Campuses focus on areas of progress
Each Fredericksburg ISD principal gave updates to the board of trustees on their campus improvement plans during the Monday meeting.
“They have identified their pros and their cons. They have identified strategies toward them for goal attainment,” said Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright. “I want to commend the principals and the campus CEIC teams.”
As each principal provided updates, it gave board members the opportunity to ask questions about the goals each principal has for their campuses and how they are working toward them.
Gillespie County High School Principal Blaine Hahn detailed how GCHS wants to expand its vocational programs and keep moving forward. In doing so, GCHS is working to increase the attendance rate.
“Eighty percent of my kids aren’t going to college or into higher education,” Hahn said. “But it is more than just moving into a service industry job. It’s trying to get them to move ahead.”
GCHS is working to prepare the students for vocations and job readiness. The campus assists the students in getting jobs once they leave the campus.
Hahn estimates about 70 percent of the students who begin at GCHS graduate. Board members offered to come in and speak to the students.
Fredericksburg Elementary School Principal Monica Ward highlighted a few of the goals for the year to include instructional improvement.
“Figuring out a master schedule and providing teachers an opportunity to have a professional learning community time and a conference time in the afternoon. We were able to do that,” Ward said.
Other goals for the campus included alleviating the pullout of students during instructional time, which has been a challenge.
Teachers are meeting with instructional coaches in ELA and math that go into the classroom to provide support for the teachers, train and help them build assessments.
Ward did specify a need to strengthen the dual-language program at the school.
Board President Kerinne Herber asked for ideas to incentivize dual-language teachers.
“Honestly, that’s one of the things the district definitely needs to look at is how to recruit and retain those highneeded teachers,” said Ward.
Dr. Delesa Styles, Fredericksburg Primary School principal, spoke about the progression of the campus’ dual language program.
“The kids are picking up very rapidly,” Styles said. “It’s fun to have the back and forth days. When I do a walk-through on English-speaking days, the kids are initiating conversation with me in English now. They just seem to be taking off beautifully.”
Teachers are dedicated to making sure their curriculum is in alignment, since they are back and forth each day, Styles said. The teachers determine where the students’ concept of English and Spanish are to be sure students are not behind.
Styles described the students as resilient and adapting well.
Presently, the campus is short one dual-language teacher. Styles emphasized a definite need for bilingual teachers on the campus.
Improvement strategies for the math program in Stonewall were highlighted by Principal Lori Maxcey. The school is using new diagnostic program to assess where students are in math.
The school also purchased a software program that provides teachers with lesson plans and ideas they can use in the classroom once they see where their students are in terms of math skills.
Herber asked about a low number of academically involved parents, to which Maxcey detailed they have many parents actively involved at the school. However, there is a need for parents to be academically involved at home and something they are working to encourage.
“That’s one of the things we pushed this year at our open house,” Maxcey said. “Teachers were giving parents tips, sheets, they could have been cards, anything they found appropriate that those parents could take home and then work with their children at home. Even if it’s just reading a book.”
Maxcey said the teachers are using more forms of technology in the classrooms. Every nine weeks Maxcey has tasked teachers to use two new types of technology to allow the students to produce something. So students are creating videos or animated vocabulary that they share with their peers, she said.
Fredericksburg High School is on a mission to increase the number of students who pursue post-high school study.
Principal Ralf Halderman said an average of 52 percent of students pursue a form of higher education.
“We don’t want to let anybody fall through the cracks. What we’re going to do this year is we’re going to find a way to meet the needs of every kid and make sure we sit face to face with each kid and find out what their plan is,” Halderman said.
The principal and staff are taking the steps to set up a process to reach each student starting their freshman year. ACT and SAT preparation classes are going well and they constantly look for ways to improve them, he said.
A long-term goal for FHS is to have more technology equipment accessible and available to the students. Equipment such as iPads and laptops are being checked in and out by students in the library. Eventually, Halderman would like to see more devices upgraded and available in each classroom setting.
“Technology is being used a lot of ways at the high school right now,” he said. “We want to alleviate all of that back and forth by having classroom sets for the students and teachers that use them.”
Fredericksburg Middle School has seen a 169-percent increase of students in In-School Suspension (ISS), thanks to an increase in disciplinary methods.
Principal Missy Wright said this has increased due to teachers documenting and writing referrals and more teachers are following through with discipline at the campus.
There has been an increase in behavioral issues, Wright said, but the campus staff is finding ways of getting help for the students who need it most, whether it is outside of school or within the district with a social worker.
“A number of kids who are seeking help outside has drastically increased. I have a lot of kids seeking outside counseling services, which is great because they are getting help,” said Wright.
Students who are unable to get help outside of a school, are able to receive help by school counselors during the school day.
This year FMS has implemented a mentor program with Big Brothers and Big Sisters out of Kerrville.
FMS has now collaborated with Hill Country Memorial Hospital’s physical therapy department to mentor six FMS students.
“Sixth graders are meeting with physical therapists them once a month to the physical therapy office to have lunch with them and they get to hang out with them,” Wright said.
Sixth- and eighth-grade math teachers are participating in a program called Texas Lesson Study through the Texas Education Agency and the Region 3 Service Center.
“They look at student data. The pick a specific TEK that has been problematic. They literally dissect that TEK. They do research and after they do the research they create a lesson to teach that TEK that’s research-based,” Wright said.
After teachers plan the lesson, they video the lesson and it goes to a website where teachers can view them. It allows teachers to collaborate and create the best lesson they can give.