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‘Newfangled’ notions create once-unimaginable opportunities for HISD students

2014 September 25
by HISD Communications

Almost every day, I encounter an example of just how much school has changed in my lifetime — and how HISD is at the forefront of embracing new methods to improve the knowledge and well-being of our students.

Here are three ways we’re implementing what my grandpa might have skeptically called “newfangled notions.”

Physical activity when I was a student meant a lively recess (with obsolete games such as dodgeball) in lower grades, with P.E. and a few competitive sports in higher grades. I never would have imagined that I’d be promoting yoga in schools one day. Yet this week, I was delighted to announce a partnership with the Sonima Foundation that is bringing a yoga-based healthy lifestyle program to 12 of our schools.

We’re far more enlightened these days about the connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and this program will help students with focus, stress reduction, and behavior control — as well as their physical development.

Next, there’s the Microsoft “Bing in the Classroom” digital literacy program, a stunning real-world program that brings to life our own PowerUp philosophy of transforming teaching and learning through technology. Memorial and Park Place elementaries are among 10 U.S. schools in this program that uses laptop-tablet hybrids, Skype, and other tools to venture to the ends of the earth to explore and learn.

Could you have imagined, as a child, studying monarch butterflies as they pass through Houston, then linking up for a live conversation with students at the end of the migration path in Mexico? That’s what one Memorial kindergarten teacher has planned.

My final example is one that’s come full circle. It was common for young people in my day to get all the support they needed for a lifelong, productive career from an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Now, our Futures Academy is reviving that concept – combined with rigorous academics – to give high school students the chance to acquire knowledge, work experiences and certifications or two-year degrees before graduation.

We just formalized a partnership between Jane Long’s Futures Academy of Pharmacy Technology and Walgreens to give 200 students a jump on that career. We already have Futures programs in engineering technology, process technology, network and computer administration, logistics and global supply, construction technology, and health science careers at high schools throughout the district.

It’s hard to imagine how our grandchildren will learn, but they’ll be fortunate to grow up in a learning culture that welcomes “newfangled” notions.

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