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Superintendent Message (Oct. 5, 2015)

The work of redefining excellence

Oct. 5, 2015

Dear SAISD Staff,

We learned last week that our very own Young Women’s Leadership Academy was named a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School, one of only 303 public and private exemplary high-performing schools in the nation to receive the honor. An additional 32 schools earned Blue Ribbon status for their progress.

This honor could not have come at a better time for SAISD, as we seek to redefine excellence across the District. YWLA is an example of what we plan to achieve as a whole. Contributing to the success of the all-girls school is that each of its students are enrolled in pre-Advanced Placement or Advanced Placement courses, an approach we want to take to scale over time. I know it is possible.

I spent the past couple of weeks in meetings and at events that are serving to lay the foundation for our transformation and helping spread the word about where SAISD is headed, as well as gather input. This includes our ongoing community meetings presenting our 5-Year Plan. The feedback and reactions we are getting continue to be very positive. I also had the opportunity to share our goals with more than 200 of our proud fathers and other male role models who attended our recent Fathers in Action luncheon. They were very positive about the direction our district is going.  

To ensure that our students are college-ready, one of the changes we plan to make is to redesign our career and technical education pathways so they directly align to community colleges and 4-year universities. As a first step, on Sept. 23, all of our high school principals visited Palo Alto College, San Antonio College and St. Philip’s College to get a first-hand look at the programs and facilities to begin the conversation about how we will partner to ensure each of our programs can achieve dual credit and leverage our resources. I appreciate all of the positive feedback we received from our high school principals. 

Also, we are working to be much more visible in classrooms than ever before. Our deputy superintendent, assistant superintendents and curriculum officers are spending more time in our schools observing the many good things happening in our classrooms and working with our principals to identify areas of support, such as needs in professional development, materials and technology. These are areas that we want to develop long-term plans to support.

As I visit schools and classrooms, I am seeing a lot of hardworking staff. I have been especially impressed with the passion and energy of our teachers and the rigor of bilingual education classrooms. We will continue to engage staff as we look at changes to our curriculum, assessments and instruction.

I want to again congratulate Highland Hills Elementary School music teacher Jason Jones and Rogers Middle School librarian Jennifer De Waelsche, who recently were recognized at our SAISD Foundation’s 5th Annual Inspire Awards. They are just two examples of the amazing educators we have in our District. This event was the highest-grossing ever for our foundation, with more than 330 attendees. It is evident that we are building excitement and support for our long-term goals.