Principals Get Fired Up by Keynote Speaker

Fantastic! Inspirational! Amazing!

These are a few of the comments overheard after keynote speaker Alan Hooker ended the Welcome Back Team HISD event for principals and their staff on Wednesday morning, Aug. 7, at Chavez High School.

Hooker, HISD’s Leadership Development Officer, talked specifically about how to be successful in realizing your dreams. His childhood dreams included becoming a basketball star in high school, even though he was only 5 foot 6 inches at the time. He grew tall and made the team. His college dream was playing football for the Dallas Cowboys, and sure enough, they recruited him.

“First you need to picture your dream,” Hooker said. “Picture it constantly, and it will happen. Next you need to make a plan and write it down. Finally you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice becoming great all over. Pursue your dream. Fight for it! I promise you will realize it.”

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Hooker ended his talk with a story about going to India to recruit the best teachers for the school where he was working. He talked to students about effective teachers but they also told him about waiting for the spring rains to come. He compared this to preparing for spring testing. Hooker instructed the crowd to tap their left palm with their right index finger. “By Thanksgiving, we are getting closer to being ready,” he said, now tapping with two fingers. Eventually Hooker had the crowd applauding a successful school year, and his speech ended with a standing ovation.

The event began with a welcome from Chavez High School’s new principal, Rene Sanchez, who called himself “the luckiest man on Earth.” He introduced HISD School Board President Anna Eastman, who welcomed everyone back, saying she loved seeing everyone recharged and ready to go. “The heat is on,” she said. “We are under the spotlight. Get in there and get your hands dirty.”

After a video tribute to HISD successes last school year, Superintendent Terry Grier set the tone for the new school year. “What do you expect to accomplish this school year? Wouldn’t it be great if every single third-grader could read on grade level by the end of the year? What would it take to get every eighth-grader ready for high school? What if every single senior graduated this year and went on to a great future?”

“You are the difference makers,” Dr. Grier said. “Own your schools. Keep your effective teachers growing and achieving. Be a connector! Listen to your staff and students. Involve parents in their child’s future. Track attendance, and make home visits, if necessary. Use the data to help all your students to become successful.”

Chief Human Resources Officer Rodney Watson summed up the purpose of the event. “It’s the beginning of something new,” he said. “We heard the vision from our superintendent, and now we can connect it with our own vision.”

Billy Reagan K-8 Educational Center Principal Joyce Williams, who has been with the district 28 years, loves the welcome back. “This is a fantastic event,” she said. “It brings us all together to greet old friends and new. It’s a pep rally! I love our new motto, becoming great all over, and I intend to bring it into my school.”

“It was truly inspirational,” said Mike Walker, the new principal at Hilliard Elementary, formerly in North Forest ISD. “This event created momentum, and momentum will get us moving and sustain us over the coming year.”

“Wow,” said Young Scholars Academy for Excellence Principal Anella Coleman. “I am truly inspired to go back to my school and do what we need to do to make all our kids successful.”

“It got us all charged up,” said Susan Monaghan, principal of Pin Oak Middle School. “I can’t wait to share it with all my teachers next week. I am anxious to get back and use the data to drive what we need to do, help our students to grow and succeed.”

Ronald Rodriguez, principal of Wheatley High School, said that his staff is using data to set up parameters to ensure the success of every student. “It’s not just about earning a diploma,” he said. “Our students need to be successful beyond high school, whether they are starting their career or going to college. It is so competitive out there that it’s going to take more than a diploma to prepare them for our global economy.”

HISD’s newest principals pose as the I in HISD