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Of pride and prejudice, safety and security

2014 January 16
by HISD Communications

Talk about an “effective teacher” — one third-grade class at Scroggins ES has the best bilingual instructor in the U.S.

Maria Elena “Malena” Galan found out last Friday that she had been chosen Bilingual Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Bilingual Educators. She’s worked her way up the ranks – first the Houston honor, then Texas’ best, which put her into the national competition.

Ms. Galan herself had limited English skills when she came to the U.S. 21 years ago and uses her own experiences to help connect to her students and their families. She studied English at HCC and became a HISD teacher through our Alternative Certification Program.

This quote from her final NABE application says so much about her passion for what she does: “Sharing knowledge is powerful, but having the ability to share that knowledge in two languages is twice as powerful.”

She’ll be honored at the NABE national conference in San Diego next month. We’re filled with orgullo – deep pride – that she’s a member of Team HISD.


Another source of button-bursting pride each year is the MLK Jr. Oratory Competition, in which some breathtakingly eloquent HISD fourth- and fifth-graders compete to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

The 18th annual tournament, sponsored by the law firm of Gardere Wynne Sewell, will have its finals Friday at the historic Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Christ downtown. The topic is thought-provoking: “If Dr. King were speaking at a March on Washington today, what would he say?”

Twelve of our youngsters will be competing in the finals starting at 10 a.m., and a team from our Communications Department will be recording those speeches and bringing them to you on our website starting later that day.

This is not only a meaningful way to mark Dr. King’s holiday, but offers real understanding into the insight and compassion of some of HISD’s most articulate students. We know Dr. King would be proud, too.


You might have heard the statement last week from the Obama Administration about school discipline policies.

In short, the message was that zero-tolerance policies that throw thousands of young people across the nation into the judicial system – especially minorities, the statistics show — need to be ended. Instead, the message was that conflicts should be dealt with by educators and not immediately turned over to law enforcement.

We’re fortunate in HISD that we have a force of fully-licensed and trained peace officers in our HISD Police Department who work with our schools and educators to provide safety and guidance — to keep conflicts from escalating.

And that brings me to my final acknowledgment. We have a new HISD Police Chief, Robert Mock, who took office last week.

We’ve been fortunate to have Chief Mock on staff for six years after his 22-year career with the Houston Police Department. He replaces Jimmy Dotson, who retired after five years with HISD following 24 years with HPD and seven years as the chief of police in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Having such first-rate professionals head up a talented, trained force sends out a clear message that safety and security is a top priority at HISD. Even more than academic success, we know that’s what’s most important to parents, youngsters and those for whom our schools are a workplace.

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