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.

September 22014     

Good morning and happy Tuesday after Labor Day!  It’s funny how the school year just started and we’ve already had a three day weekend.  We had a great first week of school in NISD.  We opened two schools – Bernal MS and Ellison ES.  I was able to visit both on the first day and they look wonderful.  I know that these will be outstanding places to work and learn.  Congratulations to principals Glenda Munson and Carin Adermann and their staffs! 

It looks like our enrollment will come in a bit lower than projected this year.  Given week one numbers and looking at history, we will probably have about 1,600 more students than last year and come in at a base-day enrollment a little above 103,000.  This is good news as it helps us manage our growth.  However, we see no reason to believe that we won’t continue to grow at a healthy clip of near 2,000 students per year – or more.

At its meeting last week, our Board gave final approval to the budget for the 2014-15 school year.  This is a many months long process.  I want to thank Oscar Cardenas and the entire staff in Business and Finance for the wonderful job they do in making the budgeting process for such a large and complex organization understandable to everyone involved.  I also want to thank our Board as they spend many hours studying our needs and approving the funds to meet those needs.

As I have spoken with many of you and reflected on what I said at convocations, I realize I may have underemphasized a point that I should have made stand out.  When I spoke about grit, I really should have reinforced that research indicates that this skill CAN be learned.  In other words, it’s not true that we are born with a finite amount that can never be increased or improved.  Two leaders in the general field of research on grit are Angela Lee Duckworth – the person in the TED Talk I sent out on August 18th - and Carol Dweck, a Stanford researcher who has long studied why some people succeed more than others.  Recently, Lou Medina, the principal at Stinson MS, sent me some highlights of Dweck’s 

work.  In her notion of growth mindset, Dweck says that we should encourage people to, “believe that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.”  In other words, we can all become more “gritty”!

Dweck is also known for her thoughts on focusing on strengths when working with students.  She says we should recognize and build upon strengths. When kids are affirmed for what they CAN do it can help when they face something more challenging.  I think this is great advice.  We often, and understandably, work from a deficit mindset as we try to get kids to understand concepts that they don’t.  However, I think it is very refreshing to contemplate this notion of a strengths or growth mindset.  The idea is that while we all come on the planet with some amount of fixed “assets” we have tremendous control over our own path through life.  By working to develop our skills we can be successful. 

I was really pleased to see some high school football and all of the pageantry it brings last week.  I look forward every year to the sense of community we see at these events.  Seeing our students from multiple programs (football, marching band, JROTC, pep/dance/cheer) with teachers, coaches, parents and community members having a great time together reminds me of the power of public schools.  We say It’s Personal and I can’t imagine a better symbol of the positive influence of our schools.

Starting this school year, the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) is launching an 18-month 20th anniversary celebration to raise more funds for grants.  Please consider participating in the NEF Employee Pledge Drive that's now underway and ends Oct. 3.  NEF takes benefiting you and our students personally so also make sure to apply for these NEF grants:  Resource ($750), Innovation ($5,000), and Team ($12,500).  The first grant deadline is Sept. 18.  To pledge your donation and apply for NEF grants, visit www.nisd.net/nef

Finally, the district court judge issued his ruling in the school finance case last week – school districts won on all matters – more to come on this.

    Have a great week!