Category Archives: I Am HISD

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

New manager of Energy & Sustainability has big green plans for HISD

In this edition of I Am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, we talk to the new Manager of Energy & Sustainability Kellie Williams about how her experiences at Fort Bend ISD will impact her decisions here, which sustainability efforts are already afoot in the district, and what’s on the horizon for HISD in terms of “green” initiatives.

You joined HISD in May as the new manager of Energy & Sustainability. What is your vision for that department in the years ahead?

Kellie Williams poses for a photograph at the Facilities Support office, September 22, 2014. (Dave Einsel / Houston ISD)

Kellie Williams

I’d like to see HISD become the leading K–12 entity in environmental stewardship, to participate in several energy initiatives, and to achieve national recognition for outstanding performance.

We’ll also be rolling out a new energy master plan, and bringing in some consultants and engineers to identify and address deficiencies starting this year with a really aggressive approach. They’re going to be collecting data first, such as utility usage and window-to-wall ratios, then gather boots-on-the-ground types of facility information, such as light levels, temperature, and humidity readings. The goal is to complete a thorough investigation and identify opportunities for savings. Continue reading

Meet the North Forest HS senior who already has his own radio show on KCOH

In this edition of I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, North Forest High School senior Joseph Vaughns talks about how he landed his own radio show on KCOH 1230 AM, which life struggles he considers a blessing, and what his plans are for after graduation.

North Forest High School senior Joseph Vaughns hosts his show "Generation Next" at the KCOH studio, September 20, 2014. (Dave Einsel / Houston ISD)

Joseph Vaughns

You host the Generation Next program on Saturday mornings at KCOH 1230 AM. How did a high school senior come to be hosting his own public radio show?

I started at the radio station as an intern when I was in the eighth grade. I learned to work the board as a deejay and to produce the Saturday show call “Person to Person” with Lisa Berry-Dockery.

Time went on and the owners of the station changed; they no longer needed me. They told me they would call me if they needed me and eventually, they did. Early one Saturday morning, I received a call asking me to come in to the station because they needed someone in the morning temporarily. I filled in for about two Saturdays and they asked me if I was interested in the position. I’ve been there ever since.

Tell me a bit more about Generation Next. How long have you been hosting that show and when did it first start airing? What is it designed to showcase?  Continue reading