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SAISD is future ready and on course - Feb. 19, 2019

Dear SAISD Staff:
As you know, February is Black History Month, and it is a time that we celebrate the amazing contributions of African Americans – throughout history, and continuing today.

On this occasion, I also want to highlight the leadership of retiring Trustee James Howard. Mr. Howard was elected to the Board in 1998, and in 2008, he was elected President of the Board by his peers – serving as the first African American chair in the history of the District. He also served for many years as our Region 20 representative on the Board of Directors for the Texas Association of School Boards, as well as on the Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members. Most recently, Mr. Howard was honored last year with the Educational Excellence Award by the Greater San Antonio After-School All-Stars.
Mr. Howard is a product of SAISD, and attended Cuney Elementary, Emerson Junior High and Wheatley High School. His two children also are SAISD graduates. Please join me in recognizing and thanking this long-standing leader – who I affectionately call the “Dean of the Board” – for his outstanding governance and his dedication to our District.

So many of you – teachers, staff members and students – across the District make me proud every day, and I am pleased to note the following achievements.

For the second year in a row, Sam Houston High School’s Academic Decathlon team placed first in the medium school division at the Region IV meet, and also first in Team Super Quiz. This year we also are celebrating Travis Early College High School whose team brought home third place honors in the medium school category. The Sam Houston team will now compete at the state meet in March.

Students from nine of our schools had their movies screened during the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, with two of our teams placing. A team from Young Women’s Leadership Academy placed second, and a student from Advanced Learning Academy earned an honorable mention. And the film from Pershing Elementary has been slated to open each 90-Second Newbery Film Festival across the nation.

These students and their accomplishments are redefining excellence in SAISD – and I am so proud of them!

At the District level, we too are making great strides to redefine excellence in numerous ways – one of these approaches is in the area of technology.

As our District expands the use of innovative digital learning technologies in the classroom, our need for more bandwidth continues to grow. Fortunately, SAISD is prepared for this growth. We recently received a $7 million grant from the Federal Communications Committee’s (FCC) E-rate program, which will ensure our network capacity and internet speeds will increase to meet our demands over the next 10 to 20 years.

Installation of this new, dedicated fiber network is on schedule to begin this fall and will take a year to a year and a half to complete – with service ready by the summer of 2020. What is exciting is that SAISD’s custom network will open up even more opportunities in instruction, while also creating efficiency in our business operations. It will truly make us future ready!

Every day, our teachers already are educating students and preparing them to be future-ready for career pathways of all kinds.

During San Antonio Works’ fourth annual Job Shadow Day earlier this month, more than 500 SAISD students were matched with local employers for a half-day of onsite, experience-based learning.

More than 100 businesses and organizations of all sizes participated – from San Antonio headquarters operations to small businesses and startups. Our students visited companies within the industries of computer science, education, engineering, finance, health care, manufacturing, public administration and more.

It is these types of opportunities that bring home the importance of a high-quality education – both here and in college – to obtain the professional skills necessary to pursue high-demand careers. The business community also values the opportunity to showcase their industries to their future workforce.
Last week, I addressed many of these same business leaders and shared with them the progress our District is seeing during my annual State of the District address, hosted by the San Antonio and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the SAISD Foundation.
Among the highlights I communicated are the investments we are making in our neighborhood schools through the expansion of dual language, the International Baccalaureate framework, 1:1 technology, fine arts and sports, as well as implementing strong educational partnerships and our Master Teacher initiative. As a result, we are seeing these neighborhood schools outperforming some independent charter schools in their areas, based on 2018 TEA scores.
Additionally, I discussed with the business community how we are seeing more students taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams and completing dual-credit courses. We also are increasing dual credit opportunities to get more students on the college-bound trajectory to continue our ever-growing percentage of students choosing to pursue higher education. So far this year, 81 percent of students have applied to college – and we are only halfway through the school year!
Overall, I outlined the steps we are taking to elevate the District in the Texas Education Agency A-F ratings, from being rated a C in 2018 to being on target to earn a B in 2020. 
To convey our progress to an even broader audience, the District will be launching a new marketing campaign with the theme, “Choose Your Course.” The campaign will kick off in March and run in phases through December, telling our story of being on course for success – for our students, our families and our community.
Through video, digital and social media components, the campaign will emphasize how we are getting more students ready for college, offering more options in every neighborhood, investing in our schools, and honoring our culture and roots as San Antonio’s founding school district.
“Choose Your Course” and “Elige el curso de tu vida” branded door hangers, banners and yard signs will reinforce the digital campaign at a grass-roots level in the neighborhoods. Campus teams are encouraged to continue this campaign messaging in their own enrollment campaigns.
Together, we will tell the SAISD story, and in doing so, inspire new and current students to discover their own academic journeys with us. I can’t wait to get started!


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