Week of: May 28, 2012
Just the anticipation of summer can be thrilling. The allure of staying up later, sleeping longer, and enjoying all of the freedoms that come with summer break is exciting, and these days are just around the corner. Yet, as many parents with school-aged children can attest, a week or two into June, it can be challenging to find activities that keep children engaged. While summer is preciously short, the days can get long.
But if you know where to look, there are plenty of fun activities happening in our area. The LISD Community Fliers page is a great place to start. Just go to www.leanderisd.org
, click on the Community Fliers link from the QuickLinks menu and check out the offerings from local organizations. From this webpage you can find information on summer camps, vacation Bible schools, flag football teams, library programs, art camps and much more. These fliers are updated constantly, so keep an eye out for more opportunities headed your way.
Also under the QuickLinks menu, you will see a Summer Information link which allows you to register your child for our academic or sports camps. Our academic camps include writing, foreign language, culinary, math, science and technology and range from three to five days. Students of all skill levels are encouraged to participate. All camp instruction is sponsored by an approved LISD teacher. Likewise, the sports camps available this summer include boys and girls basketball, baseball, dance, volleyball, softball, football, tennis, track, and middle and high school strength and conditioning. Camps range from four days to six weeks and offer skill levels from beginners to advanced. Participating in either an academic or sports camp is a great way to help keep your child engaged this summer.
Summer Information also includes the summer school classes LISD is offering for middle school and high school students. Middle school students are eligible to enroll in summer school only if they are seeking to regain credit for promotion to the next grade; however, eighth-grade students who are entering high school next fall may also take some courses for acceleration. High school students can take summer school to regain credit or to get ahead.
You will also notice that the Summer Information link has a link for assignments. If your child is in middle or high school and is planning to take a Pre-AP, AP, Pre-IB or IB course next year, I invite you check out the assignments they are expected to complete over the coming weeks, especially if you are a parent of an incoming ninth-grade student, who may or may not be used to completing school work during summer. Summer assignments offer students the opportunity to continue skill practice and help develop necessary “habits of mind” beyond the school year.
Our local libraries often host activities for children during the summer. In fact, information about a few programs is already posted on the Community Fliers page. But because not all areas of our community have access to community libraries, two LISD facilities will be opened during the summer: the libraries at River Ridge Elementary and Four Points Middle School. The River Ridge library will be open June 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28; and July 9, 12, 16, 19, 23 and 26 from 9 a.m. – noon. The library at FPMS will be open June 12, 19 and 26; and July 10, 17, 24 and 31 from noon – 3 p.m. I invite you to stop by a library near you and keep your child reading this summer.
But maybe you are looking for an experience the whole family can enjoy. If that’s the case, then an upcoming rodeo may be right up your alley. The Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) is partnering with the Cedar Park Center for the Rodeo, June 22-24. Discounted tickets start at $8, good for adults or kids. Ten percent of ticket sales will benefit LEEF. You can purchase tickets by going to www.ticketmaster.com
, locate the Rodeo and entering the promo code “LISD.”
Some of our families may be needing more than fun and entertaining activities once school lets out and could benefit from meal assistance. To help meet this need, LISD is working with the Texas Department of Agriculture to sponsor a summer food program to provide free meals for children ages 1 – 18 years old. The program will be offered at nine locations in the LISD community. Breakfast will also be served at eight locations. More specific information, along with the locations, is posted on our website’s home page.
In fact, most of the information I’ve provided to you this week can be found on the LISD
website. As we head into summer, we hope to continue to provide you with information on resources that help students remain engaged throughout the break. So I encourage you to stay engaged yourself by reading your LISD Weekly Insider, staying tuned to our district’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and monitoring the website for news and information about summer activities.
Have a great week!
Week of: May 21, 2012
Graduation is a time to celebrate our seniors. They have worked hard for 13 years to earn their high school diplomas, and we are proud of them. But while we give our graduates our heartiest congratulations, we should also applaud those who have been there beside them, challenging them to reach for the highest levels of excellence.
Foremost, the parents and immediate families of our graduating seniors are to be commended for the support and encouragement they’ve given to our seniors. No doubt this is a bittersweet time for many parents. While excited and happy for their children, they also recognize that life at home will likely change after graduation. For 18 years, parents and families have provided loving homes and opportunities for their children to learn and grow, and these experiences have helped mold our seniors into the men and women they are today. Thank you, parents, for doing an excellent job raising students who are eager to set out into the world.
Teachers have also played a huge role in our seniors’ success, and this week, we’ll have an opportunity to acknowledge a few of them. On Thursday, May 24, the Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) will hold its second annual Student and Teacher Academic Recognition (STAR) Banquet, and will recognize five exemplary seniors from each LISD high school, along with one teacher who has positively impacted each student’s academic career. It is an inspiring evening. Not only does it allow us an opportunity to highlight this remarkable and diverse group of students who are poised to leave the LISD system and embark on fantastic opportunities, but it also gives a well-deserved nod to the teachers who have worked tirelessly to help get them there.
LEEF is also offering another opportunity for parents to show their appreciation for the excellent work of their child’s LISD teachers through the Teacher Recognition Campaign. For a donation of $25 or more, LEEF will award your child’s teacher(s) with a goodie bag and personalized certificate of appreciation signed by their principal, the school board president and LEEF board president. This is a great way to thank teachers and support a generous organization that benefits students and teachers throughout the district. The deadline to be a part of this program is Thursday, May 24. For more information, visit www.leanderedfound.org
We believe that all staff members are important members of LISD. In addition, teachers, bus drivers, principals, nurses, coaches, counselors, librarians, custodians, child nutrition staff, school resource officers and maintenance personnel have contributed to the success of our seniors. Regardless of title, as an LISD staff member, we are all educators and here for one purpose—to focus on student learning. Together we ensure our system allows students to learn. So thank you, staff, for everything you do for the students of our district.
The same is true for our fantastic parent volunteers who continue to be instrumental in our district. Having donated more than 244,500 hours this year, time spent helping in the front office, stuffing Wednesday folders, chaperoning field trips and school dances, or serving as Watch D.O.G.S. or room moms, our volunteers have donated a staggering $5.3 million worth of their time (valued at almost $22 per hour, according to the non-profit leadership network independentsector.org
). Our volunteers have taken on countless duties throughout our district, helping us direct our time, energy and resources to what’s most important, our students. As a volunteer, you are an important member of the LISD family and are making a tremendous difference for our students. Our district would not be the excellent place that it is without your dedication and passion.
Congratulations to our seniors, their families and all of those who made a difference for them. We will continue to expect great things from you all!
Week of: May 14, 2012
Last week, Leander ISD elementary campuses were abuzz with Mothers’ Day festivities. Teas, muffins and colorful, handmade cards were in no short supply. We are privileged to honor mothers and fathers for being the greatest influences, role models and teachers our students will ever know.
Our effectiveness as educators goes much deeper because of parent collaboration. I mentioned last week that our Learning Model explicitly notes parent and community involvement in our educational processes. As our students’ needs are complex and ever-changing, we are aware that the school system doesn’t have all the answers and must increasingly rely upon parents to help us bridge gaps. In light of these challenges and because ours is a system of feedback built around systematic communication loops, in the last week, LISD offered opportunities for parents and community members to learn ways they can support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of our students.
On Thursday, May 10, LISD hosted an anti-bullying mini-conference at Deer Creek Elementary. The conference was kicked off with a keynote address by Megan Flowers with the Anti-Defamation League, who addressed how our community can work together to move our vision forward. The 160 participants then rotated through three sessions. One rotation focused on bully facts and how LISD manages reports and prevention programs. This session also addressed the emotional toll on those impacted by bullying. The second rotation was designed to educate parents and students on how to identify, prevent and deal with bullying. District specialists shared signs and indicators that may not be noticeable to parents who aren’t familiar with new behavioral and social trends. The final rotation highlighted successful anti-bullying programs implemented and expanding in LISD, in particular our own C2 clubs. Finally, the closing session brought participants together to provide feedback on where we are doing well
and where we can improve in own anti-bullying efforts. The district offered similar sessions geared to young students to help combat bullying and prejudice, and because we value their input, collected student feedback as well. We appreciate everyone who was in attendance at our anti-bullying mini-conference and lent their voice to this important issue.
In line with our efforts to protect our students physically and emotionally, last Monday, LISD hosted, “Keeping Your Students Safe: Suicide-Prevention and Postvention,” in the Vista Ridge High School Auditorium. Parents and community members were invited to attend. This informational session brought in community resources, including Elizabeth Roebuck, Texas Suicide Prevention Organization, a part of Mental Health America, to discuss suicide, how to recognize if someone is at-risk and how to respond; and Annie Burwell, director of the Williamson County Mobile Outreach team, to discuss how this organization helps families get access to assistance. Participants also learned how LISD counselors serve students. We thank everyone who came out and contributed to this event.
The district’s commitment to student safety issues includes preventing students from engaging in risky behavior, including substance abuse. Parents promote student well-being by reminding their children of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Not surprisingly, research shows that parents are the most powerful influence in their child’s life. According to Drugfree.org, “Kids who learn a lot about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use than those who do not.”
Our educational system is strengthened because of our parental support, and nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students. I invite you to check out the LISD website for more information on how you can support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of our students, including learning more about bullying prevention, counseling services and drug-free programs. Together we will make positive differences in our children’s lives.
Week of: May 7, 2012
Last week, the district celebrated the graduates from our seventh Leadership Leander ISD class. For the last eight months, Leadership LISD participants have been getting a behind-the-scenes look into the goals and operations of the second-fastest growing school district in Texas with populations greater than 20,000 students. From understanding the STAAR, serving as a principal for a day, learning about LISD’s advanced programs, to getting an overview of our budget and growth challenges, these community members have seen first-hand what we do.
We thank the Leadership Leander ISD “Class of 2012” for their involvement, guidance and commitment to education: Laura Balla, Cedar Park Regional Medical Center; Heather Bonham, Cedar Park/Leander Statesman; Alfredo Bouchot; Cory Dirkson, Austin Toros; Alicia Fermin; Misti Dwyer; Dominic Giarratani, Texas Association of School Boards; Trisha Greenway, PTA; Brian Haulotte, Dunn Construction/LEEF; Gabriel Hernandez, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union; Debbie Hoffman, Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County; Sherry Huffman, Huntington School; Chris Hurta, Hill Country Bible Church- Steiner Ranch; Sallie Spradlin Jett, Spradlin Music; Jeff Johnson, Hill Country Bible Church- Leander; Tim Mattox, Dell, Inc.; Sheri McKim, Benchmark Mortgage; and Tammy Morrow, Chick-fil-A Cedar Park. We enjoyed getting to know each of you. (If you are interested in joining the next Leadership LISD class, please visit www.leanderisd.org and select the Community tab).
Leadership Leander ISD is an effective engagement tool that continues our tradition of fostering amazing volunteerism. And not only does this program welcome community leaders into our campuses and departments, it also invites feedback from valued stakeholders to help us improve, because when it comes to doing what’s best for students, we understand the importance of bringing our community into the conversation.
We believe our schools are strengthened by such partnerships so much that our Learning Model identifies parent and community involvement within our educational processes. For instance, the LISD community is invited to attend the district’s anti-bullying mini-conference on Thursday, May 10, at Deer Creek Elementary, from 6 – 9 p.m. Please visit www.leanderisd.org to RSVP and be an active part of our Learning Model.
The conference will include a keynote address by Meagan Flowers with No Place for Hate, and breakout sessions that will focus on the following: understanding facts about bullying – such as current bullying legislation and district processes; Bullying 101 – what parents need to know; and Bright Spots within LISD – understanding the anti-bullying programs already in place at our schools. Feedback will be gathered throughout the conference to help us better understand where we are as a community and where we want to be. The closing session will bring participants together to evaluate feedback captured during the sessions, which we will use to drive LISD’s next steps. We hope that you will attend and be involved in the dialogue about this important issue.
Another opportunity for parents and community members to get involved and support education will be taking place once the school year concludes. For the last several summers, two district libraries have opened their doors on select days so that students can keep their minds active during the long break. This summer, the libraries at River Ridge Elementary, at 12900 Tierra Grande Trail in Austin, and Four Points Middle School, 9700 McNeil Drive in Austin, will be open on select days. (More detailed information will be coming soon.) The district is currently seeking a few volunteers to support these summer reading programs. If you are interested, please contact Becky Calzada, LISD Library Coordinator, at 512-570-0273.
Indeed, community engagement is an important piece of the puzzle that makes LISD the vibrant learning environment that it is. Leadership LISD and our summer library program, along with forums like the upcoming anti-bullying mini-conference, are just some of the ways we invite you to join the conversation to help make our school district the best place for students to receive a quality education.
Have a great week!
Week of: April 30, 2012
Last week was one of toughest we’ve experienced in Leander ISD. The tragic and untimely deaths of two students shook our tight-knit community to its core. The absences created with their passing have left holes within us that are still resonating. And although words fail us in difficult times like these, it is with all sincerity that our thoughts and prayers go to their families and friends during this sad and difficult time.
When our campuses experience such challenging situations, support personnel, including teams of counselors, school psychologists and the LISD Family Services Team are sent to the school to help students and staff begin the healing process. Today I would like to briefly expound on the roles that school counselors play in supporting student success.
Most commonly, school counselors are known to help students with their personal and social development. They aid students in learning to respect themselves and others by focusing on interpersonal skills and decision-making skills, and help students practice setting goals and how to take action to achieve these goals.
Many are not aware that school district counseling services extend beyond these important roles to help support students’ academic and career development. These assets are not mutually exclusive. For example, school counselors help students understand the relationships between and among academics, work, family, community life, personal qualities, education, training and work. They assist students in investigating the real world to make informed decisions about their future career goals, while attaining positive attitudes towards themselves, their family and their community. School counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. They do not work in isolation; rather, they are integral to the total educational program.
Counselors and guidance professionals in LISD work to collaborate with students, parents, teachers and administrators to identify barriers that may impede a student’s achievement, knowing that everyone is unique. School counseling programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize their full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community. To learn more about our counseling program, please visit www.leanderisd.org and select the Parents and Students tab.
The staff of LISD never take for granted what a blessing it is to teach your children. They are precious gifts. The safety and well-being of our students are our top priorities at all times. We are committed to continuing every effort in maintaining a safe and healthy school community for all students.
Again, on behalf of LISD, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those we lost last week.