December 21, 2005

Set to open in August of 2006, the International High School is a new Houston ISD model school to both prepare students for college and develop their international knowledge and understanding of world cultures. It will be a small school, with no more than 400 students in grades 9 through 12, located on the Houston Community College System Central Campus. In addition to the Houston ISD core curriculum, students will complete a global studies program. They also will be required to complete at least four years of foreign languages, two service-learning experiences, an internship program, and a Senior Project concerning international topics.

Prospective students and their parents can find out if International High School is right for them. Personal information sessions will be held January 7 and 11; February 2 and 11; and March 4 at Lanier Middle School, 2600 Woodhead St. in Houston. For more information, contact International HS Principal Melissa Jacobs at or 713-293-9700 for more information or to arrange a personal appointment. Applications for the International High School can be found online. The International High School is a joint venture of The Asia Society, Houston A+ Challenge, Houston ISD and Houston Community College System.

How has the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act impacted education in your school? Houston A+ Challenge and Austin Voices for Education and Youth will conduct a public hearing organized by the Public Education Network (PEN) on January 12, 2006, in Austin to discuss the matter. This event hopes to bring to light viewpoints from groups not usually heard from at such hearings: parents, students, and community members. PEN is organizing similar hearings in nine other communities across the nation and will take these viewpoints to the White House and Congress, allowing our local voices to be heard in Washington. If you are unable to attend the hearings, you can share your opinions by filling out an online survey from the PEN website. The No Child Left Behind legislation comes up for reauthorization in 2007.

Wachovia Foundation Contributes to Action Lab Series
The Wachovia Foundation has made a contribution of $10,000 to Houston A+ Challenge to establish the Wachovia Action Lab Series. The program aims to engage teachers and other educators, examine current research and best practices, provoke discussion, and offer concrete next steps to improve teaching for increased student achievement. There will be three Action Labs: adolescent literacy and numeracy, fine arts, and how to put the community back into community schools. The series was created in direct response to the feedback and needs stated by participants of the 9th annual Fondren Reforming Schools Summer Institue (FRSSI).

January 12
NCLB Hearing
Austin, TX
January 24-25
TAPE Conference Austin, TX
January 26
Literacy Leaders Luncheon
February 2
Regional Senior Fellows
February 9
Wachovia Action Lab: Community Engagement
February 25
Next Steps: CFG Facilitative Leadership
March 22
Wachovia Action Lab: Adolescent Literacy and Numeracy
April 15, 17, 22, 24, 29
CFG Spring Training Seminars

April 6
Regional Senior Fellows

April 8
Taking the Next Steps
May 6, 8
CFG Spring Training Seminars
May 10
Wachovia Action Lab: Fine Arts
For details, click on Calendar at

Changes at Houston A+ Challenge
Terrie Roberts has joined the staff of Houston A+ Challenge as the Event Coordinator. Terrie was operations manager at Professional Packaging Systems for more than nine years and also runs her own catering business. She is currently pursuing a degree at the University of Houston in computer graphics.

Based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trends results, the percentage of 9-year-olds indicating that they were reading more than 20 pages per day:
1984: 13%
2004: 25%

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

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ASNE High School Journalism Institute
A free and vital press is a cornerstone of democracy and critical thinking and writing skills are a cornerstone of education. The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) invites high school journalism teachers, newspaper advisers, and other administrators to apply to their High School Journalism Institute, whether they have experience or are looking to start a newspaper at their school. It's an intensive two-week newspaper journalism training program for high school teachers, focusing on core values of journalism and skills needed to produce a high school newspaper. The Institute aims to enable teachers to help students start a paper, improve an existing paper, enhance journalism teaching, and share their Institute experience with colleagues. The Institute will take place at the University of Texas at Austin from July 16 to 28. Applications can be found online and must be postmarked by February 20. ASNE is a non-profit professional group whose members include top editors of the nation's daily newspapers.

TAPESTRY Program Grants for Science Teachers

The TAPESTRY program, sponsored by Toyota and administered by the National Science Teachers Associations, is offering grants for K-12 science teachers. Grants will be awarded in three categories: environmental science education, physical science education, and literary and science education. Teachers must submit a proposal describing a science education project and its expected impact on students. Proposed projects should promote exciting and innovative activities to motivate students in science.
Any teacher spending at least 50 percent of their time or two classes a day teaching science is eligible. The program will award 50 grants of up to $10,000 and at least 20 mini-grants of $2,500. Read more details about how and where to apply on the TAPESTRY program website.

Pershing Teachers to Present at NCTM
Caren Grant and Richard Parr, math teachers at Pershing Middle School, will present a poster session at the 2006 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Houston A+ Challenge awarded Pershing a Focused Impact Grant to support a whole school reform endeavour in mathematics. The poster session is based on research evaluating Focused Impact at Pershing in its first year of operation. Pershing also received support from the Rice University School Mathematics Project.

Educator Resources
"Ask a Scientist" Web Resource

Students and teachers are encouraged to visit a website called "Ask a Scientist" and question scientists on any number of (non-homework) issues. It's an opportunity to ask experts some basic questions and hopefully provoke young minds, engaging their curiosity in thinking about science. In addition, you can read previous questions and their replies, such as "How are memories retained?" or "How do cells communicate?" "The future of science is dependent on encouraging young scientists, fostering their interest and enthusiasm," says Jennifer Berman, one of the "Ask a Scientist" participants and predoctoral fellow at the University of California—San Francisco. is operated by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.