From Katrina to COVID: Kids heal in communities

Some moments in life are unforgettable. For me, the experience of evacuating from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina with my two young children and pup is one of those moments. Katrina became a marker in the life of our family. We used to talk about the timeline of our experiences in terms of “before Katrina” or “after Katrina.” While our home only sustained significant wind damage but no flooding, we witnessed firsthand the considerable tragedy across the city.

My husband is a Coast Guard pilot and was part of the rescue efforts immediately after the storm. As a young mother and teacher, I was focused on setting up a temporary home in San Antonio, TX. I had very little information on how long we would be living in Texas, whether my house was destroyed, what would happen to my teaching job and salary, and how long I would be apart from my husband. The uncertainty combined with the sudden nature of the disaster was, at times, almost too much to bear. I spent hours watching the news showing pictures of people on roofs trying to survive the flooding and the helicopters bravely swarming the airspace to save as many people as possible.

After two months, in October, we were able to return to the city once electricity was restored to our area on the west side of the river. Imagine a home in the deep heat of a New Orleans summer, closed, with no electricity or air conditioning. Imagine a refrigerator and freezer in that house with food left behind. Imagine thousands of those! Imagine wind and water damage and destroyed backyards, sheds, patios, and plants. We returned to that scene, and we were by far one of the lucky ones! We focused on cleaning out our home for several weeks, installing a blue FEMA tarp over a damaged roof, burning the left-behind branches and fallen trees in our yard, and attempting to find food and water. We were grateful for organizations that sent volunteers to cook, assisted with cutting down trees, and did various other tasks.…Read More

Backed by ECMC Group, Dell Foundation and Others, New Apprenticeship Closes $2.5M Seed Funding to Solve Entry Level Tech and Diversity Hiring Gaps

San Antonio, Texas (Sept. 14, 2021)New Apprenticeship (NEW), the federally recognized digital apprenticeship solution that is bridging the tech skills and opportunity gap, announced today the close of a $2.5M seed funding round. The financing was led by Minneapolis-based ECMC Group’s Education Impact Fund, with participation from the Dell Foundation, Michelson 20MM Foundation, Learnstart, and others. This funding will allow the company to build out its management team while also making significant investments in sales operations and technology to efficiently scale and serve the growing number of tech employers and their surrounding communities.

“We believe apprenticeship equips employers to become the engines of digital talent production. Forward-thinking companies partner with us to build sustainable talent pipelines, fueling their short and long-term talent needs. Modern degree apprenticeships represent the greatest breakthrough in workforce innovation because they create accessible pathways for students to high-value careers without requiring access to costly 4-year universities.” said Brad Voeller, CEO, New Apprenticeship.

NEW partners with leading employers to fundamentally change the way tech talent is recruited and developed. This maximizes return on talent investments through ownership and control of talent pipelines, ensuring faster onboarding, improved performance, higher retention, and overall lower cost of talent. The company was founded to support diverse communities of students, veterans and the underemployed with an innovative “earn-and-learn” pathway that combines on-the-job experience with expert training. A NEW apprenticeship leads to a Department of Labor (DOL) Apprenticeship Certification, including up to 30-hours of credit towards a bachelor’s degree from accredited partner colleges. In collaboration with education and workforce partners, NEW offers learners a direct on-ramp to tech careers where they previously did not exist. And employers get direct access to a diverse rich, tech talent ready pipeline yielding substantial ROI savings in both hiring and retention gains.…Read More

4 principles of innovative school policing

In Round Rock ISD in Texas, we are paving the way for what district officials hope is the blueprint for transformative school policing.

In pursuing this innovative approach to school policing, the Round Rock ISD Police Department works closely with Dewayne Street, the district’s chief equity officer, and Dr. Amy Grosso, Ph.D., who is the district’s director of behavioral health services.

The Round Rock Policing Model is built upon what we call The Four Pillars of School Policing:…Read More

How automation keeps bullying in check—both in-person and remote

Even a pandemic won’t stop bad student behavior–and in many cases, it inflames behaviors such as bullying.

In this conversation with eSchool News, Laura Lockhart, director of student services of Keller Independent School District in Texas talks about how the district digitally updated their bullying reporting process to keep students safe and meet federal reporting regulations.

Related content:  How COVID put a spotlight on equity…Read More

2020 Green-Garner Award Recognizing Outstanding Leadership

As part of its support of urban education, Curriculum Associates has partnered with the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) as a sponsor of the 31st annual Green-Garner Award. This year’s award recipient, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa of Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas, was selected for this esteemed honor for his strong dedication to the needs of students, profound commitment to improvement, and significant community involvement and leadership.

“We are proud to partner with the CGCS as they recognize exemplary leadership in urban education through this coveted and long-standing award,” said Woody Paik, executive vice president of Curriculum Associates. “Superintendent Hinojosa is an exceptional district leader who is so well-deserving of this recognition. His ongoing work, as well as his commitment to urban education as a whole, has positively impacted students and educators across the district.”

The Green-Garner Award, which is presented each year at the CGCS’s Fall Conference, recognizes a board member or superintendent for their outstanding contributions in urban education. As the nation’s highest urban-education honor, the award is named in memory of urban school leaders Richard R. Green, the first African-American chancellor of the New York City school system, and Edward Garner, a businessman and former school board president of the Denver Public Schools. Superintendent Hinojosa was chosen for this recognition among 20 superintendent nominees from districts across the nation.…Read More

AMD COVID-19 HPC Fund Adds 18 Institutions to Fight COVID-19

High performance AMD EPYC CPUs and Radeon Instinct GPUs to power COVID-19 focused research at Stanford School of Medicine, The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA, University of Toronto and other institutions across the U.S., Europe, and India

AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) today announced a second round of high-performance technology contributions to assist in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. AMD is now contributing high-end computing systems or access to Penguin-On-Demand (POD) cloud-based clusters powered by 2nd  Gen AMD EPYC™ and AMD Radeon Instinct™ processors to 21 institutions and research facilities conducting COVID-19 research. With 12 petaflops of total supercomputing capacity now awarded, the combined compute capacity donated through the AMD COVID-19 HPC Fund would rank among the fastest supercomputers in the world according to the most recent Top500 list.

“AMD is proud to be working with leading global research institutions to bring the power of high performance computing technology to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” said Mark Papermaster, executive vice president and chief technology officer, AMD. “These donations of AMD EPYC and Radeon Instinct processors will help researchers not only deepen their understanding of COVID-19, but also help improve our ability to respond to future potential threats to global health.”…Read More

National Network Launches to Connect Students in Crisis

InsideTrack — the national student success nonprofit that established the use of coaching for higher education enrollment, completion and career readiness — today announced the launch of an ambitious new initiative designed to deliver emergency coaching services for students experiencing crisis situations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With $250,000 from ECMC Foundation and a matching grant from Strada Education Network, the Emergency Coaching Network will provide up to 5,000 students at participating institutions with support from InsideTrack coaches specially trained to assess and support across a range of challenging situations.

“From food, income and housing insecurity to feelings of isolation, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety, the pandemic has magnified many of the challenges that students were already facing in growing numbers,” said Dr. G. Brent Wallace, Chancellor of North Central Texas College, a Network member institution. “During this unprecedented time for our students and communities, it’s never been more important for us to help students navigate these challenges and build the skills to thrive. We’re grateful that organizations like ECMC Foundation and InsideTrack are collaborating to support us and other institutions in these efforts.”

In the wake of COVID-19, colleges are seeing surging demand for emergency student support services, including coaching, to help students struggling with mental health challenges, financial distress, the loss of unemployment, and concerns around personal health and safety. According to recent data from InsideTrack’s Crisis Support Services team, students seeking support to help meet basic needs such as housing, food and medicine have increased by 203 percent from 2019. The number of students requesting assistance to navigate mental health crises has also more than doubled during the same period.…Read More

Bridging the gap in cybersecurity education

Experience Education (ExperienceAmerica.com), a leading organization in experiential learning, has partnered with Education Service Center (ESC) Region 20 in Texas to bring inspiration and innovation to children during a time of crisis. With kids across the country feeling increasingly isolated and disconnected from their friends, as well as their regular routines, Experience and ESC-20 have come together to give young minds a sense of purpose and connection through a one-of-a-kind virtual Cybersecurity Summer Camp. The goal: to merge the children’s love of technology with the national demand to fill tens of thousands of Cybersecurity roles.

Currently employing more than 900,000 Americans from coast-to-coast, Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing job sectors in the nation. According to a recent study, the U.S. Cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 62% in order to meet the current demand. Yet less than half of schools in the country offer any education on the subject. What’s more is that access to Cybersecurity education is uneven and seemingly dependent upon geographic location and socio-economic status. Students from small and high-poverty districts are less likely to have any exposure to the field, causing a disproportionate percentage of youth to bypass an industry that is hungry for skilled professionals.

The strategic partnerships Experience is building with ESC-20 and other districts across the country will ensure the Cybersecurity career pathway is accessible for students from all backgrounds. “We’ve secured funding at the state level to offer full scholarships to 45 deserving students, along with Chromebooks to ensure all kids, regardless of socio-economic status, will be able to get the most out of the program,” explains ESC-20 College and Career Military Readiness Coordinator, Naomi Woods. “Together with Experience, we’ll also be providing an additional 55 scholarships. That way, 100 eighth graders in total will be able to take part in this unique virtual summer learning camp.”…Read More

5 benefits this district got from K-12 esports

Esports is booming, from K-12 right on up to college and at the professional level. As more districts start K-12 esports leagues of their own, the academic and social-emotional benefits become increasingly clear.

Roughly a year and a half ago, leaders in the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD) in Texas, which has been 1:1 for 8 years, noticed the growing esports trend at the collegiate level. The district was already partnered with Dell for technology initiatives, prompting Kyle Bergerr, the district’s chief technology officer, to look a bit closer at esports’ relevance at the K-12 level.

“I felt like high school was about to explode in this,” he says. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, he adds, there are four professional esports teams, leading lots of momentum to build around esports at the high school level.…Read More

6 lessons our district learned from our move to blended learning

Temple Independent School District (ISD), which is located north of Austin and south of Waco, Texas, has a very diverse student population. More than 75 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged and our ethnicity is comprised of roughly equal distribution of African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian. Like other similar districts, we meet our students’ needs through enhancing instruction, building strong relationships between students and their teachers, and creating opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning. Despite our success, this wasn’t something that happened overnight.

For years, we’ve been working toward blended learning because we felt it would be the answer to meeting the needs of our students. In 2015, Temple High School was chosen to be a Raising Blended Learners pilot site through Raise Your Hand Texas. For the next two years, we had 13 teachers experiment with innovative instructional models and new ways to leverage technology to enhance instruction. After the pilot, we saw how blended learning could help meet our students’ needs. Our teachers in the pilot learned to differentiate instruction, had more time to develop meaningful relationships with students, and helped students take ownership of their learning.

Blended learning for everyone

We’re now in our first year of a district-wide blended-learning initiative. We are proud of the progress we’re seeing already and we have learned a few things along the way.…Read More