November 30, 2006

Houston A+ Wins Bank of America Award
Houston A+ was selected as a $200,000 recipient of the 2006 Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builder award through their Neighborhood Excellence Initiative.The Houston A+ Challenge and The Mexican Institute of Greater Houston were recognized at the Bank of America awards ceremony on November 16 for their commitment to the growth and vitality of Houston. The Neighborhood Excellence Initiative was designed to recognize, nurture, and reward organizations that are helping their neighborhoods achieve excellence
. With this award, Houston A+ Challenge will award more teachers as researchers grants, which will allow educators to conduct research inquiries about their practice and make their work public.

Top Ten Questions to Ask Schools About Education
The Give Kids Good Schools web site has tips to help you talk to principals about high quality instruction for all students. The website has a list of 10 important questions. Here is a sample:
-What are your top priorities for improving public education?
-What will you do to improve the quality of public schools?
-What is your plan to provide adequate funding for all public schools?
-How will you support the goal of high achievement for every student?
Like to read the others? Click here.

Academy Leadership Statistics
An analysis of the Houston A+ Challenge New Vision in Leadership Academy classes shows that 203 people attended Leadership Academy classes between 2000 and 2005. Twenty-eight percent of the 203 fellows have been promoted since attending. This is up from 24% last year, and only 6% of the fellows have left the profession. These numbers are the evidence of the growing knowledge and capacity of leadership around schools in the Houston area.

Carmen A. Sarnicola Award for Houston A+ Challenge  
Houston A+ Challenge has received the Carmen A. Sarnicola Award for excellence in communications from the Public Education Network at the 16th annual PEN conference. Houston A+ Challenge won the award for "The New Faces of Education: Annual Report of 2004-2005." The Carmen A. Sarnicola Awards Program recognizes and encourages excellence in communications by local education funds.

Houston A+ Challenge featured in DonorHouston
Houston A+ Challenge is featured in DonorHouston, a new tool from the Greater Houston Community Foundation for funders. DonorHouston Online is a powerful resource to inform, empower and enrich charitable giving in Houston -- with benefits for donors, nonprofits and the community at large. It is a tool to connect nonprofit organizations with potential donors. 


December 4
New Visions in Leadership Academy Cohort Meeting
December 5
Literacy Coach Training
December 5
Regional High School Network Meeting
December 5
School Improvement Facilitator (SIF) Meeting
December 6
Regional High School Network Meeting
December 12
Literacy Coach Training
December 12
School Improvement Facilitator (SIF) Meeting
December 19
Literacy Coach Training

Statistics of the Month
The percentage of children ages 5 to 17 whose parents completed high school or above increased from 76% in 1979 to 88% in 2001.  Parents having completed a bachelor’s degree or higher increased from 19% to 31% during that same time period.
Source:The National Center for Education Statistics

News at Houston A+
Suzanne Sutherland, Director of Programs, has been promoted to Associate Director/Director of Programs. Ms. Sutherland came to Houston A+ as Executive on Loan in 2005. Before that she was the inaugural principal at Pin Oak Middle School in Houston ISD.

School News
International Education Week

The Houston Academy for International Studies, a joint venture between The Asia Society, Houston A+ Challenge, Houston Independent School District and Houston Community College System, participated in several activities to celebrate the 7th annual International Education Week, November 13-17. The school participated in ISA’s Model UN conference in San Antonio, hosted guest speakers and competed in the Houston World Affairs Council’s International Extravaganza. The theme of 2006 International Education Week was “International Education: Engaging in Global Partnerships and Opportunities."

Anastasia Lindo Promoted
Anastasia Lindo, New Visions in Leadership Academy coach, has been promoted from principal at Robinson Elementary School to principal at Paul Revere Middle School in Houston ISD. Lindo was a fellow in the Houston A+ Challenge New Visions in Leadership Academy class of 2002.

Magnet Merit Award Winners
On October 23, Reed Academy and A.B. Anderson Montessori Academy from Aldine Independent School District won Glen Hendricks MSTX Merit Awards, which are the highest awards presented by Magnet Schools of Texas.  Gina A. Rigsby, the principal of Reed Academy, and Stephanie Y. Rhodes, the principal of A.B. Anderson Montessori Academy, are members of the Houston A+ Challenge New Visions in Leadership Academy class of 2001 and are both currently leadership academy coaches. Magnet schools are public schools whose curriculum centers on a theme or instructional theory. The award examines five areas of specificity: 1) Plan of Operation, 2) Quality of Personnel, 3) Quality of project Design, 4) Academic Achievement and 5) Meritorious Distinctions.  Magnet programs that achieve a cumulative score of 90 or above receive the award.

Helms Chosen to be International Spanish Academy
Helms Community Learning Center, a Houston A+ Challenge Beacon school, is among four Houston ISD schools chosen by the government of Spain to be "International Spanish Academies." Helms is among the four Houston ISD schools to be the first in Texas to participate in dual-language programs. Houston ISD’s dual-language immersion program helps students to become fluent in both English and Spanish. Visit the International Spanish Academy (ISA) website for more information.

2nd Space Exploration Conference
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2nd Space Exploration Conference will be held in Houston December 5-6, and is offering two opportunities for teachers. “Out of This World Teacher Workshop ” will be held in the Houston Museum of Science, December 2, and teachers will visit the planetarium, participate in hands-on sessions, four curricula, gain continuing education units and attend a networking luncheon for a nominal fee. On December 5-6, “Exploration Alley” will be held at George R. Brown Convention Center for teachers to bring their students to the Ultimate Field Trip. There will be also an exhibit from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for students with hands-on activities, tours and presentations. For more information about the opportunities for teachers visit the AIAA website.

Pursuing Excellence
C-STEM Teacher & Student Support Services Inc.  will host academic and business leaders at the United Way Community Resource Center on Dec. 6 to launch a series of public forums to inspire and encourage Texas students’ interest and achievement in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Titled "Pursuing Excellence: Bridging the STEM Gap to Ensure a Competitive Workforce," the forum will take place in a focus group setting designed to promote discussions, share promising practices, participate in interactive activities and meet community STEM leaders to assist in enhancing student learning around science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Regan Flowers, Leadership Academy Fellow Class of 2005, will hold public forums Jan. 10, 2007, and Feb. 1, 2007. All meetings are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the United Way Community Resource Center.

A New Opportunity for School Districts
Education Development Center (EDC) and SummerMath for Teachers announced The Mathematics Leadership Program (MLP): Which is a coordinated professional development experience for educational leaders.   School systems can send teams to any or all of the three institutes:
-DMI Leadership, to work on learning to facilitate a Developing Mathematics Ideas seminar, will be offered in two time blocks:  July 8 to July 20, 2007 and July 22 to August 3, 2007. 
-Professional Development for Coaching, to develop coaching skills and insights, will be offered from July 15 to July 20, 2007. 
-Lenses on Learning for Administrators, to examine the administrator’s role as a leader in mathematics education, will be offered from July 15 to July 27, 2007.
All institutes will take place at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA. For more information consult MLP website or e-mail.

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

Michele Pola, Ed. D.
Executive Director
Suzanne Sutherland
Assosciate Director/Director of,Programs
Catherine Reed
Director, Finance
Nan Powers Varoga
Director, Public Affairs
Louise Deretchin, Ph.D.
Director, Higher Education
Program Coordinators
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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