Category Archives: Special events

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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HISD Interim Superintendent, band students attend 2019 National Battle of the Bands

Two schools receive scholarships to fund instruments; students attend HBCU college fair

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and band students from seven HISD high schools were invited to attend the 2019 National Battle of the Bands competition Sunday at NRG Stadium, where Washington and Kashmere high schools received $1,000 each for their band programs.  

“I am truly honored to be at such a historic and powerful event,” Lathan said. “Historically black colleges and universities play a significant role in educating and developing young minds and the future leaders of tomorrow.” 

Over 300 Houston Independent School District high school students joined thousands of other area students to enjoy the competition’s performances, featuring eight collegiate marching bands representing historically black colleges and universities. HISD high school band students in attendance included Austin, North Forest, Northside, Sterling, Waltrip, Westbury, and Yates.  

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Yates HS feeder pattern community celebrates back to school

Families from the Yates High School feeder pattern community gathered together on Saturday for a fun-filled back-to-school bash to help get students ready for the new school year.  

Over 400 people from Cullen Middle School, Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan Middle School, and Blackshear, Foster, Hartsfield, Lockhart, Peck, Thompson, and Whidby elementary schools all received free school supplies, backpacks, haircuts, uniforms, shoes, and food vouchers at the celebration.   

“It was exciting to see the community come together in preparation for the school year,” Leesa Giles, Special Education Resource Teacher and Title I Coordinator at Foster Elementary, said. “Many families have less to worry about regarding supplies and other school-related items thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Yates Feeder Pattern Schools.   

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HISD’s Report Card: 92 percent of schools earn passing grade on state accountability system 

Kashmere High School rewrites history by earning passing grade

The Houston Independent School District earned an overall high “B” rating by the Texas Education Agency under the state accountability system for the 2018-2019 academic year, exiting nine campuses from the state’s “Improvement Required” list. The district earned a grade of 88.

According to the ratings released by TEA, 92 percent of HISD schools (250 out of 271 rated campuses) earned a passing grade. For the first time, all HISD schools received a letter grade under the state’s new A-F rating system, which was implemented in 2018. Fifty-seven HISD campuses earned A’s, 78 earned B’s, 86 earned C’s and 29 earned D’s. A minimum grade of “D” is required for a school to receive a passing rating.

“We are extremely proud of all of our teachers, principals, school support officers, and area superintendents for working diligently to help our students succeed,” HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “Our students demonstrated significant gains, and we are committed to empowering them to thrive academically.”

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Blackshear ES unveils inspirational new mural to Third Ward community

Despite the soaring temperatures, an enthusiastic crowd gathered outside HISD’s Blackshear Elementary School on Wednesday for the unveiling of a new campus mural that celebrates the school’s recent academic achievements and improvement in literacy. 

“We now have the best mural in the city of Houston – the most beautiful mural in the city of Houston,” Blackshear Principal Alicia Gobert Lewis said. “At Blackshear, we want to make sure that everywhere children look they see something beautiful.” 

The mural, which as the brainchild of Lewis, was designed and painted by Houston-based artist Reginald Adams. His art installations can be seen in historic and underserved communities across the U.S. The theme of the mural is Break Every Chain, and it is brimming with literary elements, colorful books, and powerful images of children reading. 

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