Standing in the school garden just inside the signature red wall at the front of Sugar Grove Academy Middle School, new HISD Superintendent Millard House II listened as Science Department Chair Charles Huckaby listed off the vegetables and fruits growing in the verdant space.
“Potatoes, garlic, corn, jalapenos, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers, even ghost peppers, if you’re brave enough to try them,” Huckaby said.
“Not me! No way,” House joked in reply.
The stop at the garden was a part of House’s visit to Sugar Grove’s summer school, where he took a tour of the building and then held his first press conference as superintendent, outlining his goals for HISD.
Eric Tingle has been selected as the new principal of Sugar Grove Academy. Tingle, formerly principal at Foster Elementary School, has been an educator for 11 years and has served in various roles – from teacher to principal. He began his career in Alief ISD as a fourth-grade teacher and math interventionist at Horn Elementary School. He also served as the assistant principal of Law Elementary School prior to becoming the principal of Foster Elementary School in 2013. Tingle earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma. He earned his master’s degree in Educational Management and doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
In this week’s “I Am HISD,” which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, Sugar Grove Academy social worker Elba Ruibal talks about why she began working in public schools, what compelled her to move from a high school to a middle school setting, and one of the biggest challenges of serving refugee students.
Let’s start with a little background. How long have you been a social worker, and when did you first join Team HISD?
I’ve been in social work for about 25 years. I started out working with domestic violence victims at the Houston Area Women’s Shelter and was there for two and a half years. I also worked at the Women and Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, in the children’s emergency room. I came to HISD five years ago, and was at Westbury High School for four of those. This is my first year at Sugar Grove.
What made you decide to move into public education?
When I had my own child, I wanted to be with him in the summers. But I also dealt a lot with victims of domestic violence at the hospital, and I had to report abuse to Children’s Protective Services. Once those children left the ER, I never knew what happened to them, and thoughts of their welfare lingered. But in a school setting, I get to see those children every day and know that they’re alive. I get to follow up, make sure they’re safe, and in the best cases, watch them heal.
More than five dozen HISD science, technology, engineering, and math teachers took part in a summer institute recently that was designed to help boost students’ math and science scores by incorporating more fun into their lessons.
The educators came from 23 HISD elementary and middle schools that received part of a TIF4 STEM grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant also provides resources such as equipment and technology, and participating teachers will receive additional training opportunities throughout the school year and share what they have learned with other faculty members at their campuses.
HISD held its third annual Celebration of Excellence at the Hilton Americas Hotel on May 1, 2014, to honor the many dedicated professionals who contribute to the success of Houston’s students on a daily basis.
Among those recognized at the event were the district’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year, who were revealed for the first time that evening.
A new team approach – blending classroom learning with home support — is revolutionizing teacher-parent conferences in an HISD pilot program.
Centered on “Academic Parent-Teacher Teams,” the approach being tried at eight schools brings in groups of parents to meet with their child’s teacher three times a year. Instead of merely walking out with a report card, these parents know where their youngster stands in relation to the rest of the class – and take with them important tools to help support in the home what’s being taught in the classroom.