Friday, September 12, 2014

Wear Your College Shirt Next Friday

Next week is our first College Week of the school year. Friday, September 19, has been designated as College Shirt Day. I hope you will wear a shirt and support our campuses as we continue to instill within our students the opportunities to continue their education beyond high school.

This year’s theme is College = BIG Lives. Every elementary, middle school and high school student will receive a bright pink bracelet bearing this message. Look for college pendants and other decorations on our campuses, too.

Check out our Facebook page to learn other ways our campuses are celebrating College Week.

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Two Weeks of School Successful in BIG Way

What an excellent beginning to our school year! It always amazes me that on a particular day, students return and through the coordinated efforts of staff, parents and students, a village begins.

Our district welcomed 611 more students than at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year — 39,220 in total. In addition, we added 25 more professional staff over last year.

Our teachers and principals were ready to begin instruction the first day. Transportation picked up and delivered students on time. Food Service provided breakfast and lunch to our tens of thousands of students.

One of our BIG* goals of our 5,000 employees is to continue offering first-class customer service all year long. This includes communicating with you.

Please know our district works hard to keep you informed. Besides our fall meet the teacher and campus open houses, we offer several ways to help you stay connected with your student’s school experience. Follow us at, our mobile app, the district’s Facebook page or Twitter account. You can also follow me on Twitter or here at my blog.

Best wishes for a terrific school year!

*Believe in the vision

Infuse rigor and excellence

Give your best

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor Day: Time to Reflect on Our Great Nation

“Without labor nothing prospers.”
- Sophocles

Every first Monday in September is Labor Day. This U.S. holiday celebrates the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. 

Labor Day also gives us a chance to recall the history of our great nation. The holiday originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. 

As manufacturing began to outplace agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.  

Each year, this holiday continues to let us pay tribute to the American worker, who created so much of our strength, freedom and leadership.  Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Looking Forward
to Really BIG Year

The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time, and we are looking forward to a really BIG year.

Perhaps you have seen some pretty large letters moving around the district. Those letters form the framework and focus for our year. The B signifies Believe in Our Vision. Our vision is Quest for Excellence—Success for All Students. Our goal is to see students reach new levels of learning.

I—Infuse Rigor and Excellence: Instruction in the classroom should be challenging for our students, and we want them to learn how to think critically  and to solve problems. No longer will basic comprehension knowledge meet the demands of the world of tomorrow that our students will enter.

G—Give Your Best: We all have to give our best in order to succeed. Striving to continuously improve will make a positive difference in achievement.  We all have to give our best—all of the individuals who make up MISD as well as our students, parents, and business and community partners.

This is going to be an incredible year. Please check our website for tips on getting the year off to a good start and for back-to-school information. 

And then on Monday, let the learning begin.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Let’s Gear Up for
a BIG School Year

You may notice the BIG letters around town. With recent employee kick off events under our belts and staff training under way, I’m here to tell you that our BIG year has begun.

The B in BIG says to believe in the Mesquite ISD vision: Success for All Students.
The I is to infuse rigor and excellence. G is giving your best.

While the BIG message will influence our staff development all year, it’s also meant for students, parents and our entire Mesquite ISD community.

We are asking our teachers to teach BIG, but we are also asking our students to learn BIG.  We are asking each other to only be satisfied with excellence.

Colin Powell said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in BIG things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”

As we strive for excellence, every school day matters. Every hour matters. Pushing students to achieve BIG results every day of their 177 days in school is the BIG commitment every adult in our district must have.

We’ve enhanced the district’s 2014-15 school calendar to help families plan ahead and our students be prepared like never before.  This tool offers much more than just school days and holidays. You’ll find grading periods, key state assessments and high school graduations among many other dates and times important to each student’s schedule. Please take time this summer to transfer key dates to your personal calendar so we can start the school year BIG.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Will Your Kids
Read Today?

Simply put, reading reaps rewards and plenty of them. Solid reading skills are crucial to optimum school success. Just 20 minutes of reading a day can prevent a child from losing literacy skills over the summer break.

Mesquite ISD’s Let’s Read Together! YouTube video is a popular resource. It gives tips on how to help a child grow in a love for reading.

As a lifelong reader myself, I urge you to find books of interest to your child, regardless of age. We know that even small babies can enjoy books, but keep promoting reading for pleasure to your elementary and secondary age students, too. Remember, proficiency in reading is crucial to a young person’s future.

So what will your kids read today?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Boredom Boosts Creativity, But
Keep Free Websites in Your Back Pocket

Contrary to kids’ complaints, they actually need to be bored. That’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to constantly fill their time. That’s when they’re inspired to create their own entertainment and summer gets magical. Boredom can actually boost creativity levels to new and unexpected heights.

When the time’s right for an educational time filler, though, free online games can stimulate student learning this summer. It seems like there is something for everyone, and kids can work at their own pace. 

See if some of these offerings pique interest:

- A Marvel comic creator helps student practice artistic mastery and experiment with storytelling techniques.
- Art Games allows kids to create abstract paintings online and discover painting techniques.
- Wonderopolis explains a new “wonder” of daily life, such as why zebras have stripes.
- Oxford Owl offers games that test reading comprehension while improving memory, and much more.
- Science Netlinks helps kids tap into interactive and vibrant games, listen to podcasts and get help with hands-on activities. They can learn about the inner workings of the body and much more.

Here’s hoping all our students’ minds and bodies stay active this summer, and they return to their campuses refreshed and ready to embark on a great school year.

Friday, June 6, 2014

What’s on Your
Summer Bucket List?

It’s not too late to create your summer bucket list. Fill it up with anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do, whether it’s big, small or random. Then see what’s practical to make happen before school starts in late August.

First on my summer bucket list is hosting a picnic for my grandchildren at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose. Second is to visit Dallas’ own George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum for my first time. Lastly, I hope to attend a Texas Rangers game.

If you don’t live your days by personal goals and plans, chances are you spend most of your time caught up in a flurry of day-to-day activities. Having a bucket list keeps what’s most important to you top of mind.  Research shows that when you take time to write your goals down, you are more likely to accomplish them.

There’s no rule that your bucket list has to include big-ticket, extravagant goals.  Your goals can be as simple and important as spending more time together as a family. That can be accomplished by reading together or planning a cookout at a local park. Maybe you want to learn more about a topic of interest, so try visiting the library or a local museum.  There are lots of inexpensive ways to spend your summer that will result in cherished memories. 

Let your bucket list help you make the most of your summer months. Here’s to a fun, rejuvenating and inspiring summer!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spreading the Word About
Mesquite ISD’s Science Program

John Horn High School’s honors anatomy class will be featured on the Monday, June 2, Science in the Classroom feature on Channel 11. Meteorologist Jeff Jamison interviewed teacher Aubrey Otero and several students for the segment set to air during the 4 p.m. newscast. 

Last fall, one of Jamison’s Science in the Classroom segments focused on the district’s STEM course at the Technology Excellence Center.

We are proud to spread the word about our top-notch science teachers and program.

Friday, May 23, 2014

STAAR Testing Just One
Look at Academic Success

Quest for Excellence: Success for All Students. As our district’s mission, this is the driving force behind all our decisions and actions regarding our 39,000 students.

And STAAR/TAKS results for the 2013-14 school year, which you will receive this week, are used to help us know when to offer enrichment or intervention for students.

Skills are not mastered at the same rate, and no single test can give a complete picture of a particular student’s progress or potential.  Our teachers and administrators closely monitor each student’s growth and academic needs over the course of the school year.  Every campus works tirelessly to reward student success, build up struggling students and push individual talents to higher levels.

As you know, parental involvement is always encouraged and welcomed in Mesquite ISD. To learn more about resources to help your student advance and reach his or her full potential, please contact your campus staff.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Sunday Marks Official Beginning
of Mesquite ISD Graduation Events

Sunday marks the official beginning of the graduation events with the Baccalaureate at each high school. These ceremonies will be followed by graduations the next weekend as nearly 2,500 students will receive their diplomas. 

Watching the eagerness of these young adults inspires all of us in attendance because seeing successful students go into the world is what we strive to achieve. Many graduates will enter college or technical school; some will serve in the military; and others will go directly into the job market. Whatever the choice, each one has worked hard and been nurtured by caring parents and teachers. Thank you for your support of Mesquite ISD as we prepare our future leaders.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Let’s Not Let Teacher
Appreciation End Here

Here in Texas and in Mesquite ISD, it’s Teachers Appreciation Week.
Our campus celebrations included a Mexican feast for Gray Elementary teachers, and Mesquite High culinary students made cupcakes for faculty there. Those are just examples of many fun and heartfelt activities across our 46 campuses.

Just this week, Taylor Lipsett – a two-time gold medalist in the Para Olympic Games and graduate of Beasley, Kimbrough and Poteet – acknowledged at a special event how several of his Mesquite ISD teachers influenced him. And let me tell you, those teachers were beaming with pride and deservedly so.

Thank you for helping our teachers feel special this week. Remember, there’s still time to write a note, send an e-mail or tweet to show your appreciation. And those gestures are welcome all year long.
There’s no deadline really for letting a teacher know what he or she has meant to you or your child.

Tell us about your favorite teacher.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thank You for Your ‘Perfect’
Days at Mesquite ISD

“You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
  —John Wooden, American basketball player and coach
On our campuses and in our support staff offices, May is an important culmination to the school year — a hectic-yet-celebratory month. We host various ceremonies and events that shine the spotlight on many students and staff members, recognizing their accomplishments. But there are also those behind the scenes whom I’d like to acknowledge.
Thank you for your spirit of generosity that I witness daily. Even small gestures add up to large gains. Whether it’s a student helping a fellow student better understand a concept before a test, or a parent making one phone call on behalf of PTA, every act can be a difference maker. It takes all of us to fulfill our vision of Quest for Excellence — Success for All Students.
Congratulations. Your ‘perfect days,’ according to Wooden’s quote, are leaving indelible marks on students, staffers and to our district communities. Your contributions have made Mesquite ISD a better place.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mesquite ISD Seeks
Teachers of All Subjects

About 350 teacher openings are anticipated for the 2014-15 school year. At Saturday’s Teacher Job Fair, our district will be interviewing for all content/subject areas.

If you or someone you know may be interested in applying, please note that pre-registration is required.

In regards to the traits Mesquite ISD values most in our teachers, they include:
·      Ability to love and relate to kids while motivating and inspiring them
·      Excellent communication skills
·      Extensive content knowledge
·      A high degree of professionalism
·      Ability to work within a team
·      Integrity

We’re looking forward to interviewing some top-notch candidates and choosing the very best to join our team.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. Albert Einstein

Friday, April 18, 2014

1:1 iPad Initiative for Sixth-Graders
to Begin Next School Year

Beginning next school year, every sixth-grader in our district will be allocated his or her very own iPad to use on campus. The initial focus of this 1:1 iPad initiative includes the subjects of social studies and science. Another part of this program provides iPad usage for pre-K and kindergarten students needing extra help in literacy skills, phonics, listening and comprehension.

Thank you to our instructional technology and curriculum leaders for their partnership in planning for this $1.7 million program. Teacher training begins in May for the iPads’ debut in classrooms next fall.

Clear, measurable learning goals have been set for student iPad usage. For example, sixth-graders will be challenged to create, collaborate and problem solve through project-based experiences.

Through this technology initiative and in many other areas, Mesquite ISD continues to raise the bar in our quest for excellence.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Share Your Attitudes to Continue
Mesquite ISD’s Quest for Excellence

Mesquite ISD’s quest for excellence involves providing a superior education for an ever-growing student population of more than 39,000.  This includes a singular focus on providing students with skills, attitudes, and knowledge they need to be successful life-long learners and contributing members of our workforce and community.   

We invite you to complete the Mesquite ISD 2013-14 Stakeholder Attitude Survey.  We absolutely need your feedback to continually strive for excellence.

To take the survey in English, visit

Para tomar esta encuesta en español, comuníquese con

NOTE:  Multiple choice survey answers do not appear correctly on iPhones or iPads. Please complete the survey on a desktop or laptop computer.

Friday, April 4, 2014

First District Scholar Dollars
Campaign Gets Good Grade

Now that the first Scholar Dollars Campaign ended, I’m pleased to share some positive results. This fundraising effort to pay AP exam fees for economically disadvantaged students raised $2,365. This total will be distributed to benefit students on all five high school campuses.

Overall, the generous donations from the Mesquite community are enabling students across our district to take nearly 160 AP exams. Some students take multiple AP exams, so you can see how test taking can be cost prohibitive. But through Scholar Dollars, more students are able to reap the full potential of their AP class by taking the end-of-the-year AP exam.

If a student scores well on this comprehensive test, he or she can earn college credit. So what a great savings AP exams can offer! Thank you for supporting another great program made possible by our foundation.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Newest Mesquite ISD
Recognition Music to My Ears

Mesquite ISD’s top-notch fine arts program is proof that our district believes in educating the whole child. Data overwhelmingly supports the belief that study and participation in music, dance, theatre and visual arts are key components in improving learning throughout all academic areas.

I’m proud to announce that our district has just been designated one of the 2014 Best Communities for Music Education.

Mesquite ISD is one of 376 school districts to achieve this national distinction.

Congratulations to our entire fine arts staff and students! This recognition accompanies many UIL honors being won this spring.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It’s Spring, Time to Push Hard
to End School Year Strong

We’re in the first week of spring, but let’s not let the whimsical season fool us. Our students still have more than two months to learn, study and test, with some facing the ever-important final exams.
My hope is that parents and students alike are monitoring grades regularly through ParentCONNECTIt’s an easy way to see when extra help from tutorials, extra effort from studying or a high test score may be needed to boost grades.
Also, let’s not forget how good sleep, healthy meals and preparation can influence school success in general and on test days especially.
Let’s continue all this season to keep the focus and end the school year in a strong manner.
“Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.”
Edward Eggleston, American historian and novelist.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Attention Parents: Now is Time to Learn
New High School Graduation Requirements

Attention parents, especially those of current eighth-graders.
House Bill 5, passed by the Texas State Legislature, includes new high school graduation requirements.

To help you understand and navigate this somewhat complex system, please attend our districtwide Transition Night on Tuesday, March 18, at the high school your son or daughter will attend next year. Additional parent/student meetings will also be scheduled soon.

Parent involvement has taken on another dimension like never before. You and your incoming freshman will need to review information and make decisions about selecting courses leading to one of five endorsements. 

You’ll find HB5 offers greater flexibility for student course options, but with that comes greater responsibility for you and your child to make thoughtful decisions.  For example, a class that is not required for high school graduation may very well be required for college admission.

Stay tuned for additional information, and I hope you make a concerted effort to attend Transition Night.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Springtime Opportunities Abound
to Support Mesquite ISD Students

March 1, 2014, is an exciting day for Mesquite ISD. We will be hosting Destination Imagination’s regional competition as well as hosting our annual foundation gala.

Tickets are still available for Saturday’s 2014 Lone Star Legacy Gala. The annual fundraiser at Mesquite Arena will feature Grammy-winning ‘70s rock band America. The Fab 5, a Beatles tribute band, will serve as the opening act.  Buy your tickets online or at the Mesquite Arena Box Office,  1818 Rodeo Drive.

And don’t forget to shop the gala’s online auction before it closes Thursday, March 6. Bid closings will be staggered to accommodate last-minute bids on multiple items. Thank you to the many generous companies and individuals contributing items for the auction and sponsoring tables at the event. 

This weekend, we also appreciate the support from Destination Imagination coaches and judges. Out of the 300 teams competing, I’m proud to say that more than half (160 to be exact) will represent Mesquite ISD. Best of luck!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Early Voting Under Way
for March 4 Election

Our great state of Texas enables us to vote in the days and weeks before an election to make the voting process more convenient and accessible.
Early voting for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election is under way through February 28.
For early voting and locations in your county of residence, visit these websites:
Informational Websites

Photo ID
A photo ID is now required to vote in person. The following photo IDs are acceptable: driver's license, personal identification card, concealed handgun license, election identification certificate, passport, military identification card, and citizen certificate or naturalization certificate with photograph. Qualified voters who do not have a photo ID may obtain a free election identification card from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Friday, January 31, 2014

What to Wear to Work
Next School Week?

When you plan your wardrobe for next week, February 3-7, please consider supporting two important initiatives for Mesquite ISD and our community.

On Monday, please join Mesquite ISD staffers and students in wearing a college jersey to kick off our College & Career Week. While it’s a good way to show off your allegiance to your alma mater or favorite sports team, it also exposes our students to many options to consider after high school.

On Friday, the city of Mesquite will be the first in America to “go red.” Let’s join the American Heart Association and City of Mesquite by wearing red. The Go Red Campaign promotes heart disease prevention. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Hope to see your college wear on Monday and see you in something red Friday.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mesquite to Host Destination ImagiNation
Regional Competition; Volunteers Needed

Just as our stadiums are popular spots for playoff football games and area marching band competitions, our schools often host academic competitions. Poteet High School, for example, will be working overtime as the site for the upcoming Destination ImagiNation (DI) regional competition on Saturday, March 1.

With some help from the Austin Elementary campus as well, the two schools will host the DI East Texas Region Creative Problem Solving Tournament.

Out of the 300 teams competing, I’m proud to say that 160 will be from Mesquite ISD.

Thank you to the faithful appraisers and judges who, year after year, help make this highly creative, engaging learning competition possible. Our challenge now, though, is that DI keeps growing in popularity here. As a result, more adult volunteers are needed than ever.

If you’d like to get involved, please save these dates: Saturday, February 1, for training in the morning, and Saturday, March 1, for volunteering at the tournament.

For more information, please call Russ Weeks at 972-882-7275.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Let’s Continue to Bring Out
the Best in Our Students

Before school began this year, our teachers, principals and other school leaders talked over the summer about heroism. We reminded ourselves that we have the potential to become heroes in our students’ lives.  This opportunity spans from simply lifting a student’s mood one day to being the one to set him or her on a successful career path. So many of us remember at least one teacher’s piece of advice, kernel of knowledge or action that changed us forever.

You might say Shaw Elementary’s PE staff members are second-grader Kloie Oguntodu’s heroes. While teaching football punting, passing and kicking skills to all Shaw students, PE teacher Noah Wood identified Kloie’s potential early this school year. Since then, PE assistant Rick Grady and Wood have coached her to outshine and outscore several million girls her age. Working with her daily at school and partnering with her parents and grandparents for more support, they’ve helped her earn a spot to compete at this weekend’s NFL Punt, Pass & Kick (PP&K) National Championship.

Believe it or not, Shaw Elementary has produced three national contenders for the P,P&K contests. And year after year, several Shaw students make it to the three-state round of competition held at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium that leads up to the national round.

Best of luck to Kloie on Saturday’s competition. And let’s continue to work together to bring out the best in all our students.

Please pass along other examples of heroism by Mesquite ISD teachers or other staffers you've witnessed this year.