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.
Nurse Janda Jelks’ first year as a school nurse has been
unusual and challenging, but she has leveraged her creativity and enthusiasm to
excel in her new role.
Jelks, who worked in a hospital before coming to Mark White
Elementary School, said her goal is to foster relationships between parents,
teachers, and students and ensure the return to face-to-face instruction is as
smooth as possible.
“Our priority is making sure kids are getting as much
instruction time as they can, either virtually or in person,” Jelks said. “I
would hate for something that I’m doing, even though it’s state-mandated, to
cut into that. So instead of the students coming to me, I come to them.”
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.”
Asusena Gonzales’ 9-year-old son, Brandon Martinez, is deaf and
attends the Region
4 Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) at HISD’s T.H. Rogers School.
been at Rogers since the age of 3, growing and learning like any other student.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The school closed and went fully remote in
March, and Gonzales worried that virtual school would be a challenge for
her son and that he could fall behind, but Brandon exceeded all expectations.
“He was able to learn multiplication through virtual learning, and
that was shocking to me because I thought he would be delayed but … it has been
really great,” she said. “Actually, we’ve been learning with him, and learning
the signs to assist him, which has been really good.”
The Houston Independent School District partnered with several
churches throughout the city for the Sanctuaries of Learning program, which
offered hundreds of students a safe place to participate in virtual learning.
Now, as the district returns to face-to-face instruction this week, the program is ending, but not before having served an important purpose for HISD students and staff alike.
The program served students who had a device but were not
old enough to stay home alone or lacked internet access. Participating students
spent their school days in the church buildings, supervised by HISD staff and
church volunteers and receiving breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
The Houston Independent
School District’s HISD @ H.O.M.E. Hotline will be available this weekend to
provide answers to questions from students and parents about fall distance
Students and parents
can call the HISD @ H.O.M.E. Hotline at 713-556-INFO (4636), Saturday
and Sunday, Oct. 17 and 18, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Operators will
be on hand to answer questions in English and Spanish.
HISD’s mentoring programs, Ascending to Men Project (ATMP) and
Resilient Outstanding Sisters Exemplifying Success (ROSES), welcomed back over
600 students and their families to the new school year through socially distanced
The events, held at Kashmere, Worthing, Wisdom, Waltrip, and Milby high schools, served as an opportunity to holistically support students and families in high-need areas by supplying items to help meet some of their basic needs. The distribution of school supplies, food, and toiletries was made possible through the strategic work of HISD partnerships in collaboration with community partners Procter & Gamble and United Airlines, who donated and assembled over 1600 toiletries packs.
“With this unprecedentED situation we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that the need across our city has increased, but especially for our most underserved communities,” Candice Castillo, Executive Director of Equity and Outreach, said. “We are grateful for our community partners and their support to our students.”
Under the umbrella of HISD’s Equity and Outreach Division, HISD’s Ascending to Men Project, and Resilient Outstanding Sisters Exemplifying Success mentorship initiatives connect students from historically underserved demographics in the district to community resources and mentors. In turn, these mentors serve as positive role models and advocates providing guidance and opportunities for educational, social, and professional growth.
As the programs continue to cultivate meaningful partnerships, the
public can support HISD’s mentoring programs becoming mentors for either ATM
project or ROSES.
The Office of Special
Education Services invites parents to the first virtual
Autism Services Meeting of the school year from 9:30 a.m. to 11
a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
This is an opportunity for
parents to receive information and recommendations on reconnecting safely
and returning strong, as well as to learn strategies on implementing in a
virtual setting for academic success.
As the district prepares to resume in-person learning this month, Nutrition Services is transitioning from daily to twice-weekly curbside pickup for student meals and launching two Neighborhood Supersites as part of a weekly community food distribution initiative.
The move to
twice-weekly campus-based curbside pickup begins Monday, Oct. 12 thanks to a
waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It allows families to pick up
several days’ worth of meals at each pickup — three on Mondays and four on Thursdays.
Supersites are designed to provide standing times and locations where the
community can pick up 32 pounds of groceries — including produce, dairy, and
meat — for their families, as well as a week’s worth of student meals.
partnering with Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Books
Between Kids, PNC Bank, St. James Family Life Center and the Waltrip Family
Foundation to bring Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to up to 5,000 children
Imagination Library is a book gifting program that provides free books to
children from birth to age 5 in participating communities within the United
States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Ireland. Dolly Parton launched
Imagination Library in 1995 to foster a love of reading among her home county’s
preschool children. Today, the program gifts over a million books to children
around the world each month.
Part of Dolly
Parton’s Imagination Library, the “Book a Month” program will provide young
Houstonians access to books by mailing a book directly to their home each month
until the child turns 5. Families who either reside or attend a school in the
following zip codes can sign up to participate in the program: 77009, 77011,
77012, 77017, 77020, 77022, 77029 and 77087. The first book each child will
receive via mail will be Dolly Parton’s favorite—The Little Engine That