HISD Up Close: Juliet Stipeche talks about Read Houston Read, student congress

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HISD Up Close, hosted by HISD Board of Education President Juliet Stipeche, explores the initiatives, educational programs and information about the school district that is of interest to students, parents, teachers and the community. In September, Stipeche spoke with Cindy Puryear, the district’s literacy director, and Garcia Elementary School Principal Aaron Dominguez about HISD’s Read Houston Read program. Puryear discussed the formation of the HISD Student Congress with the organization’s founding members. Finally, Stipeche visited with Rice University’s award winning mathematician, Dr. Richard Tapia.

HISD’s Read Houston Read program addresses the literacy crisis in Houston. Puryear and Dominquez talked about the urgent need for volunteers to read to first-graders throughout the school year. HISD is inviting individuals and businesses and community groups throughout the greater Houston area to volunteer to tutor students in person or online once a week. Any Houstonian can volunteer to be a Read Houston Read mentor by going to www.readhoustonread.com. Read Houston Read supports HISD’s Literacy by 3 movement, which aims to have every child reading on grade level by the end of third grade.

Zaakir Tameez, Raquel Douglas and Jesus Solano, all Carnegie Vanguard High School students, started the HISD Student Congress to provide a bridge between students and the HISD Board of Education and district administration. Stipeche talked with the students about the need for the students to have a voice, and discussed the goals of the organization. The HISD Student Congress is run by students for students, and welcomes high school students from across the district to join.

Over the years, Dr. Tapia has mentored hundreds of minorities in the areas of math and sciences. In this discussion, Stipeche and Tapia talked about his educational goals growing up, the influence of his mother and the importance of an education culture in the household. Awarded the 2014 Vannevar Bush Award, Tapia encourages underrepresented minorities to pursue studies and careers in science. Due to Tapia’s efforts, Rice University’s Computational and Applied Mathematics Department has become a national leader in producing women and underrepresented minority Ph.D. recipients in the mathematical sciences. Of the 35 students who have received, or are currently working on the Ph.D. degree under his direction or co-direction, 15 have been women and eight have been underrepresented minorities.