The cadets in uniform, the large buildings, the football stadium, and students skateboarding and riding bicycles to class were some of the first things Yates High School senior Jason Covarrubias noticed upon arriving on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Until last week, he had never visited a college outside of Houston.
“I could go by myself on a college visit, but I’d be lost in the process,” he said. “My parents probably couldn’t go with me because they have to work, and I work on the weekends. So for HISD to do this, I really appreciate it.”
Adrian Acosta has been challenging his biology classes at Young Men’s Preparatory Academy for years with a singular offer: if 25 percent or more of them earn “commended” status on the annual state-mandated assessment test, he will shave his head.
Until now, he has never had to make good on that promise, but on May 29, Acosta closed his eyes, sat in a chair, and handed the clippers to a student, after learning that 14 of his students—or a whopping 41 percent of his biology class—had held up their end of the bargain.
YMCPA Principal Dameion Crook and teacher Vince Hamilton
“I told him he needed to have a meeting with me about some issue with a parent and he needed to get down here right now,” Principal Dameion Crook said. “What he didn’t know was 400 kids and his family and friends had assembled in the gymnasium. When we brought him in, he was extremely surprised.”
Almost 19,000 HISD students are receiving laptops this month as part of the district’s one-to-one initiative that will eventually give every high school student a computer. The initiative – PowerUp – will not only give students 24-hour access to a laptop and a variety of software but to digital-age instruction that will transform teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom.
“PowerUp is not about the device,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “This is about creating anytime-anywhere learning for our students so they can have the world at their fingertips. We want to make sure they learn skills that complement technology so they won’t be replaced by technology.”
Thirty-one of the Houston area’s best prep teams will begin three days of action Thursday in the 74th annual HISD Boys Basketball Tournament at nine district locations – and they’ll combine play with holiday giving.
Fans bringing two nonperishable food items and one unwrapped toy will gain free admission, with no re-entry permitted. The toys will go to the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots Drive, and the food will benefit the Houston Food Bank. Collection points will be located at each site for those who want to contribute additional items.
HISD’s implementation of the PowerUp one-to-one laptop initiative is getting rave reviews from a North Carolina school district which successfully implemented a similar program six years ago. A team of educators from the Mooresville Graded School District recently visited classrooms at three HISD campuses which distributed student laptops in October.
“One of the things we were very impressed with was the rather extensive use of laptops for instruction in the classrooms,” said Steve Mauney, executive director for secondary instruction at the Mooresville Graded School District. “That is something we didn’t expect to see at the schools only two months after deployment.”
To familiarize them with life on the campus of a select school, HISD’s EMERGE program took a group of rising seniors on a tour of northeast campuses over the summer. Here, they’re at Harvard University.
The acceptance letters for select colleges and universities are rolling in for HISD seniors working with the district’s EMERGE program – 22 letters so far, as of Dec. 18. On Dec. 16 alone, three HISD seniors were notified they had been accepted to Yale University.
All students are either receiving full rides or are having 100 percent of their financial need met by the school accepting them, according to Rick Cruz, assistant superintendent of college readiness and co-founder of EMERGE.
HISD is partnering with Discovery Education, a branch of the media company Discovery Communications, as the district begins its journey to transform all classrooms into 21st century learning environments. Principals, assistant principals, and deans from the PowerUp one-to-one campuses recently attended a hands-on workshop with Discovery Education to explore some of the digital content and interactive lessons that teachers and students will have access to as part of the district’s digital transformation.
HISD principals and administrators from the 11 high schools involved in the district’s PowerUp initiative now have a better understanding of what effective digital instruction looks like, thanks to a recent trip to Mooresville, N.C. The Mooresville Graded School District has had a one-to-one program in place for six years and is partnering with HISD to offer guidance and best practices as the district prepares to distribute more than 18,000 laptops to students next month.
In mid-November, PowerUp principals along with members of HISD’s High Schools Office, the Curriculum, and Professional Support and Development departments, spent several days inside Mooresville secondary classrooms observing teaching and learning using computers and digital technology. Principal Delesa Odell Thomas from the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy found the trip was eye-opening.
Project Advisory Teams unveiled the latest ideas for the new building design of the Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy and Sharpstown High School Wednesday night. Both schools are being rebuilt under HISD’s 2012 bond program.