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November 2008
News from Houston A+ Challenge

Join Us for a 'Preparing to Dream' Community Kickoff
NCAN ConferenceThis Thursday, Nov. 13, superintendents, teachers, principals, students and parents from five Houston-area districts will share their unique, data-driven plans to increase college access and success among low-income students and first-generation college-goers.

The Preparing to Dream celebration will feature new projects launching in Aldine, Cypress-Fairbanks, Goose Creek, Houston and Spring Branch school districts.

Join Houston A+ Challenge, the National College Access Network, the Greater Houston P-16 Council, and the Preparing to Dream coordinating board for this kickoff event, held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13 at the University of Houston Athletic and Alumni Center. Space is limited; click here to RSVP.

This initiative is made possible through grants from Houston Endowment and TG, which recently invested $142,000 to help the five districts improve parent and student awareness of and engagement in college-going activities and programs.

Houston A+ Announces New Executive Board, New Trustees
Ann Friedman, Ph.D.Community volunteer Ann Friedman, Ph.D., has been named as Houston A+ Challenge's new Board Chairman. Victory Packaging Founder J. Victor Samuels has been named as President, and Thomas L. Elsenbrook, Managing Director of Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting, LLC, will serve as Secretary.

The Board of Trustees also welcomed three new members to the board: Shawn Gross, President of SAJG Investments, Inc., Gasper Mir, III, Founding Principal of Mir, Fox & Rodriguez, PC, and Bobby Tudor, Chief Executive Officer of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

Click here to read biographies on these board members.

More Info Sessions Scheduled for Aspiring Principals Academy
Houston A+ Challenge and partners from Aldine ISD, Humble ISD, YES Prep Public Schools, Teach for America and Rice University are holding a series of public information sessions for those interested in applying for the second cohort of the Regional Principal Leadership Academy.

The co-hosted events will give potential applicants a chance to speak with Academy faculty, this year's Principal Interns, and some of the partnering districts and organizations that support the Academy. At the Nov. 20 event at the United Way, attendees will also get the chance to hear about Rice University's Education Entrepreneurship Programs.

Houston A+ Challenge is now accepting applications and nominations for the unique, three-year program for aspiring principals. A maximum of 30 aspiring principals will begin the program in June 2009. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CST, January 12, 2009.

Did You Miss 'Disrupting Class' with Michael Horn?
Notes and video from Houston A+ Challenge's National Speaker Series event on October 15 are now online. About 150 educators and community members attended the free public event, where Michael Horn, co-author of "Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns," discussed the need to rethink our understanding of intelligence, reevaluate our educational system, and reinvigorate our commitment to learning.

School News

Nov. 11: The Future of Education with Fredrick M. Hess
Frederick M. Hess, Director of Education Policy Studies of American Enterprise Institute, will make an appearance at Rice University this evening to speak about his lively new volume, "The Future of Educational Entrepreneurship: Possibilities for School Reform." Rice University's Education Entrepreneurship Program and KIPP Houston are hosting the event at the Shell Auditorium at Rice University's McNair Hall, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. To RSVP, email reep@rice.edu or call Kenya White at 713-348-4343. Click here for more information.

Save the Date: Building a Coalition for the Children of Texas
The need for students to acquire 21st century workforce skills is clear -- professionalism, teamwork, collaboration and oral communication skills were rated 'very important' to future success by 70 percent or more of employers in a recent nationwide survey.

On December 10, the Education Class of the American Leadership Forum will host Building a Coalition for the Children of Texas -- a one-day conference that aims to build a coalition of educational, business, and community leaders who understand the importance of acquiring 21st century workforce skills.

The Conference will be held at Rice University.  Speakers will include:

    • Albert Myres, Senior Vice President, Government & Public Affairs, Reliant Energy
    • Dr. Uri Treisman, Executive Director, Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas
    • Dr. Daniel Goleman, Author of NY Times bestsellers Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships; and
    • Carol Comeau, Superintendent of Schools, Anchorage Alaska

    Click here to download a flyer

On The Bookshelf

Dr. Jim Knight, a research associate from the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, has authored a new book titled "Coaching: Approaches and Perspectives." The book contains a series of articles on coaching models for educators. Dr. Knight has authored several other books on coaching. From publisher Corwin Press:

"Coaching supports teacher development and puts teachers' needs at the heart of professional learning by individualizing their learning and by positioning them as professionals. With many different models available, administrators may find it challenging to determine the kind of coaching that best fits the needs of schools, teachers, and students.

This fresh new resource brings together the voices of recognized experts in the field—including Joellen Killion, Cathy Toll, Jane Ellison, Randy Sprick, Jane Kise, Karla Reiss, Lucy West, and Jim Knight—to present unique approaches for coaching teachers and leaders. Comprehensive chapters review the roles of coaches in schools, examine the research base on coaching, and provide in-depth discussions of specific approaches to coaching, including:

  • Literacy coaching
  • Cognitive coaching
  • Instructional coaching
  • Content-focused coaching
  • Classroom management coaching
  • Leadership coaching

Coaching helps readers make more informed choices about a range of coaching approaches to best serve the unique needs of their teachers and schools."


Nanotechnology for Teachers at Rice University
The Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) at Rice University is offering an evening, spring course on Nanotechnology for Introductory Chemistry and Physics Teachers. The program is designed for high school science teachers, although middle school teachers are welcome. Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses physics, chemistry, biology and environmental sciences. Award: No fees or costs; funded through the National Science Foundation. Accepted teachers receive class materials, 45 CPE credit hours and a $300 stipend* Eligibility: For chemistry and physics teachers. Deadline: Dec. 20.


Grantsformation puts the FUN in FUNding
Register for Grantsformation's first series of workshops in Houston:

  • Grant-writing for Classroom Teachers: 9A-4P.
    Need money for a super-cool special project for your classroom, grad level, or school? Whether you need $200 or $10,000, this one-day workshop will teach you everything you need to know to begin applying for - and WINNING - grant funds now. Fee: $125. Dates: Nov. 22, Jan. 24.

  • Writing for the Grant Reviewer: 9A-4P.
    There's nothing more disappointing than pouring WEEKS of your time and effort into a grant application that doesn't win. This hands-on workshop will show you how to write directly to and for the real, live human being who reads your words and assigns the points: the grant reviewer. This full-day workshop will have you leading the reviewer by the nose to victory on your behalf. Fee: $125. Dates: Jan. 10, Feb. 28.

  • Building a Powerful Grant Team: 9A-12P.
    Whether you are a "team of one" or have several interested colleagues who just need some direction, this half-day, roll-up-your-sleeves workshop will delineate all of the "character types" you'll need to cultivate to start winning grants now. If you DO have a team, bring them all, and leave with a plan. Fee: $90. Dates: Dec. 13, Jan. 31.

To register for these Grantsformation classes, click here.

Scholastic/Lexus Environmental Challenge
The Scholastic/Lexus Environmental Challenge seeks to encourage middle- and high-school students to develop and implement environmental programs for their communities. Maximum award: $10,000. Eligibility: Students grades 6-12 and their teachers. Deadline: Varies.

Astronauts Memorial Foundation: Technology in Education Award
The Astronauts Memorial Foundation's Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award recognizes excellence in the development and delivery of technology programs in the classroom or in the professional development of teachers. Maximum award: $500 and recognition at the 25th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO, March 30-April 2, 2009. Eligibility: K-12 educators and district-level personnel in the field of educational technology. Deadline: Jan. 16, 2009.

Surdna: Art Teachers Fellowship Program
Recognizing that art teachers often lack the time and resources to reconnect with the artistic processes they teach, the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship Program offers grants to enable selected teachers to make art with professionals in their disciplines and stay current with new practices and resources. Maximum Award: $5,500. Eligibility: all permanently assigned full- and part-time arts faculty members in specialized, public arts high schools.
Deadline: Nov. 14, 2008.

Albert Einstein Fellowships
Albert Einstein Fellows bring to Congress and appropriate branches of the federal government the extensive knowledge and experience of classroom teachers. Fellows provide practical insights and real world perspectives to policy makers and program managers developing or managing federal education programs. Maximum Award: Monthly Stipend +. Eligibility: Each applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Have spent at least five of the last seven years in a full-time teaching position;
  • Have been employed full-time in a public or private elementary or secondary school or school district in five of the last seven years;
  • Have a current teaching assignment with at least 3/4 of classroom contact hours in science, mathematics, and/or technology (applies to secondary school teachers only); and
  • Be a U.S. citizen at the time of selection.

Deadline: January 15.

Ciba Foundation: Science Teaching Awards
The Ciba Specialty Chemicals Exemplary Middle Level and High School Science Teaching Awards recognize teachers in one or more of the following areas: creativity using science teaching materials; design and use of innovative teaching plans and ideas; and development and implementation of department, school, or school-community programs that improve science instruction and/or stimulate interest in science and the learning of science. Maximum Award: $2,000, a one-year membership in the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and up to $500 to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education, March 19-22, 2009. Eligibility: Full-time classroom teachers. Deadline: Nov. 30.

Toyota/NCFL: Family Literacy Teacher Award
The Toyota Family Literacy Teacher of the Year Award is given to educators, selected by the National Center for Family Literacy, who demonstrate exemplary efforts to help parents and children achieve their academic and non-academic goals. Nominations must be placed online. Maximum Award: $7,500. Eligibility: any educator who strives to help families improve their literacy skills. Deadline: Dec. 5. 

AXA/U.S. News & World Report: College Achievement Scholarships
AXA Achievement Scholarships, presented in association with U.S. News & World Report, provide resources that help make college possible for qualified students. Maximum Award: $25,000, a laptop computer, and the offer of an AXA Financial Services internship.
Eligibility: high school students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who will graduate in 2009. Deadline: Dec. 15.

Science Teachers: Sylvia Shugrue Award
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Sylvia Shugrue Award for Elementary School Teachers honors a teacher who has established (or is establishing) an interdisciplinary, inquiry-based lesson plan. The lesson plan must fully reference information sources and any relevant National Science Education Standards and benchmarks found in The Atlas of Science Literacy. Maximum Award: $1,000, and up to $500 to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education, March 19-22, 2009, in New Orleans. The recipient will be honored during the Awards Banquet at the NSTA Conference.
Eligibility: full-time elementary school teachers (grades K-6) with a minimum of three years' experience. Deadline: Nov. 30.


Regional Principal Leadership Academy
(2009-10 Cohort)


November 11 
A National Middle School Summit
8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Pine Oak Middle School
4601 Glenmont St

November 11 
Frederick M. Hess
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Rice University, McNair Hall, Shell Auditorium
6100 Main Street

November 13 
Preparing to Dream Community Kickoff
4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Location TBD

November 13 
Info Session for Aspiring Principals
Co-hosted with Teach for America Houston and Yes Prep Public Schools
5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Dr.

November 20  
Info Session for Aspiring Principals
Co-hosted with Rice University Education Entrepreneurship Programs
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Dr.

November 18  
Differentiated Compensation in Education Symposium
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
InterContinental Houston
2222 W. Loop South

December 3
Info Session for Aspiring Principals
Co-hosted with Aldine ISD
4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
M.O. Campbell Center, Room 104, 1865 Aldine Bender

December 4
Info Session for Aspiring Principals
Co-hosted with Humble ISD
4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Humble High School
Large Group Instructional Area #1
1700 Wilson Rd., Humble

December 10
Building a Coalition for the Children of Texas
Hosted by the Education Class of the American Leadership Forum
7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Rice University, McNair Hall, Shell Auditorium
6100 Main Street

Statistic of the Month

Every 10 teacher absences lowers student math achievement by the same amount as having a teacher with 1-2 years of experience instead of a teacher with 3-5 years of experience. In addition, absences by public school teachers (who miss about 9 or 10 days a year, on average) disproportionately impact students from low income backgrounds.

Source: Center for American Progress

Houston A+ Challenge

2700 Southwest Freeway, Suite B
Houston, TX 77098-4607

Board of Trustees

Maconda Brown O’Connor
Founding Board Member

Ann Friedman

J. Victor Samuels

Thomas L. Elsenbrook

Susan A. Bischoff
Bill Crouch
Jonathan Day
Joe B. Foster
Roberto Gonzalez
Steve L. Miller
Karol Musher
Maconda Brown O’Connor
Harry Reasoner
Yava D. Scott
VJ Turner, Jr.
Andrea White
Rosie Zamora

Advisory Board
Leonel Castillo
Michael Dee
H. Devon Graham, Jr.
Jenard M. Gross

Houston A+ Staff

Scott Van Beck
Executive Director

Sheri Miller-Williams
Director, Leadership

Catherine Reed

Director, Finance

Melissa Milios
Director, Public Affairs

P. Tim Martindell
Asst. Director of Leadership in Teaching

Program Coordinators
Betsy Broyles Breier

Alejandro Morúa
Angela Prince/Curriculum Specialist
Mike Webster

RPLA Coaches
Marshal Dupas
Debbie Emery
Lawrence Kohn
Shundra Cannon
Rena Ramirez
Bonnie Roberts

Terrie Roberts
Events Coordinator

Administrative Assistants
Imelda Cardoza
Donna O'Neil
Lisa Stein

Tuan Amith