"Super" Spruce Scoop

Volume 2 Edition 16

December 13, 2015

Thank you, Spruce Feeder Pattern!

A heartfelt thank you goes out to all of the administrators, teachers and staff of the Spruce feeder pattern for a very productive first semester. We all worked very hard to provide the best education possible to our scholars. I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to express my appreciation. There have been many acts which I have publicly noted; others that have not been seen. What ever the case may be, I thank each and every employee serving our scholars in Pleasant Grove. We are making the difference we signed up for. Have a restful and enjoyable holiday season!

Attendance Award

Congratulations to Julius Dorsey Elementary School and Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary School for achieving the top 2 spots across Dallas ISD for the highest attendance rates in school year 2014 - 2015. It is no surprise that each school also had impressive student achievement as well. There is a correlation between high student attendance and student achievement. Thank you to both schools and their entire staff for helping students see the value of being at school every day. Each team is seen below.

Looking Ahead... Mid-Year Reviews

Although we are at a time of the year where reflecting and relaxing are appropriate, we are the keepers of the vision for those who we lead. I would like to ask our leaders to consider actions necessary early in the second semester which will propel our campuses and put us in a place for year-long success. For example, nearly all principals conducted mid-year reviews with teachers during the 2014 - 2015 school year. This served as a way to allow each teacher to reflect on strengths, opportunities, data and practice. While it is time consuming, it is a lever for continuous improvement and I would like to ask all principals to consider holding mid-year reviews with teaching staff.

District Principals' Meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 16th, 1-5pm

D A Hulcy Middle School, Dallas, TX, United States

Dallas, TX

Secondary Schools Engaging Constituents

Spruce High School, Comstock Middle School and Balch Springs Middle School continue to find ways to engage students and parents outside of the school day. The Spruce leadership team recently had an evening meeting for parents of seniors. As you can see below, they had a very good turnout. Graduation is right around the corner, so making sure seniors are on-track is critical this time of year.


Comstock Middle School held an after school tutoring event this past week where nearly 350 scholars stayed to receive support. One might argue that 350 scholars is too many to provide the right support, I would respond that if we are able to get scholars to stay, we are creating the right mindset where scholars are investing in school and are becoming owners of their learning.


Last, but certainly not least, Balch Springs Middle School leaders continue to craft a plan to launch a girls single-gender school next fall, if approved. This past week, they hosted a joint advisory board meeting with Fred Florence Middle School to get feedback in final revisions of their application. Through Principal Rivera's leadership, they have worked extremely hard to develop a robust application.

"McMiracle on High 67"

McMiracle on Highway 67” is a grassroots community project hosted and presented by Parrish McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, owned by Mr. Roland Parrish. He personally purchases at least 150 bikes and 150 helmets, annually for students in participating schools among Dallas ISD. More than 300 students across the district benefitted from the generosity.


Fifteen elementary schools in the Dallas Independent School District were recipients of the 2015 “McMiracle on Highway 67. Among the Spruce feeder pattern were Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School and William Anderson Elementary School. Seen above is Mrs. Williams, Principal of Burleson Elementary. A special note of appreciation goes out to her for giving up her time on a Saturday to be with her scholars.

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Marshall Memo

How to Help Effective Teachers Stay in Love with the Classroom

In this Education Week article, Scott Sterling says that after five years teaching middle school in a high-poverty district in Florida, he felt burned out and left the classroom. He misses the relationships with students and the feeling of making a difference in their lives, and offers five suggestions for what school leaders can do if they want to keep their best teachers from suffering a similar fate:

Orchestrate staff bonding and collaboration. Teacher collegiality shouldn’t be based on random friendships and cliques, says Sterling. Grade-level, subject-area, and cross-curricular meetings need to be built into the schedule, and agendas should focus on planning units and lessons and examining student learning results, not administrative matters (which should be handled in e-mails and memos).

Provide high-quality professional development. “Rah-rah speeches and deep dives into neurological research might be entertaining or even engaging,” says Sterling, “but they rarely translate into a difference in the classroom.” Better to ask teachers what will be helpful and organize truly relevant PD, some of it led by colleagues.

Give staff members a voice in schoolwide affairs. “Set aside some time, either during a faculty meeting or at a separate gathering, to have a constructive conversation about how the school is working for everyone,” he suggests. To prevent the conversation from being hijacked by a minority of negative staff members, conduct a survey beforehand that gives the whole faculty a chance to choose from a range of possible issues.

Challenge teachers within their success zone. “Successful teachers can sometimes get bored with being successful,” says Sterling. “Stagnation leads to burnout. Burnout leads to teachers leaving.” But it’s not always a good idea to assign these teachers to very challenging students or give them a radically different schedule, he says. Better to encourage pre-burnout teachers to try a new curriculum or a classroom practice at the edge of their comfort zone.

Find opportunities for district-wide impact. Some successful teachers want to move on to district-level or school-leadership positions, but many want to stay in the classroom. Smart district leaders find ways for these teachers to have broader impact and get the recognition they deserve – perhaps leading district webinars, temporary coaching assignments, or short-term interventions helping teachers at another school. “Coaching from district personnel is one thing,” says Sterling. “Coaching from a mentor-teacher who is still in the classroom every day is quite another.”

“Extinguishing a Burnout: Actionable Ideas to Keep Teachers Engaged in Their Careers” by Scott Sterling in Education Week, December 2, 2015 (Vol. 35, #13, p. 28), www.edweek.org

UIL Success

The "Super" Spruce feeder pattern had several campuses participate in recent UIL A+ Academic Meet at Skyline High School. First of all, thank you to the teachers who gave up their day to allow our students the opportunity to participate. Second, we had several schools see success. Well done goes out to William Blair Elementary, B. H. Macon Elementary and Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary. While there may be more within our feeder pattern, those are the campuses known to have participated.