First impressions are always hard, but Jamaica took the first day of school in stride.
The hypoallergenic Bernedoodle — a special breed that has Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle parents — welcomed Wesley Elementary School students back to school with her tail wagging and a paw-sitive attitude.
The pup recently joined HISD Police as the department’s first-ever comfort dog, working on campuses across the district to help combat stress and anxiety in students and build trust between police, students, and the community.Continue reading
Inspired by Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan’s mission to provide fine arts education to more students, HISD will add a fine arts teacher to 37 elementary schools across the district for the 2019-2020 school year.
“For the first time in recent history, all HISD elementary students will have access to a certified fine arts teacher,” HISD Director of Fine Arts Wenden Sanders said. “HISD views every student as an emerging artist, and thanks to Dr. Lathan’s vision, students will have ample opportunity to develop those creative skills.”
Up until this year, roughly 20,000 HISD elementary students had little to no access to fine arts instruction. Now, those students will have the chance to participate in either music, theater or visual arts on a daily basis.Continue reading
Thomas Cotter has been selected as the new principal of Wesley Elementary School. Cotter began as a teacher at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center and has since served as an instructional specialist, dean of students, and assistant principal at Woodson PK-5 Leadership Academy, where he assisted with the school moving from Improvement Required (IR) to meeting state accountability standards. Cotter earned a bachelor’s in business administration in marketing from Texas Southern University and a Master’s in Administration and Policy Studies from the University of Houston. He is currently working to earn a Doctorate’s in professional leadership and policy studies at the University of Houston.
Cornelius Anderson has been selected as the new principal of Wesley Elementary School. Anderson has been an educator for 16 years and has served in various roles, from paraprofessional to principal. He began his career in Garland ISD as a special education paraprofessional and dyslexia facilitator before joining Denton ISD as a kindergarten teacher, dean of instruction, and assistant principal. Since 2014, he has served as the principal at Stafford Intermediate School in Stafford MSD and was named district administrator of the year for 2015-2016. Anderson earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas Woman’s University, master’s degree in educational leadership from American College of Education, and completed the superintendent certification program at Sam Houston State University.
Dr. Lorraine Killion had the same group of students from the third through fifth grades at Wesley Elementary School some 35 years ago. They were a pilot group for what was known then as DISTAR, a system for teaching reading and math (DISTAR reading has since been expanded and rebranded by SRA/McGraw-Hill as Reading Master). Dr. Killion and her students became so close during those three years that the students never forgot her.
When one of the alumnus’s sons discovered that Dr. Killion was still teaching, the former students used Facebook to get in touch and organize a reunion. Nearly the entire class gathered at a Houston restaurant recently to honor Dr. Killion, whom they hadn’t seen since the fifth grade.
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“They surprised me, and I cried like a baby,” Dr. Killion said. “I hadn’t heard from them for 30 years! I thought I was having lunch with a couple of students, and nearly all of them were there.” Continue reading
Students whose families move during the middle of the school year are being allowed to stay at their “home school,” or the one they enrolled in at the beginning of the academic year, thanks to a innovative HISD program called Home Field Advantage. Since May 2014, schools involved in the program have seen their overall mobility rate drop by an average of 10 percentage points.
During his State of the Schools address last February, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier promised to create a program to build educational stability among highly mobile students. Subsequently, students at 13 elementary schools, where roughly 30 percent of families move in any given year, were offered transportation to their “home” school, even if their parents moved. Continue reading
Living up to a promise made by Superintendent Terry Grier during February’s State of the Schools address, HISD is enacting “Home Field Advantage,” a program to create educational stability among highly mobile student populations.
Students at 13 elementary schools where families are most transient are being offered transportation to continue to allow them to make that school their home, even if their families move. General mobility rates in the selected schools is about 30 percent annually, according to Susan Kaler, Student Services officer. Continue reading
Burbank and Elrod elementary schools to keep magnet status for 2014-2015 academic year
The Houston Independent School District is restoring the magnet designation at two elementary schools following a thorough review of the schools’ presentations and related documentation during the appeal process. Burbank and Elrod elementary schools will keep their magnet designation and funding for the 2014-2015 academic year.
“As we listened to the magnet program representatives who presented appeals, the committee was looking for clear evidence that these programs were on the path to meeting the magnet standards within one to two years,” HISD Assistant Superintendent of School Choice Dave Wheat said. “After a lot of deliberation, we’re pleased to announce that we are restoring the magnet designation at Elrod and Burbank elementary schools.”
During the appeal process, Burbank administrators presented to the committee nearly 40 additional applications they have received from non-zoned students. Those additional applications bring their percentage of non-zoned students to 16.52 percent, just under the minimum standard of 20 percent. In addition, Burbank will be adding three classrooms to increase capacity and accommodate additional non-zoned students.
As for Elrod, school administrators showed the committee their consistent enrollment growth over the past three years, going from 4 percent at the start of the magnet program to nearly 14 percent this year. Also, because Elrod changed its magnet theme in 2012 from math, science and technology to Emerging Medical Scholars, the committee felt more time was needed to assess the program’s viability.
However, Burbank and Elrod, like all magnet schools in HISD, will be re-evaluated at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year and every year thereafter to assess compliance with the enrollment goals and state accountability system ratings.
The Magnet Appeal Review Committee is still reviewing Law Elementary’s appeal, with a site visit planned for Wednesday morning.
“This is HISD’s first step in applying system standards across the district to ensure we maintain a high level of excellence at all schools,” Wheat said. “It is critically important that we ensure all magnet programs are meeting the enrollment and academic requirements set forth by HISD’s Board of Education.”
In May of 2013, the HISD Board of Trustees adopted a new policy that included the 20 percent non-zoned enrollment requirement for all magnet schools and the 100 non-zoned magnet students per grade level requirement for secondary magnet schools. The policy also stated that magnet schools would be held accountable for student academic outcomes aligned with the Board Monitoring System and/or current accountability standards.
As a result, HISD made the decision last month to remove the magnet designation from 20 magnet schools with the lowest percentages of non-zoned students enrolled. The schools were notified of this decision and were given the opportunity to appeal. Thirteen campuses filed an appeal but only Burbank and Elrod were approved to keep their magnet programs.
At the end of this academic year, the following 18 schools are slated to lose their magnet status and will only receive half of their funding during the 2014-2015 academic year: Law (under review), Pleasantville, Wesley, and West University elementary schools; Attucks, Deady, Dowling, Holland, Jackson, Key, and Patrick Henry middle schools; and Jones, Lee, Madison, Sharpstown, Westbury, Wheatley and Worthing high schools.
Twenty of HISD’s 115 magnet programs are not attracting enough students
Twenty HISD magnet school programs that are not drawing enough students from outside their neighborhoods will be closed after the 2013-2014 school year under a plan announced Thursday.
These 20 magnet school programs enroll a combined 758 students from outside their attendance zones.