Campus and central office leadership teams are gathering at Reliant Center for three days of professional development at the 2013 Houston ISD Summer Leadership Institute.
This year’s theme is “Becoming Great All Over … The Connection Between Rigorous and Consistent Instruction and School Safety,” and attendees took part in a number of breakout sessions designed to show how those concepts intersect.
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Superintendent of Schools Terry Grier, who welcomed the group, said that principals at all levels are key to each child’s success.
“Our graduation rate is at an all-time high in the district. Our dropout rate is at an all-time low,” Dr. Grier said. “That doesn’t just start at high school. It starts at elementary school. You folks that are working in middle schools, you are special people. That is a tough, tough job.”
Dr. Grier also noted that the impending annexation of North Forest ISD has added seven new principals in the district.
“They all came from HISD,” Dr. Grier said. “Each one…is an accomplished, successful HISD principal. They stepped up and applied for these jobs. They accepted the challenge. They all had a passion to do whatever it takes to improve the education of those children.”
Principals said the institute gives them a chance to learn from each other.
“I think it’s important for leadership of HISD to come together and have a common goal and a common plan of how we’re going to ensure that all of our students are learning at a high level,” said Siomara Saenz-Phillips, principal of Southmayd ES.
Campus leaders are attending workshops on a variety of topics, including how to analyze data, prepare students for college, use social media, and more.
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Principals are also learning about new and improved tools designed to make their jobs easier and increase student achievement. One such tool is a “dashboard” that will give them a 360-degree view of their campus at a glance. The dashboard contains up-to-date information and consolidates information from many of the programs principals use every day, including Chancery, PeopleSoft, SAP and ASEP.
Melissa Jacobs, principal of Houston Academy of International Studies, has been using the dashboard for several months.
“It’s made life easier,” Jacobs said. “I try to go into it at least once a day. It really is a dashboard – you know if you’re speeding, if your engine is overheating, or if you’re running out of gas.”
Human Resources Department also held a teacher recruitment fair after Tuesday’s workshops wrapped up, since all of HISD’s leaders were gathered in one place, and hundreds of teachers hoping to join Team HISD turned out to meet with principals.
Leaders have two more days of learning ahead. The Summer Leadership Institute runs through Thursday.