TALAS E-newsletter – April 9

Posted on April 9th, 2020
TALAS members support one another! Join today!

Share with us what you’re doing in your district

TALAS wants to share your ideas, tools, and resources with your colleagues.
If you have an idea or resource to share,
please email it (include any links, etc.) to talasnews@gmail.com .
We’ll also include resources on the TALAS webpage.
Seguin ISD superintendent decides to stay after seeing COVID-19 response from community
The Seguin ISD superintendent is not going anywhere.

Dr. Matthew Gutierrez was supposed to leave for another superintendent job at Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin. However, according to a letter from Dr. Gutierrez himself, he’s not going anywhere.

“After much reflection, prayer and conversation with friends and family, I have come to realize that my best fit at this time is with Seguin ISD,” Gutierrez said in a letter. “I am proud to say that I have decided to remain in Seguin, to continue to serve our community. Together we have accomplished so much and I am determined to see continued student and staff success in the future.”

Gutierrez actually cited the COVID-19 pandemic, the community’s response and how he feels like Seguin has become an interdependent family for the decision.
TASA Summer Conference and TALAS Pre-Conference cancelled
As you may have heard the TASA Summer Conference and TALAS Pre Conference are cancelled. TALAS is planning a virtual Affiliate Meeting in conjunction with the TALAS Executive Board Meeting at a future time and date to be determined. As new plans are created and finalized we will share them with you.
Tomball ISD releases grading guidelines for online learning
Grades will be given for remote learning assignments in Tomball ISD beginning April 6, according to a letter to families from the district April 2. After classes moved online amid school closures, TISD students  resumed  remote learning March 23.

Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said in the letter that grading will vary depending on grade level, breaking grading guidelines down by pre-K to first grade, grades 2-5, and grades 6-12.

For pre-K through grade 5, only one grade will be given each week per course, according to the letter.

Students in grades 6-12 will receive a maximum of two grades per week per course, with one grade per week being for completion and the other grade per week for competence.

Additionally, for pre-K to grade 5, music, art and physical education courses will not have grades assigned for the last nine-week period, according to district information.

JC Consulting selected by Austin ISD Board to conduct search
On Monday, April 6, the Austin ISD Board voted to negotiate a contract with search firm JG Consulting to assist in the search for a new superintendent. In February, Cruz announced he was resigning as superintendent to take a job with the University of Texas. The contract will start in April and will conclude once the board has selected a finalist.
After coronavirus closes schools, Austin ISD approves changes to GPA, class rank
After the closing school campuses indefinitely and switching to online learning in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Austin district leaders are changing grading policies and the calculation of class rankings and grade point averages.

Austin is one of several school districts across the state that are modifying grading policies and class ranking calculations. Leander schools approved changes to its grading, GPA and class rank policies in March.

The Austin school board Monday night approved class rankings to be calculated based on the student’s average at the end of the fall semester, which ended Dec. 19.

Dallas District Turns to PresenceLearning for Speech Language Therapy
A Texas school district has signed a contract for online speech language therapy.  Dallas Independent School District  is using services provided by  PresenceLearning  to support 515 elementary and secondary students from 30 campuses in the district through “teletherapy.”

The company has a network of certified clinicians who work with students via video conferencing. The PresenceLearning platform also integrates assessments, class assignments, games and other activities into the student sessions.

“Due to the nationwide shortage of licensed speech-language pathologists, we needed to find new and innovative ways to ensure our students would receive necessary services and that we, as a district, would meet evaluation timelines,” said Kristin Davis, director of districtwide services at Dallas ISD, in a statement. “This is why we are turning to teletherapy as a supplement support to the onsite services we provide. We are very excited to push this initiative forward in partnership with PresenceLearning.”

UT Austin Education Pipeline Consortium Awarded $375K Kresge Foundation Grant
The Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color, a program — in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin, has been awarded a $375,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to support its efforts in helping low-income African American and Latinx males enter the college pipeline.

Since its inception in 2013, the Consortium has built a statewide network of educators who are working together to help male students of color prepare for success in high school and college. With the Kresge grant, the program aims to build upon its partnerships and educational offerings, including its Texas Male Student Leadership Summit, an annual conference held each semester at UT Austin that brings together hundreds of students, educators and higher education professionals from across Texas and the nation.

The grant will also allow for the Consortium to build upon its evidence-based intervention strategies and practices that are offered to K-12 and higher education institutions. Designed and developed by Consortium partner institutions (school districts, community colleges and four-year universities), these offerings include research and best practices for better serving K-12 and college students, mentoring services, and a summer leadership academy for local middle- and high-school students.

College of Education and Human Services to welcome new dean
Texas A&M University-Commerce welcomes Dr. Kimberly McLeod as the new dean of the College of Education and Human Services. McLeod will join the university on May 1, 2020.

McLeod has served in multiple educational roles, including public school teacher, counselor, administrator, assistant superintendent, professor, executive director and dean at Texas Southern University (TSU) in Houston, Texas.

Of the appointment, A&M-Commerce Provost John Humphreys said, “We are very pleased to have Dr. McLeod join us as dean of our storied College of Education and Human Services. She is an accomplished educator and dean with a substantial statewide network of colleagues and associates in education, industry and politics.”

District On-Line Learning Sites
Supporting Your Career
Your Source for Opportunities
Texas Association of School Administrators TASA Career Center
Hazard, Young, Attea Associates https://hyasearch.com/browse-jobs /
How to Prepare for a Skype Interview — and Other Virtual Interviews
You’re on the job hunt, and when it comes to interviewing, you’ve got it down. You have a killer handshake. You can enter the room like you belong there. You even keep a stash of minty breath strips in your pocket to make sure your answers smell as good as they sound. But what if you land an interview for a job you really want and they want to meet with you — through Skype. Now what?

Like it or not, virtual interviews are growing in popularity. As technology advances, it has become easier for companies to set up interviews through resources like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Bluejeans. Why? It saves the company time in the recruiting process, which also helps them save money.

Here’s the good news — you can knock the video interview out of the park just as easily as you can in person. You just need to keep a few tips in mind. Here are some of our favorite Skype (and other video) interview tips for before, during, and after the big interview.

Support for TALAS Members
Governance in Crisis
We pause to salute the many heroes in our districts who have stepped up to meet the challenges of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Many districts are scrambling to meet the human needs of our students & their families, to formulate plans for instruction during a time of physical distancing, and to respond to myriad questions, including the implications of this pandemic for advancement and graduation.

Are you looking for guidance and/or a forum in which to speak with other superintendents & school board members throughout the state? MASBA is partnering with Leadership ISD to offer a weekly Monday noon COVID-19 conversation for trustees & superintendents throughout Texas. Register today!

Brick to Clicks
“Our goal is to make sure students have food in their stomachs, while we teach their teachers how to put love in their hearts and knowledge in their minds.” – Dr. Cheryl Lentz

Educators across the country are struggling to transition from teaching face-to-face to online. To help them, four Walden faculty members stepped up—quickly—to help.

They contributed several chapters to an e-book,  Bricks to Clicks: Best Practices to Transition from the Classroom to Online, that was created in only 48 hours. To ensure broad access, the cost is only $.99 and proceeds are being donated to  Feeding America .

Dr. Natalie Casale  wrote “Learning Management Systems”;  Dr. Stephanie J.W. Ford  wrote “Optimize Online Learning in the Home”;  Dr. Cheryl Lentz  wrote “Technology that Tutors” and “The Consumer Learner”; and  Dr. Nina Spadaro  wrote “How to Not Be Afraid” and “Lessons from an Online Higher Educator: Suggested Zoom Best Practices.”
Voices From the Field:
Educating Children with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Era

April 15th at 1:00 pm ET
“Voices from the Field — Educating Children with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Era”; experts in the field of special education will discuss both challenges and strategies specific to educating children with IEP’s during this challenging time. Experts will discuss a variety of topics including: social-emotional learning, addressing goals and services, managing and amending IEPs, managing virtual meetings, the current national climate and the latest from the US DOE.  


Phyllis Wolfram, CASE, Executive Director and former SPED Director Dr. Adam Leckie, CASE Board Member and Assistant Superintendent Florence Unified School District (AZ) David Adams, Director Urban Assembly Gary Myrah, President, Wisconsin CASE and former SPED director 

Moderator:  Dr. Kurt Hulett, Author and Special Education Advocate

COVID-19 Free Social Emotional Toolkit from Rethink Ed
Fear and anxiety about the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has led to increased stress levels in both children and adults. School closure, abrupt changes in routine and a heightened sense of uncertainty can also have a detrimental effect on the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of students, educators and school staff. As educators work diligently to prepare and implement virtual academic learning plans, it is equally important to have a contingency plan and resources in place for social emotional learning as well. As our nation faces unprecedented school closings due to COVID-19, Rethink Ed is committed to keeping our students learning and providing schools with resources and tools that extend beyond the classroom.
National News
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Guidance
Joyful Music Educator José-Luis Orozco Talks New Album ‘Muévete!’ & Keeping Kids Healthy And Happy In Quarantine
Emanating a jovial energy and infectiously positive outlook, it’s hard to believe José-Luis Orozco has been in the music industry for 50 years. The Mexico City-born, Los Angeles-based bilingual musician has been crafting, recording and performing fun, educational children’s music since 1970. While promoting multiculturalism and bilingual education for decades, he’s been having fun and learning along the way.

On April 17, via Smithsonian Folkways, he will be releasing his latest album, Muévete!: Songs For A Healthy Mind In A Healthy Body, which follow’s 2015’s GRAMMY-nominated album ¡Come Bien! Eat Right! Ahead of the new project’s release, we spoke to Orozco over the phone to learn more about its message and what he’s learned in his many years in classrooms across the continent.

We also discussed celebrating diversity, the power of the growing Spanish-speaking population in the U.S., and how to keep your kids happy and healthy during the COVID-19 quarantine (hint: his music and videos may help).

Latino workers ‘disproportionally’ hit by COVID-19 layoffs, business closings, leaders say
One in four Hispanic-owned enterprises will not survive crisis, half will remain closed for extended periods of time

Latinos have been hit hard by COVID-19 related layoffs and business closings across the country, yet many are being excluded from stimulus payments and forgivable small-business loans, Hispanic organizations say.

Moreover, those who still have a job harvesting food and vegetables, packing meat and cooking to-go meals in restaurant chains are often not provided personal protective equipment or work in crowded conditions — exposed to catching the virus and spreading it to their families at home, organization leaders say. These workers face a daily choice of exposing themselves and their loved ones to COVID-19 or being left without a paycheck.

“They are frontline heroes, but they are not being treated as essential workers, and that is something that needs to change immediately,” said Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “One of the things this is showing is health care inequities and how the way the government treats us needs to be rectified.”

Tasked with schoolwork help, many US parents lack English

Since her daughters’ school closed for  the coronavirus outbreak , Mariana Luna has been thrust into the role of their primary educator, like millions of parents across the U.S. But each day, before she can go over their schoolwork, her 9-year-old first has to help her understand what the assignments say.
A Spanish speaker originally from Mexico, Luna uses Google Translate on her phone and, when she gets stuck, asks her daughter to translate instructions and emails from teachers.
“To be honest with you, it has been difficult for me because of the language more than anything,” said Luna, whose daughters attend a school in North Las Vegas, Nevada. “My husband does speak the language a little more, and when he comes home from work, he is the one who gives me the most support with the girls, but since I have not worked and have only been at home, I do not speak the language as well.”
The shift to distance learning has created unique challenges for English language learners and their parents, who are tasked with keeping them on track despite their own struggles and lack of familiarity with the educational system.

Education, Interrupted
WHEN THE SCOURGE OF THE coronavirus subsides and schools can safely reopen, more than 55 million children will have had their education significantly interrupted. The majority, perhaps, will not have stepped into a classroom for six months.

While school district leaders scramble to establish some type of distance learning to blunt the impact of the months-long closures, educators brace for what half a year of unstructured, patchwork instruction – and for some children, little to no education at all – will mean when they return to classrooms in the fall.

“We’re pretty nervous overall about the impact on our students, especially our English language learners and low-income students who aren’t really able to get the support they need right now,” Renée Nabors, a kindergarten and first grade teacher at a bilingual public charter school in Denver, says. “We know the long-term impact of being behind grade-level in reading instruction in these early grades is pretty significant in the long-term.”

TALAS sponsors make this newsletter
and other TALAS activities possible.
Please support them. Click on the logo to learn more!
Online education that matches your life
and accelerates your career.
Las Tienditas

Copyright 2022 © TALAS. All Rights Reserved.