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First Day of School for Apollo 20 Secondary Schools

2011 August 15
by HISD Communications

Today, we kicked off the new school year at our Apollo 20 secondary schools. I had the chance to visit three of those campuses today, and even though they start classes a week earlier than the rest of the district, the students and teachers were clearly excited to be back in the classroom. I asked Brandon Bonilla, a student at Fondren Middle School, what he thinks about having an extra week of school, and he told me, “It’s actually good because you get to learn more.” That’s exciting! We have students who are eager to learn, and they know school is a place where they can be successful.

It was great to spend time at Fondren Middle School, as well as Jones and Lee high schools. We are changing the culture in our Apollo 20 schools. This is the second year of the school turnaround program and the outstanding principals and teachers are looking forward to building on last year’s progress. Student attendance was up, disciplinary problems were down, and students showed strong academic growth, particularly in math. Apollo 20 students in sixth- and ninth-grade receive intensive tutoring in math and there is no question that’s paying off. The results on the TAKS math exams in sixth- and ninth-grade exceeded our highest expectations.

This year, we will add eleven elementary schools to the Apollo 20 program. They will be built around the same key tenets of Apollo 20 secondary schools.

  • An effective principal and effective teachers in every classroom
  • More instructional time
  • Use of data to drive instruction
  • In-school tutoring
  • A culture of high expectations.

We are seeing that HISD students can accomplish great things when we all pull together. Now it is time to stay the course, work hard, and ensure that we provide a high quality education for every child.

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