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Summer vacation? In HISD, these are busy prep months for next year

2014 June 11
by HISD Communications

Whenever I encounter someone who thinks — because the school year runs from August through May — that we have the summer “off,” I have to chuckle. Summer is one of the busiest times for educators in general, and especially so for us this year in HISD. I thought I’d give you a little insight into what our summer “off” looks like around here.

On campuses, we have thousands of youngsters in summer school at all levels. They and their teachers — and the folks who serve meals and keep the A/C running and the bathrooms clean — are all hard at work. In addition, this summer we have special programs for all ages, from an Extended Primary Year program to give preschool through second-grade youngsters a head start on basic skills, to a TAKS recovery program that offers former students who never received a high school diploma a second chance to be tutored and pass that defunct but mandated test.

Most prominently, we are launching two major initiatives in the coming school year and continuing another that require thousands of teachers and administrators to participate in extensive training and planning and support staff to work out critical logistics to make sure everything is in place for August.

First is our Literacy By 3 kickoff. Already we’ve seen $8.5 million in books delivered to every HISD elementary school campus. These will provide specialized libraries and a foundation for personalized instruction for youngsters. We have teachers going through our reading institute sessions, and next week, we’ll be creating an entire team of “reading leaders” when literacy is the focus of our annual Summer Leadership Institute.

Next, leaders from eight high schools in the first group of our Linked Learning model are busy designing pathways that will combine rigorous academics with career preparation at their campuses.

Finally, we’re moving into Phase 2 of our PowerUp technological transformation. Teachers at the next 21 high schools will be going through training to enable them to start their students on laptop learning in the classroom and at home next January. We’re also preparing to launch an awesome teaching, learning, and communication platform we’re calling the HUB that will eventually involve HISD staff, students, and parents.

And let’s not forget all the work that goes on to get campuses ready for the next school year — everything from small painting projects to large-scale renovation and roofing projects that can only happen during weeks when students aren’t present. For our facilities team, June, July, and August are packed with long to-do lists.

It’s not all work and no play: Most of us are making time for rest and relaxation over the summer months. After all, recharging is also an important part of preparing for next year.

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