As he walked through the first and second grade classrooms at Mading Elementary School, Superintendent Millard House was greeted with the smell of freshly made tamales.
Students attending summer school at Mading were taking a break for lunch just as the new superintendent of HISD stopped by for a visit. It was a well-earned break after a morning full of learning for the students.
“You guys continue working hard,” House said as he exited one of the classrooms. “We are proud of you. We are glad you are back.”
That school was just one of many as House toured several schools on his second official day on the job.
The scene playing out on the stage at Ortiz Middle School on a humid May morning is a familiar one to many Houstonians.
Musicians decked out in embroidered pants, wide-brimmed sombreros, and colorful silk ties playing vihuelas, guitarróns, trumpets, and other instruments in a style instantly recognizable as mariachi music.
But what makes this group stand out is that the musicians are all under the age of 14.
“It makes me feel alive,” sixth-grader Joshua Campos said. “My problems, when I play, they just go away. I just think about the music.”
Twelve Houston Independent School District middle schools are among the latest campuses to be selected for participation in the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program, which addresses barriers to digital inclusion.
In addition to free mobile devices and data plans, participating schools will be assigned a full-time coach to train teachers in effectively integrating technology into their lessons.
Marlen Martinez has been selected as the new principal of Ortiz Middle School. An HISD alumnus, Martinez has served students as a teacher, magnet coordinator, and an assistant principal. Most recently, she served as the principal at Lewis Elementary School, where she built a strong academic program that shepherded the school out of Improvement Required (IR) status into meeting state standard. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Texas State University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Lovett ES fifth-grader Bryan Moore poses with his mother, Tonyamas Moore, who won the spelling bee at that campus back in 1986.
Five boys and five girls from 10 different HISD schools will be testing the limits of their vocabulary on Saturday, April 2, when they take part in the finals of the Houston Public Media spelling bee. The top two winners of the Houston-area competition will be eligible to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C., in May.
This year’s local contest is particularly meaningful for two HISD students: fifth-grader Bryan Moore (Lovett ES) and eighth-grader Christine Bowyer (Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan).
The Houston Independent School District Board of Education is searching for a new superintendent and trustees want input from community members about the qualities and traits they would like to see in their next district leader.
HISD Board of Education President Manuel Rodríguez Jr. and Trustee Diana Dávila have scheduled seven meetings this week to gather feedback from the community that will be used to develop a superintendent candidate profile. The dates and times for additional meetings hosted by other trustees will be announced soon.
The desks in seventh-grade teacher Zachary Cummings’ AVID classroom at Hamilton Middle School are arranged so that students can work in groups. Collaboration is one of the five hallmarks of AVID, along with reading, writing, inquiry, and organization.
Cummings’ students recently quizzed each other on Cornell notes they took on a PowerPoint presentation about the history of Apple Inc. Cornell notes are just one example of college-level study techniques students learn in AVID, a global nonprofit organization directed at students who are capable of completing a college-preparatory path if they receive the proper support. The focus is on low-income students whose families don’t traditionally attend college.
Incoming sixth-grader Taylor, 10, believes it’s important to protect the bee population, and she thinks she knows ways to do so. “Planting flowers will help attract bees so they can make more honey,” she said as she put marigold seeds into a small decorated pot.
This was only one of the many lessons she and several other soon-to-be sixth-graders learned during their two weeks in the Summer Bridge program, made possible by the federally-funded Race to the Top grant the district received, at Holland Middle School.
Students planted flowers as one way to help improve the bee population, discussing the reasons bees were threatened, and ways they could help save them. It was all part of a day’s work that integrated the mini-ecology lesson into other areas such as mathematics, reading, improving critical thinking skills, leading discussions, and other subjects. Continue reading →