting and sleeping room space will substantially increase. The Round Rock Kalahari’s Kim Britton, TEPSA’s Joni Carlson, Executive Kalahari will open in Director Harley Eckhart and Kalahari Owner Todd Nelson 2020 and be located at at the Kalahari groundbreaking this spring in Round Rock. U.S. 79 across from the Dell Diamond andanother Old more Mark your Horace Mann finds wayatto partner with you Settlerswith Park. Learn No one loves to form partnerships educators more than Horace Mann. for It’s why so many school districts welcome our calenders June 12-14, 2019! agents into their buildings and why so many teachers take advantage of our insurance and retirement planning expertise.

thank you A new partnership with helps donors find teachers who need financial assistance for classroom projects big and small. Teachers post their projects, donors choose projects to support, and teachers and kids benefit with materials delivered right to their schools. Now that’s a partnership that can help everyone.

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August 2018



TEPSA Region Meetings Meet your 2018-2019 Board of Directors! Visit TEPSA’s Facebook page for more photos.

Special Thanks to the Official Photographer of TEPSA See the complete TEPSA Calendar at

September 19 Region 3 Meeting: 11:30am-1pm @ Region 3 ESC Victoria Information: Bridgette Cerny, 20 Region 17 Meeting: 11:30am-1pm @ Peoples Bank, Lubbock Information: Region 18 Meeting: 2-3pm @ Region 18 ESC, Midland Information: Angie Aron, 432-238-4155 22 Region 13 Meeting: 8am-Noon @ TBD, New Braunfels Information: Danielle Taylor, 26 Region 19 Meeting: 5pm @ Carlos & Mickey’s, El Paso Information: Maria Aguilar,

October 02 03 06 16 17 18 24 25 22

Region 12 Meeting: 10am-Noon @ McLane Stadium/Baylor Club, Waco Information: Nick Smith, Region 16 Meeting: 11am @ Region 16 ESC, Amarillo Information: Vanette Barnett, Region 10 & 11 Meeting: 8am-Noon @ Dan Dipert Center, Arlington Information: Magdalena Garcia, or Samantha Gonzalez, Region 02 Meeting: 1pm @ Kiko’s, Corpus Christi Information: Rosie Treviño, Region 04 Meeting: 11am-1pm @ Region 4 ESC, Houston Information: Raymond Stubblefield, Region 09 Meeting: 9am-Noon @ Region 9 ESC, Wichita Falls Information: Travis Armstrong, Region 05 Meeting: 8:30am-3:30pm, Region 5 ESC, Beaumont Information: Amanda Jenkins, Region 07 Meeting: 11am-1pm @ The Rose Garden Center, Tyler Information: Traci Jones, Region 06 Meeting: 10am-1pm @ Webb Elementary, Navasota Information: Crystal Mayes, Region 08 Meeting: 9am-Noon @ Region 8 ESC, Pittsburg Information: Jennifer Driver, Region 20 Meeting: 6:30-8pm @ TBD, San Antonio Information: Amy Malone,

August 2018


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Principals Rank Social-Emotional Learning a Top Concern


PreK-8 principals ranked social-emotional learning, mental health and student poverty among the top student-related concerns in The Pre-K-8 School Leader in 2018: A 10-Year Study. The study is the ninth in a series published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). NAESP has reviewed the trends and working conditions of principal leadership, as well as their impact on students and school communities since 1928.

• Student Council Workshops kickoff September 25 in Coppell. Statewide locations and dates vary. Register your students and advisors at • Assistant Principals Conference is October 14-16 at the Austin Omni Southpark Hotel. Early bird rate ends September 21. Book your hotel room by September 13 to get the TEPSA rate! • Grow Leadership Conference is November 4-5 at the Rockwall Hilton Hotel. Early bird rate ends October 5. Book your hotel room by October 16 to get the TEPSA rate! • Recognize Excellence in School Leadership - Visit the Awards section at to learn more. • TEPSA Web Redesign - Look for a more user-friendly and mobile responsive website coming soon! • T-TESS Cube - Help teachers reach their T-TESS goals with 24/7 access to professional learning. Please recycle your TEPSA News copy.

NAESP Releases New Report on the Principalship

Key findings from the 10-year study: • The top-ranked concern for 2018 was addressing the increase of students with emotional problems. Among the issues identified were the management of student behavior, student mental health issues, absenteeism, lack of effective adult supervision at home, and student poverty. In 2008, none of these student-related issues were identified as a major concern. • The average number of reported hours per workweek increased steadily over the past 90 years—from 44 hours in 1928, to 56 hours in 2008, to 61 hours in 2018. • The median school enrollment increased from 450 in 2008 to 505 in 2018. Sixty-two percent of principals indicated the number of assistant principals assigned to their building was not enough to ensure effective school leadership that meets the needs of all students. • Principals identified improving student performance as the key area of need for professional development. They also noted having substantially less influence over district decisions concerning elementary schools and elementary education over the last three decades. Read the report at Source: National Association of Elementary School Principals.. (2018). “The Pre-K-8 School Leader in 2018. A 10-Year Study.” Available at

2018 TEPSA August News  
2018 TEPSA August News