GISD's Academic Minute

A Message from Mr. Penrod

Hello, everyone! I wanted to welcome you to the new format of the Academic Minute. Through the use of Smore, we can reach both faculty, staff and parents. Moreover, we can expand our communication to include weekly blogs by various departments. This week, I wanted to share the new GISD organizational chart and introduce you to Dr. Pollard, Assistant Superintendent of Academics. You may ask yourself why GISD needs an organizational chart or another Assistant Superintendent. The answer is quite simple, curriculum matters and the teachers have indicated the desire to offer the best education to every child that enters any door within GISD. That said, when we made the decision to hire an Assistant Superintendent of Academics to support teachers and students alike, it distributed the roles and responsibilities of various employees.

Without a formal organizational structure, both employees and community members may find it difficult to know who they officially report to in different situations, and it may become unclear exactly who has the final responsibility for what. Organizational structure improves operational efficiency by providing clarity to employees at all levels of a company. By paying mind to the organizational structure, departments can work more like well-oiled machines, focusing time and energy on productive tasks. Please see the newly updated chart for Gatesville ISD.

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A Message from Dr. Barrett Pollard, Assistant Superintendent of Academics

I have been truly touched by the warm welcome I have received at GISD this week, and it has been great to see so many familiar faces. I have also been impressed, but not surprised, by the outpouring of support for the family of Barton “Tater” Warren. The high school administrative team, the faculty, and our district counselors have done an amazing job supporting the students at GHS. Despite the sadness associated with losing a young man with such a great personality, the district has also had some reasons to celebrate this week. For example, GHS student Mary Griego was named artist of the week on the Artsonia homepage, while GJHS students Kyle Strmiska, Henry Lee, and Erin Johnson were named to the 2016 Middle School / Junior High All Region Choir. With the Bluebonnet reading program concluding last Friday, students at the Intermediate campus who read at least five out of the twenty titles were able to vote this week for their favorite book. I am excited for the Elementary campus because purchase orders were submitted this week to secure Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) kits which will help many of our struggling readers, while our Primary campus will hold professional development this Friday focusing on concepts of writer’s workshop.

As I have reviewed the middle-of-the-year action plans created by our principals and attended PLC meetings this week, I am struck not only by the vision of our campus administration but by the collegiality demonstrated by our teachers and staff members. From bolstering technology infrastructure such as wi-fi to renovating aging facilities such as the GHS auditorium, Mr. Penrod and the central office also has a clear vision for the future. From a curriculum and instruction standpoint, my vision includes a multi-pronged plan to create an aligned curriculum that utilizes best practices and results in better student outcomes. First and foremost, I would like to focus on our K-12 literacy framework by providing our faculty with training regarding the concepts of reader’s workshop, writer’s workshop, and word study. It will be imperative that our 2016-2017 school calendar have days embedded throughout the year for targeted professional development. Moreover, we will be asking for help from our teachers and administrators this spring with the creation or revision of year-at-a-glance documents. The “YAAG” helps guide our teachers’ efforts throughout the year by ensuring that we address the required TEKS and assess the student expectations at key intervals.

Mrs. Pruitt and I have been working to refine the district RTI process and will be seeking guidance from our campuses to ensure we offer students not only quality Tier I instruction but Tier II and III interventions. With regard to advanced academics, I want to explore the possibilities of additional dual credit courses through partnerships with local colleges and universities while ensuring the alignment of our current AP courses. A coherent sequence of CTE course offerings that culminate in certifications for our students is imperative so that we have students that are job-ready upon graduation. Through partnerships with local businesses, we would like to expand our current CTE course offerings into areas such as criminal justice and health science. At times these goals can feel overwhelming; however, if we work and learn together, we can make steady strides toward accomplishing some great initiatives for our students.