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Showcasing schools, students and staff - Dec. 3, 2018
Dear SAISD Staff,
For the second year in a row, our annual school showcase Experience SAISD was a huge success – and it is growing. Preliminary numbers indicate that close to 5,000 people were in attendance, which is a significant increase over last year. I want to thank Jacklyn Del Olmo, coordinator of special projects, for managing the event. In addition, I want to thank everyone who represented their school or program, volunteered or attended with their children on Saturday. 
This Districtwide event was a massive undertaking, and I appreciate your hard work and collaboration to make it happen. I also want to express my gratitude to State Rep. Diego Bernal for his presence and support.
Beginning today, the District is hosting a series of Kindergarten Fairs – one at each of our six early childhood education centers and the four Pre-K 4 SA centers. This annual recruitment effort helps transition families from stand-alone preschools to our neighborhood elementary schools for kindergarten. Similar to Experience SAISD, this effort is an outstanding way for elementaries to showcase the opportunities they offer to their future students.
Our students are at the heart of our success, and I have exciting news to share about a number of their recent accomplishments.
Over the weekend, a student team from Rogers Academy participated in the Cyber Robotics Coding Grand Finale Competition in Rockwall, Texas, and brought home a first-place award in the inclusiveness category for its 94 percent school participation rate. This competition for middle schoolers challenges students’ programming, planning and strategizing skills as well as showcases schools’ STEM achievements. Poe Middle School also qualified for the final competition, but were unable to make Saturday’s meet. This was Poe’s first year to participate, so I know we’ll see them compete again soon.
During the November Qualifiers virtual competition, our two middle school teams competed against 50 other schools in the state – with Rogers Academy placing first in the Boot Camp category for highest overall school participation (146 students!) and in the top five for gender equity. Poe Middle School placed in the top 8 percent of competing schools, and also ninth place in terms of gender equity. Congratulations to both of these schools, their teachers and the student teams for a job well done.
It is wonderful to see students from throughout the District working together, and I encourage you to attend a performance of Hairspray Jr., a four-campus theater production featuring Brackenridge, Burbank, Edison and Lanier high schools. During a four-week period, each campus will host the production for a Thursday-Friday night run. Burbank kicked off the production last week, and this week you can see the show at Lanier. See the full schedule in this news article.
I also am pleased to announce that Santiago Gonzalez, the head custodian at Longfellow Middle School, and Gwendolyn Clay, instructional assistant at M. L. King Academy, were named the District’s G.E.M.S. Employees of the Year. The Great Employees Modeling our Standards award recognizes our outstanding support staff who not only personify SAISD’s core values, but also make significant improvements in job efficiency, quality of service, safety or conserving resources to achieve these standards. Congratulations to both of them. I am grateful they are part of the SAISD family.
In addition, I also want to call out and recognize Jefferson High School for its renewal as an AVID National Demonstration Site. The campus had a successful visit from a validation team last week and were commended for continuing to be an exemplary model of the AVID College Readiness System.
We are now one week into our application period for Choice Schools and Programs for the 2019-20 school year. In this short period, SAISD already received almost 1,000 submissions for lottery grades, and more than 400 applications for people wanting to be added to waitlists for non-lottery grades. We are accepting applications through Feb. 8, and I will continue to update you throughout this process.
In Bond 2016 news, all schematic designs for the 13 schools have been approved, and the first three projects are kicking off. Construction already has started at Jefferson High School, and groundbreaking will begin soon at Bowden Academy and Fox Tech High School.
And finally, I want to thank the SAISD Foundation for celebrating Giving Tuesday last week by surprising our teachers with $500 mini-grant awards. More than 40 grants were distributed across the District during this observance of the spirit of giving – a truly touching way to lead us into the holiday season. By the time we leave for winter break, a total of 155 mini-grants across 55 schools will be awarded to teachers, which benefits our schools, classrooms and students.
As we begin preparations to conclude our fall semester over these next three weeks, join me in wishing our teachers and students well. Today through Thursday, our high school students will take their STAAR End-of-Course exams, and students throughout the District will begin wrapping up projects and studying for final exams. Let’s all send them our positive thoughts!

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