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Teacher, student and program accomplishments - Feb. 24, 2020
Dear SAISD Staff:

Last week, the District hosted the Teachers of the Year awards ceremony, and for the first time, librarians also were considered for the acknowledgment. A total of 89 teachers and librarians across the District were celebrated as Teachers of the Year for their individual schools, and three honorees were announced as the District’s Distinguished Teachers of the Year.

I applaud the Teacher of the Year for each of our campuses, and I commend Christina Leal from Advanced Learning Academy-Euclid, Marie Marks from Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and Adriana Abundis from Lanier High School for being selected as SAISD’s Distinguished Teachers of the year for elementary, middle and high school, respectively. I’d like to note that this is the second distinguished honor for Adriana Abundis. She was selected for the middle school category two years ago, and now this year for the high school level. All three of these teachers will now be considered as nominees for a variety of outside awards. 

I also want to share with you that a former SAISD Distinguished Teacher of the Year, Andrea Greimel from Carvajal Elementary School, continues to bring recognition to our District. On Feb. 7, she was announced by the National Education Association (NEA) as Texas Teacher of the Year during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

So many of our educators are doing incredible work. We see it every day, and I am excited when others outside of SAISD see it, too – especially on the state and national scale.

In Texas, for the second time this school year, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath visited one of our schools. On Friday, he and other TEA staff members toured CAST Med High School to observe instruction in several classrooms after hearing about the opportunities and initiatives offered to students. Earlier this school year, the commissioner visited Schenck Elementary School to announce TEA’s ratings for schools and school districts across the state. It is quite an honor for the commissioner to choose our District for both of these visits.

The District offers a wide variety of options across our District for students to pursue, and no matter how high we raise expectations, the students meet and exceed them. 

One of these options is offering the International Baccalaureate framework in two of our high school feeders. Earlier this month, we announced that Longfellow Middle School became our sixth IB World School. SAISD hosts the largest number of IB and IB-candidate schools throughout Bexar County – totaling nine campuses. I congratulate Longfellow’s teachers, staff and students on this accomplishment.
Longfellow joins IB World Schools Jefferson High School and Woodlawn Academy, as well as IB-candidate schools Huppertz and Woodlawn Hills elementaries and Fenwick Academy, as part of a K-12 pathway to an IB education in the Jefferson feeder. Additionally, IB World Schools Burbank High School, Harris Middle School and Briscoe Elementary School create a K-12 pathway in the Burbank feeder. 

Our expansion of fine arts also is creating more opportunities for our students – including the limelight. Burbank High School student Jamsel Rodriguez was showcased by the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) in a video as part of the association’s 100th anniversary campaign. His journey as a music student was selected to highlight the impact of music education in the State of Texas. 

In “Music Makes Me the Best Version of Me,” Jamsel shares how band and mariachi provided him a social network and an opportunity to experience success. TMEA is sharing the video across social media, and they also honored him in person at their recent conference.

Additionally, Career and Technical Education (CTE) also is being recognized this month. At last week’s Board meeting, Trustees approved a resolution in recognition of CTE, which is celebrated across the country in February. The month’s awareness campaign is designed to recognize CTE’s value, students’ achievements in the program, and honor our CTE teachers for their great work. 

Over the years, we’ve embarked on building high-quality CTE programs within our District. We’ve also formed relationships with local businesses and community colleges so learning experiences stay relevant to a rapidly changing working world. Tomorrow, more than 840 high school students will be job shadowing more than 30 industry partners. 

We’re seeing significant academic progress for our students graduating with industry-based certifications and have increased the number of industry certifications that our SAISD graduates have achieved – from 17 certifications in 2017 to 272 certifications in 2019. That’s an incredible jump in just two years, and it will only continue to increase.

Already we are encouraging younger students to think ahead to their future careers, especially those in the STEM fields. Last week, we unveiled a Verizon Innovative Learning Lab at Rhodes Middle School. Rhodes is one of four middle schools that has been designated a Verizon Innovative School these past two years. This relationship with Verizon continues with this innovative learning space, which transformed the school library into stations that allows students to solve problems through augmented and virtual reality, coding and circuits, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence.

All of these students and the programs our teachers and schools run – from IB to fine arts, and from CTE and beyond – are redefining excellence in SAISD, and I am so proud of them! 

Their stories are the ones behind the statistics that show our steady progress forward. Last week, I communicated the progress and challenges our District is seeing with local business leaders during my annual State of the District address, hosted by the San Antonio and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the SAISD Foundation. I’ve also shared the same slides in two community meetings so far, with another planned for Feb. 25 at Lanier High School.

Later this week, some of these same business leaders who attended our State of the District will be guest principals during our third Principal for a Day program. The initiative is an effort to open our doors to the community so we can learn from the perspectives of our stakeholders. It also allows us to share with them how difficult the job is and how active principals are as they manage many different tasks throughout the day – and not from behind a desk, but rather by engaging teachers and students in the classrooms. We hope this will be a positive discovery experience for them and for us – as we plan to learn from their insight and feedback as well. 

On a final note, I want to let you know that the Board also approved the 2020-2021 Instructional Calendar at the Feb. 18 meeting. We want to begin sharing next year’s calendar now so that families have the information they need to align their summer and back-to-school plans with our start date of Aug. 10, 2020.

Until then, we still have the rest of a busy spring semester ahead of us. I look forward to sharing many more accomplishments with you over the rest of this school year.  


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