SOTS begins: Stevenson Middle School Principal praises colleagues, teachers

Stevenson Middle School Principal Alisa Zapata-Farmer:

Let’s give a round of applause to the Pin Oak Middle School Orchestra. Weren’t they great?

Hello and welcome to the 2012 State of the Schools.

It is an honor to be here with Superintendent Terry Grier and to welcome my HISD colleagues, Board of Education trustees, elected officials, parents, students, and business and community leaders.

The State of the Schools is a time for all of us to come together and celebrate our accomplishments, as well as determine our next steps on where we still need to go and the best way to reach our destinations.

As I reflect on the many goals we have set for ourselves this year, I think about the students in class – working to understand concepts, asking questions, and seeing their faces once they understand the concept being presented.

I think about the lessons that my teachers plan for them. Every time I hear the phrase, “effective teachers in every classroom,” I think about my school community – how the teachers at Stevenson plan together; how they truly care about the students.

Even when my teachers tread into unfamiliar territory, they don’t shy away; we hold each other’s hands and go through it together – giving feedback and sharing ideas.

I have a teacher who stopped me and brought me into his classroom.

He has a class of second-language learners and teaches them 8th grade social studies.

He showed me his lesson and explained the strategy he was using to help students apply the terms they are learning.

The excitement that I heard in his voice, the passion for learning that he imparts to his students and the determination within him to do the best for his students is what it means to be an effective teacher in the classroom.

When I hear “effective leader in every building,” I think about my colleagues.

Mike Walker at Fondren Elementary and Jeanie Castano at Patterson Elementary who both work with their teachers and community to make sure that their students are well-prepared for the middle school transition.

Meilin Jao at Black Middle School, who works tirelessly to increase community involvement at Black.

Noelia Longoria at Ortiz Middle School and Javier Villarreal at Edison Middle School, who are working together to make sure their students receive opportunities that will open doors for them academically.

Dan De León at Chavez HS also comes to mind – Dan continuously works to find ways to keep the connection and transitions between Ortiz MS and Stevenson MS to Chavez open and welcoming.

These are just a few examples of how effective leaders operate – constantly thinking about the next steps for their school community, how they can continue to make things better so that not one child is lost along the way.

We cannot forget the communities which our children come from that surround our schools.

It is important to keep them informed of all the changes – especially with a new state exam and the challenges that come with it.

Many of us meet with our parents on a monthly basis, talk with them when they pick up their children, talk with them on the phone, or as we see them in the parking lot.

Our parents do send us the best they have and, yes, it is up to us to work together to educate the children.

So as we come together today, I’m sure there are many wonderful stories that will come to mind that you can share with the colleagues at your table.

And let us all remember that we are all part of the same team working for the same goal – to give every child the best education possible.

The question then becomes, “What is the next step? What will it all look like a year from now, and how will we continue to work to make it even better for our students?” I’m confident that working together, we will continue to do great things for our students.

I’d like to give a shout out to table 114, my Stevenson colleagues, and Table 145, Centerpoint Energy. And a special recognition to my husband, Roscoe Farmer, who is in the audience supporting me.

Thank you.