Category Archives: I Am HISD

Chemistry teacher has a secret alter-ego: professional bowler

In this week’s “I Am HISD,” which features district students, graduates, employees, volunteers, and other team members, Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center chemistry teacher Nichole DePaul-Miller talks about how she got involved in the world of professional bowling, what led her to a career in education, and why she still acts as a consultant for various bowling centers.

Nichole DePaul-Miller; Photo credit: Jaime Foster

Nichole DePaul-Miller; Photo credit: Jaime Foster

I hear that you’re a professional bowler, but you’re also teaching pre-Advanced Placement (AP) and AP chemistry at Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center. Which came first, the bowling or the chemistry?

Actually, they both kind of happened at the same time. I started bowling when I was three. My mom and dad bowled while they were dating, and I was practically born in a bowling center, so you might say I come from a bowling family. I bowled collegiately at Illinois State, too, while getting my degree in chemistry. Originally, I was going to try to stay in that field and work as an engineer, but the women’s tour disbanded in 2003 due to lack of funding, and I switched from being a chemist working in the bowling industry to an educator who just loves bowling. Continue reading

HISD Student Congress leader advises peers to ‘embrace the uncertain’

Amy Fan

Amy Fan

In this week’s “I Am HISD,” which features district students, graduates, employees, volunteers, and other team members, Bellaire High School senior Amy Fan talks about why she got involved in the HISD Student Congress, what her goals are for this school year, and the biggest hurdle she had to get over in embracing her role as speaker of the congress.

You served as the outreach chair of the Student Congress during its inaugural year of operation. What made you decide to throw your hat in the ring for the top leadership position?

You make me sound like a politician. Actually, I’ve been really interested in education reform for a while, even before the Student Congress was founded (mostly just through reading and watching videos), and I’ve come to embrace its mission. And after being part of the Student Congress Cabinet in its founding year, I learned a lot more about the district, both from a student perspective and an adult perspective, and it seemed logical to run for speaker my senior year. Continue reading

Volunteering duo can’t wait for Read Houston Read to start back up again

In this week’s I Am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, returning volunteer Sharon Plummer discusses how she and her husband first discovered the Read Houston Read program, why they both immediately signed up to participate, and why they can’t wait for this year’s first mentoring sessions to begin.

Sharon Plummer & Chandler Davidson

Sharon Plummer & Chandler Davidson

I understand you and your husband, Chandler Davidson, both volunteer as reading mentors at Burnet Elementary School through Read Houston Read. How did that arrangement come about?

We had actually been looking for an opportunity to read to elementary students for quite some time. Maybe even a couple of years. We had made several inquiries with various organizations, but just could not find a good fit. Then I happened to see this. And I thought, “Oh, my gosh, this is it!”

What is it about reading to young children than appeals to you? Continue reading

Austin High School alumnus now gives back as a teacher

In this week’s I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, José Saenz explains why he just can’t stop coming back to his high school. Saenz attended Austin High School and participated in the school’s teaching program. He graduated in 2003, and is now a teacher there. Given the fact that he also met his wife there in the ninth grade, it is clear that for Saenz, all roads lead to Austin.

Jose Saenz

Jose Saenz

You graduated from Austin HS in 2003, and you have returned as a teacher. What did you do after graduating, and what brought you back?

I had made up my mind to become a teacher towards the end of my senior year. I began attending the University of Houston in the fall of 2003 and majored in history. I went through the education program at UH as well. Students were required to do a set number of observation hours and a semester of student teaching. I requested Austin as the location for both. Since graduating, I was very interested in coming back to Austin to teach and having the opportunity to student-teach there helped me make that decision. I felt that I could connect with the students coming from the same neighborhood and having many of the same life experiences. I began working at Austin in 2008 and even returned to UH while working in 2010 to obtain my master’s in curriculum and instruction in social studies education. Continue reading

Yates HS grad wins her second Daytime Emmy

In this week’s I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Daytime Emmy winner (and Jack Yates School of Communications Class of 1982 member) Kim Gagne discusses when she realized a career in television was her destiny, how she landed her first job in TV, and the journey that took her from covering crack houses on crime beats to producing “The Steve Harvey Show.”


Kim Gagne as a fresh Yates HS graduate in 1982…

You have been in the television business for more than 20 years and are now the supervising producer of “The Steve Harvey Show.” How did you get your start and how did that lead to where you are now?

Well, after graduating from the University of St. Thomas in ‘86, I got an internship at FOX 26 in the Community Affairs Department. The news director, Will Wright, got sick of me begging him for a job. I literally begged him to put me in the newsroom. Every time I saw him in the cafeteria or anywhere, I would ask him when he was going to put me in the newsroom. Finally, one day he told me he had a spot on the assignment desk and that was my start. I knew I had to get a job in that building and I had to get that job or any job at FOX.

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Former HISD trustee now serving children as a classroom teacher

In this week’s edition of I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Harvard Elementary School third-grade teacher (and former District I Board of Education member) Karla Cisneros talks about how she went from the classroom to the boardroom and back again, the greatest gifts of her experience as a trustee, and if she’d ever consider running for that office again.

You represented District I on HISD’s Board of Education for five years in the early aughts, even serving as its president one year. Now you’re teaching third-graders at one of our elementary schools. How did that transition come about?

Karla Cisneros with her students at Harvard ES

Karla Cisneros with her students at Harvard ES

Well, I was not a certified teacher before. I was just sort of a mom who got pulled in. They hired me at Travis Elementary to be a part-time science teacher, and one thing just led to another. After I left the board, I was going to work with my husband, but I realized I wanted to be back in education at kind of a grass-roots level, so I went back to school and got certified.

And I really, really, really like being a teacher. The best part of all is the kids, but then, that’s always the best part. I knew when my own children grew up and moved on that I was going to hate being an empty nester, but so much of teaching is not just about teaching. It’s about helping usher children through their lives, not just the curriculum.

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Diagnostician sheds some light on student evaluation process

Tacy Gilmore poses for a photograph, March 4, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)

Tacy Gilmore (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)

I Am HISD profile showcases Educational Diagnostician Week

In this week’s I am HISD, which features HISD students, graduates, and employees, we are highlighting Educational Diagnostician Week across Texas by interviewing HISD Lead Evaluation Specialist Tacy Gilmore. Gilmore talks about when she became a diagnostician, how she evaluates students for disabilities, and who decides which students are evaluated.

How did you come to be a diagnostician for HISD?

I was working as a seventh-grade math teacher in Alief ISD, when I became interested in becoming an Educational Diagnostician. As a general education teacher, I wanted to know how I could have a greater impact on student achievement and the process to get the individualized support needed.  I attended graduate school at Prairie View A&M University, where I became certified, first as a counselor and then as a diagnostician.

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Lamar HS grad makes a lasting impression on the visual art world

Lamar High School graduate and artist Marsha Dorsey Outlaw poses for a photograph at her installation "Vigango's Stoop", January 29, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)

Lamar High School graduate and artist Marsha Dorsey Outlaw poses for a photograph at her installation “Vigango’s Stoop”, January 29, 2015. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)

In this week’s edition of I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, we speak with Lamar High School graduate Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw about how she became a professional artist, what compels her to work with children, and where you can find her next district-related project.

You graduated from Lamar High School back in 1981. How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be an artist?

Art was always a good escape vehicle for me, but it wasn’t until after high school that I knew I could make a living at it. I spent one entire summer touring Western Europe through AIFS and bought art supplies all along the way. I did a lot of sketching and watercolors. At one point, I was in Salzburg and I was out of money, so I wrapped a shirt around my head and told some tourists I was from Tobago, and sold them two artworks. It was a major rush. Later, I was at the University of Houston working part-time as a travel agent, and on the side, I was hand-painting clothing and had a lot of commissions and consignments. I think that was the first time I remember knowing that the commerce side of art was possible.

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Wainwright ES educator helping her students ‘embrace the struggle’

In this edition of I Am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other members of Team HISD, we talk to Wainwright ES teacher Jennifer Hannah about what got her into the field of education, how the Effective Teacher Fellowship helped prepare her for the classroom, and why she inspires her fourth-graders to engage in “productive struggle” when writing.

Jennifer Hannah poses for a photograph at Wainwright Elementary School, November 6, 2014. (Houston ISD/Dave Einsel)
You’ve already accomplished a great deal academically and professionally. You’ve earned a master’s degree in creative writing, freelanced as a writer and researcher for McDougal Littell, taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston, and even written a number of children’s books. What inspired you to go into the classroom?

A couple of things. For three years, I taught freshman composition and rhetoric at UH. I really was surprised at how much I liked talking and thinking and learning about writing. Teaching was a way for me to think about writing in a way that I hadn’t before, and I loved that. Then, when my children started going to preschool, I visited a lot of classrooms to find the best schools for them, and I noticed that once I picked their schools and was involved in volunteering, I never wanted to leave. I liked seeing how busy and occupied children could be when they were learning.

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Meet HISD’s one and only ‘Career Cowboy,’ Jake Breier

In this edition of I Am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, we talk to Jake Breier about how he became the district’s “Career Cowboy,” what he has learned about managing expectations through costumes, and the changes audiences can expect to see in the program this year.

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Let’s start with the basics. What is a “career cowboy” and what does one do?

Basically, I do two things: presentations (about possible careers) and activity stations. The presentations usually involve information and music, but recently we got a robot like the ones a few high schools received last year. Mine is blue, and sometimes I bring it out to talk about engineering and programming. Kids love it. Continue reading