In preparation for the
upcoming school year, HISD parents began lining up at Northline Elementary
School early to receive technology that will help when online classes begin
daughter Mila, a rising fourth-grader at Northline, received a Chromebook that
she is excited to start using. Villafuerte says she’s relieved the district is
making technology available to students during this challenging time.
“I really appreciate
that they have tried to accommodate as many families as they have,” she said. I
am still concerned about schools opening in October, so if we can continue with
online learning, we would like to take that approach, and this makes that
possible for us.”
A group of Windswept Gardens Apartments residents made their way
through the complex’s tree-lined central courtyard, which sits just a few
hundred yards from the speeding cars and unending traffic of the Southwest
Clad in face masks and carefully keeping their distance from each
other, the families gathered around a blue tent where HISD’s Nutrition Services
staff were handing out student summer meals in the afternoon sun.
The district has long offered a free summer meal program for
students throughout the greater Houston community. In previous years, children
would come to local schools to eat. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the game,
prompting Nutrition Services to look for innovative and safe ways to feed kids
without a cafeteria.
HISD’s Welch Middle School sparked to life for a few hours
on Saturday as parents and students drove through to pick up school supplies
during the 13th Annual Karen Johnson Back to School Bash.
This year’s event – hosted by the mother of retired Texans
wide receiver Andre Johnson – had to be narrowed down to a Drive Thru Backpack
Giveaway in accordance of COVID-19 physical distancing and safety measures. Nevertheless,
cars filled with excited parents and students lined up as items were loaded
into their trunks.
“Kids need their supplies for school, and some kids might be
embarrassed to ask for a pencil, or a pen or a notebook,” Karen Johnson said.
“We started in 2007 at Hobby Elementary and now, for the first time, we have
partnered with Welch Middle School. So hopefully we will be able to keep this
going for years to come.”
The Houston Independent School District has moved to a new Student Information System (SIS) for the 2020-2021 school year. The new system includes a parent portal that will launch on Aug. 31.
Parents will be able
to use the HISD Connect Parent Portal as a tool to track information related to
their student’s schedule, grades, attendance, academic history, and more.
between educators and parents is more important than ever, as we prepare to
reconnect safely and return strong,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan
said. “HISD Connect will integrate seamlessly with online learning.”
Students at HISD’s Edison Middle School and Yates High
School will receive innovative technological instruction through the Microsoft
Imagine Academy as part of the company’s partnership with the City of Houston
to stimulate digital literacy in economically disadvantaged communities.
Edison Middle School and Yates High School students will
receive virtual instruction in coding, IT infrastructure, data science, and
attend virtual Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) camps. High
school students will also receive training in Artificial Intelligence, modern
workplace tools and office productivity in preparation for earning
“This is an incredible opportunity for students at Edison
and Yates, who will gain the tools and knowledge they need to close high-tech
skills gaps,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “Participating
in the Microsoft Imagine Academy has the potential to be a game-changer for our
middle and high school students.”
Surrounded by the bright orange and white
colors of the Houston Dynamo, HISD Interim Superintendent Lathan led the
unveiling on Tuesday of the district’s first-ever, all-virtual academic
Camp Spark, which kicks off on Monday,
Aug. 24, launched with a live socially distant celebration at Houston’s BBVA
Compass Stadium. The virtual camp, which is designed to get students re-engaged
as the district prepares for online learning, will provide lessons that focus on physical fitness, science, literacy,
math, internet safety, technology and art.
New ninth-graders will take part
in a boot camp to prepare them for high school while 10th- through
12th-graders will participate in a College and Career Readiness
As the 2020-21 school year approaches, HISD’s Project
Explore is preparing to meet the needs of students across the district with an
array of virtual college and career readiness programs.
Project Explore, which connects middle school students to
college and career opportunities, is planning a variety of virtual expeditions
to introduce middle school students to the skills needed for secondary,
postsecondary, and career success, including virtual college campus visits and
“The Project Explore team is up for the challenge,” Project
Explore Director Mia Bradford said. “Our advisors will continue to offer the
most meaningful experiences possible to keep students engaged and forge
connections with career and postsecondary professionals.”
The Houston Independent
School District Board of Education approved a $54.6 million amendment to the
2020-2021 budget, which includes a $31 million purchase of devices and wireless
hotspots to help close the digital divide and ensure students are equipped to Reconnect Safely and Return Strong when classes resume virtually on Sept. 8.
The district has provided
76,362 devices for students in need since the pandemic and plans to distribute
22,750 additional devices by next month. HISD has provided 6,628 hotspots for
students in need and plans to distribute an additional 19,151 of the wireless
devices by next month as well.
The added appropriations in
the budget amendment will also fund additional special education positions,
personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing signage, plexiglass
dividers, and instructional supports.
HISD @ H.O.M.E. TV lessons will continue this fall, and
teachers will be able to develop content to be broadcast across various
Starting on Aug. 10, area offices will distribute a survey
to collect basic information from interested teachers, such as school, grade
level, subject, and language. Teachers who complete the survey will receive a
link to upload a 10-minute video lesson by Aug. 17.
A committee will use a rubric to assess the submissions and
select 25 teachers to submit a weekly lesson during the fall semester for the
grade level band and subject of their application submission. Selected teachers
will be announced on Aug. 21 and will receive a stipend.
Sam Houston MSTC
Plumbing and Pipes Trades teacher Raul Ortega has been named one of 50
finalists from across the nation for the 2020 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools
Prize for Teaching Excellence.
The award, which
was started in 2017 by national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools founder Eric
Smidt, recognizes outstanding instruction in skilled trades in U.S. public high
licensed plumber, is entering his ninth year at Sam Houston MSTC. Ortega’s
hands-on classroom includes bathroom and kitchen simulators where students
learn to install fixtures and piping systems using curriculum from the National
Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). Students enrolled in
the program also perform basic plumbing repairs for homeowners in the Sam
Houston MSTC community and learn directly from local employers who visit
Ortega’s classroom regularly to hire graduating seniors.