April 2, 2007

Grant Wiggins to Discuss Deeper Learning
Join Houston A+ Challenge for the next event in our National Speaker Series, when we welcome Grant Wiggins April 23 for a public address at the Hilton of the Americas where he will discuss strategies for community memers to engage with schools to deepen student understanding. The next day, he will speak to school leaders and teams on how to use "backward design" to plan lessons with clear learning goals that effectively engage students in "authentic learning" activities. Grant Wiggins is president of Authentic Education in Hopewell, New Jersey, and is best known as co-author of the award-winning "Understanding by Design" curriculum materials.
Please RSVP for these events via e-mail or call 713-658-1881.

Hearing on NCLB Gathers Input for Congress
Thanks to the more than 250 parents, students, educators and community members who came to Reagan High School on March 27 for a statewide public hearing on No Child Left Behind. The following day, the Public Education Network delivered a synopsis (click here to read) of the Houston hearing during testimony before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Lawmakers are currently considering reauthorization of the 2002 law, which expires in September. Dozens of attendees to the Reagan event also recorded their opinions and ideas at the Houston A+ Challenge video booth; select interviews are now posted online. Click here to see a full wrap-up of the event.

Save the Date: Reforming Schools Summer Institute
Houston A+ Challenge's eleventh annual Reforming Schools Summer Institute will be held on July 24-25 at the University of Houston Hilton. The theme of this year’s institute is “Mobilizing the Forces of Change,” and will feature keynote speaker Michael Fullan. In his recent book, "Turnaround Leadership", Dr. Fullan describes what we must do in order to move our schools from adequate to excellent and to sustain that change over time. This free conference is open to schools as teams and limited to the first 300 requests received. Applications will be posted on the Houston A+ Challenge website later this week.

Call for Applicants: Principal, International High School
Houston ISD is currently seeking qualified candidates to apply for the position of Principal of International High School, a small school which will open on the campus of Sharpstown High in August 2007 with funding and support from Houston A+ Challenge and the Asia Society. International High School will offer a rigorous, college-prep curriculum aimed at developing students’ knowledge and understanding of world cultures. The school will open with a 9th grade class in August 2007 and add a grade each year, reaching its capacity of 450–500 students in 2010.

Who's Making Headlines
The 22 educators currently participating in Houston A+ Challenge's National Board training program were featured in the Houston Chronicle on March 6.

Quest High School in Humble ISD has been singled out in a new report by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Commission on the Whole Child. The report and Quest were featured in an article in Education Week.

Houston ISD Welcomes Dr. Mel Levine

Best-selling author and renowned learning expert Dr. Mel Levine, co-founder and co-chair of All Kinds of Minds, comes to Houston for two sessions on April 4. The morning session (8:30 to 11 a.m. at Wendell Neal Memorial Family Life Center, Lily Grove Baptist, 3505 Alice Street, Houston) is open to educators inside and outside of Houston ISD. Houston ISD participants can register for the session via E-Train; those from other districts should contact Brenda Lanclos directly via e-mail by April 2 to register. The afternoon session is open only to Houston ISD principals and central office staff members, and will immediately follow Dr. Saavedra's Principals Meeting in the HISD Administration Building Board Auditorium; registration is through E-Train.

Spring Branch ISD Welcomes Dr. Stephen Klineberg
Rice University professor Dr. Stephen Klineberg, author of the 26-year-old Houston Area Survey, will review recent findings during a special Community Conversation event at Memorial High School on April 4. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and is open to the Spring Branch community and beyond. Come hear what Dr. Klineberg has to say about Spring Branch and Houston -- today and tomorrow.

Calling all Business Leaders: 2007 Teacher Externship

Businesses are needed for our fifth annual Teacher Externship, scheduled for June 4-8, 2007. Houston A+ Challenge is grateful to Shell Oil Company for making a $100,000 investment in this summer's program, and the Greater Houston Partnership and Mayor Bill White's office are continuing partners in this weeklong job shadowing event. Externships are designed to connect classroom teachers with business professionals in their field of study, in order to make students’ learning experiences more relevant to the workplace. For more information, please contact Alejandro Morúa

Action Lab Offered for Critical Friends Grant Applicants
This spring, Houston A+ Challenge will award up to 10 Critical Friends Group (CFG) as Research Team grants to support teachers and administrators who seek to improve their classroom practice, advance teaching knowledge, and influence others to improve student learning. Grants of up to $10,000 over a two-year period are available; the deadline to apply is April 20, 2007. To help interested educators through the application process, Houston A+ Challenge will hold an action lab Wednesday, April 4 at 4:30 p.m. at Wilson Elementary School, 2100 Yupon Street Houston, TX 77006 (map). Application materials can be downloaded here. For more information on the grants or the help session contact Tim Martindell or call (713) 658-1881.

April 4, 2007
Critical Friends Group as Research Team Grant
Action Lab

Wilson Elementary

April 23-24
National Speaker Series
Grant Wiggins

Hilton of the Americas

July 24-25
Reforming Schools Summer Institute

Statistic of the Month
Nationally, About 610,000 of the roughly 2.7 million members of the class of 2005 took a total of 1.5 million Advanced Placement tests. About 380,000 of the students passed at least one test.

Source: Houston Chronicle

Changes at A+ Challenge
Last week, Houston A+ said goodbye to Dr. Louise Deretchin, after seven years of service as our Director of Higher Education. At Houston A+, Louise worked with universities and school districts to collaboratively reform teacher preparation. Among her accomplishments in her capacity as director, she established The Regional Faculty and the first National Board Certification candidacy program in the Houston area. Louise holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology and has taught in public schools in New York, California and Minnesota, and at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Prior to joining Houston A+ Challenge, she was Director of Medical Informatics Education at Baylor College of Medicine. Louise is a Fellow in the Association of Teacher Educators Leadership Academy, co-editor of the peer-reviewed research journal Teacher Education Yearbook and serves on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board P-16+ Council. As of next week, Louise will be enjoying spending time with her family, focusing on her other interests and consulting. We wish her all the best!

Terrie Roberts Honored for Volunteer Work
Houston A+ Challenge Events Coordinator Terrie Roberts recently received the Sue German Award for Excellence -- the highest honor awarded by Abydos Learning International, formally known as The New Jersey Writing Project in Texas (NJWPT). Every year since 1993, the organization has honored the memory of Sue German, an outstanding teacher and NJWPT Trainer, by presenting an award in her name to those who embody her characteristics: loyalty, grace, selflessness, honesty and dedication. Terrie received the award during the NJWPT's annual conference in March, and was honored for her diligent volunteer work to revive the organization's annual retreat: doing the logistical work, maintaining the web site and tripling the attendance numbers. Houston A+ Challenge's Tim Martindell won this award in 2001. Congratulations Terrie, we always knew you were excellent!

School News
Congratulations to New Local Spelling Champion
Thirteen year-old Brian Ajieren, a seventh grader from Westbrook Intermediate in the Clear Creek Independent School District, has been crowned the winner of the area-wide Houston Chronicle Spelling Bee. Brian won the contest after correctly spelling the word "peripteral". He will go on to represent Houston at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. May 27 through June 1.

Lend Kashmere a Hand Today to Pave a Brighter Way
Join Kashmere High School alumni, students, teachers, faculty, community members and Museum of Cultural Arts Houston (MOCAH) on Saturday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kashmere High School for the next Ram Rally to create custom tiles of hand prints for a mosaic design that will cover the Beacon Art project on campus. When complete, the Beacon will be a 24-foot-tall mosaic-tiled sculpture symbolizing 50 years of Kashmere's history. Houston A+ Challenge supports an ongoing fine arts partnership between MOCAH and Kashmere as part of our High School Network program. MOCAH uses art & creativity as tools for social and community development. Watch a video and read the Chronicle's coverage from the March Ram Rally.

Help Aldine Academy Provide WITS Scholarships
Aldine Academy is hosting the Writers in the Schools (WITS) Summer Program during the month of June 2007. The three-week camp will be taught by professional writers and local teachers at Aldine Academy, and is aimed at developing creative and analytical skills of K-5 students as young writers. The cost of attendance is prohibitive to a student population that is 80 percent low-socioeconomic status. WITS is providing five student scholarships, but their goal is to have at least four Aldine Academy students in each grade level attend. Aldine Academy is reaching out to any organization that would be willing to sponsor students to be part of this summer writing enrichment experience. For more information or to help, e-mail Principal Debbie Hagood or call the school at 281-878-1530.

In Focus With ... Natalie Herzog
Natalie Herzog took over as Assistant Director of Education at the Holocaust Museum of Houston in September. Find out how this former teacher is applying her Critical Friends Group work in her new job:

How did you first get involved with Houston A+ Challenge?
I taught for five years at Deady Middle School, three years at Milby High School, two years at Crockett Elementary and one year at Love Elementary. While I was at Milby, I got involved in a Critical Friends Group. I've been with the same Critical Friends Group for four years now.

Are you still teaching?
I'm no longer in the classroom, but every day I'm still dealing with education. I put together education groups and write curriculum for the Holocaust Museum, so I'm still working with a lot of teachers. I still use CFG work to run meetings and in other ways.

What specific forms of CFG work do you use on a day-to-day basis?
I put together a lot of student forums and groups -- I work with a lot of adjudicated juveniles and students on probation. They come to the museum for a three or four hour block of time, and we want to teach them about tolerance and co-existence. So I put together tours, and at the end I use the CFG protocols to start conversations with them about what they have learned, and how to take it back to their school communities. I use protocols to stimulate the conversation and keep it going.

I also teach teachers. The Holocaust Museum has a curriculum trunk program -- you can order a trunk from the museum that is filled with grade-appropriate lesson plans, videos, class sets of books and other resources. We have different trunks for elementary schools, high schools, some with a language arts focus. So I go out to different regions and teach teachers on how to use these resources, and also how to tie the Holocaust into the TAKS test by using the lessons to teach students critical thinking skills.

Sounds great. How do teachers order a trunk?
Just call me (713-942-8000, ext. 118) or send me an e-mail. All the information about the trunks is our web site, www.hmh.org.

Travel Program to Galapagos Islands

Toyota’s Institute of International Education is offering a professional development program for teachers to travel to the Galapagos Islands.
Maximum Award: Fully-funded, ten-day trip to the Galapagos
Eligibility: Teachers of grades 7-12
Deadline: April 23, 2007

Grants to Foster Inventiveness
Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams grants foster inventiveness among high school students. InvenTeams composed of high school students, teachers and mentors are asked to collaboratively identify a problem that they want to solve, research the problem, and then develop a prototype invention as an in-class or extracurricular project.
Maximum Award: $10,000
Eligibility: High school science, mathematics and technology teachers -- or teams of teachers -- at public, private and vocational schools; intra- and inter-school collaborations are welcome
Deadline: April 27, 2007

Innovative and Progressive Thinking in Education
The ING Unsung Heroes awards program recognizes innovative and progressive thinking in education.
Maximum Award: $27,000
Eligibility: Full-time educators, teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, and classified staff members with projects that improve student learning at K-12 public or private schools
Deadline: April 30, 2007

Prize for Young Heroes Who Help Communities
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors outstanding young leaders who have focused on helping their communities and fellow beings and/or on protecting the health and sustainability of the environment.
Maximum Award: $2,000
Eligibility: Youth ages 8-18
Deadline: April 30, 2007

Excellence in Teaching Awards
The 2007 Butler-Cooley Excellence in Teaching Awards honor classroom teachers who have changed the outcome of students’ lives and the communities in which they live.
Maximum Award: $5,000
Eligibility: Currently licensed, active primary or secondary school teachers with at least five years of teaching experience
Deadline: May 1, 2007

Presidential Awards for Mathematics and Science Teaching
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are among the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science and recognize highly qualified teachers for their contributions in the classroom and to their profession.
Maximum Award: $10,000
Eligibility: Teachers of grades 7-12 with 5 years experience teaching math or science
Deadline: May 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
Melissa Milios
Director, Public Affairs

Program Coordinators
Brandi Allen
Tim Martindell
Angela Prince

Mike Webster

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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