Superintendent Message (Jan. 23, 2017)

Blue Ribbon nominee, new Enrollment Center & Master Teachers

Jan. 23, 2017

Dear SAISD Staff,

I want to start by highlighting our Trustees, who dedicate so much of their lives to our students. Last week, we honored them during a reception in observance of Texas School Board Recognition Month, though we appreciate all they do to serve the SAISD community throughout the year – without being paid for their service. We are fortunate to have a Board of Trustees that is committed to excellence and that is willing to explore new ways of achieving it for our students.

Academic Excellence is one of our five pillars, and we are seeing markers of progress, including the recent announcement that Travis Early College High School was one of 26 Texas public schools nominated for national 2017 Blue Ribbon Schools recognition. All of the nominated schools were selected as exemplary high-performing schools as measured by state assessments, according to the Texas Education Agency. (Read more about it in the most recent employee newsletter.) I want to congratulate Travis and its staff and students for their good work.

Also in the area of Academic Excellence, we have a community information meeting coming up Feb. 1 for the new Steele Montessori Academy, which will open in August at the former Steele Elementary School. (The meeting will be in the Steele library at 6 p.m.) Expert Dr. Sara Suchman, who is with the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, will be at the meeting to discuss this non-traditional approach to education. The meeting is open to any parent, community member or employee who is interested in learning more about the Montessori model.

As our educational offerings increase so does the need for an organized way of letting parents know what we offer and helping them navigate our system. That’s why I’m excited about the new Enrollment Center we are planning for 2017-18 as part of our Stakeholder Engagement efforts. We have posted the position of Senior Director to lead the center, which will manage and monitor student enrollment, the registration process, transfer requests and attendance. The center will allow us to better serve families and will support our attendance and enrollment efforts.

I also am excited to share that starting next week you may see billboards around town promoting a new role within our district called Master Teacher. This position is a part of our Talent Management strategy, and we are in the process of recruiting the best to fill these spots. I want to be sure people don’t confuse Master Teachers with educators who hold a master’s degree. Though a Master Teacher can have that advanced degree, it is not a requirement. When we refer to a Master Teacher, we are talking about strong, experienced “champions of children” with proven track records of increasing student achievement.

We are seeking those Master Teachers who have a strong desire to be part of our transformation efforts and who have an unrelenting determination to prepare all students for success. Next year, Master Teachers will be assigned, primarily, to Accelerated Classrooms designed to get students back on grade level or as mentors to teachers-in-training at the new Ogden lab school to open in the fall – both areas that require educators with very strong skills.

In the area of Fiscal Management, we are moving forward with the recent bond. Last Tuesday, the Board approved the charter for the Bond 2016 Citizens Advisory Council, which will have 24 community members who inform and advise Trustees regarding project implementation. Those interested in serving can access the application on our website and submit it by Feb. 10. Each Trustee will select three members from among the applicants, and I will choose another three. We are expected to appoint the council members at the Feb. 21 Board meeting.

Our stakeholders have much to contribute to our bond and other efforts, and I’m glad they will be a part of the process. Also, I want to thank you for your contributions to the larger process of transforming our District. Much change is underway. I recognize that the work is challenging, and I know that, together with each person supporting the next, we can continue to progress.