Diana Fernandez-Chavez has been appointed principal of Grissom Elementary School. Fernandez-Chavez has been an educator for 15 years, serving in various roles from teacher to assistant principal. She began her career as a first-grade teacher at Faulk Early Childhood School in Aransas Pass ISD. Fernandez-Chavez comes to HISD from Corpus Christi ISD, where she served as a pre-K teacher, instructional technology specialist, coach for Advanced Academics and AVID, and assistant principal. She holdsa bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
The Houston Independent School District encourages students to start their day with a healthy breakfast. That’s why HISD’s Nutrition Services Department is observing National School Breakfast Week March 7–11, with the theme of “Blasting off with Breakfast.” The districtwide effort highlights the many benefits of HISD’s free breakfast program.
This year, Nutrition Services invited two local heroes to show students the importance of breakfast at school. On March 8, the Houston Texan’s mascot Toro pumped up students for a day of learning in the breakfast line at Montgomery ES, courtesy of Dairy MAX. And on March 10, NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke will be on a mission at Grissom ES to talk about the importance of healthy eating for space travel.
Hundreds of HISD elementary schools celebrated Grandparents’ Day on Wednesday, Sept. 16, with a special lunch. Grandparents were invited to attend and enjoy HISD and Nutrition Services hospitality during their special day of recognition.
Grandparents’ Day has been celebrated every September since President Jimmy Carter created it in 1978. HISD recognizes grandparents for the love, strength, and guidance they provide to their grandchildren. This special lunch has become an HISD tradition that both young and old look forward to every year.
Grissom Elementary School Principal Jane Ocanas is happy to host Grandparents’ Day and made special gifts to celebrate them, as they remind her of her own upbringing. “I was raised by my grandparents,” Ocanas said. “They taught me values and beliefs I apply to my daily life.”
More than 150 grandparents made their way into the cafeteria to share lunch with their children’s children, where HISD team members thanked them for serving as role models for young people.
After a brief prayer, grandparent Lashunda Williams said it was special for her to come and share lunch time with her granddaughter. “It’s lovely to see the healthy meals the food department has in schools these days,” Williams said. “We are eating healthier at home and she loves the food she gets at school.”
Williams’ granddaughter, first-grader Markayla Conelly, comes from a family of chefs, and she gives the food high marks, too.
“I like everything, especially the nachos, and the fresh fruit and vegetables,” she said. Markayla added that HISD Nutrition Services meals are better than at her previous school district.
More than five dozen HISD science, technology, engineering, and math teachers took part in a summer institute recently that was designed to help boost students’ math and science scores by incorporating more fun into their lessons.
The educators came from 23 HISD elementary and middle schools that received part of a TIF4 STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant also provides resources such as equipment and technology, and participating teachers will receive additional training opportunities throughout the school year and share what they have learned with other faculty members at their campuses.
Bess the Book Bus, a national mobile literacy outreach program, stopped in Houston recently to promote literacy and share a little story time with HISD students.
A student at Barrick ES shows off her selection. Photos courtesy Anthony Amirante.
The bus, which makes its way across the U.S. every year, visited Barrick and Grissom Elementary schools on April 22. Jennifer Frances, the bus’ founder, read aloud to students at Grissom, and afterwards the children got to explore the bus and pick out a book to keep. More than 430 Pre-K and kindergarten students received a free book that day to start their at-home libraries.
“Many of our students come from low-income homes where books—particularly children’s books—are considered a luxury,” said HISD Literacy Director Cindy Puryear. “So it’s really exciting when children get to have a book of their very own to keep, especially when it’s one that they picked out themselves. We are very grateful to organizations like Bess the Book Bus for giving our students this experience.”
Bess the Book Bus is dedicated to sharing the joy of reading with underprivileged children. It was founded in Tampa, Fla., in 2002, and named in honor of Frances’ grandmother, Bess. The bus has traveled to all 48 contiguous states in the U.S. and is funded solely by generous donors, including CITGO Petroleum, which offsets the cost of gasoline.
In 2015, Bess the Book Bus served more than 25,000 kids in 25 states.
More than 150 parents and students attended Grissom Elementary’s STEM night on March 5. Students created a “robo hand” using data and robotic technology, as well as a Styrofoam plate, straws, tape, and string. Students also designed a freestanding structure with building constraints of height and angles.
Dr. John E. Codwell III was in attendance and showed students a foot model and explained how math and science connect in medicine. There was also a floor robot, which students programmed to travel through an obstacle course. Students were able to use iPads and the STEM lab to learn programming using Scratch and Hour of Code software, and parents enjoyed watching a Mad Science demonstration.
Students at HISD’s White Elementary School got food for thought and a head start on creating home libraries on Oct. 18, thanks to Target, its nonprofit partner—the Heart of America Foundation, and the Houston Food Bank.
White was one of 25 campuses from across the nation to be selected for a complete facelift through Target’s School Library Makeovers program, which has transformed hundreds of facilities since its inception in 2007.
The renovated library features 2,000 new books, furniture, rugs, and paint, as well as upgraded technology that included new iPads and desktop computers.