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School year off to a strong start - Aug. 27, 2018
Dear SAISD Staff,
Thank you for all your efforts to ensure the start of our school year was smooth and efficient. Your well-organized efforts eased the transition from summer to school for our students and families. 
As is customary in our District, we had Central Office teams visit every one of our campuses on the students' first day to lend a helping hand wherever they were needed. We will continue to check in over the next few weeks as part of a coordinated effort to troubleshoot and address issues that arise with facilities, technology and other areas to ensure a seamless start to the year. Central Office personnel appreciate being a part of this school-launch tradition, and we want you to know we are always here to serve our schools.
Our school year is just beginning and already we are celebrating award announcements and milestones reached.
For the second year in a row, one of our outstanding teachers is being recognized at the regional and state levels. I want to congratulate Andrea Greimel, a bilingual pre-kindergarten teacher at Carvajal Early Childhood Education Center, for being named the 2019 Elementary Teacher of the Year for Education Service Center, Region 20 and also a finalist for 2019 Texas Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators. Please help me congratulate her and wish her well as she moves forward for consideration as Texas Teacher of the Year.
Our teachers go above and beyond for their students on a daily basis, and it is moments like these that give our community a peek into the quality of our classrooms.
Another telling sign of the incredible energy and enthusiasm our teachers devote to their craft is their efforts to continue their own learning. Last Friday, 13 secondary teachers earned a Master of Arts in Teaching: Content Intensive in English Language Arts through the Relay Graduate School of Education. In addition to enhancing their content knowledge and pedagogical skills, these teachers will now be eligible to teach dual-credit courses, an expanding District need. 
These teachers also are the first Relay GSE cohort to earn their graduate degrees. A second Relay cohort is completing their final semester this fall and will graduate in March with advanced teaching degrees in science, math and social studies. You may remember that back in May, we saw our first cohort of teachers graduate from Texas A&M-San Antonio with a Master of Science in Reading.
Tuition-free opportunities like these are just one way our District can assist teachers earn graduate degrees in key areas that are critical to our students’ academic achievement. Similarly, we provide access to leadership programs to build our capacity for campus leadership. Please help us spread the word so additional educators can take advantage of these programs.
Also last week, I joined the SAISD Foundation on the first of many surprise Innovation Grant announcements to our teachers. By the end of this month, the foundation will hand out $175,000 in grant awards to educators who are transforming our District – in their classrooms and on their campuses through special projects and initiatives that pique student interest, increase engagement and improve academic performance.
In addition, the District is investing $75,000 in technology grant funds, which will be awarded through the foundation. That means the foundation will be able to grant a record number of requests this year, bringing the total monies awarded to $250,000! The SAISD Foundation plays an immense role in our District, and I can’t thank them enough for supporting the innovation of our teachers.
Because of our teachers, innovation is becoming synonymous with our District.
You may have seen a couple of our CAST Tech teachers highlighted in the news over the weekend for offering innovative high school curriculum. Technology teacher Belinda Medellin is working with industry partners to launch the nation’s first user interface-user experience career pathway at the high school level. Additionally, through the efforts of computer programming teacher Dr. Don Davis, CAST Tech is the first high school in Texas to be endorsed for Red Hat Certification, an industry standard for cybersecurity. 
I also want to draw attention to the work of longtime SAISD employee Roger Rodriguez, senior coordinator for health and physical education. His tireless efforts to promote health in our District and community is being recognized by It’s Time Texas, who just announced SAISD as a recipient of its 2018 School Health Advisory Council Award. We are one of only five school districts in the state to receive this honor. Roger and his team will formally be recognized at the It’s Time Summit in October in Austin.  
Over the weekend, the District inducted seven more prominent sports figures into our Athletic Hall of Fame – six alumni and one coach. Each of them have made a positive impact in sports, either through excellent athletic achievements or athletic program contributions – both on and off the field, or court, of competition. The next time you are visiting the Alamo Convocation Center, please take a moment to read the bronze plaques that honor them.
Trustee Debra Guerrero also was honored by the San Antonio Business Journal as one of its 2018 Women’s Leadership Award recipients. The award recognizes outstanding women who are making a difference in their organizations, their career fields and within their communities. She joins an impressive list of women role models. We are proud and honored to have her leadership in our District.
So many wonderful things have happened in our first two weeks of school, and we’re only getting started.
One of the things we are communicating to parents and community members as our school year gets underway is our launch of a school bus stop arm camera system to keep the students who ride our buses safer.
The District has contracted with American Traffic Solutions to install its system on our fleet. When the school bus stop arm is deployed, a camera takes still images of the license plates of cars that pass illegally, and video of the violations also are recorded. After our District police review the data captured, citations are mailed to vehicles’ owners when warranted. SAISD receives a percentage of the citation revenue, which will be used to improve student safety, both in transportation and in other ways across the District.
As part of this program, buses also are being equipped with further safety and security technology including additional cameras, silent alarms, real-time data availability and student trackers. In addition, Wi-Fi functionality will be enabled to extend our Rolling Readers initiative to the entire bus fleet by the end of this school year.
And finally, as we head into Labor Day weekend, many of our juniors and seniors are taking advantage of the holiday to visit college campuses. You’ll be happy to know that more than 75 of our seniors are using the extended weekend to participate in visiting Austin College in Sherman, Texas, which is north of Dallas. It is fulfilling to know that the pursuit of academic excellence never stops!
Thank you, everyone, for helping our students maintain this momentum.

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