January 2018 - Recap
In January, we took off running in the direction of higher achievement and greater success. We hosted our annual male mentorship summit, the 2018 class from Leadership Southwest and a site visit from the H-E-B Finalist judges panel. These are just a few of the wonderful happenings of January 2018. We definitely expect greater things to occur during this semester.
Please know that your involvement and decision to allow us to shape your children to successfully thrive in society, achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy fills us with appreciation and gratitude.
Enjoy this publication, designed especially for you, to keep you informed and connected to the accomplishments and achievements of the Lancaster ISD community.
Did you know that there are at least 37 Reasons to Love Lancaster ISD!
Lancaster ISD Named as District Finalist for 2018 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award
San Antonio, TX/Lancaster ISD – H-E-B recently announced that Lancaster ISD is one of three finalists in the state for the Small District Excellence in Education Award.
“To be a finalist for the H-E-B award is an honor, and I feel a sense of validation for the work that the team is doing for our students in Lancaster ISD,” Lancaster ISD Superintendent Elijah Granger said. “H-E-B believes in excellence, so you have to be doing some great things to make the cut.”
Members of the H-E-B judging committee visited Lancaster ISD on January 22 for a site visit to learn more about the district.
“Hosting the distinguished judges was an honor within itself,” Mr. Granger said. “It was great to have judges of such caliber to witness the wonderful work that our students are engaged in as they were able to experience first-hand, quality student engagement and Problem-Based Learning in action.”
Much of the visit consisted of touring two secondary campuses to view classes and speak with staff and students.
“They personally interacted with students, student leaders, district staff, parents, and community members,” Executive Director of Special Education and Programs Ruby Batiste said. “They saw innovative teaching occurring in various classrooms and collaborative leadership teams who are passionate about student success.”
After visiting the secondary campuses, the judges engaged in an interview with the superintendent and district leaders as well as a roundtable lunch discussion with a diverse group of district stakeholders which included a student, teacher, parents and community partners.
Because the district collaborates and has strategic partnerships with the City of Lancaster as well as Cedar Valley College (CVC), representatives from both organizations joined the lunch discussion. The district invited Lancaster Mayor Marcus E. Knight and CVC College Readiness Director Olivia Guerra to share their perspectives and roles in the district’s progress.
“Our mayor is simply wonderful. It just took a simple phone call and he made it a priority to be at the visit,” Chief Communications Officer Sonya Cole-Hamilton said. “But the best thing is that both he and Olivia have firsthand knowledge and experience of what we’ve been doing in the district because they have been alongside us every step of the way. They didn’t need talking points because they have walked this journey with us and share our passion and experiences.”
Lancaster ISD’s academic progress and improvement in fiscal management have led to many grant opportunities and external partnerships. During the last four years, the district has received more than 100 Academic Distinctions from the Texas Education Agency and received a Superior Achievement Rating on its most recent Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) metric. These efforts led to the Lancaster ISD Board of Trustees being recently named the 2016 Most Outstanding School Board in Texas by the Texas Association of School Administrators and the National School Board of the Year by the National Alliance of Black School Educators.
During the last few years, the successful transformation of Lancaster ISD has led to the district hosting more than 50 site visits from districts and organizations across the state — including a delegation from Hawaii — to share best practices in the areas of STEM Education, Early Childhood, College and Career Readiness, Blended Learning and more.
The judges who visited Lancaster ISD had extensive experience in education and brought unique perspectives to their visit.
“It was an awesome experience to share who we are with such a knowledgeable group of judges. Their knowledge base and passion for equity in education was so refreshing,” Batiste said. “Their passion, enthusiasm, and attentiveness allowed our students, staff, and community stakeholders to really shine during the visit.”
School Board member and district alumna Ellen Clark said that she was excited about the recognition and that the judges had an opportunity to hear about the district’s accomplishments from staff and students in person.
“Being recognized for your work is food for the soul,” she said. “An academic honor is the highest praise a school district can receive. Our citizens need to know that academic success is the first goal of our district. While other achievements like sports and arts get more public attention, our purpose is to educate our students for success.”
Since the program’s inception, H-E-B has awarded more than $9 million in funding to benefit outstanding Texas public schools. This year, H-E-B will award a total of $82,500 to the finalists and school boards, who will go on to compete for even greater cash prizes at the statewide level. Each finalist in the large district and early childhood categories, as well as the five recognized school boards, will receive $5,000; the three finalists in the small district category will receive $2,500.
Winners will be announced at the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards ceremony on May 6 at the Marriott Marquis in Houston. The winning large district will receive $100,000; the winning small district $50,000.
The 2018 school district finalists are as follows:
SMALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Marble Falls ISD – Marble Falls, Texas
Lancaster ISD – Lancaster, Texas
Angleton ISD – Angleton, Texas
LARGE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD – Schertz, Texas
Fort Bend ISD – Sugar Land, Texas
McAllen ISD – McAllen, Texas
Harlingen CISD – Harlingen, Texas
Tomball ISD – Tomball, Texas
Lancaster ISD Hosted Leadership Southwest Class of 2018
The group of about 30 people from the business, civic and education communities toured the West Main campus, enjoyed student performances from the Fine Arts Academy and learned about the academic excellence in Lancaster ISD.
Leadership Southwest is a cooperative effort sponsored by the Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville and Lancaster Chamber of Commerce.
Leadership Southwest is designed for the development of tomorrow’s leaders and community volunteers on boards, councils, and commissions by making significant contributions to the future of Southwest Dallas County.
Leadership Southwest was started in 1985 with 23 participants. In its thirtieth years of existence, over 1000 community residents and business leaders have graduated through the program and a vast majority of those alumni serve on city councils, and sit on boards of local chambers, schools, hospitals, economic development, and planning and zoning committees as well as having sought service through elected offices.
Learn more at Leadershipsw.org.
News from Athletics
The WEBO Nation would like to publicly congratulate Coach Douglas on this awesome career milestone and wish the Tigers continued success during district play!
News From Academics and Innovation
Lancaster ISD Reading Challenge Opens February 1
Lancaster, TX/Lancaster ISD – February 1 was World Read Aloud Day and served as the launch date of the inaugural February Lancaster ISD Reading Challenge. All members of the community are encouraged to join students and staff by taking the online pledge to allocate 15 minutes each day to reading this month.
The criteria of the challenge encourages reading together as a family, reading before bed time, participating in read-aloud activities with family and/or friends, visiting the City of Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library or your local library to check out a new book.
Lancaster ISD Executive Director of School Improvement and Bilingual Education and Reading Challenge Coordinator, Dr. Tonia Howard believes that this challenge will help lead to great outcomes for children at home and at school.
“The short-term goal is to encourage our students to read, encourage adults to read with children and to model or develop life-long reading habits, Dr. Howard said. “We want our students to develop the love of reading and not just to read for a grade or an assignment.”
District leaders were excited when the mayor of Lancaster, Hon. Marcus E. Knight, agreed to help promote the month of reading and recorded a video which is posted at www.LancasterISD.org.
“It’s only 15 minutes a day and you get the opportunity to learn about so many new and exciting things happening in this world,” he said.
Throughout the month, students and staff will continue their regular use of reading plans during their academic day, but will also experience increased programming centered on literacy and specifically reading.
Dr. Howard shared that many of the campuses will host read-alouds throughout the challenge and that guest readers are scheduled throughout the month to read to students. The district will also highlight the campus that receives the most pledges for the Reading Challenge. In addition, the city’s public library, The Lancaster Veterans Memorial Library will host a book sale.
Although February is the shortest month and has only 28 days, according to noted Professor Maxwell Maltz, a renowned doctor and author of Psycho‑Cybernetics, it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit. Therefore, within this month, there is still enough time to encourage the love for the library and to promote a sustainable focus on literacy that continues after the events conclude.
Dr. Howard added, “There are so many benefits to reading – improved vocabulary, free entertainment, improved focus and concentration, improved writing skills, develop knowledge and reduces stress.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who are read to frequently, especially at home, enjoy a substantial advantage over children who are not afforded this opportunity. The U.S. Department of Education also found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores.
“It takes all of us working together to change the mindset for some of our students who don’t like to read,” Dr. Howard said. “We need to figure out why and how we can help them to change their thinking about reading so that they are college and career ready. It takes all of us working together to make that happen.”
Dr. Howard and her team have launched this challenge to help create a new awareness within the city in alignment with the Village 2020 Plan help to bolster a community shift.
“We want to encourage students, parents and our community to get actively involved in reading and writing. There are many cities throughout the country that are involved in community wide events and literacy is a great area of focus to get everyone involved in and supporting because our community benefits from the outcome,” she said.
Lancaster ISD Early Childhood Specialist Dr. Angie Knight understands the necessity of a strong focus on literacy even for children who may be too young to read alone and encourages parents to read to their children as early and as often as they can.
“Children’s vocabulary utilization at age 3 is a strong predictor of language skill and reading comprehension at age 9-10. Furthermore, vocabulary usage in first grade can predict more than 30% of 11th-grade reading comprehension,” she said. “If students are read to as little as 20 minutes per day 5 times per week; they are being exposed to 100 minutes of reading per week, 400 minutes of reading per month, 3,600 minutes in one school year, and approximately 21,732 minutes by the end of fifth grade.”
“Early and consistent exposure to books from an early age will fuel a love and passion for reading that will ultimately propel children toward success in school and beyond.”
Lancaster ISD invites the community to accept the February Lancaster ISD Reading Challenge. Go to the district website today at www.LancasterISD.org and click on the Reading Banner to take the pledge today.
George Washington Carver Student Wins District Spelling Bee
Lancaster, TX/Lancaster ISD – Lancaster ISD recently hosted its annual District Spelling Bee at Lancaster High School for fourth through seventh grade students. The evening consisted of 8 spelling bee scholars and 16 rounds. At the close of the first seven rounds, two students remained to vie for the top seat.
Harmonee Lester from George Washington Carver 6th Grade STEM Learning Center was in strong competition with fifth grade student, Alexis Evans from Rosa Parks/Millbrook Information Systems & Software Designs Academy. Both students were first time participants and eager to win.
“The competition was kind of challenging because some of the words were in different languages and a lot of them were homonyms,” Evans said. “I had to know exactly what word they were talking about, so I asked more questions and asked for sentences.”
The two students went nine more words rounds, and Lester emerged victorious with the word, “Retrospective.”
“I felt great,” Lester said. “I was elated!”
For Evans, second place was good, but not good enough so she is already making plans for next year’s competition.
“Next year, I would love to get first place on my campus again so I can compete in the District Spelling Bee,” she said. “I really want to win first place in the District Spelling Bee.”
Lancaster ISD Academics and Innovation Pre-K-2 Support Officer and 2018 District Spelling Bee Coordinator Lynne Glynn understands the valuable connection of the preparation for the district competition to the everyday learning environment and believes that it instills a sense of pride.
“Encouraging excellence in spelling has a positive impact on writing which is a critical life skill. The level of complexity of the words presented to these students also increases their exposure to vocabulary. This in turn, has a positive impact on reading comprehension,” she said. “My hope is that the spelling bee competition encourages these students to take pride in their academics and continue to strive for that excellence through high school and on into college and life.”
Since Lester and Evans are the top two winners of the Lancaster ISD Spelling Bee, both will advance to the Dallas County Spelling Bee scheduled for Thursday, February 22 at 7 PM, at Studio Movie Grill at 10110 Technology Blvd in Dallas, Texas.
Lancaster Middle School Wins Dallas MLK Community Center Essay Contest
Eighth grade Lancaster Elsie Robertson Middle School student, Kaiden Drain, won the 2018 Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest held by the Dallas Martin Luther King Community Center. He was the middle school division winner. He competed against other junior high students of Dallas County.
Kaiden was featured and represented Lancaster ISD at the MLK Community Center's candlelight ceremony, awards banquet, and in the annual MLK parade in Dallas, as its Top Middle School Essay winner. The other winners were from other Dallas County schools.
Bond Update: WRA Completes Middle School & Ninth Grade Center Renderings
News From the Office of Student Affairs
Meet Mr. Joseph Showell, the New Executive Director of Student Affairs
Mr. Showell has 26 years of experience in the field of education and served in various roles. Specifically, he has been a math teacher and coach, assistant principal, dean of instruction and principal.
For the last five years, Mr. Showell has served as the principal of Lancaster High School and during his time at the helm, the student population grew from a little more than 1,600 students to 2,050.
During this time of student growth, the campus maintained attendance rates and graduation rates which were higher than the state of Texas. In fact, Lancaster High School still maintains the highest graduation rate and met standard according to the state of Texas on the state accountability system in each of the years Mr. Showell was principal. Lancaster also earned multiple academic distinctions for student performance on state STAAR exams.
Lancaster ISD Hosts My Brother's Keeper Summit at Cedar Valley College
On January 19, male students in grades third through twelfth received guidance from male mentors from the DFW community including speakers from the City of Lancaster, local clergy and leaders from within Lancaster ISD at the recent My Brother's Keeper Male Youth Summit held at Cedar Valley College.
The 2018 summit theme was "Create Your Narrative" and encouraged the students to plan out their own success story and to reflect on their current actions to see if they are leading them in the direction that they desire to go in life.
City of Lancaster Mayor Marcus E. Knight stopped by and shared some rich words of wisdom for the students and reminded them that it is never too early to get involved in the community and to commit to serving others above themselves.
"You can find joy and entertainment in serving others and help demonstrate to other people that it is not about you and what you want, but it is how you can make your community better," he said.
He also encouraged the young men to start today to find something that they can do to help others. Specifically, he spoke about academic tutoring and asked students to reach out and help other peers who are struggling and help them to succeed.
Mayor Knight encouraged the students to be a servant of their community and see how they can make the neighborhood, homes, and even workplace better. He reminded them of the goals of the summit and unique of the opportunity that they had in front of them to learn words of wisdom.
"We need good young men and good people in this world. You have the ability to be a benefit to others and it starts right now. Whatever you learn, you have to take it and put it in practice."
Deputy Superintendent of Governmental Relations and Student Affairs Dr. Lamont Smith served as the keynote and invited the students to reflect on their current circumstances using the childhood fable, Humpty Dumpty. He used this fable to connect the point of hope beyond a fall. He also took time to help students understand how to recognize their readiness level, to understand that they can step up and achieve more.
During his presentation, the energy and engagement overflowed in the room as Dr. Smith energetically encouraged the students to actively be their brother's keeper by not letting their friends be around the wrong crowd, make bad mistakes, but to help each other up after a fall and extend their hands to help others.
Each student received a journal stamped with the event's theme that will be used throughout the year to record reflective, opportunities to learn and grow. He left these inspiring words in the ears of the crowd, "reflect, learn, grow because WE ARE OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER!
Then, the students spent the remainder of the day learning in breakout sessions on various topics led by other leaders to offer a closer discussion on the pre-assigned topics that coincided with the event theme and also aimed to educate motivate and help students learn to lead from where they are, know who they are and become an even better person.
Parents of 8th Grade students, Please Mark your Calendars!
Strengthening Families Team to Host Its Annual Valentines Dinner and Dance Event
Bring your dancing shoes and your appetite and a fun night of dancing and family engagement - The Tiger Way. This event is open to all students (grades Pre-K through 12th) and their families.
Please contact the Special Education Department at (972) 218-1635 for more information.
News from College and Career Readiness Department
Meet the 2018 Inaugural Lancaster ISD Honor Board Scholarship Recipients
The winners are:
o Corey Layton – University of Houston
o Kyla Taylor – Clark Atlanta University
o Ricky Dillard – Texas A&M University
o Rodney Wheeler – University of North Texas
o Germaine Jones – Houston Baptist University
o Fre-Drika Aubrey – Texas Southern University
This is an annual scholarship opportunity for recent Lancaster High School alum who are currently enrolled in college and meet the application criteria.
Parents, Students and Friends : Make Plans to Attend EDCamp Early College High School
JOIN THE LSECHS TEAM FOR THIS FREE COMMUNITY EVENT ON FEBRUARY 17!
Lancaster STEM Early College High School invites you to its first EdCamp Early College High School at Cedar Valley College, Building M, 3030 North Dallas Avenue, Lancaster, TX 75134.
The EdCamp is an open, free “unconference” committed to reaching all students, parents, and educators interested in learning more about the intersection of college and high school through early college programs.
This event is FREE! No keynotes and no vendors on site. LEARNING is the main Focus! It is for everyone, including parents, students, all educators.
REGISTER AT edcampechs.eventbrite.com
News From the Child Nutrition Department
- You can access your students lunch account from wherever you are
- Keep up with your child's meal balances online or via the app
- Check cafeteria balances & purchases
- Receive low balance alerts
- Set up automatic payments
Download or logon to www.myschoolbucks.com today.
Click to see the menu for the campus breakfast and lunch service.
News from the Health and Safety Departments
Heath Services Reminder: Don't Let the Flu Get You!
We have noticed an increase in student absences due to cold/flu-like illnesses, and the following notification is to inform you of our proactive, precautionary measures and to ask that you help us maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.
As customary this time of the year, we have increased the frequency of our deep disinfection of the building to help keep our environment as clean and germ-free as possible. In fact, proper health and safety protocols have been in progress including ensuring that common areas and water fountains are disinfected throughout the day.
However, since viruses can spread easily from person to person, we need your help to prevent such cases in students and staff. It is important for all staff, students and families to take the following precautions to help maintain the wellness of our learning community:
• If your child is ill with flu or strep-like symptoms, it is extremely necessary for you to keep him/her at home. Remember that students cannot return to school until the fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the help of anti-fever medicines.
• If your child shows signs of severe illness – such as difficulty breathing – please seek immediate emergency care.
• Please practice and continue to remind your children to wash their hands with soap and water, use hand-sanitizer regularly, cover their cough with their elbow, avoid touching their face and to stay away from other sick people as much as possible.
For more information about flu, its symptoms and treatment, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.flu.gov. Also, please use the Dallas County Health and Human Services influenza resources and updates available at: http://www.dallascounty.org.
Upcoming District Events and Deadlines
Lancaster ISD Black History Bowl is February 10
We invite you to hear the creative thoughts of students in the W.E.B. DuBois Essay Contest and to see the unique talents of our art contest participants.
In addition, you can see firsthand the campus and team that will take home the title of winner at the close of the Black History Academic Bowl Competition.
Make plans to be there.
Cedar Valley College To Host National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Signing Day on February 15
On February 15, 2018 at 10 AM, Cedar Valley College will join more than 60 other technical colleges across the country to host the CTE Letter of Intent Signing Day. This event, in its fifth year was conceived and is sponsored by the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Last year forty-four colleges and 2,400 students participated in this event which mirrors the NCAA’s National Signing Day for athletes. It is designed to honor students who are entering a technical field and to celebrate the dignity of the work.
Cedar Valley College will invite Lancaster ISD students who have identified a CTE program of study in which to pursue to campus and honor them by presenting them with caps, pens, a program specific gift and a frame able letter of intent to sign.
Please contact the LHS College and Career Center to see if your student will be among those who will attend this celebratory event.
Lancaster MLK Foundation Hosted its Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Program
City of Lancaster Wants You To Accept the Community Health Challenge
Parents, students and community members can all sign up to help push Lancaster to the top as one of the healthiest cities. Once you create a profile account, just continue to log your health activity each day for points.
New this year, you can connect a device such as your fitbit and receive points as it updates. You can also upload healthy selfies and participate in Lancaster’s health-focused events. The contest ends March 4, 2018. If you have not registered you can do so now at: https://ittcommunitychallenge.com.
Why Should you sign up? If the city and district both win first place a monetary gift will be awarded.
Reminder from Lancaster the ISD Communications Department: Stay Connected!
Get the App: Keep Lancaster ISD at Your Finger Tips!
In Texas, we know that there is a potential to have inclement weather and we may have to make some adjustments to our regular school schedule. We want to be certain that you have updated your information in our database. Our goal is to keep you connected and engaged to Lancaster ISD news and information, however, the last thing that we want to do is become a nuisance.
This SchoolMessenger parent video clearly communicates how you can set your preferences for school notifications. Click the link to view the short video about setting your preferences: https://vimeo.com/schoolmessenger/parentpreferences
Let's Talk! is an always-on communication channel, allowing you to share your thoughts with us at any time. Click the button above to get started!
In Lancaster ISD, our VISION is 2020!
Lancaster ISD Beliefs:
Equity in education is a human right.
Educators, parents and students share in the responsibility of developing well-rounded individuals.
Engaged, relevant learning experiences provide for a quality education leading to a quality life.
Learning is a life-long process that is enhanced by taking risks.
A person has the capacity to learn from past experiences.
Purposeful planning to meet individual student needs leads to intentional outcomes for student success.
The Mission of Lancaster ISD
- March 1 EHS
- March 6 JHS
- March 9 Early Release