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MISD student and staff leaders recognized

By DORIS NEWMAN The Monitor Staff
Oct. 23, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.


Spotlighting students and personnel took a starring role in last Monday's regular October Mineola School Board meeting in the School Administration Building.

The meeting included recognition of Brittany Witt, a senior who has been named a Commended Student in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program. Witt is one of about 34,000 Commended Students in the country. High school Principal Ricky Stephens spoke of how few students across the country achieve this honor.

The meeting also included the recognition of Jeremy Vaughn, a fifth grader introduced by Elementary Principal David Sauer. Vaughn attended the Lone Star Leadership Academy of Dallas, Fort Worth. Students have to have at least a B average and show commitment to the community or school and demonstrate leadership ability. At the academy he developed leadership skills while learning about Texas. He got the chance to learn about career and internship opportunities and visit historically, scientifically and environmentally significant sites.

The meeting also included recognition of the district's principals and human resources person. Fuller announced that the governor had declared October as the month to recognize principals and that Oct. 10 was Human Resources Day. The principals, Rod Allen, primary; Sauer, elementary; David Simmons, middle and Stephens, high school stood before the board. They were joined by Lisa Allen, the district's human resource person.

"Leadership is what makes our country strong," Fuller said. And, "leadership is what makes our district strong." He spoke of the principals being the "captain of the ship" and the importance of making sure "we are all sailing in the same direction." The human resources person is the one who assists in making it all happen.

"I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations for a job well-done."

The recognition also included the leading of the pledge of allegiance to the American and Texas flags by students. This month's pledge leaders were third grader Emily Melvin, fourth graders Alana Galaz and Shane Voyles and fifth graders Claudia Barriga and Jeremy Vaughn.

The curriculum spotlight was on the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program with sponsor Jason Goodson leading the presentation. He said the goal of AVID is to help students to be successful. He said last year six seniors graduate from the program with five going on to higher education and the sixth going into a branch of the military.

Two of the program's students, Lauren Benton, a senior, and Stacy Melo, a freshman, spoke about how the program helped them.

Benton said through the eighth grade she averaged Bs and Cs, but now in the last of her high school years she averages As and B. She credits the program with not only teaching her organization skills for studying, but also imparting the importance of that organization. "It was a big shocker," she said, of the need for organization.

Melo said in addition to organization, she learned how to take better notes and the importance of tutorials and of asking questions. "AVID has taught me it is not a bad thing to ask questions and it taught me the important skill of how to work with people because in the real world, not everybody is going to get along with you."

Melo said at the beginning of each class the AVID students do a "fist bump" with Goodson, and then pat the door, where there is a sign that states "Embrace the struggle."

"I know what that entails and that is exactly what I intend to do," the freshman said as she announced to the board her goal is to be the valedictorian of her class.

This month's school board meeting also included a review of the timeline for Meredith Foundation requests as well as potential topics. In January the district plans to submit proposals for grants to the foundation.

Fuller said there had been discussion with teachers and administrators about needs and the pharmacy tech class was a result of that. Another thing that has been mentioned was better seating for the multi-purpose building to be used for fine arts performances. Several other ideas were mentioned and Fuller asked the board if there were any other things they would like to include in the list that will be discussed in the coming months.

As presented last month, the board approved the Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students, sponsored by the Texas Association of School Administrators.

Fuller explained that the effort was "really designed to bring attention to the accountability system in the state of Texas." About 85 percent of the state's districts had approved it, he said, and "it's not a lawsuit. It just says to the legislators `look at this, we are concerned.'" That concern, he said, was about too much emphasis placed on one test.

Also, Fuller said that the board had bragged about Business Manager William Bjork to him, and "now I'm going to brag on him to you." He spoke of the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, saying "not too many districts in the state have a 100 on this and he has a perfect score."

Bjork credited his co-workers in the district with helping to make the score possible.

The board also approved having a review of local policies by the Texas Association of School Boards. Fuller said the electronic version of the district's policies had been supplied to TASB and if approved by the board they would meet with the principals for about six hours one day. The superintendent said the reviewers say "Here's what the policy is, now tell us what you practice." He said the last one had been done in 1998.

Board Member Rod Watkins asked how often the reviews are recommended and Fuller said any time there is a change in administration, or every five to eight years.

"The last one was in 1998," Board Member Holly Mischnick said. "I'd say we're overdue." The board voted unanimously to approve the review.

The board also approved the extracurricular status of the 4-H organization and approved an amended interlocal agreement for the SuperNet II Consortium, for which MISD is the fiscal agent. Fuller explained the consortium has the 10th member joining and the cost is divided among the member districts. "It started with a group of schools that, at that time, for which the service center could not meet the needs."

The member district combine their fiber optic capabilities, and 12 would be the ideal number. "It operates the same way the special ed co-op does," he said. The amendment clarifies what would happen if a member district leaves the consortium.

Dr. John Abbott asked for an example of the type of services that it provides. Bjork said one of those would be video conferencing.

Three budget amendments for the current year's budget were also approved. They were for student tuition for the pharmacy tech class which was $16,182. There has also been the creation of a position for a central office receptionist at $25,000 (Sara West, who has been at the front desk, is becoming the superintendent's secretary). It also includes $86,553 for track renovations.

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