Editor’s Note: Black History Month runs from Monday, Feb. 1, through Monday, Feb. 29, this year, and HISD is celebrating with a series of weekly stories recognizing distinguished African Americans who graduated from district high schools. This third article focuses on alumni who went on to have successful careers in the fine arts. The first and second articles spotlighted professional athletes, and lawmakers/politicians (respectively). Others will feature educators and those with careers in radio, TV, and film.
HISD has a wealth of African-American alumni with talent in the performing and visual arts — and many of these distinguished graduates have chosen to share their gifts with later generations of students.
A group of educators from HISD, including three librarians—Jo Reed (Scroggins ES), Cheryl Hensley (MacGregor ES), and Sue Carnes (Bell ES; now retired)—was recognized recently with the Wayne Williams Library Project of the Year Award for 2015 by the Texas Library Association.
The librarians were selected for coordinating schoolwide reading campaigns at their respective campuses based on the Lunch Lady series of graphic novels by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. The project not only built on students’ enthusiasm for graphic novels, but also increased their awareness of health and nutrition through a cleverly organized partnership with HISD Nutrition Services Dietician Jennifer Lengyel that connected daily meal offerings to literature.
The project was so successful that at Scroggins, interest in graphic novels spurred the principal to quadruple the school’s collection of that type of book from 12 to 48. At MacGregor, circulation of the Lunch Lady books increased by 90 percent. And at Bell, the demand for graphic novels increased so much that emergency rations of books had to be secured.
The Wayne Williams award is designed to recognize a project that exemplifies the highest levels of achievement, professional standards, and inspiration to other libraries. Reed and her colleagues were formally honored during a special ceremony held on April 15 at the Texas Library Association’s annual conference in Austin.
Guests at HISD’s 2015 State of the Schools luncheon got a side order of entertainment with their meal. Westside High School’s Wind Ensemble of 35 students provided music throughout the program under the guiding hand of Conductor Joey Brunson, and students from 19 HISD elementary schools sang the national anthem.
Jason Moran poses for a photograph at HSPVA, February 3, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)
Jazz pianist Jason Moran to collaborate with three schools on community art project
It’s one thing to hear about inspiring, but long-dead, historic figures as a part of Black History Month, but it’s another entirely to have a living, breathing legend in your classroom—and almost beyond imagining that as a student, you might get to work alongside that person on a creative project.
But that is exactly what students at three HISD schools will be doing over the next couple of years, as a part of the Jason Moran Homecoming Residency sponsored by Da Camera.
The first day of school is right around the corner, but teachers are still busily preparing for its arrival, learning about the many new resources available to them and their students at the Personalized Learning Institute (PLI).
The annual event, which concludes this week, provides content-specific training to teachers at each grade level in advance of the new school year. The 2014 Institute also featured an overview of the district’s Literacy By 3 initiative, a new approach to reading instruction. Continue reading →
Jason Castro is usually knowing for his catching prowess on the baseball diamond, but on May 29, he was delivering a pitch.
The professional athlete was at Scroggins Elementary School last Thursday to persuade young learners to continue reading for pleasure over the summer months, and to improve their chances of doing that, he helped distribute some of the 7,200 books he and his wife had donated to two HISD campuses. The books were divided between Scroggins and MacGregor elementary schools, and students at each campus got to select up to five books to take home and keep.
A hundred lucky families also got to attend the Houston Astros’ evening game against the Baltimore Orioles. The donation was coordinated through the literacy foundation the couple started, called Castro’s Kids.
Amari Venzor of Cornelius Elementary School took home top honors in the 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Houston.
Every year since 1996, fourth- and fifth-graders from two dozen HISD schools have competed in this annual contest, which challenges students to write and present a short original speech on a subject related to the slain civil rights leader. The topic this year was, “If Dr. King were speaking at a March on Washington today, what would he say?”
“If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking at a March on Washington today, he would say: As I consider the past 50 years of progress, I can’t help but wonder if for every two steps we have taken forward, we have taken three steps back,” Amari said. “Have we fought so hard to instill that pride that we fail to include words like integrity, self-respect, and even a simple hi? Have we allowed economic and social status to lull us into a crippling complacency and a sense of entitlement? Simply meaning, are we putting $200 sneakers on our children who can barely read or solve basic mathematical equations rather than teaching them how to invest the same $200 into the actual shoe company? Have we been so busy trying to give our children what we didn’t have that we forgot to give them what we did have?”
Byron Roberson of Dodson ES won second place and Bruce ES student Chrystyna Haywood won third place.
If you’ve never seen the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Houston, you’re in for a treat.
Every year since 1996, fourth- and fifth-graders from two dozen HISD schools have competed in this annual contest, which challenges students to write and present a short original speech on a subject related to the slain civil rights leader. The topic this year is, “If Dr. King were speaking at a March on Washington today, what would he say?”