WISD board holds March meeting, hears reports from administrators

Reporter: Ellie Mahan

March 16, 2022

The Whitney ISD Board of Trustees met Monday, March 7, in a regular session to review monthly district business and hear administrator reports for each campus.

Superintendent John McCullough announced that the district will use its last bad weather day. Monday, April 18, will be a regular school day to make up for the day that school was not in session Thursday, February 24.

The board approved the 2022-2023 school calendar. Superintendent McCullough said, “This calendar is very similar to the one we had this year. Two years ago, the staff really liked starting the first day of school in the middle of the week and the first day back from Christmas in the middle of the week.”

The board also approved the certification of unopposed candidates for the Board of Trustees election. Katie Foster and Amy Hoffman ran unopposed, and the district’s May 7 election will be canceled.

The superintendent also announced the retirement of district employees Jennifer Ryan and Brian Caperton.

McCullough shared one legislative update from Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott wrote a letter to the Texas Education Agency directing the TEA to immediately create a task force to address the ongoing, increasing staffing shortage that school districts have been facing. He stated that teachers play a critical role in the long-term success of students, and he hopes to form discussion on ways to attract and retain teachers and substitute teachers. Governor Abbott wrote, “This task force should investigate the challenges teacher vacancies are causing for school districts, explore best practices for addressing this shortage, and research the possibility for flexibility of certification, placement, and hiring.”

During administrator reports, Principal Amber Seely stated that the elementary school is planning professional development opportunities for the summer and is already brainstorming ideas to make next school year better. She said, “We’re in a good spot, and our teachers are doing a great job.”

Principal Russell Gauer said that during the week of the meeting, the intermediate school students were set to take mock STAAR tests for math, reading and fifth grade science. Intermediate school staff will analyze the data from those tests to make adjustments for the spring. The third grade music program and open house was also planned for Thursday.

In her administrator report, Middle School Principal Kendra Hensley said, “We’re also finishing our mock STAAR tests. We had incentives for students to try to encourage them to do their best because mock STAAR tests can easily not be taken seriously, so I think we are going to get some pies in our faces at the end of the week. We also have our principal’s leadership committee working on next year and finding things we can tweak to serve students better.”

SWEET, SWEET SUCCESS. Aiden Albright, eighth grader, pies Whitney Middle School Vice Principal Mark Page in the face as a reward for excelling on his mock STAAR tests. Principal Kendra Hensley motivated her students by promising them that they could pie a principal if they achieved masters level on both their science and social studies tests. Mock STAAR tests help students prepare for their real STAAR tests that they will take later in the year, and the masters level is the highest grade category possible on STAAR tests. Eight students earned the reward: Aiden Albright, June Britain, McKenna Driessner, Eliya Hughes, Elay Landrum, Connor Marino, Caden Meador and Ryan Ponder. Staff participants were Principal Hensley, Vice Principal Page and Nikki Chiles, attendance clerk, who agreed to join in on the fun at the request of one of her student office aides.

Students who achieved masters level, the highest grade category possible in STAAR test terminology, on science and social studies mock STAAR tests earned the opportunity to pie a principal.

The staff participants were Principal Hensley, Vice Principal Mark Page and Nikki Chiles, attendance clerk, who agreed to join in on the fun at the request of her student office aides.

Whitney Middle School Principal Kendra Hensley and Attendance Clerk Nikki Chiles are all smiles before students pie them.

Eight students qualified for the reward: Aiden Albright, June Britain, McKenna Driessner, Eliya Hughes, Elay Landrum, Connor Marino, Caden Meador and Ryan Ponder.

For the high school, Principal Amy Leech said, “We will finish our mock tests this week. There are a lot of school activities at the high school level. Our band went to their symphonic band sweepstakes performance. They earned a first division on their stage performance and in their sight reading, so they did really well. Jonah Cottongame went to his state competition, and he ended up getting fourth chair out of the 10, as a sophomore, which is really, really good… We’re ready for spring break, and we will hit the ground running when we get back and finish out the year strong.”

WISD’s March staff member of the month is Melanie Button, intermediate school librarian.

Superintendent McCollough read Principal Gauer’s nomination statement for Ms. Button: “It is a pleasure and honor to nominate Melanie Button as staff member of the month for the month of March. Ms. Button is a wonderful librarian and model employee. Every day she can be heard on campus sharing a kind word to a fellow colleague or student. Our library is always a place where reading is encouraged, and the curiosity about knowledge found between the covers of a book is celebrated. Ms.Button is a constant example to our students of why the love of reading can open doors of opportunity. She encourages parental involvement through an annual library book fair and is always willing to share a kind word about our students to their parents and guardians. She is a great role model for our students, and we are fortunate to have her as part of our team.”

The board will meet for next month’s regular session Monday, April 11.

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