December 30, 2006

Houston A+ to Host Tony Wagner in Houston
A+ is hosting Tony Wagner on January 24, 2007 for the Houston A+ Regional High School Collaborative Network Conference to be held at the University of Houston Hilton Hotel. This is a group of 16 high schools in four districts that have been working together for four years on high school redesign and restructuring.  This year, the core leadership group—the principal and one other leader—from each school has used Change Leadership as the guide for its discussions and work.  On January 24th, each school will invite 15 to 20 other campus leaders to come together for further learning from and about each other. Dr. Wagner will address the group—up to 300 people—providing an overview of his work.  A+ is hosting a luncheon dialogue around leadership development with Dr. Wagner. The session will provide district leaders with the opportunity to learn more about the issues facing school principals and central office leadership and where there are opportunities to learn from best practices. Dr. Wagner is the co-director of the Change Leadership Group (CLG) at Harvard Graduate School of Education, chair of the Harvard Seminar on Public Engagement and member of the faculty of the Harvard Institute for School Leadership. Change Leadership, A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools published by Dr. Wagner and Robert Kegan is being used extensively through the existing A+ leadership networks across the Houston area.

Author Rafe Esquith To Speak in Houston
Rafe Esquith, author of Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, will speak about his new book in Houston Tuesday, January 30 at 7 pm. Esquith, a fifth grade teacher at Hobart Elementary in Los Angeles, has won the American Teacher Award, Parents Magazine As You Grow Award, Oprah Winfrey's Use your Life Award, the Compassion in Action Award from the Dalai Lama and the National Medal of Freedom, a presidential honor. His talk with be held at Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For more information call 713-523-0701.

29 Houston ISD Schools Among the Best in Texas
Texas Monthly Magazine's December 2006 issue published a list of the "Best Public Schools" in Texas. The list is determined by the Austin-based National Center for Education Accountability (formerly Just for the Kids), which is a research arm of the University of Texas. In Houston ISD, 18 elementary, 10 middle and one high school made the list. Of the 29 schools listed, 15 have been part of the Annenberg / A+ Challenge network: Briscoe, Cage, Condit, Rice, Sutton, White, DeBakey, Edison, Hamilton, Hartman, Johnston, Lanier, Pershing, Stevenson and West Briar. Also, 15 people and 13 schools are represented by alumni of the Houston A+ New Visions in Leadership Academy in the newly announced list. Other local districts also made the list: Aldine ISD had 14 schools represented, Spring Branch ISD with eight schools and Alief ISD with one school. In these districts, Anderson Academy, Grantham, Hoffman and Stovall have been part of the Annenberg / A+ Challenge network

K-5 Mathematics Initiative Featured in National Journal
The fall 2006 issue of Intersection: Mathematics Educators Sharing Common Ground highlights
The K-5 Mathematics Initiative as it celebrates its 6th year. The story, written by Patricia Lucey-Burks, formally the K-5 Math coordinator at A+ Challenge, gives an update on the initiative. The article details some of the initiative's activities, including the use of problem solving journals, and a trip teachers from Milne, Sutton and Walnut Bend elementary schools took to Fairfax, VA, last summer to learn how to enhance their teaching of mathematics and science. The author points out that in 2005, 66 percent of economically disadvantaged students in initiative schools passed the Texas Assesment of Knowledge and Skills, compared with 57 percent in non-initiative schools in the west region of Houston ISD, one measure of success of this initiative.

Houston A+ Challenge  Honored by Browning Elementary
Houston A+ Challenge received a Certificate of Appreciation from Browning Elementary School's Principal Bill Tarter to thank A+ for a grant that supported a mural installation in the school called, "Seeing the World Through Math and Science." The mural was unveiled December 8th at a public ceremony. The funding for the mural was part of a Focused Impact Grant from Houston A+ to create a powerful mathematical culture for students, teachers, parents and community members.

School News
Dr. Wanda Bamberg to become Aldine ISD Superintendent

Aldine ISD trustees have unanimously voted to name Dr. Wanda Bamberg to be the only finalist to succeed Nadine Kujawa as Aldine ISD Superintendent of Schools. The board is expected to vote on the matter during its regular meeting on January 23.
Dr. Bamberg is assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction and is a member of the Houston A+ Challenge Regional Senior Fellows. Dr. Bamberg received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from the University of Alabama and her doctoral degree from Sam Houston State University. She has 29 years of experience in the field of education and has spent 25 of those years in Aldine ISD. During her tenure in Aldine, she has also served as executive director of curriculum and instruction, director of curriculum and instruction, program director of intermediate and middle school language arts and program director of middle school language arts.

Scarborough Debate Team Wins Top Prize
The Debate/Speech/Theater team from Scarborough High School, part of the Houston Schools for a New Society Initiative, won first prize at the Riverdale High School National Invitational Tournament in New Orleans. This was the second year Scarborough has participated in this debate tournament in New Orleans, having established a relationship with the school after Hurricane Katrina.


January 9, 2007
Literacy Coach Training

January 9, 2007
School Improvement Facilitator (SIF) Meeting

January 11, 2007
School Sharing Visit
Pine Shadows Elementary

January 16, 2007
Literacy Coach Training

January 22, 2007

New Visions in Leadership Academy Cohort Meeting

January 23, 2007
Literacy Coach Training

January 23, 2007
School Improvement Facilitator Meeting

January 24, 2007
Regional High School Network Meeting Team Conference

January 25, 2007
Tony Wagner Leadership Luncheon

January 30, 2007
Literacy Coach Training

February 2-3, 2007
New Visions in Leadership Academy - Retreat

Statistic of the Month

Nationally, about 30 percent of the graduating high school class of 2004 earned credit in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.

source: National Center for Education Statistics

News at Houston A+

Houston A+ Challenge has elected Joe B. Foster as Chairman and Ann Friedman, Ph.D., as President of the Board of Trustees.

Mr. Foster, a member of the board since 1999, replaces Harry Reasoner as Chairman. Mr. Foster is the founder of Newfield Exploration Company and also serves on the board of several other local organizations and businesses.

Dr. Friedman, a member of the board since 1998, replaces Mr. Foster as President. Dr. Friedman, the former secretary of the Board of Trustees, is a licensed psychologist, former Adjunct Professor in the Department of Counseling Psychology at the University of Houston and also serves on the board of several other local organizations.


Educators at Space Academy Program
The Honeywell Educators at Space Academy Program funds five day scholarships for middle school math and science teachers at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. Recipients have 40 hours of intensive classroom, laboratory and training time, focusing on space science and space exploration, including participation in astronaut-style training and simulations and activities designed to promote life-long learning in a classroom setting.
Maximum Award: travel, accommodations, materials and five day tuition.
Eligibility: middle school (grades 6-8) science and math teachers.
Deadline: January 3, 2007.

Fully Funded 12-Day Study Tour of Japan
Toyota International Teacher Program allows participants to explore the country’s education, culture, environment and technology, and examine how these affect industry and society in Japan today.
Maximum Award: a fully funded 12-day study tour of Japan.
Eligibility: secondary school teachers in all disciplines nationwide.
Deadline: January 8, 2007.

Tech Savvy Award
National Center for Family Literacy Verizon Tech Savvy Awards recognizes exemplary programs that demystify technology for parents and enable them to better guide their children in the use of new media.
Maximum Award: $25,000.
Eligibility: 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, including community-based nonprofits, libraries and schools.
Deadline: January 12, 2007.

NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Grants
This grant program provides opportunities for teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff to engage in high-quality professional development and lead their colleagues in professional growth.
Maximum Award: $2,000 for individuals; $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study.
Eligibility: U.S. practicing K-12 public school teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff at public colleges and universities.
Deadline: February 1, 2007.

The NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants
This initiative provides funds to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). The proposed work should engage students in critical thinking and problem solving that deepen their knowledge of standards-based subject matter. The work should also improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.
Maximum Award: $5,000.
Eligibility: K-12 public school teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff at public colleges and universities.
Deadline: February 1, 2007.

Houston A+ Challenge
1415 Louisiana, Box 9
Houston, TX 77002
Staff List

Michele Pola, Ed. D.
Executive Director
Suzanne Sutherland
Associate Director/Director of Programs
Catherine Reed
Director, Finance
Nan Powers Varoga
Director, Public Affairs
Louise Deretchin, Ph.D.
Director, Higher Education
Program Coordinators
Mike Webster
Brandi Allen
Tim Martindell
Angela Prince
Alejandro Morúa
Public Engagement Coordinator
Terrie Roberts
Event Coordinator
Administrative Assistants
Imelda Cardoza
Benedicta Forson
Joan Zuniga
Tish Stringer, Ph.D.
Public Affairs / Webmaster
Suzanne Rodriguez
High School Intern

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