All About ACE

News from the Spring ISD Advisory Committee on Education

2020-2021 Issue 6

The Advisory Committee on Education Takes on More Issues that Matter in the District

The district’s ACE committee convened on Wednesday, Mar. 31 for its regular monthly meeting, which focused on discussion and feedback around the human capital initiatives and the teacher recruitment process. Dr. Rodney Watson opened the meeting with a lively recap of Spring Break and thanked everyone for their ongoing engagement and support of the district.

In the opening segment, “What’s on My Mind”, Dr. Watson discussed learning loss and acceleration, which was anchored on the district’s next steps and imperatives. First and foremost, districts across the state and nation are responding to students’ needs as they relate to learning loss due to the pandemic, as well as learning acceleration, as plans are made for a post-pandemic future.

“In analyzing the growing percentage of students who are failing courses, we must consider what more we can do to support them,” Dr. Watson said. He connected some of the students’ needs for support as similar to those of employees, “All of us have felt overwhelmed at some point during the pandemic,” Dr. Watson explained, “and concessions have been made for us. Let’s do the same for our scholars to ensure they are successful.”

While he called for strong support of our students both academically and from a social-emotional standpoint, Dr. Watson clearly expressed that he was not asking teachers to give students grades they have not rightfully earned. “By no means am I suggesting that students should be given grades. Hold them accountable and push them to rise to the standards of the courses you teach.”

ACE members shared feedback to these challenges and exchanged ideas in an outcome-oriented fashion. From making time for private student check-ins that allow teachers to find out why certain assignments are missing to tailoring major grades for a better balance with daily class assignments, the recommendations were all anchored in student success. “Don’t assume your scholars are just not turning in their assignments, take time to ask them,” one of the ACE teacher representatives said.

Another teacher shared how her team uses PLCs to plan assignments across their grade level to avoid overwhelming scholars with too many major assignments or tests at one time. The resonating message here was flexibility and Dr. Watson closed the opening segment of the meeting by acknowledging the committee members’ feedback and affirming our district’s core value, “I am confident that we’ll do what’s best for our students at all times.”

Human Resources and Human Capital and Accountability Delivers HR News You Can Use

The Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability department, led by Dr. Julie Hill, joined this month’s ACE meeting to share pertinent information and gather feedback on new and upcoming initiatives in the district.

Beginning with the Spring ISD Leadership Definition, which aims to become the lingua franca, or common language among all employees, ACE team members gained a deeper understanding of the true meaning of leadership in the district. Regardless of one’s position or job title, the leadership language connects to every employee’s daily actions and role. The definition clearly aligns with the district's mission, vision, and core values, and sparks team conversations around key behaviors, norms for interacting, and it creates a visual picture for service to others.

“Reading the competencies within the Leadership Definition produces inspiration and aspirations, and always takes me back to my ‘why’,” Dr. Hill stated. That said, the premise that everyone is a leader in Spring ISD is easier to understand since we all have a “why”.

Moreover, the Leadership Definition embodies a framework for growing leaders and providing a clear blueprint for success to develop professionally throughout the district without regard to level, department, or campus. “This is not a fad,” Dr. Watson added, “but rather, who we are as a district. Everyone in the organization should see themselves in the Leadership Definition as well as their own trajectory.”

The Assistant Superintendents of Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability, Dr. Tameka Bruce and Ms. Pamela Farinas, facilitated question prompts and dialogue with the ACE members to explore the core competencies of the Leadership Definition and describe what they look like in their unique campus and department contexts. They introduced the three core leadership competencies - Outcome-Driven, Service-Oriented, and Relationship-Centered - with the specific behaviors and corresponding indicators that help identify action steps employees can take to lead and influence others positively.

When asked to define an area of growth and development, several ACE members agreed that the Leadership Definition framework is a tool for self-reflection. “If our goal is to be more team-focused, we need to celebrate our successes, big and small, especially during these very challenging times we’re in right now,” a team member shared. The Leadership Definition was described as a central focus of one ACE team member’s department meetings, “We’re really focused on implementing the Leadership Definition with sincerity and transparency. If you’re not sincere, this work won’t mean anything to you.”

Many requests were made for in-depth professional learning sessions as well as Leadership Definition t-shirts to advance this district’s implementation plan with flair! Stay tuned for both as these plans are currently in progress. To recommend innovative ideas for further implementation of the Leadership Definition, kindly email Dr. Julie Hill at Meanwhile, all employees are encouraged to learn more about the Leadership Definition and Lead Spring initiative by visiting the website here. Spend some time exploring the competencies and how they apply to your work and responsibilities. Application is the foundation to a successful lingua franca, a meaningful common language.

Suiting Up for Summer Learning

Bright and sunny spring skies are more than an indication of a changing season. They are the district’s cue to finalize Summer School planning. While summer 2020 was admittedly a “one-of-a-kind” experience, summer 2021 will also look and feel different than those we knew before the pandemic. The Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability team unveiled the initial summer learning plans to the ACE for feedback and clarifying questions.

The primary goal of this year’s Summer School program is effective accelerated instruction over a 15-day period in June. “We are aiming to close the gaps our students face as a result of learning loss from the past year and we believe targeted, direct instruction is the key,” Dr. Hill explained.

Using MAP and Circle middle-of-year data to analyze student needs, the district’s Summer School resources will be designed to address the areas of greatest need accordingly. Included in these resource decisions are human resources, which Dr. Hill described as a very selective process.

“We will begin with an invitation-only Summer School teaching process, seeking our strongest talent to address students’ learning gaps,” Dr. Hill said. A differentiated pay scale is even being considered, with plans of paying Summer School teachers a higher hourly rate as well as a student-growth pay incentive that would be based on growth outcomes as determined by pre- and post-assessments.

“We have great expectations for these 15 days of summer instruction to ensure our scholars are stronger when they return in August,” Dr. Watson stated.

From a logistics standpoint, Summer School hub campuses are being identified to potentially house students from multiple campuses to attend for 15 Summer School instructional days, which will operate on a five-day-per-week basis for three weeks. Classes are expected to maintain a 16:1 student-teacher ratio and students of all special programs, including bilingual, English as a Second Language, and special education will be strongly encouraged to attend. Additional updates will be provided over the coming weeks as the Summer School 2021 plans are further developed.

Be the S.E.E.D.

Teacher recruitment is an ongoing process in Spring ISD, but it is of high importance during the spring semester of the school year. The Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability team shared the highlights of the teacher recruitment process and invited the ACE to take part.

The department’s main focus is to attract and maintain top talent for Spring ISD’s classrooms. There is also a focus placed on reclaiming former Team Spring staff who performed at high levels and wish to return to the district in various capacities as opportunities are available.

Members of the ACE were endorsed as district ambassadors in the recruitment process. “We invite all members of Team Spring to ‘Be the S.E.E.D.',” Dr. Tameka Bruce said. Be the S.E.E.D., is the new coined phrase used by the Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability team to encourage a strategic, grassroots approach to talent recruitment.

S.E.E.D, which stands for See, Engage, Execute, and Deliver, is a catchy reminder that we all have the capacity to attract talent to the district. Each step in the process is important, but engagement is arguably the key step in which current employees answer questions, dispel myths or misunderstandings, and provide assistance with the process.

“Our scholars deserve the best and brightest teachers, and every Team Spring employee can plant the seed,” Dr. Hill encouraged.

Campus-based ACE representatives were encouraged to return to their campus to help their principal spread the word of their current teacher vacancies. Like all other district initiatives and special campaigns, Be the S.E.E.D.’s aim is the same: To ensure excellent, equitable outcomes for all students as we create a school district where every employee is dedicated to making Spring ISD a district of choice for our families and staff.

Meet the ACE Member of the Month

Ms. Charity Vesey, an eighth grade English Language Arts and Reading teacher at Spring Leadership Academy, was proudly selected as the ACE Member of the Month. In her 20 years as an educator, the last two have been in as a teacher in Spring ISD. Ms Vesey has a long, successful history as an educator, with service to the K-12 and higher education community in several capacities, including as academic planning counselor, multicultural coordinator, and senior recruiter. While serving as the associate director of an executive MBA program, Ms. Vesey answered the call to teach.

As she described the decision, “I simply couldn’t get away from it. There wasn’t a level I could climb to in higher education that erased my longing desire to work in the K-12 world.” With an unending passion and zeal for educating youth, Ms. Vesey considered teaching one of her top goals. She also aspires to achieve a lifelong goal of becoming a principal and district administrator.

As a teacher at Spring Leadership Academy, Ms. Vesey is most proud of being an inaugural faculty member who has been on staff since the school’s inception. In addition to her teaching role, ​she also serves as the Grade Level Team Leader. “It has been a blessing to be a part of Spring Leadership Academy from day one. It is a place where scholars are developed into leaders, ​and the teachers and staff ​grow and ​flourish professionally as well.” When she ponders this year’s experience as a campus representative on the ACE, Ms. Vesey believes she has gained a much deeper understanding of the district as a whole and sees, first-hand, ​the many​ factors that ​are considered in the decision making process. “This position has afforded me the opportunity to serve in a teacher leadership/liaison role, and share insights from ​a​ teacher's​ perspective,” she said.

Join the Advisory Committee on Education in applauding Ms. Charity Vesey for her service to Spring ISD and to this dedicated team for the 2020-21 school year.

Here’s What’s on the Agenda

The following is a list of the ACE meeting dates and topics of focus for the remainder of the year. The calendar is subject to change if additional items need to be added based on discussions, recommendations, or district priorities.

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Make Your Voice Heard! Talk to your ACE Representative

Every campus in the district has at least two ACE representatives elected by the staff to serve in an advisory role to the Superintendent. Central office representatives were also elected and serve in the same capacity. Devoted community members, appointed by the Superintendent, serve on the ACE as another integral voice as well. If you want to ensure your views are heard, reach out to your ACE member. Click here to learn who represents you.

The next ACE meeting will be held on Wednesday, Apr. 28 at 5 p.m.