Category Archives: I Am HISD

I am HISD: Yates HS alum focuses on giving back to the community through success as restaurateur

In August 2018, 29-year-old Joe Anderson opened a Chick-fil-A restaurant at I-45 and Almeda, becoming the youngest African-American owner-operator among Texas franchises. A Third Ward native and Jack Yates High School graduate, Anderson was determined to succeed in the restaurant industry and has put in long hours and hard work to achieve his dream.

You grew up in HISD and had some great success as a student athlete at Yates High School. What was your experience like as a student at Yates High School and growing up in the Third Ward?

I was so involved in track, and I was so passionate about competing at the next level and going to the state meet. I had transferred to Yates for my senior year and was there to get my diploma and run track. So, something I didn’t do well in high school was socialize a lot. There are times I wish I would have socialized more, but I’m also appreciative of the sacrifices I made then and the hard work that came with being a student athlete. Continue reading

HISD principal named Region 4 Principal of the Year

Geovanny J. Ponce, principal of Jones Futures Academy, has been named the 2018 Region 4 Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).

Ponce joins winners from the state’s 19 other Education Service Center regions in a pool of candidates for the honor of Texas Principal of the Year title. TASSP recognizes outstanding principals and assistant principals from each of the 20 regions every year.

“I believe in quality education for all children,” Ponce said. “We need to make sure our children will be successful in a global society by teaching them to be leaders.”

Ponce was selected to represent HISD in the Region 4 segment of the competition based on his outstanding performance with traditionally underserved children. Ponce instills collaborative leadership to ensure students from all social, economic and ethnic backgrounds have equal access high-quality learning opportunities. Continue reading

FF&E manager for HISD making an impact on students

To the naked eye, a chair may seem ordinary. But for Michelle Black, it’s more than just a piece of furniture — it’s a tool that can foster student learning.

As the HISD Furniture, Fixtures, & Equipment Manager for the 2012 Bond Program, Black is responsible for furnishing all 40 bond schools — including 29 high schools — with comfortable, modern, and flexible furniture.

Black oversees each project — often managing more than five at a time – as they near completion. Continue reading

Sharpstown HS officer puts focus on community outreach

Each school day at the heart of Sharpstown High School is a bubbly campus officer whose contagious smile and positive attitude reflects on the students she waves to.

“Hey Michelle. How did you do on your test?” Community Outreach Officer Vanessa Losey says as she greets students walking between classes. “Hi ’mijo,’” — Spanish for son — “How are you doing?”

Though small in stature, Losey is known for her rapid walking pace, which, according to Sharpstown students, no one can keep up with. Every day, Losey can be found rushing between corridors and classrooms with four noisy radios in tow as she heads to her next post or assignment. Continue reading

I am HISD: Brookline ES teacher secures outside support for Title I school

Ted Wills from Brookline ES (left) with Philip Ugalde, Regents Bank; Andrew Arizpe, Mutual of Omaha; and Doug Reinarz, Regents Bank, at an East End Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Brookline Elementary School teacher Theodore Wills wears many hats. Just four years ago, he was working as a fourth-grade transitional reading teacher when Principal Marco Morales asked him to take charge of the library and become the school’s community-engagement and corporate-outreach point person. Wills has a background in fundraising, public relations, and volunteer management, and he went to work raising $100,000 for the school’s library. It took a while, but he reached his goal recently. 

What did you do first after you got the new job? 

Immediately, I began inviting speakers and organizations for school and after-school programming, including Literacy Advance of Houston, Volunteer Houston, Houston Ballet, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, University of Houston’s Graduate School of Education, FotoFest, iWrite, Houston Skyline Rotary Club, and Hahn Gallery. I wrote to groups and foundations like Houston CPAs Helping Schools for grants to enhance our ebook collection. I started networking at local professional events and cultivating new contacts on LinkedIn.  Continue reading

I am HISD: ‘Hidden Genius’ Frank Mann made imprint on aviation

Phyllis Wheatley High School graduate Frank Mann (1908-1992) was just 11 when he met Howard Hughes on a Houston airfield. Mann went on to become a successful aeronautical and aerospace engineer, and worked for Hughes in California. A black child born in 1908 to an unwed mother, he defied the odds to achieve remarkable success in his field. H.T. Bryer, the author of “Hidden Genius: Frank Mann, the Black Engineer Behind Howard Hughes,” knew Mann personally. He and his brother Paul Bryer, who was Mann’s best friend and confidant, spent 20 years researching the book.   Continue reading

I am HISD: Bellaire teacher’s book will likely become a movie 

Bellaire High School English teacher Jennifer Blessington.

Bellaire High School English teacher Jennifer Blessington’s fourth young adult novel, “Moxie,” caught the attention of Amy Poehler, and her production company, Paper Kite, has acquired the film rights. Poehler, 45, is an actress, comedian, director, producer, and writer. She was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 2001-2008 and the star of Parks and Recreation from 2009-2015. Roaring Brook Press will publish “Moxie” on Sept. 19. Jennifer publishes her novels under the name Jennifer Mathieu.

What grade do you teach?

I have taught sixth, seventh, eighth, and 11th grades. Currently, I teach English II at Bellaire High School.

How long have you been teaching?

I am currently in my 12th year in the classroom.

When did you publish your first book?

My first book, “The Truth About Alice,” was published in the summer of 2014.    Continue reading

I Am HISD: Former Westbury HS football player becomes first African-American stadium director at Butler

George Walker poses for a photograph at Butler Stadium, January 31, 2017.

George Walker Jr. is an accomplished athlete who was All-American and All-State in football at Westbury High School, graduated in 2004, and went on to play for the University of Texas. Now he is back at HISD, where he was recently named stadium director of the Joe Kelly Butler Athletic Complex – the first African American to hold the position. In this edition of I Am HISD, Walker talks about his new role and how he benefitted from participating in sports.  

You grew up in HISD and were a star student athlete at Westbury. What sports did you participate in and what impact did your involvement in sports have on you?
I participated in football, basketball, and track. I was All-American and All-State in football, and was honorable mention in All-State in basketball. I went to the regionals in track. Then I got a scholarship to college for doing something I loved. When you’re involved in sports, you make memories that can get you through tough times, and you learn to fight through things together with your teammates. It also teaches perseverance. You learn never to give up. The sooner you learn that the better off you’ll be going through life. Continue reading

Student transfers analyst moonlights as a beekeeper

Anthony Dickerson poses in his beekeeping suit with a jar of his own honey.

Anthony Dickerson poses in his beekeeping suit with a jar of his own honey.

In this week’s edition of I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Student Transfers Analyst (and 20-year HISD team member) Anthony Dickerson talks about the buzz over his beekeeping, Colony Collapse Disorder, and advice for new members of Team HISD.

So tell me about the beekeeping. How did it start?

Well it’s kind of complicated. We have a house out in the country, and I noticed there was a buzzing in the walls. We found out there was a colony of bees that had infiltrated the house. I did what most people would do and called an exterminator.

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Payoff for social worker’s career in education: watching students heal

In this week’s “I Am HISD,” which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Sugar Grove Academy social worker Elba Ruibal talks about why she began working in public schools, what compelled her to move from a high school to a middle school setting, and one of the biggest challenges of serving refugee students.

Let’s start with a little background. How long have you been a social worker, and when did you first join Team HISD?

Elba Ruibal

Elba Ruibal

I’ve been in social work for about 25 years. I started out working with domestic violence victims at the Houston Area Women’s Shelter and was there for two and a half years. I also worked at the Women and Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, in the children’s emergency room. I came to HISD five years ago, and was at Westbury High School for four of those. This is my first year at Sugar Grove.

What made you decide to move into public education?

When I had my own child, I wanted to be with him in the summers. But I also dealt a lot with victims of domestic violence at the hospital, and I had to report abuse to Children’s Protective Services. Once those children left the ER, I never knew what happened to them, and thoughts of their welfare lingered. But in a school setting, I get to see those children every day and know that they’re alive. I get to follow up, make sure they’re safe, and in the best cases, watch them heal.

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