Around 100 representatives from organizations and groups from across Houston were present this week, as Superintendent Millard House hosted the latest in his series of meet-and-greet events.
This event was held to offer community and spiritual leaders the chance to meet the new superintendent as well as offer their feedback and ask questions about House’s plan for the Houston Independent School District.
In the gathered crowd, there were representatives from LULAC, Memorial Hermann Hospital System, Loving Houston, Discovering Youth, The Alliance Texas, Houston Federation of Teachers, United Way of Greater Houston, the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Legacy Community Health, and many others.
The meet-and-greet began with House welcoming the community leaders and offering a bit of background on how he came to be an educator.
“I stand shoulder to shoulder with two educators—my mother and father, who attended Langston University where they met,” House said. “Once they moved to Tulsa, they became teachers. My father was a civics teacher, my mother was an elementary school teacher.”
He then talked about growing up in Tulsa, just as his father—who eventually became associate superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools—was handed the edict to desegregate the schools there.
After giving a brief outline of his 90-day plan, House opened the floor to questions and feedback from the community stakeholders attending the event. One attendee was Kourtney Revels, a parent of an HISD student and member of the Parents in Action committee with the Discovering Youth Foundation.
She spoke to House about her hopes for her daughter, who will enter first grade in HISD this coming school year.
“I just want to make sure her schools can serve her,” Revels said. “I want to make sure that she can grow and thrive the way everyone else can. Younger parents need to be a part of the conversation. I brought some of my friends out because we are the young parents. We want to encourage the district to do more, and we will in turn do more.”
As her daughter enters the first grade, Revels said that she wants House to remember that programs should be inclusive and accessible to students from across the city.
“It seems to be just sports for black and brown communities. But we need more,” Revels said. “My goal is that my daughter can take advantage of all of these programs that will give her a boost, let her thrive in life.”
Many of the attendees and speakers had feedback—both in person and written on yellow cards provided at the tables. Though some of those comments were critical, one attendee summed up the feeling of everyone in the room.
“We want our school district—the Houston Independent School District—to be one of the best in the country,” Reverend Dr. Leon Jackson, St. Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, said. “To be a model that other will use.”