Get To Know Us! CCR Spotlight Felicia Lara

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Meet Felicia Lara, passionate, lifelong educator and Linked Learning Manager for the HISD Office of College & Career Readiness. Felicia has 14+ years of experience as a secondary and collegiate instructor. Prior to this role, she served as a Special Education Department Chair for HISD. Felicia works hard to ensure that there is equity in the quality of education each HISD student receives, coupled with access to viable opportunities.

I want every HISD student to become a lifelong learner, leaving with the skills needed to effectively engage in a global society.

Felicia supports Linked Learning efforts at 14 different high school campuses. She facilitates Community of Practice meetings and PLCs, establishes and sustains school to business partnerships, and ensures that personalized learning environments are designed to meet student/teacher needs.

Felicia received her undergraduate degree from the University of Houston-Downtown in Interdisciplinary Studies. She also earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Lamar University.

Mission Squash Brings Opportunity and Transformation To Hogg MS

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Though Urban Squash programs favorably impact students’ lives, Squash is a sport long-associated with a small subset of U.S. elite schools. Mission Squash, a Houston-area organization that helps children from underserved families, is looking to change that— through its 215 hours of programming, Mission Squash enables students to stay in school, graduate, and aspire to attend top-tier colleges and programs. Participating students at Hogg MS receive intensive year-round tutoring, mentoring, private high school placement, and much more, all while improving their health, fitness, and mental resilience through the sport of Squash.

In 2015, Mission Squash built the first Academic + Squash facility in the United States, right here in Houston! The unused space at Hogg MS was transformed, and now serves 50+ students year-round. In addition to enhancing students’ academic, high school, and college options, Mission Squash participants regularly travel and compete in competitions throughout the country, all at no cost to them or their families.

84% of students who participate in an Urban Squash program receive free or reduced lunch. In terms of college preparation and placement:

  • 413 Urban Squash alumni are enrolled in college today
  • 96% of students who complete an Urban Squash and Education program graduate from high school, and matriculate to post-secondary schools
  • Urban Squash students in the U.S. have received a combined $40 Million in scholarships

In terms of college selectivity:

  • 80% of students who complete an Urban Squash and Education program attend 4-year colleges
  • 37% attend Top 100 Colleges or Universities
  • 8% attend Top 25 Colleges or Universities

If you would like to learn more about Mission Squash and other Urban Squash Programs, please visit http://missionsquash.org. Additionally the 2017 Mission Squash One Pager is available for you to read.

AVID Hosts Summer Institute in San Antonio, 135 HISD teachers and administrators come together for annual professional development

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July 12-14, 135 Houston ISD teachers and administrators, along with 3500 of their closest friends, attended the AVID Summer Institute in San Antonio, Texas.  San Antonio Summer Institute is just one of 11 opportunities for AVID sites across the country to come together for annual professional learning on the latest in AVID methodologies and strategies to successfully implement AVID in their schools.

This year’s theme – Discover, Engage, Succeed— was prevalent throughout the three-day event, as participants took part in their learning strands (AVID Implementation, Leadership for Advancing, Science, Math, Essential Skills for College Readiness, etc.), as well as site team planning.  During the site team time, campuses were able to develop plans for AVID implementation in the 2017-2018 school year.

The highlight of San Antonio Summer Institute was the general session, which featured dynamic current and former AVID students, as well as an educator and an AVID advocate. There was not a “dry eye” in the massive convention center ballroom at the end of the inspirational general session.

In addition to San Antonio, HISD teachers and administrators will be attending Summer Institute in Dallas, Philadelphia, and Denver, all with the goal of expanding their learning in an effort to continue growing AVID on their campuses next year.

Suffice it to say, Houston ISD is AVID-proud!

Bellaire High School Student Named Texas FFA State Proficiency Award Champion

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Kira Christian was named Texas FFA State Proficiency Award Champion, for her on-going FFA Food Science and Technology Project and proficiency application.  She will receive an FFA Scholarship for college, and recognition during the State FFA Convention. In addition, Kira will represent Bellaire FFA and the State of Texas when she competes for the National Title (and additional scholarship money) at the National FFA Convention this fall.

Kira owns and operates her own cupcake business. This proficiency project and application focused on Kira’s application of science techniques to develop and produce cupcakes that met consumer needs. She experimented with recipes that were all gluten-free, vegan, and completely free of artificial colors and preservatives.  Once the cupcakes were produced, she conducted taste tests to gauge consumer perception and further modified recipes to make them desirable. Kira provides cupcakes for numerous business functions downtown.

In addition to her cupcakes business, Kira competed in multiple FFA baking contests, where she frequently won championship honors. Kira’s project shows that CTE-Ag courses and FFA projects DO NOT have to be animal projects. This project has given her skills that can result in a career based on her personal interests.

Kira is the first FFA Bellaire member to be named State Champion in a proficiency award. Bellaire was the only HISD school to have applicants competing at the Area and State levels this year.

Sam Houston MSTC Robotics Students Compete in SkillsUSA National Conference

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Last week, two Sam Houston MSTC students competed in the SkillsUSA Humanoid Robotics contest, taking place at its National Skills and Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Seniors Xochitl Garcia and Rodolfo Zaragoza represented the State of Texas in this competition after winning the championships at the SkillsUSA Texas Skills and Leadership Conference in Corpus Christi. Their faculty advisors are Dehua Lea and Bruce Darkis.

The NAO HRI Challenge is an activity organized in collaboration with the National SkillsUSA Competition, with the support of SoftBank Robotics. The goal is to motivate and educate students in the use of humanoid robotics through multi-technological and innovative projects. Through programming, students work to optimize the NAO robot’s capabilities, taking into account its limitations, while learning about applied user experience and interaction concepts.

Xochitl Garcia will be attending the University of North Texas, where she will major in biochemistry. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school.

Rodolfo Zaragoza will be attending Houston Community College, and intends to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

Sam Houston MSTC offers a STEM Engineering pathway, in which students take a series of courses ranging from career fundamentals in engineering, to robotics. Students in this program build, test and program robots using the engineering and design process. In addition, Sam Houston MSTC sponsors the Tiger “Roar-Botics” club, open to all students. The Tiger “Roar-Botics” club competes in a variety of coding and robotics competitions throughout the school year.

Sam Houston MSTC welcomes students with all levels of experience to take part in these exceptional opportunities. For more information, contact Mr. Dehua Lea dlea@houstonisd.org or Mr. Bruce Darkis bdarkis@houstonisd.org.

Get To Know Us! CCR Spotlight Steven Chambers

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Meet Steven Chambers, Senior Manager for EMERGE-HISD. Steven is a determined educator and advocate, with a propensity for empowering underserved students by increasing their access and exposure to quality post-secondary programs and colleges. He comes to us from St. John’s United Methodist Church (Houston), where he served as both youth pastor and lead associate pastor for the two-campus congregation. Prior to this post, Steven taught 4th and 5th grade in the Houston Independent School District through the Teach for America program.

Steven supports a team that works with high academic profile HISD high school students throughout all levels of the college access process, including: college visits and applications, financial aid, scholarships, and career assessments. His typical day during the school year involves gauging the position of his team, as well as what level of support is needed to ensure that each EMERGE-HISD student receives the individualized support necessary for success.

In addition to increasing access and exposure to quality post-secondary programs and colleges, I want to ensure that students find a fit that best meets their financial needs and personal interests. It is important to set short-term goals that adequately prepare students for the application process. We work toward these goals by continually supporting students, parents, and high schools, reinforcing effective testing strategies, involvement in summer college programs, writing support, leadership through extracurricular activities, improving course rigor, and maintaining classroom success.

Steven attended Vanderbilt University, where he earned a Master’s degree in Divinity, and before that, Hampton University, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. One of the EMERGE-HISD team’s biggest values is equity— ensuring that each student receives the amount of support they need to develop and be accepted to top-tier universities. With this in mind, Steven continually assesses and works with each member of his team, to identify student gaps and provide high-impact support.

Steven’s work impacts hundreds of EMERGE-HISD students daily, and from the effective strategies he promotes that make top-tier acceptances feasible, to the persistence and grit he inspires, Steven knows that every student is capable of achieving their goals.

Teach Forward Houston Acceptances Announced, students receive $20,000 to attend UH, teach in HISD after college

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This year, HISD and the University of Houston partnered once again, offering a teacher preparation program with $20,000 in free tuition over four years. Through the Teach Forward Houston program, these HISD graduates interested in teaching will receive free tuition at the University of Houston, in exchange for teaching four years in HISD after graduation.

We are pleased to announce that the 40 Teach Forward Houston fellows have been identified! Each accepted student demonstrates a history of participation in extracurricular activities and service in leadership roles, as well as a deep desire to give back to their community through education.

Fellows will earn a degree in teaching and learning, a UH program specifically designed to equip teachers with the skills they need to be successful in large, diverse, urban school districts like HISD. They will also receive additional professional development and internship opportunities, as well as personalized coaching and mentorship throughout the fellowship.

See below for a list of our 2017-2018 Teach Forward Houston cohort, and congratulations to these exceptional, soon-to-be HISD educators!

Student Name HISD Campus
Brenda Sanchez Barbara Jordan
Sheyla Castelan Bellaire
Virginia Sanchez Bellaire
Fiona Yeung Bellaire
Giselle Arambula Booker T Washington
Maiya Archie Carnegie Vanguard
Lizeth Benitez Cesar E. Chavez
Dayana Salas Cesar E. Chavez
Erica Castillo Charles H Milby
Anallely Guerrero Charles H Milby
Eduardo Martinez Charles H Milby
Nicole Tello Eastwood Academy
Esmeralda Trejo Evan E Worthing
Jainny Leos Furr
Zarymar Aleman Heights
Carmen Bernal Heights
Pamela Mandujano Heights
Pamela Nunez Heights
Christian Chavez Houston Academy for Intl Stud
Belen Rivas Houston Academy for Intl Stud
Christian Flores HSPVA
Mary Lowe Jack Yates
Jose Medina James Madison
Azka Ahmed Jane Long Academy
Michelle Lugo Lamar
Mardia Idris Liberty
Gabriela Torres Margaret Long Wisdom
Kellie Rovira Michael E Debakey
Jennifer Morales Northside
Jacqueline Torrez Northside
Crystal Hernandez P Wheatley
Maria Casas Sam Houston MSTC
Karen Garza Sam Houston MSTC
Esther Lacayo Sam Houston MSTC
Johana Reyes Sam Houston MSTC
Gilbert Garza Sharpstown
Victor Hernandez Stephen F Austin
Alex Machuca Stephen F Austin
Llesenia Rodriguez Stephen F Austin
Flor Roman Stephen F Austin