Final Thoughts; A visit from Commissioner Morath
The following is an article provided by Supt. Quintin Shepherd of ISD Victoria
Last week I shared that Commissioner Morath was coming to Victoria ISD to visit some of our innovation campuses and wanted to follow up this week with more details. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit all of the VISD campuses where amazing things are happening every day. I consider us very lucky to have so much positive news to share and three hours is not enough to cover everything… I guess we will have to invite him again! When I think of all the VISD campuses, I think we have a lot to celebrate. We have real “honor roll” campuses that are high performing and should be celebrated. We have other campuses that are vibrant campuses and showing amazing growth. My thought is that we should continue with all the success on all of our campuses!
Elected officials present at the event included VISD Trustees, Rep. Morrison, State Board of Education Rep. Ruben Cortez Jr., and City Council members Soliz and Loffren (Districts 2 and 6, respectively). Also in attendance were Dr. Kent (President of VC), Executive Director Lyon of Region 3, Executive Director Titus of VEDC and several TEA staff. Senator Kolkhorst and Representative Cloud also sent representatives from their offices.
We started our day at the VISD Connections Center. This newly opened (redeveloped) facility will undoubtedly become a crown jewel for our community as a place where we forge deep bonds between our families and our schools. We had a brief welcome and introductions, then heard about P-TECH Healthcare from Ms. Hughes, our P-TECH Administrator. As you know, we have had several P-TECH launches over the past two years and Healthcare was our first. The Commissioner had the opportunity to hear from some of the students in our 2024 healthcare cohort as they shared their experiences and future goals. Our P-TECH programs now enroll a total of 120 students in 4 programs: Health, Engineering, Computer Science, and Education and Training.
Kelly Gabrysch, Principal of Shields Elementary School, who shared “The Case for Change” with Commissioner Mike Morath and what personalized learning looks like on the Shields campus. With academic growth being a primary focus on their campus, Gabrysch said of the success she has seen in academic and social emotional intelligence since implementing the personalized learning model. Data-driven teaching is key to meeting students at their current level of academic achievement and growing them. “It’s about being intentional and celebrating both the big and small accomplishments along the way,” Gabrysch explained. Besides data-driven teaching, the core of personalized learning comes from educating the whole child. Ms. Gabrysch explained the importance of educating the whole child and explained how Shields students start each morning with Strong Start routines they care about throughout the school day.
At Smith STEM, we observed a campus-wide “Design Time”, in which teachers and students took an everyday fairy tale and turned it into a project-based learning unit, complete with interdisciplinary skills and learning challenges. Principal Absher highlighted the students’ application of the engineering design process and their 21st century professional skills as they planned and designed a home that could withstand the “puffs and puffs” of the “big bad wolf”. Students tested their designs and identified ways to improve them. Smith STEM students not only thought like professional engineers, they also dressed for the role.
From Smith STEM, we headed back to the Connections Center. At the Connections Center, Commissioner Morath addressed the group, followed by Ms. Correll (our Chief Innovation Officer), who explained why this work is so important to us. I presented some of our strategic work over the past five years, our working theory on community engagement in transformative change, and highlighted our successes and failures along the way. We then opened the dialogue and questions.
By Supt. Quintin Shepherd of ISD Victoria
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