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This month, thousands of schools, communities, organizations, and individuals are speaking out against bullying and raising awareness for bullying prevention. At the October FISD School Board Meeting, our Board of Trustees, along with staff members across the district signed the Declaration of Respect.  By signing, we pledge to be caring adults who help bullied students, listen carefully to all students who seek our help, act on their behalf to put an immediate stop to bullying, and work with other caring adults to create a safe environment for all FISD students.  Many students and staff also came together against bullying and united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion by wearing orange in observance of Unity Day.  Providing a safe learning environment for all students is an ongoing focus at FISD, with planned activities throughout the year to remind our students and staff that we should show respect and care for each other every single day. 

In order to address specific incidents of bullying, it is critical that campus administration be notified.  We depend not only on our staff, but on students, parents and the community to bring to our attention any alleged incidents of bullying so that we can fully investigate and address them.  This is a great example of how, working together, we can teach and protect our children.  To be prepared for our future, our students need to act with respect and integrity to contribute to the greater good. 

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words – I think this one sums it up nicely.  #FISDCharacter #UnityDay2016

FISD Core Beliefs

As superintendent, one of my main priorities is to clearly communicate the direction of our school district.  The course of that direction begins with a district’s vision and mission statement, which have been adopted by our FISD School Board.  I believed an important next step is to develop Core Beliefs; the very essence of how we see ourselves, other people, the world, and our future.  Core Beliefs will guide our work, bond the district and community together and, when developed with input from all stakeholders, can transcend both time and individuals.

It is for these reasons in May 2016, I invited a team of 30 members that included FISD employees, FISD Board Member, parents, community, business representatives and FHS students, to provide guidance and leadership as we work to prepare 21st century students to live prosperous lives.  Below you will find the Core Beliefs the committee developed and our FISD Board adopted in June 2016.

We believe that each individual is unique.

We believe character values are the building blocks of a prosperous life.

We believe in a strong work ethic.

We believe mutual respect is the foundation for a safe and nurturing environment.

We believe that helping one another strengthens our community.

We believe education is a shared responsibility throughout the community.

We believe effective communication is vital to success.

We believe that life-long learning cultivates personal growth.

We believe that everyone deserves access to a quality education.

We believe that in failure there is opportunity for growth.

Throughout the school year I will elaborate on each of these Core Beliefs and share how we, as a District, are committed to making them a reality.  People may come and go, time may pass, but these core beliefs, which represent our Floresville community, will remain the same. 

A special thank you to the committee members who worked hard to accomplish the task at hand.  I appreciate your commitment to the process and being willing to take risks and share your thoughts and ideas, to develop Core Beliefs we can all be proud of and strive to work toward.

Victoria Carter, Madelynn Castro, Kim Cathey, Jana Clarke, Irene Ferry, Denise Frye, Nick Gawlik, Karissa Jarzombek, Tami Kensing, Daelah Laskowski, Denice Lyssy, Sylvia Madero, Justin Marshall, Diana Morlang, Adrianna Nieto, Maria Perez, Nancy Puckett, James Rethaber, Melissa Rodriguez, Clay Rosenbaum, Anna Rubio, Nick Silva, Virginia Silva, Penny Smith, Michelle Talley, Cynthia Torres, Josie Trevino, Allison Woefler

When you consider everything that happens the first week of school, what all it entails and how many people it involves – it is a huge team effort.  I am excited, I am honored, and I am thankful for the opportunity to start my 22nd year as an FISD educator, where we are fortunate to have a team made up of FISD staff, parents, students, community members and businesses who are all working together to make sure our students are future ready.  

I just learned that three FHS Seniors, Justin Martinez, Marcos, Diaz, and Nathaniel Bell, who were enrolled in the Aerospace Academy at Alamo Colleges last year and completed a summer internship at CPS Energy in the Power Generation department as Instrumentation & Control Technician interns, will each receive a $2,500 college scholarship under the CPS Energy SITE program.  They have also been given an opportunity for a second internship as I & C Tech interns this coming summer under the CPS Energy SITE program.  I am so very excited for these young men and what their future holds!

This kind of opportunity cannot be credited to one person.  It includes the efforts of administrators, counselors, teachers, transportation staff, parents, businesses, and higher education all working together with one common goal – to prepare our students for a prosperous life.   If that isn’t a great example of teamwork, I don’t know what it is. 

 

Teamwork will drive our FISD success and I believe we are off to a great start for the 2016-17 school year!      

Floresville ISD is excited to announce that we are going paperless! After listening to requests, the days of receiving stacks of forms to fill out during the first week of school are over. Now, all required enrollment forms are online! The new electronic process will enable parents to fill out their child’s forms and submit them to the campus without even picking up a pen. The process is faster, easier and more reliable, eliminating repetition and should take no more than 15 minutes per student to complete.

Every parent/guardian of a returning FISD student was mailed a letter on August 1st explaining the process. New students to the district will register on August 3rd and 4th at the Floresville Middle School Campus, using the same online process. See the FISD web site for more information on new student registration.

In the years following, parents will only need to update information that has changed. FISD is pleased to be able to offer an online enrollment process, and welcomes your input so that we can continue to respond with an enriched experience for every parent/guardian and student.

State Board of Education Seeks Public Input About Assessments and Accountability

Floresville ISD educators, parents and community, please take advantage of this opportunity to have your voices heard and make an impact on public education by completing the survey about the state’s assessment and accountability programs. We, as individuals and a community, can have an impact on what standardized testing looks like for FISD students, but we have to contribute to the conversation.

 The State Board of Education (SBOE) is issuing a survey in English and Spanish to seek public input about the state’s current assessment and accountability programs and gather suggestions for future program development. The survey will be open online to all Texans through June 30.

 From October 2015 to March 2016, SBOE members held nine Community Conversations meetings around the state, meeting with more than 500 citizens to gather comments about the state’s student assessment and accountability systems. The online survey addresses the issues raised during the community meetings and allows for additional input from educators, parents, business people and students.

 The information gathered from the survey and the Community Conversations will be compiled into a report and presented to the SBOE for its consideration at its July 19-22 meeting. Once adopted, the report will be provided to legislative leaders and the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability.

 The 15-member commission, created by the Texas Legislature, is to make recommendations for statutory changes to the state’s assessment and accountability systems. The commission report is to be submitted to the governor and legislature by Sept. 1.

 The survey is available in English at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2762440/State-Assessments-and-Accountability-Survey

and in Spanish at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2851839/Encuesta-de-evaluaciones-y-responsabilidad-educativa-del-estado.

 

SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich said, "I felt it was important for board members to have in-depth discussions to learn what educators, parents, business people and others want from these two high profile programs. I believe our findings will be useful in shaping the next generation systems."  She encourages Texans to share the link to the surveys to encourage widespread participation.

Comments gathered at each of the Community Conversations are available at http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Leadership/State_Board_of_Education/SBOE_Meetings/Community_Conversations_about_Assessment_and_Accountability/.

 For more information about the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability, please visit http://tea.texas.gov/2804Commission.aspx.

FISD is committed to developing 21st century graduates who are life-long learners that are purposeful, innovative, collaborative and possess character traits that lead to success. No matter what the assessment or accountability system, our campuses will continue to pursue excellence based on a variety of student achievement measures, including; academic growth measured in multiple formats, fine arts, extra-curricular, community service, wellness, digital learning and 21st century workforce skills.  Working together, FISD educators, parents and community will prepare our students for a prosperous life.

May 2016 FISD Update

Here we are, the last day of school.  Thanks to each of you for making good things happen for our FISD students and staff every day of the 2015-16 school year! 

As public school educators, we never know with certainty what the challenges and celebrations will be each day.  At a meeting yesterday, we were reflecting on our processes and procedures as a result of the tornado on 10/30, and I was reminded of how fortunate I am to work hard every day with committed, focused, resilient people who wake up each morning and are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure our FISD students have every opportunity for success.  It’s what I love most about working at Floresville ISD. 

Thanks to everyone that shared their individual stories in this edition of the FISD Update. It tells the story of just how extraordinary our FISD students and staff are.  

I once heard someone comment that teachers don’t have the summer off, they just do a year’s worth of work in 10 months.  Thank you for that hard work and enjoy your summer vacation!

FISD Teachers Make Great Things Happen

“Who is Your Favorite Teacher” is an activity I have used many times when trying to illustrate the HUGE impact that teachers have on a student’s life. When you ask someone to think of your favorite teacher, what do they remember most? It’s likely not the content they taught you. What you remember is how that teacher cared about you, the time he or she took to get to know you, how you felt like you mattered, how you were inspired to be the very best version of yourself, or for some maybe it was just how, when you walked into that classroom, you knew you were safe.

During teacher appreciation week, it’s important to recognize all of the amazing things teachers do every day for students. Not only are they experts in their fields, they are planners, organizers, care givers and cheerleaders. They spend countless hours preparing to make sure every single student gets the best kind of instruction for their individual needs. They love and care about the success of their students, not just in the classroom, but also in their lives. It’s their mission and their passion. They believe in “their” kids like they are their own. And, they are…..every day from 8am until 4pm, teachers put 100% of their enthusiasm, expertise and love into making students smarter, more confident, kinder and ready for their futures.

FISD is fortunate to have the best of the best. Teachers who work tirelessly to make good things happen for kids.  FISD Teachers, thank you for being unwaveringly dedicated to your craft and your students.  I truly believe the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession and we cannot say thank you enough.  Thank you for making the world a better place by educating and caring for students.

The key message I delivered to FISD staff at our 2015 Convocation in August was about the importance of telling our FISD story. If we don’t tell our stories, someone else will. Unfortunately, sometimes, the stories that get told don’t involve the great things that public educators are doing to support students and make them successful.

As it turns out, there is an enthusiastic group of public educators and school boards in the Greater San Antonio area that feel the same way. They, like us, want to inspire support for our public schools and highlight the sustained, positive impact they make on students and communities. Business leaders from USAA, Toyota and CST Brands have also joined the campaign to help celebrate the wonderful, heartwarming, life-altering things happening EVERY DAY in public schools. FISD is happy to have been asked to participate in this important and worthwhile endeavor.

In addition to following our FISD webpage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I encourage you to follow Go Public to not only learn about our FISD story but also to see, in action, the amazing story of how public education is committed to preparing students to be future ready. We are excited that our Portrait of a Floresville Graduate identifies the many attributes that Go Public highlights in their campaign. We know that our graduates will be purposeful, innovative, collaborative and have character traits that lead to their success, and we are proud to share that with the Greater San Antonio Area through Go Public.

Public education has been a vibrant, productive part of our neighborhoods and communities for generations and is critical to a democratic society. Like all public school districts, FISD opens our doors and welcomes each and every student that walks through them. These students are cared for, nourished, and enriched with new ideas and taught new things. Thank you for your valuable contributions to public education and your commitment to making FISD students future ready.

The parent and community involvement this week has been incredible as we have had over 100 guest readers in the district celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Make sure to take a minute to look at our pictures from Read Across America Week on Facebook, and you’ll see that nothing can put a smile on your face like reading a Dr. Seuss book.  There is no doubt the highlight of my week was reading Oh, The Places You’ll Go to Mrs. Silva’s Kindergarten class at Floresville North Elementary. 

Inviting guest readers emphasizes the importance of reading and is another one of the many great stories FISD has to tell.  It takes FISD staff, parents and community all working together to make sure our students have every opportunity to be future ready.  No one person can do it alone.   

I wanted to take this opportunity to also share with you the Cross the Line and Elevator Stories that were published in February.  More amazing stories of public educators doing what is best for kids!   

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/551035 Crews and De La Garza Building Relationships

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/545755 New Student Mentoring Program at FISD

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/543344 Floresville Academic Scholarship Fund's Legacy of Giving

This has been another great week at FISD!  #FISDPublicAndProud #FISDGreatStaff #FISDGreatParents

Every Day is Digital Learning Day at FISD
 

Thousands of schools and communities will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Digital Learning Day today, February 17, 2016, taking part in the transformation of teaching and learning powered by technology. It is a day that challenges everyone to be actively involved in reimagining the education system and is an opportunity to remind our teachers and community of the need for innovation in our classrooms. 

 

Educators today have the challenging task of preparing students to be productive in the 21st Century, when no one is certain what students will need to know in their future lives.  In fact, we are preparing them for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  What we do know is that technology will be a major part of their lives; research tells us that by the year 2020 there will be more jobs in the technology field than people to fill them. 

 

Not only does FISD strive to be innovative in our delivery, but The Portrait of a Floresville ISD Graduates identifies the need to develop innovation in our students as well; FISD is committed to developing 21st century graduates who are life-long learners that are purposeful, innovative, collaborative and possess character traits that lead to success. 

 

FISD teachers and administrators have been, and will continue to be, intentional in our efforts to provide our students opportunities to be innovative and to use technology.  Be sure to keep up with our social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we document the many innovative practices on Digital Learning Day.   #FISDDigitalLearningDay #DLDay

FISD People & Programs Make a Difference

Throughout this school year, several times a month on social media and our FISD web site, I recognize a staff member who has Crossed the Line with their hard work, commitment, focus and resiliency.  We also share what we call an elevator speech, which is something you would say to somebody if you had 30 seconds to brag on the accomplishments of FISD.  In an effort to make sure these positive and inspiring stories of public education reach as many people as possible, and because I know not everyone participates in social media, I plan to also share these recognitions through my Superintendent Blog at the end of each month.  Below you will find links to our most recent stories:

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/540047     Making Great First Impressions – Ramona Ortiz and Eloise Medina

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/529302     Karissa Jarzombek and Kindness

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/534687     FISD Healthy and Happy

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/524176     Floresville Reads Millions and Gets Smarter in the Process

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/520434     FISD Teamwork

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/540167     Gaylyn Penlerick Going the Extra Mile

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/540170     Creating a Special Learning Experience at FNE Tricia Jarzombek & Valerie Enrique

http://www.fisd.us/apps/news/article/540171     Ben Reed Helping Children and Families

There are many great stories to be told and as a public school district we have so much to be proud of.  Working together, FISD staff, parents and community all play a critical role in our students’ success.  Thank you for your contributions.   

January is School Board Appreciation Month. Districts across the state are honoring the countless contributions of these elected promoters of public education. Floresville ISD has a group of community members who work hard to make sure Floresville ISD is a great place for students and staff alike. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Rachel Peña, Ryan Bippert, Bill Meuth, Penny Smith, Nancy Jurgajtis and Steven Ibrom for the countless hours they spend working for the students and staff of FISD.

 

This is a problematic time for public education. Funding, state mandated testing, negative media attention and many other factors make it especially challenging to serve on the Board of a public school. Our board members do it without hesitation. They make hard decisions that affect countless numbers of children and adults; they take on this daunting task because they believe that public schools are the foundation of the community.  Through these decisions, they ensure that FISD is a district of which we can be proud. They are advocates for teachers and students and show it in their willingness to do this difficult, time consuming and often thankless job.

 

Please take the time to thank one, or all, of our school board members. I could not be prouder to work with such a selfless and conscientious group of people. Thank you for making good things happen for our students, staff and community.

Doing Good at FISD

As we begin a new year, my thoughts turn gratefully to those who have made our successes possible – the FISD Staff and Floresville Community.  And in this spirit I say, simply but sincerely, Thank You and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year.

Attached is the special edition of the FISD Update – Great Things.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to read more about how FISD students and staff are “Doing Good” for others. 

My hope is that we ring out the old, but do not lose the lessons of the past that can make our future work better. 

FISD Students Remind Us Freedom Isn't Free

Collaborative planning for our 10th Annual FISD Veterans Day celebration event was well under way when the tornado struck the Floresville High School campus on October 30th.  Unfortunately, damages to locations where the ceremony was to be held forced us to cancel the event.  BUT, as you can see from the picture, not even an F2 tornado can take down the American Flag at FHS.  As I was walking through the 300 and 400 wing where most of the damage occurred, I stopped and stood speechless when I saw the American Flag still hanging from the wall of a math classroom.  As we were already in the midst of recovery planning, that flag was a great reminder to me of the strength, resilience and pride we have as Americans and reinforced for me the determination that FHS would make it through this crisis.

I purposely waited to make this post until the day after Veterans Day because I wanted to be able to share with our staff, parents and community the compilation of student speeches, “What a Veteran Means to Me”, http://www.fisd.us/apps/video/. These speeches would’ve been given at our district-wide ceremony and are too powerful not to share. In their own words, Lynnda, Montgomery, Jacie and Avery remind us that freedom is never free and we have the United States Military to thank for that.  We are so grateful to all the service men, women and their families for what they do for us each and every day. We honor them all.

FHS Recovery Plan, November 2, 2015
 
As the assessments of damage to Floresville High School begin to come in, I would like to share our recovery plan as it stands at this point.

Structural engineers began assessing the campus on Saturday, October 31st. After the initial assessment, engineers determined that both buildings had sufficient damage to warrant moving all operations out of the 100, 200, 300, 400 wings as well as the administrative offices, library and theater building. Repairs to the 100 and 200 wings and the administrative offices are estimated to be completed in approximately three weeks. There has not been a timeline determined for completion of repairs to the 300 and 400 wings. Engineers will be back on campus this week to continue assessing damage. Until these assessments have been completed, we cannot provide an accurate timeline or cost estimate for all repairs.

Currently, Floresville High School, the FISD Administration Building and the FISD Transportation Department do not have full network capabilities, making the telephone system at those locations inoperable. The main phone number for FISD Administration is working and calls are being routed to an alternate location and will be relayed via radio and cell phones appropriately. Crews are working diligently to repair damage to the fiber-optic network but, at this time, we are unable to predict a completion date.

Our most immediate concern is making sure that FHS students have a safe and appropriate place to receive instruction. Displaced classrooms will be temporarily relocated to the 800 wing, the practice gyms, the Tigers Den, and band hall. This week, the district will be moving portables into the parking lot in front of the practice gyms to house the administrative offices. This parking lot will also be used for parent and visitor parking.

FHS teachers will report to work on Tuesday, November 3, to begin planning instruction in their new spaces. After an update this morning from our catastrophe management firm, the earliest time students could return to school is Friday, November 6th with a release time of 12:30 p.m. FHS staff will share recovery plans and students will walk-through an abbreviated version of their class schedule to become familiar with new locations. We will provide more specific details about students’ return later in the week.

Beginning Monday, FMS and FSE bus exit, will be diverted to Highway 97 due to the inoperable traffic signal on Hwy 181. The FISD Police Department and local law enforcement will be utilized to direct and control traffic in those areas.

It is important to FISD that accurate information is provided to our students, parents and community. We will use the FISD website as well as social media to disseminate this information. Please use these resources when sharing information. For all other inquiries, contact Kim Cathey, FISD Communications Specialist.

I would like to thank the community of Floresville for their support during the clean up efforts and as we move forward with recovery. The outpouring of assistance and concern has been overwhelming. FISD and FHS have many challenges in the days and months ahead but I believe that with the continued support of our community and the dedicated leadership of the Board of Trustees and Floresville High School staff we are prepared to meet those challenges. We would ask for your continued prayers and patience as we make important decisions for the future of our district and the continued success of our students.