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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.

October is Principal Appreciation Month

The role of the public school principal has changed dramatically over the years. The principal’s primary task is much more than handling discipline, ordering supplies, and addressing personnel issues.  In addition to the administrative and building management duties, today, our principal’s main responsibility is student learning.  They are asked to focus on curriculum and instruction as well as collecting, analyzing, and using data to improve student achievement.  In addition, they are expected to rally students, teachers, and the community to help achieve these goals. School leadership is vital to the success of all students. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has proclaimed October 2015 as “Principals Month” in Texas.  Floresville ISD would like to recognize our elementary and secondary school leaders for their positive contributions on student achievement.

Floresville South Elementary:  Shelley Keck, Leanne Marshall, Charlott McReynolds
Floresville North Elementary:  Mike Schroller, Laura Bippert, Heather Brooks
Floresville Middle School:  Marcia Gonzales, Jane Brown, Celeste Rodriguez
Floresville High School: Ashley Chandler, Rick Rios, Benny Villanueva
Floresville Alternative School:  Bud Box, Jim Davidson, Mike Duffek

 Thank you FISD Principals and Assistant Principals for your commitment, hard work, focus and resiliency in doing what’s best for kids! 

October is National Bullying Awareness Month

As Floresville ISD strives to build a community of character, we will take numerous opportunities in October, to highlight our expectation to promote an atmosphere of care and respect throughout the entire school year.  Many of the student and campus activities will be posted on our FISD web site and social media as well. 

On Monday, October 5th, please join FISD by participating in Blue Shirt World Day of Bullying Prevention, by wearing something blue.  Let’s show our solidarity to stop bullying and cyberbullying.  Together we can prevent bullying!

Our FISD School Board and Staff will sign a Declaration of Respect.  As caring adults we will pledge to help bullied students by listening carefully to ALL students who seek our help and act on their behalf to put an immediate stop to bullying.  We are committed to working with other caring adults to create a safe environment for ALL students in Floresville Independent School District.

You are also invited to join our students and staff in accepting Rachel’s Challenge, a simple challenge to treat others with kindness and compassion which may start a chain reaction of the same.  If you have an act of kindness that you would like to add to our FISD and Community Chain, send an email to Mary Carrillo at mcarrillo@fisd.us .  Recognizing acts of kindness is an excellent way to reinforce its importance.

FISD is committed to developing 21st century graduates who possess character traits that lead to success.  With students, parents, staff and community working together, graduates of FISD will act with respect and integrity, contributing to the greater good. 

FISD & the Greater Good

The importance of good character has been, and will continue to be, a focus at FISD.  Our character is what determines how we respond to the situations and circumstances of life.  It is much more than just what we try to display for others to see; it is who we are, even when no one is watching. Good character is doing the right thing because it is right to do what is right.


The Portrait of a Floresville ISD Graduate illustrates our district’s commitment to develop 21st century graduates that possess character traits that lead to success.  It specifically identifies that with students, parents, staff and community working together, graduates of FISD will act with respect and integrity to contribute to the greater good.


Character Day was Friday, September 18.  This coming week you will see examples of how FISD participated in this international event dedicated to celebrating the importance of character in our schools and our communities.  Throughout this school year, you will hear from some students that have set examples of good character.  


Recognizing outstanding character is an excellent way to reinforce its importance.  At FISD Board meetings, we take pride in recognizing students, staff and community members who emulate the core values that are the focus of our districtwide commitment to character.  Those core values are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.  If you would like to make a nomination to be considered for the FISD Community of Character Award, please email me with the details.  Working together, FISD students will be future ready - prepared to be good citizens in their communities and in the work force.




Existing research has found most media stories about young people are negative.  You don’t have to wait long to come across stories involving young people involved in crime, violence, and social exclusion.  The media often reports stories in a sensational way that does not always represent reality.  Do kids always make the right decisions?  Of course they don’t.  Our hope is that they learn from those failures and challenges, and are resilient in their efforts to reach their goals.  I don’t know about you, but some of my greatest lessons have been learned from my failures, not my successes.


Instead of turning on the TV to hear about the small percentage of adolescents that have made bad decisions, one of the things I plan to do this year is share with our community the many good things that our FISD students are doing at school every day.  I am going to start with the hottest FISD social media post this week – Tiger football players greet very surprised and excited Floresville South Elementary students.  It has had over 520 likes on Facebook and with good reason.  Who would have thunk it?  Teenage boys wake up early and take time out of their busy day to greet elementary children with a smile as they arrive at school – now that is newsworthy.  This is just one of the many examples you will hear and see more about this school year, how FISD kids are caring, kind and respectful.  


As a public educator and superintendent of FISD, I am proud of our students, I am encouraged by their incredible achievements and thoughtfulness and I am optimistic about the future where our students will be the leaders.  FISD has great kids. 

After three days of campus meetings and staff development, I welcomed an energetic staff back on Tuesday at the FISD Convocation.   I began by talking about being “public and proud”, highlighting the accomplishments of Texas Public Schools and FISD.  My goal was for each teacher and staff member to recognize the difference they make to our students, our community and our world, to realize their impact. 

I want to deliver a similar message to the parents of FISD students and the community of Floresville.  Our FISD Board of Trustees believe that the public schools are the foundation of our community and that the community is a partner in preparing our students for a prosperous life.

FISD has a proven record of success.  We have closed the graduation gap by 7% since 2007 and with a 98.3% graduation rate, FISD is 10 percentage points higher than the Texas average.   As a public school, do we face challenges and is there room to improve?  Absolutely, there is always room for improvement!  I am confident, with the continued involvement of our parents and community, FISD can reach even higher heights.  I am proud of our work, I am encouraged by our incredible achievements and I am optimistic about the future of Public Education.

Parents and Community, your involvement in the education process is critical to our students’ success – Know Your Impact on FISD.

Great Things Happened!

As we have come to the end of the school year, I want to express my admiration for the job each of our  FISD employees do as we work hard together to prepare our students for a prosperous life.  I know that it is more challenging now that it has ever been, yet FISD is blessed with employees that are focused on what is best for kids, and are resilient in their efforts.  Negative comments and actions of those who would do away with public education cannot diminish the extraordinary effort that is demonstrated throughout our district on a daily basis and is illustrated in the last edition of our FISD Update for the 2014-15 school year.  I encourage you to take a few minutes to click on the link below to learn more about the amazing staff and students at FISD and how we are working together, and with our community, to make good things happen for other people.  I wish our students, staff and parents a safe and relaxing summer break.