From the desk of Dr. Kirk Lewis

Updates from the Superintendent

I have to admit, I needed a break. After a few days of wrestling with the district budget and responding to a host of legislative issues, I carved out some time to spend with students and teachers at Genoa Elementary School and Rick Schneider Middle School. Getting a little face time in our schools is like that first taste of coconut pie after six months on a diet. Sweet!

Dr. Lewis and Schneider Intermediate Students

Dr. Lewis and Schneider Middle School Students

As parents and members of our community, I wish you could have witnessed what I saw. The teachers were delivering meaningful instruction and the vast majority of students were completely engaged in learning. One class that had been actively involved in an assignment groaned out loud when the bell rang. They didn’t want the class to end.

I visited one class in the hall as they returned from the library. We talked about the joy of reading. They shared the great books they had read and those they were about to read. They readily asked questions and listened with polite attentiveness and eager excitement.

Lately, we have heard some negative opinions about public education as people push hidden agendas. Certainly,  we have areas in need of improvement within the system. One can always find a few students lacking daily, necessary motivation. However, the majority of students we serve from pre-kindergarten through high school dream big dreams and desire to be successful. Our task is to clear the obstacles from their paths.

My encounters with the teachers and students were quick today, but the exposure put a long-lasting smile on my face and an extra zip in my step. Armed with that shot of educational adrenaline, bring on the budget.

 


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Incomprehensible Sadness

Little can be said today to bring any sense of understanding to the senseless act of mayhem that occurred today in Newtown, CT. My heart grieves for the parents and families of those little ones who lost their lives and for the spouses and families of the educators who were killed. Each time tragedy like this strikes, something despicable eats away at all that is good and right and wonderful in our world. With incomprehensible sadness we are left to pick up the pieces of lives shattered.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire Pasadena ISD community go out to the Newtown community in the days, weeks and months to come. It is my hope that every parent and grandparent in our own community will hug their children or grandchildren a little tighter tonight and let them feel your presence.


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9/11 Thoughts

September 11 will never pass without reflecting on the horror and the heroism manifested that day. There were many conversations this week in classrooms across our district about all those amazing attributes that define us as Americans. Patriotism still burns brightly in the hearts of our young people. Since 9/11, enrollment in our JROTC programs is at an all-time high. We have the Marines at Pasadena, the Army at Rayburn, the Navy at South Houston and Air Force at Dobie. Each has won awards over the years and the ARMY JROTC at Rayburn is one of the top programs in the state and nation. I am thrilled each year at the number of graduates who voluntarily serve our country by entering the military. 

Our JROTC students are great campus leaders and wonderful representatives of our entire student body. They make us proud every day. It’s great to be an American!


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NCLB Waiver

The federal No Child Left Behind Act established a lofty, but unrealistic goal of having 100% of all students in the nation passing every state-mandated test by 2014. While both political parties talk about rewriting the law, we’ve seen no substantive discussion to date. Last year, the federal government granted a waiver of key NCLB provisions to any state that asked for it, releasing those states from NCLB’s more burdensome provisions. Until this week, Texas was one of three states opting not to seek the waiver.

This week, the Texas Education Agency finally applied for a general waiver of certain NCLB provisions, contending that Texas’ accountability and assessment systems surpass the requirements of the NCLB statute. Let’s hope the waiver is granted. Otherwise, the cost of complying with NCLB will continue to divert critical local funds and create more teacher stress in Pasadena ISD and all other Texas districts.

 


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Great to be Back

The assistant principal encountered a first grade girl flying down the hallway on the third day of school. Her hands were up and her fingers spread. The look on her face was sheer panic. Her words to the assistant principal tumbled out in terror like a machine gun on rapid fire.

 “I went to the restroom for just a second…just a second… When I returned to the room, it was empty. They’re missing….They’re gone…The entire class. They’re gone and I can’t find them anywhere… They were there and now they’re gone.” A genuine mystery.

 The assistant principal and first grader returned to the room together. All the while the little girl was muttering, “They’re missing…all gone.” They opened the door to the classroom and all of the students were present.

 Looking first with big eyes, she smiled sheepishly and said, “Oops… Wrong door!”, and skipped into her classroom.

 It’s great to be back in school.


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Amazing Students

We have some amazing students in Pasadena ISD! Last year our students at every level achieved success in academics, art, athletics and music. A growing number of our high school students took dual credit and advanced placement courses, earning college credit along the way. More than 83 percent of our seniors graduated in four years, a significantly higher percentage than the state standard. It was a good year.

Our students’ success depends largely on our people. We encouraged our principals and teachers this year to make an unmistakable impact on every student in every classroom every day. It is a challenge we embrace with joy.  When I hear the passion in the voices of our principals and see the concern in the eyes of our teachers, I know our students are in good hands. I’m convinced. We have some amazing students in Pasadena ISD. It’s going to be great year!