Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

August 18, 2014     

Good morning and welcome to the start of the 2014-15 school year!  I hope that you were able to enjoy time with your friends and family over the summer.  Meredith, Aidan and I took a trip to the Alabama beaches and spent a long weekend in Chicago at a Cubs game and the wonderful museums.  I also got to go fishing a few times – not much catching - but it was a great summer! 

The summer certainly seemed to fly by and it was filled with many issues that impact us in Northside. I’ll talk about some of those issues at convocations and through the year in this publication.  However, one that I like to speak to at this time every year is the finalization of our budget. This process starts in January and ends in August.

I am very proud of the budget we are able to recommend as it adds teachers to accommodate growth and campus technology specialists to help teachers, administrators and other staff do their important work.  We’ve also added campus custodians and curriculum and instruction specialists to work exclusively with our middle schools.  The budget also improves our compensation package by a district-wide average of just over three percent. Many thanks to our Board for their support!

I was also pleased with the health insurance renewal that was approved this month.  For 2015 we will continue with Blue Cross Blue Shield with a small increase in the cost to the total plan.  The district will contribute over 70% of the cost to insure our employees.  In this time of flux in the health insurance market, I was happy with this outcome.

At convocations and other opportunities, I’ll spend time talking about the notion of grit or perseverance. I’ve read and thought a lot about this in recent weeks and looked at some of the research in this area.  Grit is defined as working hard at something even when progress is not readily evident.  It can also be looked at as having a long term view of the work to be done and not requiring instant gratification.  Needless to say, I think this is an idea that is really important to discuss as we continue to strive for excellence.

I was recently sent the link to a TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth, a former public school teacher turned physiologist.  Duckworth studies grit to see how it predicts future success and the results are
very intriguing for our work.  I really like her statement that, “What if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily.”  In other words, there are more important factors than IQ.  This comment rings true of my experiences of working with students through the years.  If you have the time before you come to convocation, please watch the TED Talk – it takes about six minutes and can be found at: http://www.ted.com/talks/key_to_success

I’d also like to point out an opinion piece published in the Express-News that was written by NISD teacher Vanessa Eichler.  Vanessa’s son is getting ready to start school and her message really spoke to me as a parent and as an educator.  Part of her message stated, “But, most important, teach him the value of his own failures. Help him to embrace mistakes instead of fearing them.  Let him know that he will be challenged and pushed and blocked by outside forces, and help him learn to use his frustration to fuel his tenacity.”  What a great way to say that grit and perseverance are important!

Recently we received the news that the Region 20 nomination for Elementary Teacher of the Year is from Northside.  Gina Reyna, a Gifted and Talented teacher at Wanke ES, is the honoree. This marks the sixth year in a row that Northside has had a nominee to the Texas Teacher of the Year competition.
Please help me to congratulate Gina on her accomplishment and wish her luck as she goes forward in the competition!

Finally, our theme for this year is In Northside It’s Personal.  You will hear me talk about this later this week and read my thoughts on this notion throughout the year. To me, virtually everything we do well happens because it’s personal to us. That is a great way to look at the work we do as educators. I hope that you have a fantastic start to the school year!

    Have a great week!