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Exciting developments: 2016 Bond, scholarships and more - Sept. 17, 2018
Dear SAISD Staff,
On Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the Texas Teacher of the Year luncheon in Austin, which honored six finalists across the state – including our own Andrea Greimel, a bilingual pre-kindergarten teacher at Carvajal Early Childhood Education Center. She is an amazing educator with a deep dedication to her students and an uplifting story. I commend her for representing our District so well. She is one of many truly gifted teachers in SAISD!
Two of the finalists at the state level were from San Antonio, and Jeff Wheatcraft from Alamo Heights ISD was selected as the Texas Teacher of the Year and will advance to the national program. We wish him well.
Also last week, the District began hosting community meetings at each of our 13 Bond 2016 campuses, beginning with Jefferson High School and Irving Dual Language Academy. I appreciate all of the parents and residents who attended and shared their feedback on the preliminary architectural plans and designs of these two sites. Meetings will continue this week through the month of October, so that community members can meet our architectural teams and learn how the $450 million bond projects are shaping up. I encourage you to attend these meetings, if you can. It is exciting to see the progress.
We are still in the early stages of our school year, but it is not too early to begin hearing about scholarship recipients! Highlands High School seniors LaTia Jones and Manuel De Jesus Gallegos Garcia and Sam Houston High School senior Deziree Guerra were recognized with scholarships this past Saturday at the Annual Scholarship Gala hosted by the San Antonio Black Lawyers Association. And local institutions St. Mary’s University and the University of the Incarnate Word so far have extended four-year scholarships to 30 of our seniors, totaling almost $2 million in offers. Congratulations to them all!
Next week, they and other high school students have the opportunity to continue their search for a “Best Match, Best Fit” college. SAISD will be hosting our annual Back-to-School College Fair on Sept. 24 – a week from today – beginning at noon on the Fox Tech campus. More than 30 colleges and universities from around the nation will have representatives to meet with our students. Additionally, a national coalition of schools is holding the NACCAP College Fair at the Christian School at Castle Hills that same evening, making it a day of back-to-back networking opportunities for our high school students. 
It is important to note that participating institutions at both of these college fairs include Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University as well as additional strong institutions both in state and around the country. It is one of our five-year goals to increase the number of students who attend college, especially to top-tier universities, and I’m happy to see these representatives recruiting our students. 
One of our 2018 graduates already is making her mark on the campus of her Ivy League institution. Young Women’s Leadership Academy alumna Maria Teresa Conchas was profiled by Brown University as one of six representatives of their incoming first-year class “who are sure to make an indelible mark on Brown’s unique academic community.” Most importantly, Maria Teresa, and high-achieving students like her, also represent how SAISD is redefining excellence with a record number of graduates now attending top universities.
The success of our students can be attributed to the encouragement and mentoring of our teachers and campus staff. Our faculty make us proud every day, and one of the ways we give back is to encourage educators’ own continuing development through opportunities such as EPIC Saturdays. We’ve already held two events in the series this school year and the response has been tremendous. 
At both the August and September EPIC Saturdays, more than 600 participants attended and were able to select from up to 50 sessions. Topics ranged from core content areas to supporting undocumented and immigrant students, and from emergency operations training to technology in the classroom, including MTSS: Branching Minds – a web-based tool that is part of a multi-tiered system of supports to personalize intervention for struggling students. We’ve received feedback that the selection of sessions was numerous and relevant and that the information shared can be put into practice in the classroom immediately. 
Additional sessions are being planned for Oct. 20 at Burbank High School and Feb. 9 at Edison High School, as well as a number of virtual and other innovative professional development opportunities in the coming months, too. Please mark your calendars!
In closing, I want to remind you that next Tuesday is Voter Registration Day in SAISD. Several nonpartisan community organizations, such as the League of Women Voters and MOVE Texas, will set up tables at dozens of our campuses to assist parents and community members who want to register to vote. As is tradition in SAISD, high school students, who are eligible to register, will have the opportunity to do so during their government, social studies or economics classes on either Monday, Sept. 24 or Tuesday, Sept. 25.
To support the voter registration effort, librarians across the District were deputized as voter registrars. Previously, high school principals were the majority of the volunteer deputy registrars in SAISD schools, since all public high school principals in the state are deputy voter registrars by law. Although a few librarians were deputized in the past, this is the first year the majority of school librarians received training from the Bexar County Elections Department and were sworn in to serve in this role as part of our community engagement initiatives. Libraries are the hubs for students, parents and the community, and this outreach was a perfect fit.
I thank each of these librarians for providing this important service.

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