April 28, 2006

Houston A+ is accepting registrations for the 10th annual Fondren Reforming Schools Summer Institute (FRSSI), to be held at the University of Houston Hilton Hotel on July 25 and 26. FRSSI is an opportunity to interact with other educators and to learn how to make sustainable changes in our schools and learning communities. The Institute brings together teams of teachers, administrators, university faculty, parents, students, community members, business partners and support providers to share their successful strategies. This year's Institute will give school teams an in-depth look at two powerful and complimentary approaches from educational experts Tony Wagner and Philip Schlechty. Dr. Wagner will be a keynote speaker at the conference. To register and learn more, go to the Houston A+ Challenge website.
Houston A+ will organize its third Wachovia Action Lab on May 10. The Action Labs are based on a design called a descriptive consultancy protocol created by the National School Reform Faculty. A group of schools receiving grants from Houston A+ to support fine arts curricula, as well as Houston ISD schools that support the fine arts, will come together to discuss a challenge faced by the host school in infusing fine arts curricula in other content areas. After listening to the host school's challenge, the guest educators will tour the host school, seeking signs of educational possibility and space for improvement. Following the tour, they will present and then discuss ideas for progress, which all the schools can then utilize.
As a result of the event’s growing success, Houston ISD is organizing a third Reach Out to Dropouts Day, now scheduled for August 26, 2006, with sponsorship from Houston A+ Challenge. Last year, more than 1,500 volunteers and district officials fanned out into neighborhoods around 16 high schools, helping bring 49 dropouts immediately back to school. Another 657 committed to return. Meanwhile, The Illinois College Access Network has expressed interest in adopting Houston’s approach to engaging the community to bring dropouts back to school.

Duke Energy has contributed $10,000 to support the 2006 Mathematics Summit for elementary school teachers and administrators. The day-long summit will offer a number of sessions on successful strategies educators can use in the classroom and with parents to improve student understanding of mathematic concepts. Dates for the fall summit will be announced at a later time.


May 1, 6, 8
Critical Friends Group Spring Training (Part 2)
May 10
Wachovia Action Lab: Fine Arts
May 13
Community-Wide Assets Conference
June 5-9

Teacher Externship Week
June 12-July 21
Houston A+ Challenge/Baylor College of Medicine Summer Science Internship
June 19-23
Schools Attuned Workshop

June 26

New Visions in Leadership Academy Celebration Dinner Class of 2005
June 27-29
New Visions in Leadership Academy Institute Class of 2006 Retreat
July 17-21
Schools Attuned Workshop
July 25-26
Fondren Reforming Schools Summer Institute X
August 26

Reach Out to Dropouts Walk
August 28
New Visions in Leadership Academy Cohort Meeting
September 25
New Visions in Leadership Academy Cohort Meeting

School News
Aldine ISD Schools Win National Magnet School Awards
Reed Academy and Aldine Academy have been chosen for National Magnet School Awards. Principals Gina Rigsby and Deborah Hagood received the awards during the Magnet Schools of America conference in Omaha this week. Both schools are recipients of a Focused Impact grant from Houston A+ Challenge.
Sarabia Is Central Region Principal of the Year
Samuel Sarabia, principal at Roberts Elementary School, has been voted Central Region Principal of the Year at Houston ISD. Mr. Sarabia has participated in the Houston A+ Challenge network of schools for many years. He is a fellow of the A+ Challenge Leadership Academy Class of 2000 and a Leadership Academy coach. His school received a Focused Impact Grant in 2004 to further develop the fine arts curriculum at Roberts. Before going to Roberts, Mr. Sarabia was principal of Port Houston Elementary, one of Houston A+ Challenge’s Lamplighter schools.
Waltrip Students Exhibit at MFAH
Students from Waltrip High School will exhibit prints inspired by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through June 25. Twenty-seven works from 21 students, as well as a piece from the students' mentor, artist Armando Rodriguez, will be on view. Museum educators developed an extensive program in coordination with Waltrip to teach students about Basquiat and how the museum operates. Students were given a behind-the-scenes look at the museum, as well as a detailed tour of the recent Basquiat exhibition. Waltrip High School is one of four recipients of a Houston A+ Challenge grant to create models of how to redesign a large high school so that all students graduate with knowledge and skills to succeed college and the workplace.
A+ Network Schools in Top 10 List
The Houston Press has published its list of the top 10 high schools in the Houston area (one through five, six through 10 ). Five are closely involved with Houston A+ Challenge. They are Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions (Houston ISD), YES College Preparatory School (state charter), Memorial High School (Spring Branch ISD), Aldine High School (Aldine ISD), and Kingwood High School (Humble ISD). All five schools have received grants from Houston A+ Challenge and participate in the A+ Challenge network of schools.
Empowerment To Present at National Conference
Empowerment College Preparatory High School will offer a presentation entitled, "Strategic School Planning with Students at the Center," at the Coaliton for Essential Schools (CES) Small Schools Summer Institute in Denver July 10 to 14. Empowerment will share lessons from the school's first year, said Misha Lesley, principal. The Summer Institute will include workshops, discussion groups, and planning time dedicated toward creating or refining small schools, as well as converting large comprehensive schools into small schools. For more details, visit the CES website.

McClellan Honored by UH Alumni Group
Anne McClellan, director of T-STEM for the Texas High School Project, will receive the Educational Leadership and Cultural Studies Award from the University of Houston Alumni Organization at a dinner May 12. Before joining the Texas High School Project, Dr. McClellan opened Challenge Early College High School, a joint project of Houston ISD, Houston A+ Challenge and Houston Community College. She also was principal of Poe Elementary School, an A+ Challenge Lamplighter School, and is a fellow of the A+ Challenge Leadership Academy Class of 2000.

Business Partners Needed
Houston A+ needs 40 more business partners to participate in the 2006 Teacher Externship program, which will place 100 teachers in area companies and non-profits from June 5 to 9. Externships connect classroom teachers to business professionals in their field of study to make students’ learning experiences more relevant to the workplace. The Greater Houston Partnership, which created the program with A+ in 2003, is recruiting area businesses. Recently, Berea College in Kentucky has begun to study the program, as it seeks professional development and capacity-building models for over 700 educators in five counties. Applications to host a teacher or apply for an externship can be found on the Houston A+ website.
Community-Wide Assets Conference
The Community-Wide Assets Conference – a collaboration between the Houston Mayor’s office, Houston A+ Challenge, Houston ISD, and dozens of other local organizations – will take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 13, 2006. The focus of the conference is to explore the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, concrete positive experiences and qualities to influence and guide young people. The conference intends to show how Houston’s local community can recognize and nurture assets for achievement, support, social competency, empowerment, teamwork, and success. 1200 people have been invited, including parents, educators, students, and community leaders. Read more about the conference and register to attend on the Houston ISD website

Convocation Materials Available
Executive summaries, along with materials from the breakout sessions, from the American Leadership Forum/Houston A+ Challenge Convocation on Public Education are available on the A+ Challenge website.
WEST Also Used to Share Curriculum
The Web Enabled Student Transfer System, or WEST, allows districts and schools to electronically deliver transcripts back and forth. More than 250 school districts in Texas (about 25%) are using the system. Recently, Aldine ISD began using WEST to send transcripts directly to colleges. By increasing efficiency and the ability to keep track of a mobile student population, WEST has saved school districts an estimated $6 million in transcript delivery fees, according to Triand, the company that developed the system. WEST is also being used to share curriculum, such as lesson plans and resources, across district borders. WEST was developed after a meeting of the Greater Houston Partnership Education and Workforce Development Committee in which the Houston A+ Challenge offered to raise funding to pilot the web-based record transfer system. Houston Endowment awarded A+ a grant for the pilot.

Schools Attuned Training Available Free
Schools in the six districts that partner with Houston A+ Challenge (Aldine, Alief, Houston, Humble, North Forest, Spring Branch) are eligible to participate in two Schools Attuned summer professional development sessions being offered in Houston by All Kinds of Minds. The sessions are June 19-23 and July 17-21. The sessions are available to the schools at no cost through a grant from the Brown Foundation.
Summer Schools in the Arts Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is now accepting applications for its Summer Schools in the Arts program. The program is designed to enhance the quality and availability of arts education throughout the nation by supporting summer arts programs. Nonprofit organizations with 501 (c)(3) status and at least three years of arts education experience should submit a statement of interest in the program by May 22. Relevant proposals will serve children and youth between the ages of 5 and 18. Read more about the program on the NEA’s website.

Statistic of the Month
Did you know?
Texas ranks second in projected increases in K-12 public school enrollment through 2014. The number of students is projected to grow by 15.6 percent, second only to Nevada at 28.4 percent.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Houston A+ Challenge
1415 Louisiana, Box 9
Houston, TX 77002
Staff List
Michele Pola, Ed. D.
Executive Director
Suzanne Sutherland
Director, Programs
Jeff Gentry
Director, Finance
Nan Powers Varoga
Director, Public Affairs
Louise Deretchin, Ph.D.
Director, Higher Education
Jon Forde
Program Coordinators
Macario Garcia
Patricia Lucey-Burks
Tim Martindell
Alejandro Morúa
Angela Prince
Event Coordinator
Terrie Roberts
Administrative Assistants
Imelda Cardoza
Benny Forson
Joan Zuniga
Michael Powell, Ph.D.
Public Affairs Intern

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