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May 2010
This Month: End of Year Reflection…

Linus:  I guess it is wrong to be worried about tomorrow. Maybe we should only worry about today?

Charlie Brown:  No, that’s giving up; I’m hoping that yesterday will be better!
                                                                                                                  Charles Schultz (Peanuts)

This is the end of the year for educators—a time for reflection and evaluation.  Schools are awaiting test results, planning graduations and other events to celebrate the accomplishments of the school community, and preparing to say farewells. At the same time, school leaders are commencing the planning process for the next school year and thinking about taking time for rest, reflection, and renewal.  Much like Charlie Brown, successful school leaders are always optimistic and ready for new challenges.

As with schools, Houston A+ Challenge is engaged in an ending as well as a new beginning.  While A+ will not be continuing the work of the Regional Principal Leadership Academy with Cohort III next year, we will be building on the RPLA work as we launch The Challenge Network, our new core program designed to significantly improve student achievement in middle schools.  We celebrate the work of all those talented individuals who designed, implemented, and supported the RPLA and will continue to work with the members of Cohorts I and II next year.  We know that the future leaders who have participated in the Academy will provide transformational instructional leadership to the greater Houston community for many years to come!

From the Field: Sukari Stredit-Thomas, Principal Intern, Quest High School

Dr. Sukari Stredit-Thomas is a member of Cohort II of the RPLA and serves as principal intern at Quest High School in Humble ISD.   Having previously served as teacher, department chair, dean of instruction and instructional coordinator for grades PK-12, Dr. Stredit-Thomas was well prepared to successfully meet the challenges presented by the RPLA. 

In her role at Quest High School, Dr. Stredit-Thomas has established powerful relationships with students, parents and staff.  As one student recently stated, "Dr. T is one of us!"  She approaches each new experience, assignment and responsibility with enthusiasm and a positive attitude that is forward-thinking and solutions-oriented.  Additionally, responding to difficult issues and situations with sensitivity and professionalism have earned Sukari a deep level of respect.

On May 5, Dr. Stredit-Thomas, along with her mentor principal, Kim Klepcyk, hosted the Cohort II Network meeting.   They provided a rare treat and led the group on a "field trip" to Jessie Jones Park where they observed the school’s service learning component in action.  Quest High School’s curriculum is based on a three dimensional model comprising learner behaviors, academic foundations and workplace tools.  Service learning, which takes place in the community, helps students practice and master both affective and cognitive domain objectives from the curriculum.  When members of Cohort II observed students in their period costumes and acting as docents for the Redbud Hill Homestead, a re-creation of an 1830s-era Texas settler homestead, it was apparent that the students were experiencing authentic application of knowledge.  Further, the experience provides students an opportunity to develop new skills, think, and collaborate in a meaningful way.  Many other community partnerships have been formed with Quest and students choose to participate in a wide variety of experiences during their weekly service learning.

Dr. Stredit-Thomas has embraced her principal internship at a non-traditional high school of choice.  She has been immersed in the culture and has developed a strong sense for the value of affective education as well as academics.  Embracing the Quest ideals of preparing students to adapt to change, preparing them to continually seek out knowledge and fostering positive relationships to drive learning have come easily and naturally to Sukari.  These are ideals she will continue to uphold as she provides leadership for schools of the future.

From the A+ Office

Summer 2010 Critical Friends Group Training
In June, A+ will once again offer its highly popular Critical Friends Group Training during the week of June 14-18, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the A+ offices.   Critical Friends Groups work together on a regular basis to establish clear goals for student learning, help each other think about better teaching practices, examine the curriculum and student work, identify school culture issues that affect student achievement, and support increased student achievement. Since 1997, Houston A+ Challenge has trained more than 1,200 educators in the Houston area as CFG coaches, many of whom now leading groups on their campuses or using CFG protocols in other ways.  For more information or to apply for this year’s program, click here. The deadline to apply is June 4. To apply, visit this link.

From the Bookshelf: The Flat World and Education

The Executive Leadership Council has been exploring what schools of the future students might look like.  Linda Darling-Hammond’s new book, The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity will Determine our Future, has been an integral part of their study and should be on every educational leader’s summer reading list. The text offers a wake-up call concerning America’s future and vividly illustrates what the United States needs to do in order to build a system of high-achieving and equitable schools that ensures every child the right to learn.

James Banks in the foreword states, "This sobering but hopeful book was written to mobilize the nation to action, to challenge pervasive myths and misconceptions about education and schooling, and to present a blueprint for reforming educational policy, schooling, and teacher education." As you think about plans for your school for the next school year and beyond, challenge yourself to think differently about how you and your colleagues will make the changes necessary to build a better and brighter future for our children and our nation.

Leadership Resources

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Houston A+ Challenge

2700 Southwest Freeway, Suite B
Houston, TX 77098-4607
713-658-1881
www.houstonaplus.org

Comments?
Questions?

Contact Bonnie Roberts,
Leadership Coach
broberts@houstonaplus.org



Houston A+ Challenge's support for school leaders is made possible through
grants from:


Houston Endowment

The Brown Foundation

JPMorgan Chase

and other supporters