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April 9 - Updates and Thank you!

FISD Family

I want you to know that I am thinking about each of you during these incredibly difficult times. I think about how proud I am to be a part of a group of people who put other’s needs first every day. Every single staff member is working in new and innovative ways to take care of our students and their families. From taking care of their basic needs to facilitating their learning, you are making life better for Floresville Families. Thank you. I know it’s exhausting work and I appreciate you. With so many moving parts to our new way of doing business, I wanted to give you some updates as well as share some good news.

This was the first week of meal delivery to FISD students. Our Child Nutrition staff and Transportation staff have worked very hard to make this happen for our families. This week, 5,424 meals were delivered and 1,424 were distributed curbside. Since FISD started meal service, our Child Nutrition staff has prepared 27,508 meals for children.  This process has been incredibly difficult with TDA changing guidelines almost daily. I was on the bus today helping with delivery, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of everybody who has helped make this process work. 

Packet pick up has been another learning process, and I’m happy to report that it is improving every week. I want to thank all staff members making copies of the lessons our teachers are working so hard to create. Packet pick up is Friday for elementary students and Monday for secondary students. Next week we will begin delivering packets along with meals, to families who have been picking them up. 

Device deployment is moving along as well. The district’s first priority was to provide devices for secondary students taking Dual Credit or online courses. This phase has been completed. Now, we are able to move to the next phases of deployment, beginning with secondary students and prioritizing by grade level starting with 12th graders. Secondary parents were emailed yesterday and have been asked to complete a request form by April 10. Then, the district will deploy to elementary students again prioritizing by grade level. Elementary parents will receive the same email on Monday and be asked to complete the request form by April 15. If we have devices left after that, we will start over with secondary students. Thank you to our Technology Department for working hard to make devices available to our students.  

I know everybody is spending hours in front of screens. But, it is amazing that, right now, screen time is actually keeping us connected. Teachers have told us how happy their students are to see them and that students are enjoying sharing their animals, pets and home life with them. Even when they aren’t together, teachers are still building important relationships with students. Another important connection happening is with our parents who are getting to see teachers in action, maybe even for the first time. It’s a whole new world of connection. I know every campus has been having virtual staff meetings, and I want to thank the campus administrative teams for their leadership during what may be the most difficult time for education in our history. 

We are able to accomplish all of these things in safe and secure working conditions at FISD because of our Maintenance and Custodial staff who are literally covering our tracks as we all work to support FISD students.  Also, know that our Finance department has not missed a beat.  They have helped to ensure our kiddos are fed, our bills are paid and you will be too, as scheduled.  

Finally, I want you to know that our parents appreciate you. They see how hard teachers are working for their students. They see the meals being delivered. They see people at packet pick up. They see our counselors providing services. They are saying thank you on our social media and on their own pages. During meal delivery, today, I took the photo below. It brought tears to my eyes, but they weren’t sad tears, they were hopeful tears. This too shall pass, and we will come out better than we were before. 

Enjoy your day off tomorrow and enjoy Easter weekend. You deserve time to take care of yourself and your family. 

March-Honoring Those Who Make a Difference In Our Community

At FISD, we have three tournaments named in honor of local community members, The Jack Randall Relays, the John Velasquez Baseball Tournament and the Barbara Harvey Jag Classic. This week, at their namesake events, we honored Jack Randall’s and John Velasquez’s contributions to FISD Athletics and the Floresville Community. We will honor Barbara Harvey at the 2020 Jag Classic. It’s important for our students to make connections to people who have given of themselves to our community and their school. Plaques honoring Randall, Velasquez and Harvey will be hung in the FHS Gym so that we can all be grateful for their contributions. I want to thank Andrew Rohrs and Leroy Nitschmann for their hard work on this project. You can read more about our honorees from this week on Facebook. Jack Randall, John Velasquez 

February-The People of the Strategic Plan

When we talk about the FISD Strategic Plan, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the processes and lose focus on the people. Last week, Marcia Gonzales, FHS principal, and I met with a group of 40 high school students who volunteered to talk about the FISD Strategic Plan. We shared an overview of the plan and had conversations about whether they see some of those things in their classrooms.   
 
What we learned was that our students enjoy having a choice and a voice in their learning and that many of their teachers are giving them those opportunities. They are interested in having time during the school day to explore their interests. They have ideas about service-learning and what they could do to make their school and community a better place. They agree that we need to spend time making sure our students are socially and emotionally healthy. They even helped us brainstorm ways we might be able to add time into the schedule to do those things.
 
One thing is for sure, I learned so much from our students. They asked good questions and thought critically before answering our questions. I’m excited to continue these meetings throughout the year to get their feedback because, after all, this work is about them and making sure we are preparing every student for a prosperous life.

January - Thank you FISD Board of Trustees

January is School Board Appreciation Month and FISD joined districts across Texas to thank these community volunteers for their commitment and contributions to our public schools.
 
Being a Board member is difficult work. The Board is responsible for making tough decisions about policies and budgets that affect 4100+ students, 500+ employees and our entire community. I want to thank each of them for their focus on students as they make those decisions.
 
Next week, you will receive the 2019 FISD State of the District in your mailbox. In it, you will see the accomplishments of our students and teachers. You will also see the progress made during the first year of the implementation of FISD’s Strategic Plan. None of those things would be possible without the support of the FISD Board of Trustees. 
 
Thank you to Penny Smith, Bill Meuth, Rachel Pena, Heath Orth, Jason Svoboda, Alena Berlanga and Bonna Reed for the time and effort put forth to ensure a quality public education for ALL children. They are truly launching the next generation!

December 6

This week, some of our FHS and FMS students competed in the State Round of the Cyber Patriot competition. They compete in our own computer labs so I stopped by to learn more about what the competition entails. Debra Peri and Mr. Hineman are the coaches and Lt. Col. Kristy Leasman, Texas Air National Guard and FISD parent, mentors the teams. What I learned was that the competition is, to me, the least important thing happening in that room. In my opinion, the important things happening are much bigger and longer-lasting. Through Cyber Patriots, students are learning skills that translate directly into the workforce. In the competition, students are trying to figure out how to protect a mock company’s online presence. This is not like answering questions, it’s not just learning facts, it’s understanding facts and concepts then putting it all together to come up with a solution. It’s what we want students to do every day. Honestly, I can’t tell you if they were doing a good job or a bad job, but I can tell you that they were collaborating, thinking and engaged in their work. It was a perfect example of student-center learning where teachers are guides, but students are in charge of their learning. And, the good news is that it’s happening all over our district. As our Strategic Plan outlines, we are moving to a student-centered instruction model where students are given agency, a voice and choice in their learning. I am proud to be the superintendent of a district that continues to improve the way we teach and reach students.

Veterans Day...More than a Holiday - November 2019

This was the 15th year of the FISD Veterans Day Ceremony, and I can say with certainty that it was as meaningful as the first. The ceremony has changed in 15 years, and one of the most significant changes is that our students are the speakers, presenters and performers. From the placemats at the breakfast to the speeches at the ceremony, they are all created and delivered by our students. Students are doing more than listening about how to be grateful for the sacrifices of our veterans and their families; they are actively engaged in learning about and celebrating service to our country. At our elementary campuses, veterans were honored at assemblies and receptions and they even visited classrooms to speak to students about their service. On November 11th, FISD did not have a holiday for students. What we did have was far more meaningful in my opinion, a day where we took time with our families and community to honor the men and women who have given their lives to the service of our country. I’ll close with the words of Kaylee Loggins, FHS senior, and Veterans Day Ceremony speaker.

“Thank you for sacrificing the time away from your friends and family.  Thank you for sacrificing missed holidays and special occasions.  Thank you for sacrificing your safety so that we can have ours.  Thank you for being courageous so that we do not have to be.  Thank you for taking on the emotional, physical, and mental pain of war so that we do not have to experience it.  Thank you for fighting for us and our nation.”

Community – October 2019

If that word doesn’t make you feel happy, let me share some thoughts that may make you feel differently. During the third week of October, our entire community comes together to celebrate its heritage during the Peanut Festival. I love that our students are involved in so much of what the Festival is. From the first days, our Junior Historians, Athletes and FFA worked to prepare our city for the festivities. The Royal Court, made up of FHS seniors and elementary students, represent Floresville and our district at events all over South Texas. The seniors also serve as wonderful role models for our younger students. At the Parade, you can see our bands, cheerleaders, ROTC, FFA, Welding students and Tigerettes all smiling along the route. What people who aren’t from Floresville may not understand about the Peanut Festival is that it’s not necessarily about the ceremonial events, it’s about our Floresville Family coming together to make memorable experiences for every single one of us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen former students and their families excitedly run over to tell me about their lives after graduation. It’s about loving your community and the people in it. It’s difficult to explain and it’s special. It creates a sense of belonging and teaches our students how to be active participants in their community. It’s another reason I am blessed to be a part of this community and the #FloresvilleFamily.

For more information about the great things happening at FISD please visit the October 2019 Eye on FISD.

Investing in Our Students and Teachers – September 2019

When I became Superintendent, one of my goals was to revive our education foundation. Luckily, there were people in our community that didn’t just want to help teachers, they were passionate about it! In 2015, the Floresville ISD Education Foundation gave $5000 in grants. Last year, they gave $56,982 in grants. They did it by working hard, taking risks and believing in our community. They’ve enhanced our kids’ learning experiences with technology, flexible seating, new apps, new books and the list goes on. They’ve given grants to core content teachers, visual and performing arts teachers, CTE teachers, and club and organization sponsors. If you are wondering how you can help teachers at FISD, consider attending the FISDEF 2019 Gala on September 28th at the Wilson County Showbarn. Tickets can be purchased at the FISD Administration Building for $50 each. It’s a great night of dinner, dancing and live and silent auctions. But mostly, we would like for you to join us because it’s for the best cause I can think of, an investment in our teachers and students. I want to thank the members of the community for giving and the members of the FISDEF Board for their hard work to make great things happen for kids and teachers.

For more information about the great things happening at FISD please visit the September 2019 Eye on FISD.

Strategic Plan Collaboration – August 2019

Welcome to the 2019-20 school year! At FISD, we do our best work when we are collaborating with our parents and community, both inside and outside of our campus walls. This is evident, most recently, through our work on the FISD Strategic Plan, with over 100 stakeholders contributing to the process. We look forward to seeing that plan come to life as we strive to achieve the goals set by our stakeholders. Those goals are student-centered and charge FISD to ensure that each student will maximize their potential, be a lifelong learner who is prepared for their future, and be a contributing member of the global society. These are the things we want for our kids! I look forward to seeing each of you throughout the school year as we work together to support our students’ academic and social growth. Our doors are open and our hearts are full as we begin an exciting new school year with our Floresville Family!

 

For more information about the great things happening at FISD please visit the August 2019 Eye on FISD.