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In this Issue

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Featuring Juliet Stipeche, Director of the Mayor's Office of Educational Initiatives for the City of Houston

This interview with Juliet Stipeche, Director of the Mayor's Office of Educational Initiatives, was conducted and condensed by Mahogany Johnson.

MMJ: With the end in mind, how do you envision the Office of Education?


JS: The vision for the Mayor’s Department of Education is to serve the City of Houston by coordinating, collaborating, and communicating with the multiple educational institutions that exist within our diverse city. Many people typically think about education only in terms of K through 12, but the educational institutions in our city are extraordinarily expansive.


Education is an enduring presence from womb to tomb. A mother can learn about quality pre-natal care and resources available to experience a good, healthy pregnancy, and a baby starts to learn and develop cognitive skills while developing in the womb. Once a baby is born, new parents should learn fundamental lessons to strengthening a newborn’s body and mind, and all children should enter a quality pre-kindergarten to prepare for primary school. As a city, we should strategically envision a collective city-wide educational plan that promotes strong community schools and out-of-school and afterschool programs. After graduation, a young adult may choose to attend numerous post-secondary educational institutions. Opportunity youth and adults, who are outside of the workforce or educational system, may reconnect with educational institutions and workforce training for additional learning opportunities to help develop the city’s talent pipeline. Education is pervasive and expansive, but our community needs to be better connected to educational opportunity and resources, and if resources are lacking, we need to address the issue of equity and remove the structural barriers that exist.


Ultimately, the educational level of a population is the single greatest predictor of a city’s future economic health, so Mayor Turner feels that it is time to review and analyze what presently exists and create transformative and innovative programs that may support our city for the next 25-50-100 years. The investments that are made in education today will fuel Houston’s future competitiveness with the rest of the country and world.


The City of Houston is approximately 615 square miles, and the Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest school district in Houston and the State of Texas. It is the seventh largest in nation, encompassing approximately 301 square miles. Approximately 80% of HISD’s students are economically disadvantaged. HISD’s population is 62% Latino, 24% African-American, and the remaining figure is comprised of Caucasian and Asian American students. HISD’s present demographics are predictive of the future. Comparable demographic changes exist in the other 16 school districts as well. Most telling is the high number of economically disadvantaged students in Aldine-ISD, which presently stands around 88%. Our future is dependent on developing an educational system that addresses the dramatic demographic changes that are taking place in our community. New challenges require unique solutions and a more creative approach.


There are also multiple institutions of higher learning within our boundaries from Rice University, University of Houston, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston Baptist University, Houston Community College, and Lone Star College to name a few. There are also technical training institutions and apprenticeship programs. Scholarships, financial aid, and loans exist to help our residents continue their education, but it’s frustratingly difficult to get this information readily available and accessible to everyone.


There is a subcategory of youth that many people do not often discuss, but it is very important to Mayor Turner. This includes opportunity youth and residents facing reentry. When I served on the HISD Board of Education, I never even heard the term “opportunity youth.” This is a young person that for one reason or another is not attending school or working and may have a brush with the criminal justice system and is in a liminal state. They have opportunity and potential, but for one reason or another, they are disconnected. We must develop strong programs that reconnect all of our residents to educational opportunity.


To address this issue, Mayor Turner developed the Turnaround Houston initiative. Turnaround Houston provides counseling, social support services, educational information, and other resources to the community. The City has hosted and will continue to host a series of fairs at multi-service centers throughout the city to bring resources to the people. Educational opportunity is a key component in transforming lives, so our educational partners are a critical part of Turnaround Houston. There are many resources that exist within the City of Houston, and we must serve as a facilitator by connecting and empowering our community with such resources.


I often say that it’s so odd that we live in an informational and technological age, but there is such tremendous disconnect in the community and between people. The Mayor’s Department of Education seeks to break down the structural barriers that exist and presently prevent youth and adults from flourishing in this dynamic city. The mayor has charged us with creating transformative and innovative programs to ensure that necessary resources and opportunities for empowerment are available to all individuals that live within the City of Houston.


Professor Kleinberg from Rice University’s Kinder Institute often talks about how Houston is the most diverse city in the country, but Houston is also becoming one of the most racially and economically segregated cities in the nation. Our local schools struggle with a literacy crisis. Approximately 60% of Houston-area kindergarteners enter school without the requisite reading-readiness skills. As for adults, there are 330,000 people in Houston who are functionally illiterate; in other words, one in five adult Houstonians is illiterate. Low literacy and numeracy skills prevent Houstonians from accessing better jobs, and this perpetuates poverty.


Mayor Turner is deeply concerned about this trend and wants to turn it around. He does not want to be a mayor of two different cities, a city of “Haves and Have Not’s.” Educational opportunity is key to breaking down the structural barriers that exist, and the mayor’s bully pulpit can be used to demand educational excellence and equity regardless of zip code. It can be used to ask the community to come together to collaborate to solve this problem collectively.


Education sets the stage for a city’s fiscal and social well-being. It sets the stage for the city’s tax base and economic opportunities. It sets the stage for a family’s health and wellbeing, purchasing power, contribution to the local tax base, and ability to purchase housing. These economic contributions support the City by generating revenue that help a city remain dynamic.


The glue or framework that holds society together is education. This is why the Texas Constitution charges the Texas legislature with the very important responsibility of funding a system of free public schools. The investment and impact permeates every single aspect of society including government. It is not something that exists in a vacuum. For instance, every dollar invested in a high-quality early education provides as much as a $16 return on investment. A high quality educational system must be developed and sustained to help all children, including those most economically disadvantaged.


Houston is not like Chicago where a local school district is under the city’s control. In Texas; the Texas Education Agency ultimately holds these quasi-government institutions accountable. But, Mayor Turner hopes that the City of Houston will develop a more strategic vision as to what constitutes a quality educational system within our city. For instance, what is our strategic vision and plan to allocate resources more economically, effectively, and efficiently? If we communicate and collaborate as a city, can avoid duplicating and replicating efforts to be more cost effective and impactful? How can the city coordinate with excellent educational community partners to provide great resources to our residents? What can we do to more effectively evaluate the out-of-school and after school programs that the city presently offers?


Currently, no systemically agreed upon assessment exists to evaluate the many out-of-school and after school programs that exist throughout the city. How can we develop an agreed upon metric to determine whether a particular program has a meaningful, positive impact? How can we create a clearinghouse of the best programs that exist to share with the community or replicate?


Lots of questions exist, but we have tremendous opportunity and potential to transform our educational landscape within the City of Houston.



MMJ: What are your long-term departmental goals?


JS: One of my goals is to assess the educational landscape within the City of Houston to see where the structural barriers exist and how we can tear them down. I hope we can have a more collaborative, communicative, and coordinated city-wide educational system where we can share resources, information, and jointly plan to help develop the talent pipeline for the local workforce. I want to open educational and job opportunities to youth residing in communities that have been isolated and segregated for far too long.


One of my long-term goals is to assess what the City is doing with afterschool and out-of-school time to provide youth with quality educational experiences. The time that we have with young people is limited and precious. We must step up our game. We must have high expectations for all youth. While serving on the local school board, I often wondered such little progress was being made.


I reviewed a study that focused on the issue of intergenerational social mobility in the U.S. Social mobility involves the ability of a child to surpass the economic status of their parents. There are five very important factors that this study identified that positively impacts social mobility: 1) less residential segregation, 2) less income inequality, 3) better primary schools, 4) greater family stability, and 5) greater social capital. Social mobility, also known as the American Dream, demands that each generation should experience improvement and progress. Tragically, this is not happening for every child in every family. What can we do to develop a city that focuses on offering positive social mobility for every child? What can we do to rebuild and sustain a strong community that focuses on these five points?


Since finding this study, I have been examining means to increase social capital for our youth. The dry definition of social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. In reality, this is the ability for a young person to develop a network to provide them with access to resources and information beyond his/her current world. Who can help: teachers, elders, pastors, other students? The one who says, “Hey, why don’t you file for that scholarship? Why don’t you go to this after-school program? Have you considered a career in science? Do you want to learn how to play the piano?” There are many young people living in isolated, segregated communities that are disconnected from high quality educational resources and opportunities. If a family lives in an area where all five criteria are low, the odds are heavily stacked against a child’s favor.


We need to perform an honest, realistic assessment, develop a vision and goal of where we want to go, and move forward with a strategic plan of building up all communities with education serving as the heart of any initiative. I heard a story on NPR radio today discussing how economists are struggling with a new phenomenon in American history. People are capable of working but choose not to do so. Academicians are trying to determine the cause and propose solutions, but we, as a City, need to be part of this discourse and offer solutions to empower residents.


Over the past 20 years, there have been many changes to government policies that have adversely impacted children and students, especially the most economically disadvantaged. The “war on poverty” ended, and what is the result? More than one in five children (22%) in the U.S. live in poverty, and the rates are even higher for African American and Latino children. Among the world’s 35 richest countries, the U.S. holds the dubious distinction of ranking second highest in child poverty. Harris County’s child poverty rate is higher than the national average and stands at 26.7%.


How are governmental programs and policies helping or hurting our children in the City of Houston? Well, let’s take a look at a current example. The Houston Independent School District is currently facing recapture through the current Texas Education Code’s public school finance system. This means that HISD will have to pay “excess” local property taxes, as determined by the Foundation School Program funding equation, into the Foundation School Fund to be redistributed to property-poor school districts. The total cost for HISD is roughly $178 million. HISD is facing recapture as a result of being classified as a “property-wealthy” school district. This determination results from the fact that HISD has collected more local property taxes than the current FSP funding formulas indicate the school district should collect in order to provide an adequate education based on HISD’s student population and demographics, but these FSP funding formulas are antiquated and inefficient.


The idea behind recapture is to equalize the playing field among school districts that are deemed property-wealthy and property-poor. This is why the recapture provision is commonly referred to as the “Robin-Hood Tax.” However, looking at HISD’s demographic break-down, it begs to question if the current recapture provision is truly equalizing the public school finance system. HISD is considered a property-wealthy school district because of its prime location in the middle of the 4th largest city in America and an economic and business powerhouse; but this does not reflect the students.


Over 75% of the students at HISD are eligible for free/reduced lunches and are considered economically disadvantaged3. Further, nearly 72% of all students are considered at-risk students. Attention needs to be drawn to the recapture dilemma faced by HISD because these funds could be more effectively distributed than through the current antiquated and highly inefficient system in place. Additionally, academic scholars have consistently shown that more attention and resources must be provided to economically disadvantaged and at-risk children in order for them to successfully develop and lead a prosperous life.


The Texas Supreme Court had an opportunity to force the legislature to correct this mess. Instead, it let them off the hook. The court describes the current state of affairs as a “Byzantine” and “ossified” system that urgently needs to be modernized, but it purportedly meets minimum constitutional standards. So, we remain in a broken system designed more than 20 years ago that is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of today. Further, this decision traps Houston in recapture, and we will lose millions of dollars in funding that should be invested in teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians, and great academic programs. Our children deserve better.


To address these complicated issues that have yet to be resolved by the legislature, Mayor Turner convened the first meeting of all area superintendents for the first time in Houston’s history. We also invited the superintendents of the largest charter schools. Mayor Turner wants Houston to work together, so we can go to the next legislative session prepared and unified. We also plan to convene a meeting with all the presidents of Houston’s institutions of higher learning.


The mayor is also interested in opening work opportunities for Houston’s youth whether in government, for-profits, or non-profits. This year, we developed the mayor’s Hire Houston Youth program and worked with local corporations to offer hundreds of jobs to youth applicants between the ages of 16-24. The first year of the program has been challenging, but we moved quickly, got it off the ground, and have learned a whole lot. We are already making plans for next year’s program. We have been meeting with the local school districts to discuss the development of curriculum and soft skills training. We have been collaborating with the local workforce solutions board to evaluate current programs and discuss the development of new ones. It is an exciting time in the City given the mayor’s strong push for collaboration.


As Director of Education, I have gained a macro-perspective of education in the City of Houston. While serving on the HISD Board of Education, I do not feel that I was afforded an opportunity to focus on the bigger picture or effectively collaborate with community partners. As I said before, I wasn’t even familiar with the term “opportunity youth.” I never had an opportunity to visit the local juvenile justice detention center. It is very important that the City and other local governmental entities including the local –ISDs work together to build stronger communities.


I also feel that we need to empower our youth. While I was on the HISD Board, I met the most amazing students. The Green Ambassadors at Furr High School are leading an initiative to develop a “Houston Greenbelt” and offer green educational opportunities to youth. They are planting fruit and nut trees, developing pollinator gardens, planting vegetable gardens in food deserts, offering health and fitness classes, and educating youth on the importance of the environment. Then, there is the HISD Student Congress. These students expanded the concept of student government, so all HISD campuses could come together. It filed the first amicus curiae brief ever written entirely by students with the Texas Supreme Court in the school finance case. While the court’s decision is very disappointing, the HISD Student Congress is mentioned in a footnote in the court’s decision, so these students made a strong impact in offering the “students’ voice.”


I am so grateful and happy to work with these students and all the others that have impacted my life. I learn so much from them, and they are my “guiding star.” I believe that young people must be engaged and involved in the policy and decision-making process because they are the ones being impacted by the decisions that the adults are making. Further, their diverse personal stories are very important and must be told.



MMJ: Please share some of the latest educational initiatives and regional collaborations taking place in the City of Houston.


JS: I am so extraordinarily and deeply appreciative to Mayor Turner for providing me with this very unique and amazing opportunity. I’m trying to take all that I’ve learned to correct or improve issues, address problems and invest appropriately, and to ensure that the guiding star and focus is always on the wellbeing of people. The success of our students should not be based on luck, but many times it is. For example, I was in a meeting with representatives from San Antonio and Houston that were discussing their initiatives for workforce development and education. One of the takeaway comments that was made, which I thought was extraordinarily powerful, was there must be a mindset shift in the City of Houston in which all people recognize the relevance and importance of connecting all communities to educational and economic opportunity.


Until recently, we became comfortable operating and living in silos. I remember several years ago when I was school board president, I told someone that we’ve got to break down the silos. Now it’s become a cliché, but it’s absolutely true. We as a city have to experience a mindset shift that equity and excellence should not be relegated to zip code. If we want to be a 21st-century city that continues to be an international economic powerhouse for the next 100 years, then we have to make sure that we invest in educational opportunity for all young people and break down the structural barriers that presently exist.



MMJ: What do you think is required to help maintain student safety and discipline, to create a culture of trust and accountability? Please share your thoughts on what it would take to close gaps across the achievement spectrum.


JS: One large issue is that some people thought that “magic” programs would solve problems. Talented people solve problems in schools because they are responsible for implementing programs and developing relationships with students and the community. The United States is one of the only countries in the world where you have non-experts developing curriculum and programs for young people. You have non-mathematicians developing math programs and so forth.


If someone were to ask me, “Juliet, I want you to teach physics,” while I consider myself to be well educated, I have never ever taken physics. Now, imagine if they said, “Juliet, we’re going to give you an alternative certification and if you pass enough questions on this exam you’re going to be able to teach physics to young people.” This is the world that we live in today. It’s a disservice to students and to the teachers as well. So, if I could wave a magic wand, I would ask every single institution of higher learning that provides a teaching degree or certification, what can we do to help develop content expertise? Also, I wish we developed more rigorous practicums or required more mentorship for teachers. Pilots are required to practice in a flight simulator before flying a plane, let alone a commercial jet filled to the brink with passengers. Why can’t we offer a similar level of training and support for our teachers?


This is demanding. We need teachers with content knowledge, pedagogical skills, classroom management skills, and a mindset that has high expectations for students. It’s a very challenging profession that demands a heart of gold, and yet teachers are not well compensated which does not assist with the recruitment, retention, or engagement of the most qualified educators.


I wish every teacher had the mindset to set the highest expectation for every single child and know that every child has the capacity to succeed. Then, we need to end criminalizing children with failed programs and policies that do not work.


There’s a story of a debate between Harvard students and inmates. Well, the inmates defeated the Harvard debate team. What caused these talented people to end up in prison instead of Harvard? There’s also the story of undocumented high school students from Arizona who beat MIT students in a robotics competition. While the MIT students flourish before and after the competition, the bright Arizona students struggled by comparison due to their immigration status. Current laws and how they are implemented may have unintended consequences. A law designed to help may end up hurting instead, so we must develop a more progressive system that attempts to correct the unintended consequences, especially when they become evident.


I hope that all members of our community, whether from the corporate world, local churches, or community centers, would become more active and involved in education. Everyone, both young and old, must realize the importance of investing, evaluating, and assessing what’s happening in the educational realm, especially at the K-12 level.

The achievement gap will close when a significant investment is made in developing a very talented teacher pool that is available to go into every school. We obviously have a lot to do. We must start with a baseline evaluation of the current landscape. We must come together as a city and ask, “Are we a community that cares about educational excellence and equity for all children? If so, what can we do as a city to improve what presently exists?”



MMJ: How does the Mayor’s Division of Education increase public awareness and what has the response been from citizens on how you inform them of your progress?


JS: I speak about education to everyone and anyone who listens. In the past, all of my presentations exclusively focused on HISD, but now my presentations encompass a larger vision of what’s happening in this beautiful and amazing city that we love. The grander vision of what I’m able to do in this capacity is to ask the question: “Where do we see ourselves in the next 20, 30 or 40 years, and what is our strategic vision and plan to help improve the quality of education by collaborating, communicating, coordinating, and allocating resources in a more effective manner?” How can we be the progressive city that Mayor Turner wants us to be? How can Houston be a leader in solving community issues and improving education opportunity for all of its residents?


It’s time for Houston to flourish and shine regionally and nationally! But we must improve our collaboration and communication. I believe collaboration is something that is very important to Mayor Turner especially given his longstanding leadership style in the Texas legislature. I feel that we are living in an era of tremendous opportunity to create innovative and transformative initiatives. It’s time to open the doors of educational opportunity for everyone.



MMJ: What advice would you give to budding professionals looking to break into your field of work and what qualities do you look for in a potential candidate?


JS: I look for curiosity, creativity, and the ability to effectively question. It is so important for a professional to always remain curious and to strive to learn something new every day. Young professionals must also develop their communication skills and learn how to be effective team players. It is also essential to identify issues and offer creative solutions.


Personally, young professionals should ask questions and also ask for help when needed. It is imperative to find a good mentor. Sometimes, we may not want to show weakness by asking questions or asking for help, but these are really signs of tenacity, intelligence, and strength. Vulnerability helps you grow! Finally, do not be afraid to challenge yourself and take risks. Even if you fail, you will learn something new, and this will help you grow and develop as a leader.



MMJ: How do you get people on your team to live/buy/invest into your leadership philosophy?


JS: I respect my team members. I want them to be creative, so I give them plenty of room to “roam” and ask question. I want them to flourish based on their unique talents. I also want to expose them to new meetings, persons, and issues to help them grown via experience. I am also lucky to have a team that deeply cares about our community and education. Emma Oliver, in particular, was a classroom teacher in HISD and later served as part of Mayor Turner’s staff when he was in the legislature. She was heavily involved in legislation concerning education and has a passion for educational equity. Carlos Villegas, the young scholar from UH’s Hobby Center for Public Policy that will be starting on Monday and wants to focus on economic-educational policy. Maurice Frediere is majoring in Economics at Rice University, but he’s very interested in politics and educational policy. Victoria Chen previously taught, worked in HISD’s EMERGE program and is now getting her MBA at Yale. She’s interested in creating innovative programs to increase education completion rates for underrepresented groups. Kaleb Taylor is a political science major from Texas Southern University and a leader in his student government. He is very politically astute, a great collaborator in the community, and has a clear vision of what constitutes good government.


Each member of the team brings unique insights and talent. Interestingly, most of the team chose me. They wanted to work with me because this is something innovative and new and important to them. I deeply value and appreciate this fact because it shows they are committed to educational issues.


I look back to my last year at Rice University when I served as a student intern for Council Member John Peavy from 1994 or 1995 to 1996. Until my present position, I tell folks that my council internship was the best job I ever had. I loved engaging and working with the community and utilizing what I had learned in the classroom to effectuate change in the real world. It was a deeply transformative experience. So, I deeply appreciate Mayor Turner offering me a chance to return to City Hall to help my community in this innovative capacity.



MMJ: Tell me about a time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.


JS: When I was a child, I remember my father coming home with a warning ticket, and he was supposed to provide a response, and he was very worried. It was so evident in his face. He did not want to lose his job, and we were all worried as he was the sole provider. Since both of my parents are immigrants and English is their second language, providing a written response posed a daunting challenge. So, I asked my father if I could help write his response.


My parents had purchased a typewriter for me and my sister, so I remember sitting down with my father, and he explained what happened. I believe I was in 8th or 9th grade, so I sat down, reviewed my notes, and typed up his response. The next day, he took the letter to work, and they asked him, “Who in the world helped you with this?” Fortunately, the letter resolved the issue. My dad just needed someone to effectively present his side of the story.


I remember thinking as a little girl, “My goodness, this typewriter is so powerful!” As a child, I thought it was the typewriter, but I later realized it’s the power of the written word. It’s the ability to present someone’s side of the story, to explain their position. Ultimately, this experience made me want to become an attorney. I did not know what a lawyer was back then, but what I felt like I was doing was serving as an advocate for my father and by doing so I realized that there are so many people that need an advocate to serve and help them. Without an advocate, people remain fearful. They’re afraid and so worried about what’s happening that they may just take what they can get and move on. Every person is entitled to quality counsel and a good advocate whether in the courtroom, the classroom, a board room, or community. This was just one of those moments in my life that transformed and shaped me. My dad presented me with my first case.



MMJ: Is there anything that you would like to share with the City of Houston’s workforce, or something you wish people knew more about you or your department?


JS: We hope to have a meaningful impact in opening doors of opportunity to all people in the City of Houston. We want education to be something that is consistently and regularly discussed. We want folks to know that it’s not something that is nebulous and far reaching. There are many different programs within the community that can provide access to educational resources for free or at reduced costs. We’re working on ways to open the communication channels and informational opportunities so that people are aware of the wonderful, quality resources that exist. We also want to work with the community to create an improved strategic vision and plan of where we want to go collectively as a community. Our goal is to break down the current structural barriers. We are here to serve as educational advocates for all.

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Achieve Your Career Goals with our Effective Career Planning Course

To travel to a particular destination, most people take the necessary steps to figure out the most efficient route to that destination. If they hit the road without checking out the route ahead of time, they may end up wasting time and valuable resources, or, worse, they may get lost.


This is the case with your career path. If you don’t take the time to plan ahead and anticipate detours and other potential obstacles along the way, your career may hit a snag or get derailed. Effective Career Planning is a course designed to guide you along the way to ensure a smooth journey to your career goals.


Learning Outcomes


After participating in this course, you will learn:

  • The basics of writing a winning resume
  • The marketable skills set that can add value to your employer
  • Critical soft skills that complement your chosen field of endeavor
  • Networking resources that can give you a lift
  • The art of the job interview with mock interviews demonstrated in class


Content


This course has two components. The first delves into the skills of writing high-impact resumes step by step. Also, the do’s and don’ts of the resume format and content will be examined. The second component of the course will take an in-depth look at the art of an interview.


The various types of interviews will be discussed with focus on:

  • How to prepare for any interview
  • How to rehearse and master strategies that will help you answer typical job interview questions
  • What to wear and what NOT to wear for the interview
  • How to answer the dreaded question: “What are your weaknesses?”
  • When to ask and when NOT to ask questions during the interview
  • How to negotiate the maximum salary you deserve
  • How to improve your chances of landing the job after the interview
Click Here to Register for August 3rd

Instructor Led: Mosis Willett| Price: $35.00 | Manager Approval Required: Yes

Click Here to Register for September 1st

Instructor Led: Mosis Willett| Price: $35.00 | Manager Approval Required: Yes

Click Here to Register for October 5th

Instructor Led: Mosis Willett| Price: $35.00 | Manager Approval Required: Yes

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Strengthening Your Core courses are still available!

The Strengthening Your Core Program focuses on eight behavioral factors that are commonly chosen as part of the HEAR plan. This program is designed to provide you with more in-depth training on the eight behavioral factors.


Participants will:

  • Gain further understanding of the behavioral factors and how they pertain to job performance
  • Learn the behavioral factors and their definitions
  • Be able to identify the metrics used by supervisors to rate each behavioral factor


Strengthening Your Core

Date: Friday, July 22, 2016 - Friday, September 16, 2016

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Location: Learning and Development Center | 4501 Leeland Street, Houston, TX, 77023


For more information, please contact Dawn Janis at dawn.janis@houstontx.gov or visit the TMS website: https://talent.houstontx.gov

Please Register Below for Strengthening Your Core (SYC):

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CAPS Graduates - 2016

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The City of Houston Announces Graduation Ceremony from the Learning and Development Center’s (LDC) City Accreditation Program for Supervisors (CAPS)

CAPS is our middle management multi-track program consisting of eighteen sessions designed to assist supervisor competencies in managing various circumstances regarding employee workday considerations and performances


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Houston, TX—June 21, 2016—The CAPS graduation ceremony took place at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, at the Learning and Development Center—4501 Leeland Street, in Houston, Texas. This year’s graduating class was comprised of 35 City of Houston employees.


LDC Administration Manager, Tony Bolar, delivered the opening remarks followed by Karen Harris, Training Administrator for the LDC, who facilitated the graduate recognition and the introduction of guest speaker, Stephen L. Williams, director for the City of Houston's Health Department. The graduate speech was delivered by Gilbert Aguillon, Houston Airport System.


“CAPS is an amazing resource that every front line supervisor should experience. I had no idea when I began the class that I was going to learn so much from so many great subject matter experts. But even more than that, I have made both friendships and professional contacts that will last for the rest of my career with COH and beyond,” said Gilbert Aguillon, Airport Operations Superintendent for the Houston Airport System (HAS).


As the program grows in the future, the LDC will continue to foster this ever-expanding workforce of front-line supervisors, working to cultivate the interpersonal aspects of supervision and to help or assist established supervisors to advance their skills in the public sector.


Event photos and additional information about the graduation can be found on the LDC’s website at http://www.houstontx.gov/ldc/



About the Learning and Development Center

The Learning and Development Center (LDC) is a strategic development and employee performance improvement organization that offers comprehensive training solutions that significantly affect performance and institutional outcomes. The LDC’s consultancy is comprised of an experienced team of professionals with the knowledge and capabilities to design and implement strategies that help our clients’ achieve their goals. The LDC’s primary focus is to provide transformational learning programs that enhance the skills, job competencies, and improve performance and overall satisfaction for the City of Houston's workforce.


For more information, please visit the LDC website at http://www.houstontx.gov/ldc/


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Contact: Mahogany Johnson

Tel. 832-395-4895

Email: Mahogany.johnson@houstontx.gov

Click Here to View our Calendar of Classes

***Click on the following course title to register in the Talent Management System (TMS).***

Employee Learning Spotlight

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Featuring Lucy Romero: Chief Nurse and Program Supervisor for the City of Houston's Health and Human Services Department (HHD)


MMJ: What is your role at the Houston Health Department?


LR: Chief Nurse and Program Supervisor for the Nurse-Family Partnership program at Sunnyside Health Center.



MMJ: How has the Houston Health Department helped you in your career development?


LR: The City has given me the opportunity to advance from nurse home visitor to program supervisor within the Nurse-Family Partnership program. I had 6 years combined as a nurse home visitor with the City of Houston and the University Health System in San Antonio’s Nurse-Family Partnership program. At the time, the program was new to Sunnyside and most staff were in training. So it was helpful that I already knew the program well. It was a win-win for us all.



MMJ: What are three career lessons you’ve learned thus far, here or elsewhere?


LR: A) That most people leave their jobs because of bad supervisors. Therefore it is important to try and get to know your employees on a more personal level, find out their communication styles, and find out their strengths and weaknesses and build on them. B) If an employee has a concern, put them at ease first and that will build trust. Most people are just looking to have their feelings validated and acknowledged. C) The concept behind “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.” The key concepts seem simple but require effort, discipline and persistence that few teams are able to master. However, an effective leader is able to master this and build a high performance team.



MMJ: What does true leadership mean to you?


LR: True leadership is not about being in a certain position or title, but rather it is based on action and example. A boss says, “Go!” but a true leader says, “Let’s Go!” A boss says, “You have failed to meet your quota this month.” A true leader says, “we have failed to meet quota this month.” A true leader gives credit, a boss takes credit.



MMJ: If you could switch positions with anyone else within the City of Houston, whose job would you want?


LR: I think it would have to be Director Stephen Williams. He's so happy and proud of his dedicated team. I never find him in a bad mood. Even when things look bleak, he has a way of making you feel as if everything will be okay. He is a great example of an effective leader.



MMJ: If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?


LR: July 20, 1969, The Apollo 11 Moon Landing. I would have loved to have seen Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. I can only imagine it was exhilarating.



MMJ: What’s your motto or personal mantra?


LR: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.“



MMJ: Favorite line from a movie?


LR: “Houston, we have a problem!” – Apollo 13

Upcoming Industry Webinars & Events

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ATD's Core 4 Conference

Foundational Elements of Learning and Talent Development

Talent development professionals want to create better learning experiences, but they don't want to wade through a sea of information or waste time on topics that don't directly affect them today. ATD’s Core 4 Conference focuses on the most crucial, practical, and fundamental topics needed to effectively develop learners.


This two-day event features sessions from our best and most popular speakers on the most essential topics for all learning and development professionals: Instructional Design, Training Delivery, Measurement & Evaluation, and Learning Technologies.


Actionable takeaways:

  • Design better training programs that truly change behavior and improve performance.
  • Develop and deliver events that engage learners.
  • Evaluate the impact of your solutions.
  • Create engaging and effective e-learning experiences.
Full Conference Registration - Click Here

*Savings compare early bird rates to individual on-site rates and are not applicable to any other rate.

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Work has Changed. Has Your Learning?

Organizations are constantly evolving - exploring new markets, improving processes and developing new products. Why is it then that so many do not give their employees opportunities to evolve as well? If the workforce isn’t developed, it can stagnate and prevent the type of innovation companies need to excel. Also, research from the Harvard Business Review states that a lack of development is the number two reason people in their 30’s leave a job.


Join David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst with Brandon Hall Group and Instructure as they explore strategies for developing the types of learning experiences necessary to engage and develop the modern workforce.


Discussion topics include:

  • Current trends in learning strategy and technology
  • The expansion of the learning ecosystem
  • Strategies for creating more effective learning experiences
  • Best practices of high performing organizations


Topic: Work has Changed. Has Your Learning?

Date: Thursday, Aug 4, 2016

Time: 12:00 p.m. CDT

Host: http://brandonhall.com/

Are Your Leaders Really Ready for Today and Tomorrow’s Business Challenges?

Leadership readiness is stuck in the status quo.


Brandon Hall Group’s research shows that only 12% of organizations currently feel their leadership is very ready to meet the needs of the organization and only 5% feel their leaders are very ready to take on the future needs – organizations as just not “leadership ready”.

Organizations need to accelerate the velocity and positively change the trajectory of their leadership development programs by focusing on how to better help their leaders grow – the question is how do we accomplish this?


Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer for the Brandon Hall Group and Jim Kauffman, Product Manager and Executive Consultant from DDI, will lead an in-depth discussion regarding the steps organizations need to do to accelerate development with a more effective leadership development program. They will cover the best practices for turning a stagnant program into an acceleration program.


This session will explore:

  • What is the state of leadership development?
  • How do organizations assess where they are and where they need to go with leadership development?
  • What are the challenges impacting leadership development?
  • What are some of the practical solutions organizations are implementing to address these challenges?


Topic: Are Your Leaders Really Ready for Today and Tomorrow’s Business Challenges?

Date: Tuesday, Aug 23, 2016

Time: 12:00 p.m. CDT

Host: http://brandonhall.com/

About the Learning and Development Center-The Center for Excellence

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At a glance...

The Learning and Development Center (LDC) develops and provides programs designed to empower and enhance employee skills and competencies for improved performance and job satisfaction. Our services also extend to external businesses, organizations, and communities.


Our mission is to build a world-class, responsive and results-oriented workforce by providing the following:

  • Learning that meets critical business goals and needs
  • Lifelong learning opportunities that will prepare employees for life and work in an increasingly technological society

Facility Features

The LDC is a two-story, 54,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility featuring:

  • An auditorium capable of seating 150 with fold-down desktops
  • Instructor computers connected to HD projectors and the Internet
  • 170 available campus parking spaces
  • Break-room area with microwaves and refrigerators
  • Welcoming lobby area
  • Open atrium for al fresco activities

Internal & External Room Rental Request Forms

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If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government

When you’re frustrated with the bureaucracy of your job, it’s easy to forget that our government has led some of the greatest accomplishments in the history of humankind. Authors Eggers and O’Leary look at the traps that hold back the success of government leaders. Their advice helps you identify and overcome common government leadership pitfalls like overconfidence, complacency, limited vision, and project management failures.


The authors identify pitfalls including:

  • The Partial Map Trap: Fumbling handoffs throughout project execution
  • The Tolstoy Syndrome: Seeing only the possibilities you want to see
  • Design-Free Design: Designing policies for passage through the legislature, not for implementation
  • The Overconfidence Trap: Creating unrealistic budgets and timelines
  • The Complacency Trap: Failing to recognize that a program needs change

At a time of unprecedented challenges, this book, with its abundant examples and hands-on advice, is the essential guide to making our government work better. A must-read for every public official, this book will be of interest to anyone who cares about the future of democracy.
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Fact Check:

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

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