Brenham is known for more than bluebonnets and Blue Bell; we're also home to the first public school district established in the great state of Texas. We've been leading the way in public education since 1875! Join the Cub Nation Station each Wednesday as staff members and students share what's new in the Brenham Independent School District. It's a great day to be a Brenham Cub!
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Brenham is known for more than bluebonnets and Blue Bell; we're also home to the first public school district established in the great state of Texas. We've been leading the way in public education since 1875! Join the Cub Nation Station each Wednesday as staff members and students share what's new in the Brenham Independent School District. It's a great day to be a Brenham Cub!
Q. Tell us about yourself and what your role is in Brenham ISD.
A. My name is Lori Ruiz-Wamble and I have the privilege of serving as the Director of Special Programs and Advanced Academics in Brenham ISD. I manage programs for our special student populations such as dyslexia, bilingual and ESL, gifted and talented, and advanced academics.
Q. How can parents know if their child is gifted?
A. If you see that your child has critical and creative thinking abilities above their grade level peers, they are very curious about how things work, they ask lots of challenging questions, they have the ability to see relationships, they have a great sense of humor, and they have the ability to learn at a faster rate, these are just some signs your child could be gifted. On the Brenham ISD website under Special Programs - Gifted and Talented, there are some questions parents can fill out to see they should refer their child for G/T screening.
Q. What can parents do if they believe their child might indeed be gifted?
A. Beginning December 9 through December 20, parents, teachers, and administrators may nominate students to be screened for the identification of gifted and talented. Brenham ISD screens students for the G/T program using a multi-criteria approach to selection with 3 phases of placement. G/T identification is based upon data collected from achievement tests, ability tests, parent and teacher observation surveys, and student products from Kingore Planned Experiences. Parents must complete the Request for Screening Form and the Parent Checklist located at www.brenhamisd.net. The deadline for parents to complete and submit the forms is no later than 12:00 pm on December 20.
Q. What services are provided by the program for gifted and talented students?
A. Brenham ISD has 2 stellar G/T programs in the elementary and middle school called Gateway and Challenging Scientific Investigations (CSI). CSI is a Brenham ISD initiative that provides an opportunity for 2nd - 6th grade G/T students to explore science and technology as they read, write, solve problems, conduct experiments and apply science to their daily lives. Students who participate attend CSI once a week for half a day using technology and other STEM-related activities to create innovative projects and research. Gateway is a fully immersed program for students in grades three through six who are identified as G/T. Gateway is designed to build critical thinkers, problem solvers, and life-long learners by providing a rigorous, non-traditional atmosphere with inquiry-based learning with student choice and outstanding learning experiences. On the secondary campuses, our advanced learners are served in the pre-advanced placement, advanced placement classes and the AVID program allowing students to engage in multiple research-based projects and develop their individual academic knowledge and skills.
Q. Where can I find more information about all the services and programs offered for gifted and talented/advanced academic students?
A. To learn more about the amazing opportunities and programs that our advanced learners have in Brenham ISD, join us at the Brenham ISD Advanced Academics Expo on Tuesday, December 10 from 6:00-7:30 pm at Brenham Middle School. Students and staff members will present information on Advanced Placement, AVID, CSI, Gateway, and Gifted and Talented. This event is open to the public. Please join us to discover what our amazing students are creating and innovating within Brenham ISD!
Guest: Danny Ramsey, BISD Assistant Athletic Director
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to Brenham.
We’ve heard you say that mindset is critical for success. What does that look like in real life?
How you help student-athletes achieve a balance between athletics, academics, and everything in between.
We know that winning is how many people measure success, but sometimes you have to just celebrate the little things. Does this tie into mindset?
Talk to us about intentional living and embracing joy in the midst of adversity.
Q. Tell us a little about how your background and how you got to Brenham.
A. I am so excited to be here. My family and I moved to Brenham this summer and it has been an amazing experience so far. I grew up in Huntsville, but have lived in the Clear Lake Area of Houston for the past 23 years. I always wanted to return to a small-town atmosphere. I received my undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and taught mainly in the Clear Creek Independent School District. After several years, I decided to go back to school and received my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lamar University. With my heart still very much based in education and a love for kids, my husband, two children and I decided accepting the position of social emotional coordinator for the Brenham Independent School District was a good move.
Q. What exactly is a social emotional coordinator?
A. A social emotional coordinator assists students and adults in developing fundamental social and emotional competencies, skills and tools such as confidence, optimism, a growth mindset, stress management, self-motivation, effective communication, and responsible decision-making. As educational trends continue to develop, we are finding more evidence that, while developing academics is important, developing social skills and higher emotional intelligence is essential for individual success in today’s society. Brenham ISD wants to provide that opportunity to their students and educators - that’s where I come in.
Q. What does that look like in practice?
A. It can take on many different forms, so that’s a tricky question. In a nutshell, it is supporting teachers in fostering classroom environments and lessons that practice social and emotional skills. That may mean working with students one-on-one when needed, helping teachers design specific lessons or modify existing lessons to include SEL skills, visiting classrooms to discuss a variety of topics, promoting mental health awareness through workshops, or launching district-wide awareness campaigns.
Q. What are some things we can expect from the program?
A. Ideally, we will see more well-adjusted students and educators, higher levels of proactive conflict resolution, increased test scores, and lower levels of burn-out. It may not be felt or seen right away, but as these practices become more ingrained within our educational environment, these results will become inevitable.
Q. What are your personal thoughts about how social emotional learning can affect the district?
A. I believe that increasing social and emotional skills and awareness is priceless. The bottom line is that our students will be better adjusted, more capable of functioning in today’s society, and have the skills to help them navigate through life with more grace and confidence. While educating students is our primary goal, SEL reaches beyond our students and touches the lives of our educators, administrators, parents, caregivers, and community.
Q. It seems that there are reports regarding cyber threats and bullying in the news on a regular basis. What preventative action is Brenham ISD taking to address cyber issues in general?
A. Brenham ISD students and staff are learning cyber safety this year with our #eCubSafe program. Every six weeks has a theme with classroom lessons, announcements, and parent flyers. The current theme is ALERT. This theme focuses on scams and verifying online identities. Future themes include STRONG with a focus on passwords and account security checks, KIND with a focus on cyberbullying and positivity with online communication, and the final them is BRAVE with a focus on using reporting tools when an online communication makes a student feel uncomfortable.
Q. The current theme is ALERT. Tell us more about that.
A. The ALERT theme means “Don’t Fall for Fake.” It includes activities about phishing scams and fake online profiles. Phishing is when someone tries to steal information like your login or account credentials by pretending to be someone you trust in an email, text message, or other online communication. Some phishing attacks are obviously fake, but others can be sneaky and really convincing.
Q. How can you spot phishing emails or texts?
A. A website or ad can’t tell if there’s anything wrong with your machine. Never click a pop-up that says your machine has a virus and you need to call a phone number to have someone remote in and fix your device. If a link in an email or text message looks suspicious, ask yourself some questions:
Does the site’s URL match the product’s or company’s name and information? Does it look misspelled?
Does the URL start with https:// with a padlock next to it? That means the connection is secure.
Is there fine print in the email at the bottom? Read it for more information.
Does the message sound weird? Did they offer information about you as if they are trying to gain your trust? Search your text messages or email for a previous communication from that person. Reply to the older message and ask if they sent you something recently. Many email accounts are spoofed - not exactly hacked, just using the account address.
Is it asking you for personal information? Some phishing messages are posing as personality tests to gather facts to make it easy to guess your passwords.
Is the message a chain or email post asking you to forward it to others? If you are unsure of the source do not pass it on.
Q. What if you do fall for a scam?
A. Don’t panic! We ask students to let a parent or teacher know immediately. If it is a school account, we ask the teacher to notify the technology department. Change passwords for online accounts immediately. If you think your email was hacked, notify contacts after you change your password. Warn them not to click on any suspicious messages that might have been sent from your account. If your computer was hacked, shut it down immediately to stop access.
Q. How do you verify a person’s identity online?
A. Is their profile photo suspicious? Bad photos, emojis, photos of pets make it easy to hide a real identity. Does their username contain their real name? Look at more than just the online name. Look at the URL and see if it contains their real name socialmedia.com/jane_doe. Do they have a profile bio? Does the information in the “About Me” section confirm how they may know you or does it look like information that could be found easily? How long has the profile been active? Fake accounts usually don’t have much content or signs of people posting, commenting, and socializing with them.
1. The weather is getting cooler, will students at Brenham Elementary be taking any field trips?
Yes, our second graders recently had a blast at the Oil Ranch and first grade was able to go to Blessington Farms. On November 7, our kindergarten classes will also head out to the Oil Ranch. Students always have such a great time, they even get to bring home they’re very own pumpkin! We’re hoping for great weather on that day!
2. Parent involvement is so important, what events do you have coming up for parents to attend?
It’s beginning to be that busy time of year. We have our annual Veteran’s Day program at 1:30 p.m. on November 11. Our fourth grade students are practicing hard during their music time. We invite all veterans to come and be a part of this fabulous celebration. As we get closer to our Thanksgiving holidays, first grade will have a feast and second grade is planning a picnic. Teachers will keep parents informed of upcoming events or they may check out our social media channels for more information. Also, we always welcome parents and community members to become CARS volunteers. Please contact our school at 979-277-3880 for more information.
3. How do you communicate to parents and the community about events at Brenham Elementary?
Great question! In today’s digital world, a lot of our communication is through social media. Our teachers use the Remind app to reach out to let parents know what’s going on in their classrooms. When we have upcoming events, I post them on our Brenham Elementary Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. We also have a monthly digital newsletter that is posted to our social media accounts and we offer digital flyers through Peachjar, which can be found on our website at brenhamisd.net under schools. As always, we encourage parents to call us at 979-277-3880 should they have any questions!
4. What kind of tutorials are going on during this time of the year at Brenham Elementary?
We have ELT (Extra Learning Time) built into our daily master schedule. After we assessed our students, we found that our third grade math needed a little more reinforcement, so we incorporated 7:20 a.m. Educational Galaxy math tutorial time in our computer lab. A huge thank you to parents and students who come to school early for extra learning. It’s a great way to get the day started!
5. The other schools are having school fundraisers, what will Brenham Elementary be participating in?
We are having our first Boosterthon November 4-14. This is a fitness and character-based fundraiser where students earn pledges that help raise money for our school. We will kick it off on November 4 with a big pep rally during PE time. Watch our social media channels for more information!
Q. What special events are happening at Krause right now?
A. We are looking forward to our big family event, the Krause Carnival, on October 24. We will have games, silent auction items, and a Halloween costume contest. We invite anyone to come and join the fun from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Krause. We are also looking forward to the BISD Block Party coming up on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Cub Stadium. We are continuing to celebrate positive behavior with our Bingo Bucks and Mega Bucks for students as they exhibit awesome behavior in the hallway, cafeteria, gym, on the playground, and during arrival or dismissal.
Q. What CORE Value have you been talking about this month?
A. For the month of October, we have talked about Courage. Each day our students hear that having courage means being brave enough to do what is right even when you are afraid. We have heard some amazing quotes like “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear,” by Mark Twain. Or another great message by Winston Churchill stating “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Q. How has your campus celebrated Red Ribbon Week?
A. Red Ribbon Week is being celebrated across our campus by all of our students participating in daily dress-up days. On Monday, our campus wore red from head to toe. On Tuesday, our staff and students wore crazy socks as we “socked it” to drugs. On Wednesday, we’re wearing camouflage as we join the fight against drugs. Thursday we will “put a cap on drugs” as we all wear our favorite cap or hat, and on Friday, it’s green out day as we talk about Cubs not doing drugs.
Q. Tell us about the Omega International Exchange Program that you have going on at Krause.
A. This program began last year as a sort of “pen pal” activity with a group of students and teachers from China. We met some teachers and directors who actually came to our campus, but we also met students from China online. We have been working with these same students with various projects, and we are very excited to begin an online learning program in which we spend an hour learning with students in China. This means we have to meet at 7:00 p.m. our time so that the students in China are meeting at 9:00 a.m. their time. We are experiencing so much learning and fun! We can’t wait for our next virtual learning session.
Q. What is the most important thing parents can do for their children in their learning process?
A. The biggest way parents can help is by talking to their children about their day. Today our world is so fast-paced and we get so caught up in technology, getting to the next place, or accomplishing the next task that we often forget to just talk. Talking can lead to some of the best conversations about what is happening in school, what is happening in life or just about what your child had for lunch that day. Take time to put the cell phone away and spend 5 minutes talking about your child’s day.
Q. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on at Brenham Junior High School.
A. Our theme this year is “One Small Step Today…One Giant Leap Tomorrow!” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Thanks to our staff, students, and parents, we’ve had an amazing start to the year. We appreciate the effort our students are making to follow the rules by being in dress code, wearing IDs, and being wonderful students! We also appreciate the support of our Bush’s Chicken fundraiser which raised $14,783 for field trips and other student activities.
Q. What are your goals as you enter your sixth year at Brenham Junior High School?
A. I strive to create a team environment at BJHS so our staff and students are excited about what we are doing as a campus. I want our students to regard the time they spent with us as the best educational experience they have ever had. I also want to ensure our students are being educated in a safe, positive, loving environment, and that they are prepared not only for success on state assessments but also for the academic rigor of high school and college.
Q. What programs are in place at BJHS to assist students?
A. We recently had the first Saturday school of the year for students having attendance issues or academic issues. We will offer two Saturday schools per month until the end of the school year. We have also been using Edgenuity, an online program to address the four core disciplines. Additionally, we use Reading Plus as a tool for reading improvement. We also plan to bring in some of our AVID students to help the Saturday school students with binder and agenda organization.
Q. Tell us about the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program.
AVID is in its third year on our campus, and we base everything we do on the four domains of AVID: Systems, Instruction, Leadership, and Culture. We are an AVID certified campus and our goal is to become an elite AVID National Demonstration School. All BJHS students have an organized binder and agenda, and every department works on having focused note-taking in their classes. As a campus, we have two seventh grade AVID elective classes and two eighth grade AVID elective classes, but all of our students know that AVID reaches into EVERY classroom and impacts them academically. Our AVID elective teacher Jenny Schaer continues to push our AVID students to achieve the highest goals!
Q. What upcoming events do you have occurring at BJH?
A. We have a “pink out” themed pep rally on October 21 at 2:30 p.m. in our gym with a girls vs. boys competition. The Brenham High School band will also be joining us for this pep rally. Red Ribbon Week will be celebrated October 21-25, and we will also be wearing orange in support of Unity Day on October 23 for bullying prevention. Football, volleyball and cross country are all well into their seasons and basketball will be starting the next few weeks.
Q. There has been some discussion lately regarding the handling of students with negative lunch accounts. What is Brenham ISD doing to address this?
A. An automated phone call is placed each night to the phone number on record when a student has a negative meal account balance. A student with no money is allowed to charge up to three days’ worth of meals (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches) to give the household time to make a payment on the child’s account. Once the grace period is exhausted, the student receives a complete alternate meal consisting of a cheese sandwich entrée plus fruit, vegetable, and choice of milk and condiments free of charge. If a student receives four alternate meals, the household is personally contacted by the child nutrition department to identify their needs and connect them to assistance where possible.
Q. Speaking of assistance, how can someone from the community help alleviate debt on student accounts?
A. The Brenham ISD Child Nutrition Department has a donor account from which transfers can be made to pay off negative balances. Donations can be made to this account by contacting the child nutrition office at 979-277-3750.
Q. As a parent, how can I see what my child’s account balance is and what my child has been spending their money on?
A. You can create an EZSchoolPay account from the link on the Brenham ISD child nutrition website. This will allow you to see your child’s balance at any time. By clicking on your listed child, you can also see a report of all their transactions for the last month.
Q. Is there a charge to set up EZSchoolPay?
A. No, there is no charge to set up an account in EZSchoolPay. An EZSchoolPay account can be set up without entering any credit card information at all. Parents can also create an account for their child with no credit card associated with the account. The child can then download the EZSchoolPay app on their phone and log in to view the meal account balance at any time.
Q. It’s almost National School Lunch Week. What is Brenham ISD doing to celebrate this week?
A. This year’s National School Lunch Week is October 14-18. The superhero theme will focus on “Saving the Day with a Healthy School Lunch.” We will start each day with morning announcements to promote our super healthy food group of the day and at lunch, we will serve a variety of menu choices with special attention to the daily featured food group. These featured groups offer menu items that are essential to help support memory and provide vitamins such as vitamin C, provide protein for muscle development and strength, provide fiber for digestive health and B vitamins, plus calcium for bone building. Of course, no celebration is complete without a treat, so also this week, we will also offer a special super treat with lunch meals!
Q. Brenham Middle School has implemented a “house system.” What is that and what is the goal?
A. Our house system divides the entire staff and student body into “houses” that compete against each other. The goal is to build a community of learners and a sense of belonging through teamwork and friendly competition. We have house meetings twice per six weeks to discuss how we can become a more successful team by demonstrating character, growing academically and being responsible. Each house is led by a staff house leader and elected student leaders.
Q. How many houses do you have at BMS and how did you determine who would be in each house?
A. The students were randomly divided into seven different houses. Each house is represented by a character trait, a color, and a symbol. The names of the houses are actually the character trait in a different language. Each house is made up of an even number of fifth and sixth graders, as well as 10 to 11 staff members. Students learned what house they were in by opening an envelope with their student ID and a colored lanyard that matched their house.
Q. How do the houses compete against each other?
A. Students can earn points for their house daily by earning character cards. Staff members hand out character cards to students who are caught demonstrating good character. On a weekly basis, students earn a point for their house for getting their planner signed by a parent. Every six weeks, students gain points for passing grades, attendance and behavior.
Q. How often are winners announced and what can the houses earn with their points?
A. Each Tuesday, we do a house update over the announcements. Those announcements sometimes include a special reward for the house that earned the most points for a particular initiative such as signed planners, wearing their ID’s, or earning the most character cards. Once per six weeks, we have a House Pep Rally. All of the students and staff gather in the gym wearing their house colors. We announce the house winner for the six weeks, do some fun games among representatives from the houses and recognize individuals who earned the most points for their house. We also do a house reward each six weeks for the house that is in the lead.
Q. With the first six weeks behind you, what do you feel is the biggest benefit of the house system?
A. Our students feel like they’re a part of something. They get high fives from staff members in their houses, sit together at lunch on designated days, and enjoy being part of a family. As house leaders, we check on our students who are struggling academically or having behavior concerns. We hold them accountable in a positive way. Also, we incorporate community service projects, like raising money for local organizations, to encourage students to participate in competitions while teaching the importance of giving back to the community.
Q. We hear the fall course catalog is out. What courses are you offering this semester?
A. The Brenham Community Education fall course catalog has been published and we invite you to come learn with us. We are currently offering: Nature Expressions, Macra-Made, Halloween Makeup Workshop, Cookie Decorating, Pumpkin Painting - No Carve Solution, Pretty Pumpkin Carving, Sewing Classes for Beginners, Mason Jar Terrariums, Thanksgiving Centerpiece Workshop, Christmas Wreath Workshop, Pot-in-a-Pot Garden Art, Painting Holiday Ornaments and several monthly fitness courses. Whether you’re looking to get in shape, learn something new, or enjoy an activity with your friends, we have a course for you!
Q. How does someone become a Community Education instructor?
A. Becoming an instructor is simple! Classes are flexible and custom-designed by YOU! Instructors set their own schedule and class fees, and keep 80% of the fee. All you need is an idea - we handle the rest! Just visit our website at brenhamcommunityed.com and select the Teach a Course link to submit a course proposal online or call me at 979-277-3895 ext. 2171.
Q. Tell us about the Advanced Career Training options you offer online.
A. These programs prepare students for a career and are designed to provide job training and/or advancement opportunities. They also lead to industry-recognized certifications. You can start these career training programs anytime and work at a pace that suits your individual style. You'll have access to all the lessons and assignments from day one, and many of these programs can be completed in less than six months. You'll get all the materials and instructor assistance you need to have a truly comprehensive learning experience.
Q. Where can the community go to get more information about Brenham Community Education?
A. Brenham Community Education is an important part of the district’s involvement in the community and can open doors for students and instructors alike. Visit brenhamcommunityed.com or call 979-277-3895 to discover new areas of interest, pursue passions, and achieve new knowledge and skills. We also invite you to come see us at 1301 South Market Street here in Brenham.
Q. You also handle all of the centralized new student registration for Brenham ISD. What do parents need to know about registering their child?
A. New student registration is held Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Brenham Community Education building. Registration packets can be found on our district website under the Parent Information tab. Parents of new students will need to provide the following documents, along with the registration packet, upon registration: Proof of district residency, child’s birth certificate and social security card, photo ID of parent/guardian and current immunization records.
Q. Tell us about Pride Academy and DAEP.
A. Pride Academy educates students who are at risk of dropping out of school or having a difficult time learning in a traditional school setting. At Pride Academy, students are instructed using a non-traditional school day. Students can attend school for four hours a day using the TEA approved Optional Flexible School Day Program. The Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) is a culturally diverse program implemented to nurture and foster the necessary knowledge and skills students need to be socially and academically independent. Students at DAEP can reflect on choices they have made, while feeling empowered not to repeat those same mistakes, using the restorative discipline model.
Q. What are the criteria for enrolling in Pride Academy?
A. To be an eligible candidate for Pride Academy, a student must be at risk of dropping out of school for various reasons. A student must be a junior with at least 17 credits and have passed two of the End of Course exams. Also, the student must have a recommendation from their grade level counselor. The student and parent will be interviewed by a committee that will determine the student’s acceptance into Pride Academy.
Q. Can you tell us what kind of student opportunities Pride Academy provides for its students?
A. Students are given various opportunities to learn about technical programs, junior colleges, community colleges, test prep and entrance examinations, and grants that can help them with their education after high school.
Q. What is your campus culture like?
A. Our campus culture is great! I couldn’t ask for a better team! The students are excited, the teachers are excited, and the community is excited about the positive things going on at Pride Academy. The BISD theme this year is Great Things Happen Here, and we think we are the perfect example of that!
Q. Do you have any programs to motivate students to be successful?
Yes, we have mentoring programs from the Prairie View A&M Social Work Action Club and the Blinn College Distinguished Gentleman’s Club. Both of these organizations provide excellent support of both the DAEP and Pride Academy students.
Q. What is the FFA?
A. FFA is a nationwide youth organization that aims to build premier leadership, personal growth, and career success, through a classroom environment and supervised agricultural experiences. FFA is designed to grow leaders, build communication, and strengthen agriculture.
Q. What achievements can you obtain within FFA?
A. Some of the awards within the Brenham FFA Chapter include Star Greenhand, Top Seitz Fruit and Meat Seller, and Tophand. There are also state and national level degrees you can earn which include Greenhand Degree, Chapter Degree, Lonestar Degree, Discovery Degree, and the American FFA Degree, as well as the opportunity for many scholarships.
Q. How do you become an FFA member?
A. In order to become an FFA member, you must be enrolled in an agriculture class, fill out a membership form, and pay a $25 membership dues, which also gets you an FFA shirt.
Q. What are some opportunities FFA offers its members?
A. FFA has a wide range of activities personalized for many interests. Supervised Ag Experiences (SAEs), allow students to get hands-on experiences in agriculture, such as raising an animal, doing an agri-science fair project, or entrepreneurship. Leadership Developments Events (LDEs) are focused on developing leadership skills through public speaking and problem-solving. Finally, Career Development events (CDEs) provide a variety of events based on student interests. Some of these include Livestock Judging, Entomology, Wildlife, Dairy Judging, Vet Med, Agronomy, and Forages.
Q. What’s going on in Brenham FFA now?
A. Members are preparing for the Washington County Fair, which will take place on September 13-21. Our current service projects include a soda tab collection for the Ronald McDonald Foundation and our September meeting will include a trash pickup for our Adopt-A-Highway on FM 2935. We have also been hard at work preparing for leadership development contests which will begin in October. We want to remind students that we are still accepting members through September.
Q. What are some goals that Alton Elementary will be working toward this year?
A. Our focus will remain on helping students grow academically, socially and emotionally while also growing a community of readers. We know that readers are leaders! Although we are pleased that we met the state’s standards for our accountability rating, we are always looking for ways to improve. We want to make Alton Elementary School a place where people are beating down the doors to attend!
Q. The new school year brought some changes that parents need to know about. What are some changes that you would like everyone to be aware of?
A. First, I want to thank our parents for their cooperation as we made some changes to our master schedule and dismissal procedures. Our biggest change involved implementing new procedures for our car riders to eliminate crossing traffic during loading to ensure student safety at all times. We will continue our morning huddle from 7:45-7:55 each morning and are excited that the STEAM program has expanded, allowing first, second, and third grades to visit the STEAM class twice per week. Our kindergartners and fourth graders will continue to visit the STEAM club once per six weeks.
Q. What suggestions do you give parents to help their children succeed in school?
A. The biggest suggestion I can make is to get involved and stay involved. We have a wonderful Parent Teacher Organization that provides many ways parents can serve our school and our students. We’re also kicking off our Watch D.O.G.S. program with a launch event at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 3. I also encourage parents to communicate often. Our campus uses Class Dojo to keep an open line of communication with parents and to keep them engaged in their child’s learning experience.
Q. What events are coming up at Alton Elementary?
A. Our fall fundraiser will be kicking off soon and will run until September 25. Students will receive a lanyard and collectible keychain for their first box sold, and prizes for additional boxes. These funds are used to provide activities for students and staff throughout the year. We also invite all of our parents to attend curriculum night on Thursday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m. to get more information about what your child will be learning this year.
Q. What else do you want parents and our community to know going into this school year?
A. We are all excited to be back and we thank everyone for a smooth start to the year. We are already working hard and heading in the right direction to keep moving forward and focus on getting better every day. Our theme this year is “Another Day in Paradise” and our staff are all working to ensure teaching and learning feel like paradise at #AlohaAlton!
Q: Brenham ISD provides a variety of ways for parents to connect with schools. What are the best ways for parents to stay informed?
A: Our district website, www.brenhamisd.net, is a great place to start. Each school also has a campus website that can be accessed from the district homepage. Additionally, we offer a mobile app that can be found in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Brenham ISD is also active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow us at @BrenhamISD!
Q: Many Brenham ISD staff members consistently go above and beyond the call of duty. Is there some way for parents to recognize those outstanding individuals?
A: Absolutely! Brenham ISD offers the Cub Compliment program as a way for anyone in our district or community to recognize staff members who exceed expectations. Anyone can nominate any Brenham ISD staff member to receive this honor. Recipients get a letter signed by Dr. Jackson with a description of the nomination and a certificate for a treat from the school cafeteria. You can access the nomination form on the district website at www.brenhamisd.net under Departments > Communications.
Q: Brenham ISD is starting a podcast this year. Where can we get more information or subscribe to the podcast?
A: Brenham ISD has had two wonderful radio shows for years, the BISD Round Table which airs on KWHI at 9:00 a.m. on Thursdays and the BISD Today Show which airs on 94.1 Lite FM at 8:45 a.m. on Saturdays. The new podcast, Cub Nation Station, will feature this content, as well as special interviews with students, board members and staff members. The podcast will be available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify.
Q: Tell us about the community services department housed at the Brenham Community Education building.
A: Georgiane Gessner is the Community Services Associate in charge of new student registration and the Brenham Community Education program. Contact Georgiane at firstname.lastname@example.org or 979-277-3895 x2171 if you have a student entering Brenham ISD or would like to take or teach a class! Karem Chandler is the F.A.M.E. (Families Actively and Meaningfully Engaged) Parent Liaison. Karem can help parents sign up for parent portal, assist with parent-teacher conferences, and answer questions about academic programs. Contact Karem at email@example.com or 979-277-3895 x2175.
Q: What is the Cub Connection newsletter and how do parents sign up to receive it?
A: The Cub Connection newsletter is a monthly email publication that is automatically delivered to parents through our broadcast system, School Messenger. The newsletter includes events, district information and spotlight stories. Contact the campus registrar to ensure you have a current email address on file in order to receive the Cub Connection newsletter or find the archives at www.brenhamisd.net under Departments > Communications.
Q. Tell us about Brenham ISD’s new Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability.
A. We are so excited to have Sarah Cook join our central office team! Sarah began her educational career with Brenham ISD in 2004 as an instructional aide, and went on to serve as a sixth-grade science teacher, a CSI teacher, and most recently a content specialist for science and social studies. Sarah earned a bachelor's degree in forensic chemistry from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Education from Lamar University with a focus on teacher leadership. She enjoys working with students and teachers, as well as researching data trends and instructional teaching practices to improve student achievement.
Q. Each year the school district celebrates its history as the first public school district in Texas. Tell us about Brenham ISD’s rich history.
A. Brenham ISD was established following a bill passed on March 25, 1875 during the 14th Legislature. The first day of classes for Brenham Public Schools was September 6, 1875 and the session lasted forty weeks. Classes were conducted in the old Key Home on the site of the Sacred Heart Convent, with a monthly rental of $50 until the city purchased the property on October 22, 1877 for $2500. A new two story brick building was constructed during 1878 at a cost of $10,000.
Q. The district recently received accountability ratings from the state. How did the district perform?
A. We are proud to announce that the district earned a “B” rating from the Texas Education Agency. Overall the district’s score increased by 8 points, moving from a 79 in the 2017-2018 school year to an 87 for the 2018-2019 school year. Brenham ISD campuses also earned a total of 12 distinction designations. Brenham ISD has seen an increase in the number of students who leave the district ready for college, career, or the military. Additionally, students continue to excel in the area of mathematics and gains are being made in literacy at the secondary levels, as well.
Q. What are some of the areas of focus for the district this year?
A. Our areas of focus include literacy in all grades, closing achievement gaps, and overall student growth. We have turnaround support in place for our areas of need and the district has allocated targeted resources to ensure growth moving forward. We’re also investing heavily in our teacher development program to attract and retain quality instructional staff.
Q. What do parents need to know about teaching and learning in Brenham ISD?
A. Our teachers work hard to plan and deliver quality instruction to meet the diverse needs of your children. We plan all of our instruction based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which are the state standards for what students should know and be able to do. Our staff members attend regular professional development and strive to ensure our students are prepared for successful careers in fields that are constantly developing.
Q. School is underway and the Brenham ISD has a new theme this year. Tell us about “Great Things Happen Here.”
A. Each year we aim to choose a theme that showcases how our district and community work together to ensure our schools and students are successful. From academics and athletics to fine arts and extracurriculars, great things are happening in Brenham ISD each and every day. We are grateful to our dedicated staff members and community partners who build greatness in each of our students to help them reach their maximum potential.
Q. Can you share some Brenham ISD statistics to remind our listeners about the makeup of Brenham ISD?
A. Brenham ISD educates just over 5,000 students with an operating budget of approximately 51 million dollars. We are proud to share that we had 349 graduates in 2019 and the Brenham High School celebrates a 96% graduation rate, which is well above the state average. We are also celebrating that our starting teacher salary was increased this year to $46,000 which puts us above the average for our market.
Q. There were many summer projects happening all over the district. What were some of the biggest undertakings?
A. Two of our biggest summer projects were the construction of new stairwells at the Brenham High School and the completion of the Deb Tackett Memorial Library at the Brenham Early Childhood Learning Center. Many thanks to Assistant Superintendent of Operations Paul Aschenbeck and our Brenham ISD maintenance department for supporting both of these efforts. Great things are happening at our facilities!
Q. The 144th Brenham ISD anniversary celebration is coming up. Tell us about this year’s event and honorees.
A. Brenham ISD is proud of its history and accomplishments, and as the oldest public school system in the state, we will soon be celebrating our 144th Anniversary and honoring the 2019 Brenham ISD Distinguished Alumni: Charles Ellison, Class of 1972; Atwood Kenjura, Class of 1963; Ron Parker, Class of 1972; and Kay Lyn Schwartz, Class of 1980. This year’s celebration is at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, September 6 at the Blinn College Student Center. Individuals may contact Jackie at the Brenham ISD Central Office at 979-277-3700 for tickets to this event.
Q. What do parents need to know going into this new school year?
A. We’ve all been diligently working to ensure that this will be the best year ever. Brenham ISD will remain laser focused on our mission of educating the hearts and minds of our students in a safe and nurturing environment. We ask that parents support our efforts by acting as ambassadors for our public schools and maintaining an open communication with our district. Great things happen when we all work together for the success of our children!