As volunteers decked out with Houston Texans swag walked
into Wendy Martinez-Morales’ third-grade class at C. Martinez Elementary School
on Tuesday, students suspected they were in for a big surprise.
But, when Texans starting quarterback Deshaun Watson popped
into their virtual classroom, the students – and Martinez-Morales – could
hardly contain their excitement.
“We are huge Texans fans! I never thought anything like this
would happen,” she said. “It is really amazing that Mr. Watson took some time
out of his busy schedule to meet with us.”
HISD campuses may have been closed for months, but the team at Highland Heights Elementary School has been working around the clock to make sure their school community is safe, clothed, fed, and supported.
The Highland Heights Resource Center officially opened its doors on Monday, welcoming new and old Honeybees to the first-of-its-kind center, which offers families much-needed items such as food, clothes, shoes, and toiletries.
Heights Wraparound Resource Specialist Brendella Chavis has worked diligently to
make sure students were supported.
For Booker T. Washington High School sophomore Rebecca
Stansell, the first day of face-to-face instruction for the 2020-21 school year
had some added emotion – and even a few nerves.
HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan was scheduled to
visit the historic Independence Heights neighborhood campus on the first day of
face-to-face instruction, where she would be greeted by Stansell and fellow
engineering students with a customized face shield designed to protect against
the spread of COVID-19.
“It was thrilling, but a little nerve-racking because I had
never met the superintendent. There was a lot of moving around, and a lot of
people.” Stansell said. “We assembled her face shield last week, and I think she
was happy – and even a little surprised – to see that we customized it by
putting her name on the shield.”
As Jack Yates High School senior Ernest Russell sat on the
school’s football field for the citywide senior celebration recently, it was far
more than an event honoring his graduation from the historic school.
The celebration — marked by colorful Yates High School
masks and chairs spaced at a proper social distance — represented the
culmination of a trying journey that was marked by the loss of his father and homelessness.
“I don’t really have a word to describe it. But, if I had to
come up with one, I’d say it was challenging,” Russell said.
For Principal Kasey Bailey at Lawson Middle School, transformational leadership has been at the core of her education career for the last 10 years. Since joining HISD in 2015, the Achieve 180 principal has had a front-row seat in leading some of the district’s most underserved campuses.
“When it comes to supporting the district’s historically low-performing campuses, I have found that it’s crucial to place a microscope on the culture and instructional programs so that we can work together to truly diagnose and treat systemic student achievement issues that ultimately impact student achievement,” Bailey said.
Defined as the act, process or instance of change in character or condition, transformation can be the keyword used to describe the comprehensive leadership work Achieve 180 principals take on to shift the academic, emotional and social culture of campuses.
Yates High School, an Achieve 180 campus, has raised the bar even higher for the district’s turnaround program, becoming the district’s newest International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.
“Becoming an IB campus is a huge accomplishment for an Achieve 180 campus,” Achieve 180 Director Brandi Gosnay said. “Yates has shown us that an underperforming and underserved campus has the potential to shift and provide opportunities for students that they deserve.”
As the district’s fifth high school campus to receive official authorization to offer the Diploma Programme, Yates will now offer courses in a broad base of disciplines such as languages, mathematics, sciences, humanities, arts, physical education, and technology.
Independent School District leaders on Thursday announced Yates High School’s
new status as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, becoming the
district’s fifth high school campus to receive official authorization to offer
the Diploma Programme.
will begin offering the IB Diploma Programme to juniors and seniors at the
start of the 2020-2021 school year. The IB Diploma Programme is for students
ages 16 to 19 and is currently offered at Bellaire, Chávez, Heights, and Lamar
is one of nine HISD schools supported by the district as part of Interim
Superintendent Grenita Lathan’s initiative to expand the number of IB campuses
in geographically diverse areas across the city.
Achieve 180 teachers didn’t let Wednesday’s cold front stop the festivities as they prepared for their biggest challenge outside of the classroom — determining which campus had the best chili.
The district invited nearly 1,400 teachers from the turnaround program to a first-ever, pep-rally-style Achieve 180 Tailgate as a celebration of the teachers’ efforts to transform some of the district’s most undeserved campuses and critical student populations.
“This is our way of saying thank you for always making our students a priority,” Achieve 180 Area Superintendent Felicia Adams said. “Whether it’s arriving early, staying late, (or) constantly attending professional development opportunities, none of our achievements would have been possible with you.”
As the saying goes, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” and that’s just how Area Superintendent Felicia Adams chooses to lead the district’s turnaround program, Achieve 180.
“My leadership style is a hands-on modeling approach where I lead from the inside rather than the outside,” Adams said. “I am big on modeling and showing administrators what the work looks like to move a campus forward.”
A 25-plus year educator and former principal with her own accolades, Adams knows firsthand how to support the Achieve 180 campus leaders in gaining distinctions and closing achievement gaps within literacy and mathematics among the district’s most underserved populations.
From a sprawling mural featuring famous politicians and educators to students laughing as they head to their next class, it’s hard to imagine Houston’s Fifth Ward community without Wheatley High School, the campus that has served many residents as a gateway to adulthood.
There’s the feeling of perseverance and reassurance when you step foot onto the Wheatley campus. Plagued with the “improvement Required” label since 2012, the district learned in August 2019 that Wheatley wouldn’t meet standard for the 2018-2019 school year.
Despite Wheatley High School demonstrating tremendous academic progress and earning a passing grade of D this year with a calculated score of 63, they earned an overall rating of 59 due to a provision introduced into TEA’s 2018 Accountability Manual.