HISD leaders participate in televised education town hall

Houston Independent School District experts took center stage along with community leaders, social service experts, and child advocates at a nationally televised town hall broadcast Tuesday evening by NBC News Learn, the educational division of NBC News. 

The broadcast event, which was held at the University of Houston-Downtown, included a one-on-one interview with HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, who discussed the current state of HISD schools, as well as the future of Wheatley High School.  

“Wheatley High School is open and has an outstanding principal, teachers, parents and students that are ready for the challenge,” Lathan said during the broadcast. “Wheatley will exit Improvement Required status by the end of this school year.” 

NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis moderated the event, which was broadcast in partnership with KPRC 2. The town hall brought together an extensive group of experts that included civic leaders, psychological experts, veteran educators, and child advocates. 

HISD Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Rick Cruz took part in a panel discussion on preparing the city’s most vulnerable students for success. Cruz, founder of the nationally recognized college preparatory program EMERGE, served as a panelist on the “Learning without Limits” panel, where he discussed the indelible impression that the district’s wraparound services can have on at-risk students.  

“Many of our students in HISD face a wide variety of issues and circumstances that sometimes get in the way of students realizing their full academic potential,” Cruz said. “We’ve made a concerted effort to ensure that over half of our campuses have a full-time person whose sole job is to coordinate and galvanize the support of outside resources to address the non-academic challenges our students face.” 

Worthing High School Principal Khalilah Campbell-Rhone participated in a panel discussion centered on improving academic outcomes for students and preparing them for future success in the workforce. Campbell-Rhone, who was named Secondary Principal of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year, shared her experience successfully leading Worthing out of IR status in the 2017-18 school year.  

“First things first – we let children know that school is their safe place, and there will be no harm done to them here,” she said. “Then we give students real-life examples, and we show them this is what you can do with a particular skillset.” 

Throughout the segment, NBC News Learn showcased features on Kashmere High School Principal Reginald Bush, T.H. Rogers School tech-focused educator Barrett Doke, Heights High School student and EMERGE participant Emily Ramirez, and student leaders from several HISD campuses. All the features, as well as a recap of the town hall, can be found online at https://www.nbcnews.com/learnhouston.