Toufic Elachkar has been selected as the new principal of McNamara Elementary School. In his 27-year career with HISD, he has served students as a bilingual teacher, Title III coordinator, and an assistant principal. As a classroom teacher, he was recognized as an Aspire Highly Effective teacher, ranking in the top 10 percent districtwide. During his tenure as assistant principal at McNamara, the campus has made notable progress with improved student performance. Elachkar earned a bachelor’s in political science from Texas Southern University and holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Thomas. Elachkar is fluent in Spanish, Arabic, French and English.
Teachers “blending” face-to-face instruction with technology
During the month of February, all HISD teachers are being encouraged to try something new in their classrooms, as well as share ideas, resources, and lessons learned by posting their experiences and photos on social media using the hashtag #HISDdigital. Each week during the month, we are profiling a teacher or campus that is using technology to break up rows in classrooms, engage students, and innovate instructional practice. This week’s profile features McNamara Elementary.
Earlier this year, McNamara Elementary School teacher Carlos Rosario started videotaping some of his lessons instead of delivering them in front of the class. The result has been somewhat surprising.
“I find that many of my students are more engaged watching me deliver a lesson on video than when I do it in person,” said Rosario. “Plus, I have built in questions with the videos to check for understanding. At the end, I also get a report, so if I need to pull anybody out to reteach or focus on small group instruction, I can do that.”
Twelve Houston ISD schools have a new program designed to improve students’ health and reduce their stress.
The program, which is sponsored by the Sonima Foundation, will teach students skills for a healthier lifestyle. Through group discussion, character education, breathing exercises and yoga, students will learn to focus their attention, calm their minds, reduce stress and think before reacting. Nutrition curriculum will be introduced later in the school year. Continue reading
Shearn Elementary School is one of 14 HISD schools launching the school year today as a dual-language campus, with instruction in both English and Spanish, and students had a special visitor this morning.
Dr. Terry Grier dropped in as the school day began to greet students and parents, and to pump up their enthusiasm for dual-language. “I sure wish we had this when I was in school,” Grier told a trio of fifth-grade school leaders who guided him on a tour of Shearn.
Marques Foster was delighted to hear about the new program. “I really want to learn Spanish,” she said. “I know it’s important to have more than one language.” Continue reading
This is the sixth in a series of stories counting down to the start of school, spotlighting what is new in HISD in the coming year.
When the school bells sound Monday in HISD, 14 additional elementary campuses will be conducting classes in two languages, as the district expands its successful dual-language program to a total of 32 schools.
The structure offers foreign language immersion for English-speaking students and a bilingual program for Spanish speakers.
The expansion process started a year ago, when all HISD elementary schools were invited to apply for the successful program. Those chosen have spent months preparing. HISD has a six-year plan to turn at least half its elementary campuses into dual-language schools by 2020. Continue reading