Category Archives: Special events

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles brings healthy message to elementary girls

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles sat down with a group of students on Thursday at HISD’s Nat. Q. Henderson Elementary School for a surprise chat about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.  

In partnership with nonprofit Girls Inc. and Mattress Firm, Biles, met with a dozen girls, who are all enrolled in Girls Inc.’s afterschool program, to discuss how exercise, diet and sleep have contributed to her success. This includes her focus on the holistic health triangle: physical, nutritional and emotional.  

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HISD students take part in sensory-friendly movie night

Going to the movies can be a magical experience and one that should be enjoyed by all. Last Friday, thanks to the autism advocacy group The Perfect Connection, six HISD students attended a free, sensory-friendly private screening of the newly released Disney-Pixar short film “Loop,” which follows the story of a non-verbal, autistic girl.

“We’ve partnered with some amazing vendors to premiere the Disney+ premiere of Loop,” Liza Bailey, founder of The Perfect Connection, said. “Through this movie, Disney has empowered the autism community by providing a wonderful example of autism representation in the media.”

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Students to compete in semifinal round of annual MLK Oratory Competition

Each year, students across the district show off their oratory skills in the annual Martin Luther King Oratory Competition.  

This year’s theme, “What would Dr. King’s vision be for America in 2020?” will be tackled by fourth- and fifth-graders from several HISD schools during the competition semifinals at 9 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 10 at Thompson Elementary School. 

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Achieve 180 hosts first-ever teacher appreciation tailgate event

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.”  

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Fifth annual Dream Summit draws record crowd as students take steps toward college

Nineteen years to the day that Dr. Jose Luis Zelaya was reunified with his family at the border, hundreds of students and their families watched in awe on Saturday as he achieved what was once thought to be an impossible dream.

A profound silence filled the Hattie Mae White boardroom as the HISD graduate and DREAMer, who migrated to the U.S. from Honduras at the age of 13 after an arduous 45-day journey, was hooded by his mother and father to solidify his doctorate in Urban Education from Texas A&M University.  

“My graduation is happening in this moment because of my support systems, because of the people that believed in me,” said Zelaya, who served as the keynote speaker for HISD’s fifth annual Dream Summit. “There will be times when you won’t have money to buy your next meal, but there will be people that believe in you so much, that out of nowhere they will help you.” 

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Students weigh career options at HISD’s Ready to Work Career Fair

Students interested in learning about career training programs and other career opportunities packed the HISD Educational Learning Center on Tuesday for the district’s second annual Ready to Work Career Fair hosted by HISD’s College and Career Readiness Department.  

The Ready to Work Career Fair gave more than 700 HISD seniors from 30 high schools the opportunity to explore different career options through hands-on experiences and information sessions.  

“What is so cool about today’s event is that it gives our students a chance to learn about career training programs,” Assistant Superintendent for College Readiness David Johnston said. “This is a special opportunity for those students who want to go and obtain a certificate or enter a workforce program.” 

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Westbury HS celebrates grand opening for district’s first-ever Wraparound Transformation Center

HISD’s Westbury High School celebrated the grand opening of its new Wraparound Transformation Center on Monday, a first-of-its-kind, in-house community resource hub.  

As the only WTC in the country, Westbury will offer high-risk students and their families comprehensive support services that may not have been accessible in their neighborhoods. These services address critical, non-academic issues that may impact students’ ability to learn by bringing together community partners and resources in one location and embedding them inside the school.   

“We like to make sure we are doing everything and all that we can for our kids,” Westbury Principal Susan Monaghan said during the ceremony. “That’s what the Wraparound Transformation Center is all about – providing anything and everything our students need. No task, no problem is too large.” 

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HISD school leaders, business executives pair up for ‘Project Principal’

Nine HISD schools give business leaders an opportunity to shadow school principals

It was 8 a.m. on a typical morning at HISD’s Benavidez Elementary School, and Principal Zabeth Parra-Malek was on the go. After making the morning announcements, she stood at the front door greeting late arrivals, making sure they were fed and ready for the day. By 8:45, she landed in a PALS pre-K classroom for a drop-in observation with the school’s therapy dog, Lucy.  

What made this morning different was that she had a “shadow” – Kristie Ketron, an executive with Ernst & Young. Parra-Malek was one of nine HISD principals who hosted visitors like Ketron for Project Principal, an opportunity for business leaders to walk a mile in principals’ shoes. 

And they did plenty of walking, in and out of classrooms and meetings, highlighting the main message Parra-Malek wanted the community to hear: schools, teachers, and students are more than test scores and accountability ratings. 

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HISD leaders participate in televised education town hall

Houston Independent School District experts took center stage along with community leaders, social service experts, and child advocates at a nationally televised town hall broadcast Tuesday evening by NBC News Learn, the educational division of NBC News. 

The broadcast event, which was held at the University of Houston-Downtown, included a one-on-one interview with HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, who discussed the current state of HISD schools, as well as the future of Wheatley High School.  

“Wheatley High School is open and has an outstanding principal, teachers, parents and students that are ready for the challenge,” Lathan said during the broadcast. “Wheatley will exit Improvement Required status by the end of this school year.” 

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Join HISD for NBC News Learn’s live education summit on Sept. 24

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan will participate in a live education summit hosted by NBC News Learn, which will focus on the state of education in Houston and across the nation.

The live event will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24 at University of Houston-Downtown, Robertson Auditorium (201 Girard St., 77002) and is open to the public. The summit will be livestreamed on NBCNews.com/LearnHouston and on KPRC Channel 2.

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