April is Autism Awareness Month, and in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day, communities across the globe are being asked to “Light It Up Blue” on April 2.
Only about 1,375 students have been identified with autism spectrum disorders in HISD (a figure that represents less than one percent of the district’s entire student population), but Jermisha Hardeman, who teaches students with autism at Yates High School, says that it’s still important to increase awareness on this subject.
“With my students, you can’t just look at them and tell they’re autistic,” she said. “But it’s important to recognize them and to learn how to interact with them, because autism is on the rise. The numbers have increased. It’s estimated now that one in every 68 people falls somewhere on the autism spectrum.”
Students across Houston may be waiting anxiously for time off from the classroom and their teachers next week, but that doesn’t mean they have to take time off from learning. Though a week for Spring Break may seem like a short time, it’s important that kids have new and creative experiences to keep their minds active and growing, especially before spring testing season. Parents, here are some activities to keep your kids happily and obliviously learning over the break.
Jones to become specialized Futures Academy; Dodson students will move to Blackshear, Lantrip, and the Rusk School
The HISD Board of Education on Thursday voted 6 to 3 to repurpose Jones High School into a specialized Futures Academy with trustees Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Anna Eastman, and Paula Harris opposed. Trustees also voted 5 to 4 to close Dodson Elementary. Anna Eastman, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Wanda Adams and Paula Harris were in opposition. These votes come after weeks of debate and conversation including nearly 75 comments from concerned citizens during the board’s meeting and the removal of three schools from the original closure and consolidation proposal.
Educational diagnosticians are certified professionals with skills in identifying learning disorders. In recognition of the critical role that these individuals play in providing all students with a high-quality education, Gov. Rick Perry has declared March 3–7 “Educational Diagnosticians’ Week” in the state of Texas.
“By developing and recommending teaching strategies and materials, these professionals help provide our next generation of leaders with the knowledge and skills fundamental for lifelong success,” said Perry, in a proclamation signed on Feb. 4 (.pdf). “Their hard work contributes to the future of our young Texans and of the Lone Star State.”
Project Advisory Teams wrapped up a two-day design charrette on Friday for two of the district’s elementary schools being constructed under the 2012 bond program: Parker Elementary, a music magnet school in the city’s Westbury area, and Relief Elementary, a new campus in West Houston that is intended to relieve crowding at several nearby schools.
In a special meeting of the HISD Board of Education on Thursday morning, trustees heard additional options and considerations regarding the five campuses identified in the district’s proposed closure, consolidation, and reorganization plan. Trustees were also provided feedback from community meetings held at the schools. Among the new options to be considered by the board: move the Montessori program at Dodson to Blackshear; create a day care/ early childhood center at Nat Q Henderson; establish a career training high school at Jones to serve the southern part of the city (after Jones is used as swing space for the next 2-3 years), among other options. For a complete review of the options and considerations presented, please find the full presentation here (.pdf).
Food Services, The Rice School pairing up for day of books, Dr. Seuss-themed menu items
Students across the Houston Independent School District will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss on Monday, March 3, in coordination with Read Across America Day.
To celebrate both occasions, HISD Food Services is collaborating with The Rice School/La Escuela Rice for a day of healthy eating and reading. The celebration will kick off at 10 a.m. at The Rice School La Escuela Rice.
Representatives of New York City’s Department of Education have been visiting HISD this week to learn more about how the district prepares students for success in college and career. Dusty Miller, La Shawn Robinson, and Ainsley C. Rudolfo attended HISD’s State of the Schools event, as well as visited Chavez and Sterling high schools and Eastwood Academy.
After hearing about EMERGE through the Council of the Great City Schools, they wanted to see it in action. EMERGE prepares talented students from underserved communities to successfully attend and graduate from Ivy League and other top-tier colleges.
District will continue focus on literacy and student achievement
During HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier’s address at the 2014 State of the Schools event, he reminded the sold-out crowd of the district’s successes, tough decisions and the work being done to transform schools into 21st-Century learning environments. He also announced several new initiatives, including the expansion of dual-language programs and a new diversity initiative, and unveiled a program that will address issues related to high student mobility rates.