Friday, January 7, 2011
Just a few blocks from Blackshear is Kealing Middle School — our second visit of the day. Kealing is a large school with more than 1,200 students. A campus of that size filled with energetic adolescents could be chaotic, but that's clearly not the case at Kealing. "Clearly" is the key word here because it's "clear expectations" that set the scholarly atmosphere visitors immediately notice. "Dare to Excel" is the motto of the Kealing community.
It was lunchtime then and I really enjoyed talking informally with the students. As a former middle school teacher, I love kids this age. They're so full of energy and curiosity. They challenge you on everything, and really keep teachers on their toes!
After serving as an annex for District and community programs, Kealing’s building was devastated by fire. In 1986, the school reopened as a junior high school, both for students in the Kealing neighborhood and for students throughout AISD who were accepted into its rigorous and innovative academic magnet math and science program. In 1993, the magnet program expanded to include a focus on the liberal arts as well. In Fall 2004, Kealing opened its sixth grade program and became a middle school.
For 25 years, Kealing has served its student populations – both the Comprehensive Academy Program (CAP) and the Magnet Program – daring to excel and fulfilling its mission of “One School, Multiple Programs, Success for All.”
Thanks for letting us visit, Kealing Hornets. We had a great time and hope to come back again soon.
Offering healthy foods in the school cafeteria is very important but it's equally important that students choose these foods in the lunch line.
In a recent article in the New York Times, professors Brian Wansink and David R. Just from the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University explained how making simple changes to school lunch lines can encourage students to make the healthiest food choices possible. They included several changes that use behavioral psychology to coax children to eat better, such as putting fresh fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the serving lines so that they are the first foods that children see, giving healthy food choices more descriptive names, and putting white milk in front of flavored milk.
AISD Food Services has begun to institute many of professors Wansink’s and Just’s recommendations and will make these changes, where possible, in the coming months.
Information about the nutritional content of AISD's breakfast and lunch menus is available at this link. AISD Nutrition
As we arrived at the doors of Edward L. Blackshear, we were enthusiastically greeted by students welcoming all the community leaders coming in to participate in Role Model Day. After signing in, we were led by some very informative student guides who walked us through this beautiful old school to the gymnasium.
|Judge Biscoe engaging students.|
|Star Flight pilot Willy Culberson|
This wonderful event was organized by Margarene Beaman, a dedicated community volunteer who is also president of the Rotary Club and chaired the 2010 Blue Santa Drive. Thank you so much, Ms. Beaman, for all you've done for Blackshear and the Austin community.
AISD has begun a campaign to improve daily student attendance. Our slogan is "Every Day Counts." Today at Blackshear, I talked to the youngsters about the importance of coming to school everyday. My message to them was "Come to school everyday on time. Graduate. Succeed." I am sure that each of the other role models had a similar message about setting goals and working hard to reach them.
While I was talking to the students at the Role Model Fair, Dr. Paul Cruz and Dr. Ramona Trevino visited kindergarten and first grade classrooms. These youngest students were working hard on reading and math. They were so sharp you'd never know they were just coming back from winter break.
They visited two first grade classes — one bilingual and one monolingual Spanish. The teacher in the Spanish class was using the Innovation Station working on reading comprehension. The classes were focused on Friday assessments. All teachers at Blackshear turn in the assessment data weekly and data is reviewed during planning meetings with the principal on a monthly basis. They also visited bilingual kindergarten. The students were very busy in purposeful planned activity. They were involved in active listening, writing, math, technology and dramatic play. The school's 2010 Teacher of Promise, Ms. Moe, is a kindergarten teacher. As a novice teacher, she joined all Pre-K in CIRCLE training. Weekly training updates include instructional strategies for math, science, reading and writing.
Dr. Cruz talked to the first grade children about working hard in each grade until their high school graduation in 2022. He told me that the children looked a little dazed thinking about all the years between now and then. We adults, however, know that time goes by quickly, and we must do everything we can to prepare these students for future success.
Blackshear has a beautiful mural in its main hallway painted this year by Austin artist Bryan "Bydeeman" Joseph. Check out this story about his school mural project which appeared in the Austin American-Statesman last month. Bydeeman
My hour as a role model ended and it was time to leave Blackshear. Thank you to Principal Thelma Longoria, the wonderful staff and students, and all the other role models who graciously gave their time to our students today. Please be sure to invite me back next year!
|Thank you, Blackshear role models!|